Tweaking the Classic Live Bait RigBy Jerry Carlson - April 18, 2017
When it comes to basic walleye fishing, there is little doubt that live bait rigging is as classic as it gets. This simple system of presenting live bait on a leader with a sliding sinker has helped anglers boat countless walleyes. With that being said, it doesn't mean that a live bait presentation can't be tweaked to make it better.
My experience on the water has taught me a number of tricks that have helped me improve my live bait presentation. It starts with the rod.
I am as frugal as the next when it comes to spending money on fishing rods. For example, when I am using a float, the float is doing all of the work in detecting a bite. The visual aspect of a float makes it easy to tell when something fishy is happening. I don't need a super expensive rod to help me watch a bobber.
I am a firm believer in using seven foot medium light models with a very flexible tip. The length of this rod is great for absorbing hooksets and fighting fish. The flexible tip allows anglers to watch a rod load up with weight which helps determine when to set the hook or sometimes to visually see a pick-up.
The line is the next consideration. I typically spool eight-pound-test mono on my reel but use a six-pound fluorocarbon line for my leader. Fluorocarbon is less visible in the water than standard mono and it is also quite tough. On days when the bite is difficult, switch to a four-pound-test leader.
Leader length can make a difference. If I am fishing a river with some current, 18 inches is about right. However, if I am dealing with finicky walleyes on Rainy Lake, a six foot leader and small wire hook would be in order. I often add a chartreuse bead in front of my hook for a little extra color.
Although many anglers have switched to a super braid to put on their reel for extra feel, I have not. Too many times I believe the sensitivity of the line allows the fish to feel me as much as I feel them.
However, if the bottom is very rocky and snaggy, I will use super thin braided line. The extra sensitivity helps me feel my way through the snags. When using a jig, I generally start with six or eight-pound-test braided line and go to mono as a second choice.
Live bait rigging is a very basic approach to catching walleyes. However, even the basics can be tweaked to make them better.
Remember, it is often the subtle changes that helps anglers catch more fish.