By Bob & Ginny Riege
Spinner rigs used to be a real popular way to take walleye. In the past few years, they've lost some of that popularity in some areas of walleye country. That's strange, because spinner rigs are still very effective lure types for taking walleye.
The spinner rigs we're talking about are the live-bait rigs with a blade and a few beads just above the hook. As the rig is pulled through the water, the blade turns, which attracts fish with both sound and added visibility.
A spinner is a rotating blade on a clevis, sandwiched among plastic beads, followed by a hook pr hooks and livebait. Today’s standard spinner rig consists of a metal clevis with a #1, #2 or #3 Colorado, Indiana or willow leaf blade followed by 4 or 5 BB-sized beads and a single 1/0 Aberdeen hook for minnows or two #4 short shank snell hooks rigged in tandem about two inches apart for crawlers or leeches. This standard rig is tied on 36 inches of 14 to 17 pound test line.
There are some situations in which spinner rigs are more effective than others. When the walleye are active and spread out, spinner rigs work very well. A spinner rig can usually be worked quicker than a straight rig, which is important if the fish are scattered. The faster you can move a bait, the more fish you can show it to. The blade will also attract walleye from a longer distance.
In dirty water, the fish obviously can't see as far. The blade will help in this condition. It throws flash and vibration, which enables the fish to find bait much easier. In dirty water, use a blade that is larger and brighter than a blade use a in clear water. Orange and chartreuse blades are good in stained water; silver and white are good in water that has more visibility.
For example, a chartreuse blade with salmon or red beads is a popular combo. But what color does a fish see when the rig spins? Orange. Perhaps that’s why an angler using an orange spinner blade sometimes catches as may fish as another angler using the chartreuse rig.
When using spinners, snell length is important. The snell length is the distance from the swivel to the hook. When moving quickly, increase the snell length as a general rule of thumb. The faster you go, the lower the bait will ride. A faster presentation is usually called for in clear water, and you want the bait up high enough so the fish can see it from farther away. Also, walleye are more likely to go up for a bait than go down for it.
In dirty water, the walleye will often be closer to the bottom. This calls for a shorter snell that will get the bait right down in the walleye's face.
There are a couple of little tricks I use when fishing spinner rigs in dirty water. First, I use one of the painted walking sinkers like the ones that used to be packaged with Roach Rigs. The painted sinker helps attract the fish to the area where the spinner rig will soon be. Usually, the spinner is no more than 20 inches behind the sinker in dirty water. That added spot of color the sinker provides can really help.
I've also been doing a lot of experimenting with Rainbow Spinners, which have FishScale attractor on the blade. The light-reflecting qualities of the tape seem to trigger the fish at times. This also works in clear water during periods of low light.
I usually don't use many spinner rigs for walleye when the water is very clear and the fish are finicky. Then a straight rig will be more productive.
Don't allow yourself to discard old tactics that have caught fish in the past. If you used to catch walleyes on a spinner rigs, you still can. Spinner rigs are proven to be past and present walleye catchers.