A recent conversation with a veteran tournament angler about an adjustment he and his partner made in a walleye tournament has me thinking about the importance of adjustments and refinements to fishing presentations that, while sometimes slight, can add to fish catches significantly.
The conversation referenced above involved the angler and his partner modifying their slip-sinker live bait rigs, often called “Lindy” or “Roach” rigs, by adding small, cylindrical floats to their lines a bit above their hooks.
The duo was “rigging” with big minnows and felt the floats offered several advantages. First, the big chubs they were using would “fight” against the float’s buoyancy, ultimately adding to the liveliness of the minnows. Bait liveliness is often a key to successful rig fishing.
Second, the floats added some color for attraction. And, finally, the floats helped to keep the minnows above the emerging sand grass present in the areas the anglers were fishing.
Using this refinement helped the guys finish a very close second to the winners in a tough field of 100 other teams. Obviously, the guys were around good fish, but they felt the addition of floats to their rigs was certainly crucial in helping them to their good tournament catch.
A year ago, last spring, another top angler I know revealed that he and his fishing partners had very good successes pitching small minnow-tipped jigs to shallow water. There certainly is nothing unusual about pitching a jig and minnow for walleyes in spring.
What is a bit unusual about their pattern, however, is the color jigs they pitched. Starting with their favorite chartreuse, lime green, and “firetiger” patterns, the guys were forced to experiment when their favorites weren’t producing in the “clearer-than-normal” waters they encountered. Eventually, the guys found that black jigs were the top producers and used that color to produce several days of top catches.
This past spring, lots of snow and run-off meant high, dirty water in lots of lakes that I fish. Pitching jigs and minnows produced some fish, but a better alternative was a jig and plastic paddle tail combination. The paddle tail adds action and disturbance in the water that helps fish in off-colored water “home in on” the bait.
In fact, the new 3 ¼-inch size Rage Swimmers that I have been pitching on my jigs have produced good catches from less-than-clear waters this spring and early summer. Not only that but as I use this bait more it appears to do a good job of triggering reaction bites from walleyes in clearer waters as well!
This refinement, in fact, has me thinking that I have been missing out on some good catches by not trying plastics when the traditional jig-and-minnow combinations have not been producing.
You can bet the jig/paddle tail combination has found a permanent place on my casting deck now!
Next time you are on the water and your tried-and-trued rigs and baits aren’t producing, consider experimenting, adjusting, and refining and you might just find the key to saving the day. And, maybe you’ll find a new bait that finds a permanent home on your casting deck as well!
As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your outdoor adventures!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series and is a co-founder of the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s School of Fish. Visit fishingthemidwest.com to learn more!