By Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson
Fishing the New Baits!!!
As a hardcore angler, you can also sign me up as a tackle junkie so it’s always exciting every year when I get to see the new baits that Northland kicks out. Sometimes I get to put my two cents in on new bait designs but usually the crew in Bemidji comes up with all of the creative fish catching ideas. Having had a chance to use some of the new baits over the past couple of weeks, I can tell you that they all catch fish! I look forward to spending some more time fishing with these baits throughout the rest of the season and learning a few more tips and tricks.
Wingnut Butterfly Blade Rigs
Coming on the heels of the release of the Butterfly Rigs last year, the new Wingnut Butterfly Rigs are smaller and have more erratic action, perfect for anglers fishing clear water or pressured fish. These blades are light in weight so they can be trolled at slow speeds and still stay up off the bottom. I live on Lake of the Woods and do quite a bit of walleye fishing as well as guiding, often with inexperienced anglers, so these rigs are perfect for helping to prevent snags, yet still put a bunch of walleyes in the boat. There were also plenty of rumors flying around following the recent Kenora Walleye Open tournament that several of the top finishers were using Butterfly Blade Rigs as well as these new Wingnut Butterfly Blade Rigs.
I’m a big fan of the crawler harness Wingnut Rigs but the single hooks models work with leeches, minnows and even plastics. I’m using them with bottom bouncers, most often 1.5 oz, they really work great for walleyes in Ontario’s Sunset Country Region!
Butterfly Blade Float’n Harness
Ever see walleyes cruising a little higher than normal off the bottom on your electronics or fish locations that are extremely snaggy and you’re caught up if your rig even comes close to the bottom? The Butterfly Blade Float’n Harness is the answer for you.
The float on these rigs helps to keep them up off the bottom, in addition to adding more color to the rig which is sometimes helpful in colored water. These rigs are also great for inexperienced anglers because they won’t get snagged up as easily.
On a recent outing on Lake of the Woods during a heavy mayfly hatch one of my friends was fishing with the Butterfly Blade Float’n Harness and was catching walleyes two to one over the rest of us using traditional harnesses, maybe it’s something they haven’t seen before but I think it’s a hot bait during the often tough mayfly hatch.
Mimic Minnow Critter Craw
I fish tournaments all over North America and I can tell you that no matter if I’m at home on Lake of the Woods or fishing in Florida, bass eat crayfish, evident by all the pieces that are left in my livewell wherever I fish. The new Mimic Minnow Critter Craw is about as good as it gets for imitating a crayfish. The colors and design are very lifelike and the weed guard helps to fish it through sparse grass and wood, places where bass like to hang out.
The legs on the Critter Craw have a unique action that most fish have not seen before. Smallmouths have been chewing them up on Lake of the Woods and I have caught several walleye and pike during my experimentation as well. If somebody just wants to go out and catch a bunch of fish they can bounce this jig along the bottom in sand/boulder areas and do very well. I was fishing the Critter Craw with short hops, making the legs kick and letting it fall back to the bottom. When you first drop it in the water and see the legs move you’ll understand what I’m talking about. This bait will be on the top-shelf on many of my upcoming guide trips and in some of my bass tournaments this summer.
Mimic Minnow Limber Leech
I feel like the Mimic Minnow Limber Leech is going to be a great smallmouth bait once they get out a little deeper later in the summer and into the fall. I haven’t messed around with it a ton yet for bass but we have sampled it a few times on recent walleye outings and it got hammered.
We were fishing walleyes in early growth cabbage where live bait would get hung up and torn off. We could snap jig the Limber Leech through the cabbage, not get hung up and trigger walleyes to bit. They seem to really like the straight tailed soft plastics like this. The Limber Leech is a good profile to imitate a leech, as well as a crayfish or minnow, it’s a really versatile lure. There are some excellent colors as well, some natural patterns for clear water and some bright colors for darker waters. One of the keys to catching walleyes on soft plastics is to fish the baits more aggressively than you would with live bait – you don’t want the fish to be able to “inspect” the bait. Bounce these jigs along the bottom and hang on!
Experimenting with new baits is a great way to become a better angler because you learn how to trigger fish to bite and you will open your repertoire to be able to choose the right lure for the right situation with more confidence. These new baits from Northland are all winners!