Believe me, it is worth watching the video to make your installation of Church’s Double Action Flag System easier on yourself!
Believe me, it is worth watching the video to make your installation of Church’s Double Action Flag System easier on yourself!
……and mix it up in the middle.
That is the third installment of my walleye tips for this year and it is all about hitting the walleye where they live when fishing with crawler harnesses, in the water column, so to speak. There are days on the water where you can technique specifically target walleye were they are. Sometimes “max flash” up high will out perform the bottom “thump”, but only because of the location of the fish in the water column. When the are suspended, anything goes and you just need to fine tune the presentation on the fly.
Some methods call for running your spinner rigs up and down the water column on both sides of the boat, even depths on one side, odd depths on other side. My favorite method uses the blade presentation to target fish high in the water on one side, while going low on the opposite side. The more lines in the water, the better the coverage you have. Don’t worry if you are the solitary angler type, you can still accomplish this, but it will take a little more work.
When fishing high in the water column, let’s say in 18 foot of water, early in the spring, I want to start out with my first outside line running 4 to 5 foot below the surface. To accomplish that I have some 1/4 ounce bottom bouncers that I run 20 to 22 foot behind my Walleye Boards from Church Tackle. You can even use a split shot in the same size, six feet in front of the presentation. And, if you have some really small inline weights, they work just as good. The Double Action Flag System on the Church Boards allow you to set the tension for pulling back while running different presentations, it really is the true universal way to fish for walleyes.
From there I work down to the middle of my depth range of 9′ on the shallow side. Last year was my first year of playing around with the “Alabama Rig” style of presentation. When it comes to giving walleye the concept of a ”max flash” presentation, it doesn’t get any flashier than this. In this case I ran willow blades as my teaser on four equally spaced out arms, while in the middle bringing up the rear was a short 18 inch spinner rig with Matzuo Octopus Sickle Hooks.
For two weeks straight last year this presentation was on FIRE. 80% percent of the walleye we caught came on the rig. One of the times where you tinker with a concept and it just all comes together better than you expected…awesome feeling of accomplishment.
Rigs made up with willow blades also work great, but over the past three seasons I have been using more and more of these big #8 Indiana blades from Silver Streak. Both the Indy’s and these Whiptail blades from D&B Fishing.com, give you the elongated flash presentation, but add a lil’ extra noise as they spin along.
When concentrating on the bottom half of the water column, keep in mind these presentations go on the other side of the boat, it is time to bring out the standard in creating thump type noises, the Colorado blade.
From nine foot or roughly in the middle of the water column, down to my bottom of 18 feet, it is noise making time. Although the #4′s and #5 sized blades still have a time and place, most of the time, bigger is truly better when it comes to fishing for walleye on the Great Lakes and the #6′s rule. Stagger those blades out, hitting roughly 9′, 14′ and 17 foot down. Drag the bottom if you have to!
In the early spring, copper shmopper, give me a bright blue or shiny purple on a silver blade, and watch the boards go back! Something like Blue Perch or Paula’s Pride from BigEyeCustomLures.com, that will give the illusion of a bait fish swimming along during the transition of from the minnow lure bite to the true crawler bite. White bases like Confetti, Emerald Shiner and Baby Doll are also very effective when mixing it up early in the year.
With a spread like that going through the column, it wont take long to figure out where the fish are living. Adjust on the fly if need be, and remember that often in the early hours of the morning, most of your fish will be up high in the water actively feeding. Let the fish tell you what mix of blade styles they want and then give them as many of those presentations as you can!
Just like a couple of weeks ago, still swamped in the shop gearing up for the 2013 season. Regardless of that, down on Lake Erie the catching has started to take place. People are trolling and catching slobs and jigging will soon be in full swing. Here are a couple of quick tips when it comes to using hair jigs on the lake.
Size, as is well-known, does matter! When it comes to fishing Erie there are three sizes that will get the job done in all conditions. Depending on the wind, waves and the speed they can produce walleye anglers should have a variety of 1/2, 5/8, and 3/4 ounce jigs in their kits to get the job done. One ounce jigs can be used, but I haven’t found them to be as effective as the others.
On calmer days, when the winds are light the 1 oz jig works well down below the surface. Without going crazy small for the species of fish, I have found that there is such a thing as smaller can be better. Course this doesn’t apply when the water is really dirty, then a bigger profile bait works best. On such days though, it seems that the blade baits like Captain Jay’s out perform hair jigs.
In two to three-foot waves, after testing this theory for a couple of years, going a little bit bigger works best. Now its time to bust out the 5/8ths oz jigs. Of the three sizes I mentioned, this tweener bait can work in all conditions, but it does perform best in moderate conditions.
I would say in three to five foot waves it is time to bust out a selection of 3/4 oz jigs, but for safety sake, let’s top it off at four-foot waves. There are some boats that should just not be out in five foot waves and 4 foot seems manageable for most types of craft. When the whitecaps start cresting though, it is definitely time to break out the heavy hardware. That kind of sounds amazing though because in most places you will be fishing in 9 to 12 foot of water, and in some cases as deep as eighteen foot.
A couple of years ago somebody asked me that when bouncing hair jigs out on the lake, if it was important to keep the jigs as vertical as possible? Their thought was that the lake does not present as many snags as will be found on the Detroit River. My response was that it is all about the hook set, and the more vertical you can keep your bait, the smaller percentage of short strikes and misses you will have. Even though the Erie hair jig bite is a drift approach to catching walleye vs. trying to remain stationary in a river, angles are important.
If you are bouncing along, doing your thing, with your line 20 feet behind the boat, you will have more than your share of misses. Think about it, when you have a strike with the line so far back, you tend to pull the jig out of the fish’s mouth. If you stay fairly vertical, what will happen on the bite is that you drive the hook practically straight up into the roof of the walleye’s mouth.
It is a drift bite, so staying completely vertical is practically impossible. When you have a variety of jig sizes though, it will make the job easier. I mentioned angles in the last paragraph, everybody likes to be able to visualize something when learning and when you put a number on it, the process becomes even easier to understand. Just like drifting with a bottom bouncer, I would not exceed a 45′ angle, from your rod tip, to where the line enters the water. I would even say that a 20 to 30′ angle works best. When you have a selection of sizes to choose from, then those become very workable numbers to make your presentation work.
This minnow crankbait was introduced at the ICAST show, where everything new is introduced to the fishing world.
The 4.75″ size has already been proven a walleye killer on Lake Erie. The bait is similar to some Erie favorites, but with some distinct differences, including its own unique wobble. It also has a back fin, but the flared blood red gills are what makes it stand apart. When the walleye gets drawn in, the wide, flared gills makes the lure look like a struggling baitfish.
They come in several sizes, from the smallest being the “Nano” to the 4.75 inch, which I would call perfect for the big water and chasing walleyes. This size will get you down to 20 foot and keep you in the strike zone. Even at the slower speeds we use in the spring, the bait provides enough action in the colder water to entice bites.
They are now on sale at FishUSA.com’s website. Follow the link below to choose the colors you want to get started with. Kind of partial to Purpledescent and Stiletto, myself.
This past week I received my order of powder paints from TJ’s Tackle.com . These guys from Michigan have in my opinion the best selection of colors around. When I shopped around for a fluid bed, they had by far, the best price. Picked up a couple of new “candy” colors, resupplied a couple of standards and a jar of clear with a small container of holographic glitter for some finesse looks. There are probably a few more colors to get, but for right now, this spring, I think I am ready.
One of the reasons I like powder paints for my jigs and other projects is the famed durability of the paint itself. Once you heat your “subject”, apply the paint, and then cure in an oven, it forms a very durable finish. You can literally drop a jig on the cement floor and not chip the finish. Now think of the underwater terrain of the Detroit River and Lake Erie, and it makes sense that you want your jig to be able to stand up to the harshest of conditions. Zebra muscles, reefs and rocks…..Oh My!
Last fall I placed an order from Do-It Molds for my first molds to make my own jigs, baits and sinkers.
Why make your own “stuff”? For myself, where do I start should be the question. When thinking about it, heritage definitely plays a part. Dad’s family is from the Downriver area of Detroit and fishing on the Detroit River was a favorite place to go. Grandpa made a lot of his own equipment, including converting the old Victrola’s into handline reels. It was a different day and age back in the 1930′s and 40′s, if you saw a need for something, you simply made it yourself. Dad and my uncles were the same way, if they saw something as a problem to overcome, they solved it themselves. One uncle even went so far as to make his very own planer boards from the designs published in an issue of “Popular Mechanics”.
These days I do it for some of the same reasons, one being to make the lure the way I want it. Crawler harnesses or spinner rigs are a great example. I do not want the factory standard 14 lb test mono for the fishing I do on Lake Erie, with all the zebra mussels out there, nothing less than 20 lb test will do. Also, I don’t care for just two hooks on my rigs, more often or not the crawler would come back with the tail section bitten off, or the worm was in snipped in half between the two hooks. Detest missing fish more than almost anything, so I tie my rigs with three hooks. Then there was the year where I could just not keep the white perch and silver bass from stealing the worms left and right. It reminded me of a pro who had told me that they had won a tourney using plastic worms and it worked the next time I went out. But, I still wasn’t happy with it. On the big water, #2 sized hooks are the standard for just about everyone. My issue was the hook gap with the rubber worms, my solution was to slightly modify my presentation. I bought some size #1, Matzuo Sickle Hooks and used those as my lead hook right behind the beads. Most strikes take place near the spinner itself, so for that one hook I went bigger, and still used two #2′s for my trailers. Problem solved, it put more fish in the boat, and I did it myself.
Satisfaction is another key reason. Let’s face it, if you can do it yourself, and it catches more fish than what is readily available in retail locations, it is pretty satisfying. It gives you a sense of well deserved accomplishment. Sure you might have your “misses” along the way, but the “hits” are definitely worth the wait.
One of those “hits” for me has been adapting the current Lake Erie Hair Jig, and as the commercial says, making it my own. Lots of the standard one or two color hair patterns work, and they work well. In fact, I probably did not need to tinker with the concept at all, as you can see above, the ones I tied turned out pretty well. In my head though, there was more I could do, call it giving it an artistic flair. Two of my hottest cranks last fall were the Helsinki and Regal shads from Rapala, so I made up some shad like patterns in the hair.
Even that wasn’t enough, so I took some more of the jigs that I had poured, then powder painted and revamped an old idea. Way back when, say five to seven years ago, I read where the legendary Gary Roach had used skirting to dress up his spinner rigs. I had gone a step further when I rigged a few choices up with the same type of tinsel “hair” that they use in making salmon flies. Classic fail on my part, did not catch a single walleye.
But, not being the type to let an old idea die in peace, I brought back the look for this spring. Hopefully it works better on the jig, than it did on the rig. Not a huge fan of green lures, but I have big hopes for the bottom one with the Dragonfly painted head and the green tinsel. Face it, it looks pretty sweet and a lot of lures are designed to catch the angler’s attention, even if he made it himself. I almost, half jokingly hope this is a fail, that tinsel is HARD to tie, but if it works, you know I will doing more of them soon.
So with so many new ideas for this spring, there is only one more thing to do today, and that is to paint some more jigs out in the shop!
Got my order in from Church Tackle yesterday. Six double action flag kits to retool my Walleye Boards, another pair of TX-007′s to run off the back of the boat and some extra goodies for myself. Its true, they might not have invented the planer board, but they definitely made it better!
Recently I had the opportunity to work at one of Jann’s Netcraft’s spring walleye days. It is always a good day talking fishing and techniques with the customers as they gear up for the spring bite, and the 2013 walleye season in its entirety. Sometimes that presents its own difficulty though when the store you are in doesn’t carry the product that you use, but that issue has been resolved with the recent introduction of Church Tackle product at the store.
If you click on the above link, it will take you the Jann’s Netcraft website where you will find Church’s TX-22 board, double action flag kits, lighted flag kits, the Lock Jaw clip and the TX-22 Pro Pack. It is shown in the picture above and it includes two boards and the double action flag kit all in one package.
They call it double action because it actually allows you to set up the to your own individual liking. You can either allow the board to have the flag stand straight up in the traditional style, or have it ride down behind the board. Up in the traditional style, the flag will go down with a fish on the hook, and when you have the flag riding down, it will go up on the slightest of strikes.
There are other brands of boards to choose from, but when it gets down to crunch time, and you want to put the big fish in the boat, I would rather have a Church Tackle board at the end of the line. This year I will be introducing video into the reports and you will be able to see the boards in action for yourselves, hopefully reeling in more fish like this. My username will be CharliesRigs on YouTube, somebody beat me to FishingMichigan.
I have come to the conclusion that tying your own hair jigs for catching spring walleye on Lake Erie, really is more addictive than pistachios. I am still going through my first 100 lead heads, and without even pouring other sizes, I keep tying new hair patterns! I even cannibalized some salmon tinsel flies for their “hair” and made some of those up last night.
Even before that, I almost scrapped the first batch I did because I came up with a bright idea that I should create some shad designs. Let’s give the jigs a lateral line. I thought, “why not?”, I did really good trolling with these two Rapala patterns last fall.
These were the first ones I did, and then it snowballed from there. I realized I have to stop before I completely run out of hair to tie the other sizes that I have not even poured yet! Besides, now I think I have enough in the 5/8ths size to get me through at least three seasons!
My thought process used to be that when Lake Erie had a big shad run in the fall and winter that, the pike and muskie would eating them up smorgasbord style. That would be “buffet” style to the younger generations out there reading. This fish started me thinking though, what do you know, shad can be a good bait for walleye too.
Inside this walleye was a 10.5 inch gizzard shad, with only the tail sticking out of its’ craw. Back in November I had made some notes on this and to come up with some new ideas for jigging in the spring. Like most bright ideas, they get tabled and almost forgotten. While working for St. Croix this past weekend, that idea came back when I saw these plastic baits from Lunker City on the shelves.
My plan is to bulk up not only my hair jigs on Lake Erie with these shads, but to give them a shot on the Detroit River, as well. Big dirty water bite, sometimes big baits work best. Often in murky water strikes are more reactionary, feeling a vibration close by, or actually bumping into them, while you are jigging.
Stay tuned, might be “matching the hatch” again.
Got my new TX-007′s, the new stern planer from Church Tackle, recently via UPS. This addition to the Church line-up of planer boards is sure to be the next “BIG THING” in any angler’s arsenal when it comes to walleye fishing. Now, not only will walleye fishermen be seeing what is under the boat on the graphs, they will be able to specifically target the depths those fish are on! Before you would have a spread of boards off to the side of the boat, now you are running lines right on top of them.
My first thought naturally is that this is going to be huge on the Great Lakes, and I started diagramming planer board spreads in my head. Then my thoughts went to Minnesota, where open water anglers are only allowed one rod while fishing. This could lead to a revolution in walleye fishing, in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” no less. Think about it, instead of running lines directly behind the boat, often guessing how line is trailing behind them. Now they will be able to break out the linecounters, measure out to the desired depth, set the -007′s and let them slide further back, increasing the distance behind the motor. Less noise, always equals more fish in the boat!
Above is the diagram from Church’s website, I already made some changes for running a crew of four in the ol’ Crestliner. Thinking local tourneys already! Will run my Walleye boards off to the sides in the standard pattern, then run the four stern boards off the back, giving me a pretty good spread of 10 rods. That’s two short of what Michigan allows, since each person is allowed 3 rods each while fishing MI state waters. When the walleyes are hugging bottom, I can even put a guy up in the bow and have him man a pair off bottom bouncer rods up front, which would be the maximum of 12 rods allowed for four people.
In Ohio, where anglers are still only allowed two rods each, the spreads could have quite a few possible combinations. Since normally there are two other people in the boat with me, that only puts six rods in the water. I could put four Walleye boards off to the side, and then run two of the Stern Planers off the back. Or, if the fish are telling me something different I can either run four -007′s off the back with only two side boards. And, if for some reason the side seems to be the hot program, then all six lines will be run off to the sides.
The important thing, as always is let the fish dictate the program you run any given day. Never go into a trip with a firm idea of how things are going to go on that specific day. Be flexible, it will allow you to stay on top of what the fish are doing that day. It might be a little extra work with re-setting a few lines, but in the long run it will make your fishing experience a better one!