Spinning Into a New Walleye Season

So be honest … how much time have you spent recently thinking about walleye fishing? If you’re anything like most walleye anglers we come in contact with, it’s been a bunch! Seems after a long winter of staring out the window at snow and cold everyone is thinking about what it’s going to take to make this year their best ever. We’re all looking for that edge that will get us more bites. So what lures are you stocking up on these days? Next to jigs, spinner style crawler harnesses probably account for more walleyes than any other lure season in and season out. They should … after all they offer both attracting and triggering characteristics that appeal to fish, and they are incredibly simple to use. Categorized somewhere between a lure and terminal tackle, spinners are made up of various combinations of hooks, beads, and blades threaded on a monofilament leader. Alone, they don’t do much, but add a juicy nightcrawler, minnow, leech or even a plastic trailer, run it behind a bottom bouncer or other form of weighting system, and they become one of the deadliest walleye presentations ever.
Spinners have been around for decades in various forms and fished for just about every species that swims. However, the evolution this group of lures has taken, pushed by the increased interest in walleye fishing the past several years, has been astounding. As with so many tackle and technique innovations in modern walleye fishing, experimentation by the rank and file fishermen as well as the efforts of tournament anglers and manufactureers has rocketed spinner design and fishing techniques to a new dimension of effectiveness.

Not so many years ago, spinner choices for the walleye angler came down to a few key factors. If an angler wanted a spinner with “flash”, he’d choose a blade with a metallic finish like silver, copper, or gold. If color was more important to the spinner’s success, then a myriad of painted blades could be selected from. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when holographic blades came on the scene, that color and flash were merged together to give anglers the ultimate choice in spinner attraction. That innovation has sparked a revolution in walleye spinners that has elevated this already popular tactic to the forefront of walleye fishing.
The beauty of holographic finishes is that both attracting attributes, flash and color, can be combined to make these lures much more versatile. These blades can be used in a wide variety of water conditions from gin-clear to very dirty. The 3-dimensional holographic finish lends itself to much more than just the spinner blade. Working closely with Bass Pro Shops’ tackle designers, we developed a line of hologram spinner components including not only blades, but also spinner bodies. Instead of stringing together a number of beads to separate the blade from the hooks, the XPS Walleye Angler Blade Spacer is a foam body resembling a small baitfish featuring a hologram finish. They come in ten colors and two sizes to fit any spinner application.
There was a time when the spinner was thought of as strictly a presentation for use on structure, run behind a bottom bouncer … no more! The open water fisheries of the Great Lakes have proven to be dynamite spinner waters when the right components are put to use. An open water spinner differs from a structure spinner in several ways. The blades are typically bigger (sizes ranging from #4’s to #6’s), treble hooks are often used in place of single hooks, and the weighting systems used are designed more for targeting suspended fish rather than bottom oriented walleyes. Off Shore Tackle Snap Weights have been a popular weighting system for open water spinners since they first made their way into the arsenals of big water walleye trollers. The weights are affixed to a small clip which is attached to the line, usually 25 to 50 feet in front of the spinner, after which additional line is released until the lure reaches the preferred depth. An older form of weighting system that has seen a resurgence over the past couple of years among open water spinner trollers is the in-line weight. Often referred to as “keel weights” or “bead-chain sinkers”, the popularity in these weights led us to develop a set of weights for Bass Pro called the Bass Pro Shops® Fish Weight™ Inline Fishing Weights. Available in 4 sizes (1/2, 1, 2 and 3 ounce), these weights are molded to resemble small baitfish, feature the same holographic finish as the blades and bodies mentioned earlier, and work “double-duty”, acting as not only a weighting system but an attractor ahead of the spinner as well. So which weighting system is best? You’ll have to let the walleyes tell you. We’ve seen days when one way out produces the other, other days when it was about fifty-fifty. We almost always start by running both Snap Weights and in-line Fishing Weights, and go with what ever presentation is getting the most bites.
The flash and vibration of the blade along with the scent of the bait combine to make spinners deadly walleye catchers. Whether you apply them to fishing structure on small lakes, or trolling the open waters on the Great Lakes, the advancements in spinner fishing is sure to make big waves in your walleye catching success.