Special thanks to Mark Romanack for putting together this article on spinners!
Spinners Are Winners
Here at Fishing 411 we carry a lot of different spinner rigs for catching walleye. The common walleye spinner or what a lot of anglers still refer to as crawler harnesses catch us a bunch of fish, but not all the harnesses we use are configured the same.
To keep things in our boat ship shape and the right gear readily at hand, we organize our spinners into four different categories intended for completely different fishing presentations.
The foam leader boards produced by FishEng Products do a nice job of keeping walleye harnesses organized and ready for action. These Yakima HammerTime Walleye Harnesses have become the author’s favorite in recent years.
OPEN WATER SPINNERS
The spinners we categorize as “open water” rigs are designed to be used on suspended walleye. Because these harnesses never get close to the bottom, we tie up our own custom rigs using components unique to targeting suspended open water fish.
The leader itself is gin clear fluorocarbon and we favor a little heavier and longer leader than most anglers. Instead of the standard 10 pound test leaders most guys use, our spinner rigs are tied using 72 inches of 17 pound test that holds up well to the abuse of sharp walleye teeth and the more powerful open water fish we often catch.
In our humble opinion, longer leaders separate the lure from the diver better and helps us catch more fish when trolling in the often clear waters of the Great Lakes. Two hooks are snelled in place about three inches apart including a No. 6 Eagle Claw TK310 wide bend Trokar treble at the business end and a No. 2 Trokar TK400U Octopus hook to hold the nose of the nightcrawler.
Next we thread on half a dozen No. 6 beads followed by a Quick Change plastic blade clevice. The plastic clevice allows us to change out blade colors and sizes quickly without having to cut the harness. Depending on the fishery and the mood of the fish, a No. 4, 5 or 6 Yakima HammerTime Colorado blade completes the rig.
The heavier leader material and treble hook combine to make these spinners deadly effective for open water trolling using keel sinkers, Tadpole Divers, Guppy Weights, Jet Divers and Snap Weights.
BOTTOM BOUNCER SPINNERS
Bottom bouncing with a walleye spinner produces countless walleye and remains one of our “go to” methods for targeting walleye in the spring and summer months. While I don’t describe bottom bouncer fishing as finesse fishing, we do like to lighten up our gear a little when fishing walleye on the bottom or what many anglers simply refer to as structure.
The harness we favor is the Yakima HammerTime Walleye Spinner. These spinners are factory tied using 60 inches of 15 pound test fluorocarbon leader material. The hooks are a pair of No. 2 Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Octopus hooks snelled about three inches apart. For fishing bottom structure I shorten the leader to about 40 inches to keep the spinner up off the bottom and my “go to” blade is the No. 4 Yakima HammerTime Colorado blade.
The two most important aspects of the spinner rigs fished in combination with a bottom bouncer are leader length and blade size. If the leader is much longer than 40 inches the trailing harness will make contact with bottom and the hooks will foul on zebra mussels and other bottom debris.
The No. 4 Colorado blade gets used primarily when fishing walleye on Great Lakes waters or the western impoundments where the average size fish can be three, four or even five pounds. For targeting in-land lake walleye, I favor a different approach.
FINESSE WALLEYE SPINNERS
When targeting walleye in natural lakes, the bottom bouncer is hands down the work horse for structure fishing. Because the walleye found in natural lakes tend to be smaller on average and natural lakes are often plagued with aquatic weeds, the harnesses used fall into yet a different category.
I like the pre-tied Yakima Bait Finesse Walleye Spinners. Tied on a 60 inch leader of 15 pound test fluorocarbon line and a pair of No. 4 Octopus hooks, I cut the leader down to about 40 inches.
Spinners are to walleye fishing what the “spinnerbait” is to bass angling. The Yakima HammerTime Walleye Harness is tied to the specifications of Fishing 411, making it one of the few factory tied harnesses that meet the needs of serious anglers.
Finesse Walleye Spinners are available with either a No. 1 or No. 2 Colorado blade and I normally fish the No. 2 size. Finesse Walleye Spinners work very well in natural lakes where walleye get conditioned to feeding on smaller minnows.
This two hook harness works nicely for fishing nightcrawlers or the back hook can be cut off when fishing leeches or minnows for bait.
The Colorado blade and a nightcrawler are a combination that has produced countless walleye over the ages. There are however days when the blade doesn’t work as well as another iconic floating attractor known as the Yakima Spin-n-Glo. The Spin-n-Glo comes in hundreds of color options, plus white, black, glow in the dark, silver flash, chartreuse flash and pink flash wings.
The No. 6 or No. 8 sizes are the most popular with walleye anglers who know that the Spin-n-Glo has great action and flash at slower speeds than can be fished with a traditional blade.
Yakima produces pre-tied Spin-n-Glo walleye rigs, but I tie up my own rigs using 10 to 12 pound test fluorocarbon leaders about 60 inches long. When fishing in clear waters I like to leave the leader full length, but cut the leaders down to about 40 inches when fishing in stained water.
For fishing the Spin-n-Glo with nightcrawlers I like a pair of No. 2 Octopus hooks. For using leeches as bait a single No. 4 Octopus hook is best. When targeting walleye on Spin-n-Glo rigs with minnows a No. 2 or No. 1 size hook is the perfect choice.
STORING ALL THESE RIGS
To store all these walleye rigs, we find that the FishEng Products www.fishengproducts.com foam leader boards work perfectly. Three large 7-3/4 inch by 13-1/2 inch boards fit nicely in a standard 3700 deep open style utility box.
To organize the many spinner rigs the “Fishing 411” crew uses in the course of a year they find that the FishEng Products foam boards are the best option for keeping gear organized and easily accessible. These foam boards fit nicely into clear plastic utility boxes making it easy to spot the gear you need at a glance.
To keep things even more organized, we mark on the outside of the box what kind and length of spinners it contains. That way I don’t have to take the time to unwrap a spinner to determine it’s length and best fishing application. When it comes to catching walleye during the spring and summer months, spinners are winners in our book.