Here in the Dakota’s, it would be tough not to agree that live bait walleye snells including spinners account for more fish than any other lure used during the open water season. Its versatility and simplicity make it a popular presentation no matter the walleye water. It’s June and now is the time to chase walleyes on your favorite waters using live bait snells.
For many, fishing a spinner and/or live bait snell is simple: find the right depth, drop your weight down to the bottom and put your motor into gear, and go. Yes, this presentation can be that simple yet when it’s refined or fine-tuned it can be even more effective. Being detail-oriented can increase success and separate you from a group of boats on a hotspot. Paying close attention to lure components, bait used, and trolling specifics are details that can pay big dividends in early summer walleye success.
Hooks are the fisherman’s link to a caught fish and using large hooks often can lead to missed fish. The smaller the hook no matter the style takes less force or pressure for a hook set or to imbed in a walleye mouth. Smaller-sized 4 or 6 hooks are commonly used in chasing even the largest of walleyes promoting the naturalness of the bait which will increase the chances of more bites. Diligently checking hooks for sharpness and point quality is often overlooked which can lead to missed angling opportunities.
It’s no secret that the fluorocarbon line has filled a valuable space in the world of walleye fishing. Its abrasion resistance, invisibility, and ability to tie superior knots make it a favorite in live bait rigs. Using a lighter 8-10lb line to tie a plain or a snell with a spinner will increase the natural look of presentations while maintaining leader strength.
There are a variety of weights that can be used from lindy style weights to various bottom bouncers. A stick-style inline sliding weight like a Northland Tackle Slick Stick has become a favorite amongst live bait diehards like myself. The traditional bottom bouncer wire between your line and snell decreases sensitivity. The slide style allows the detection of even the lightest of bites and its design can also help avoid snags.
Having Plano Stowaways filled with a variety of spinner blades, floats and beads is a must in any walleye fisherman’s arsenal. Walleye preferences can change quickly and often so the ability to adapt to these changes is key to angling success. Walleyes are often color specific that can change daily so variety is a must. Northland Tackles Baitfish-Image Colorado Blades come in a variety of colors that provide lifelike flash allowing anglers to match their blades to lake forage. Using quick change clevises allows quick changes of blades to match daily preferences saving time when a blade switch is needed.
Walleyes prefer a natural-looking presentation and focusing on how the bait is hooked will put more fish in your boat. Producing the most natural-looking presentation is important and it’s amazing how this small detail is overlooked by many. Hooking minnows in through the lips or in the mouth out the top of the head will maintain life and natural swimming action. Likewise hooking a crawler evenly (without sags) between two hooks or threading on a single hook will maintain a natural swimming motion. Anything but natural action will decrease attention from hungry walleyes.
There is no doubt that the quality of live bait put on a snell is directly related to success. Whether it’s minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers their health should not be overlooked. Frabill, the leader in live bait care makes a variety of superior products including aerated containers and worm care products that will ensure healthy and vivacious bait not only throughout a warm day but all year long. Many fishermen neglect simply changing their bait regularly between bites when fresh bait can and will increase bites. When fishing slows, merely changing or switching bait can cause more tight lines!
Once walleyes are found it is imperative to remain over or close to them to present the lures in a preferred way. Even small boat control changes can make a huge difference. Walleyes regularly relate to certain depths and often prefer bait presented at specific speeds requiring precise boat control. Where maintaining this detail might be worrisome to some anglers, an I-Pilot Link System that has revolutionized boat control, links your Humminbird electronics to a Minn-Kota trolling motor aiding in boat control in even the harshest of Dakota conditions. For instance, I-Pilot Link allows following a contour line while setting your speed (like cruise control) in increments of a tenth of a mile an hour to make boat control simple. Controlled by a handheld remote ensures more time to fish no matter your position in the boat.
It is important to fish live bait snells at a 45-degree angle to the water when trolling. This increases hooking ability and makes for easy hook sets. Some believe that live bait snells are better fished well behind the boat but large amounts of the line will cause dragging of weight thus decreasing the ability to sense bites and causing more snags.
There are days on the water where trolling with rods in rods holders will outperform keeping rods in your hands. Rod holders decrease line movement and can often create a more natural presentation. When concentrating on pressured and finicky walleyes, try using rod holders to increase your number of bites.
Ever fish next to other boats and feel like you’re the only one not catching walleyes that are confirmed on your Humminbird Electronics? This is the time when small details that might have not been a priority in the past need a little more attention. Being attentive to successful nuances will help increase success every time the boat is backed down the ramp. There is a lot of satisfaction when walleyes are found and caught based on detail! Be safe and Good Luck on the water chasing walleyes!!
Eric Brandriet is part owner/operator of Dakota Prairie Angling offering guided fishing trips in South Dakota. He can be reached at www.dpangling.com.