Walleye Fishing Tips: Using Metal Lures
Jigging spoons and blade baits have long been in the arsenal for walleye fishing. They are a versatile part of the tackle arsenal that can be fished in a variety of speeds and styles.This article by Ohio writer Jim Corey covers walleye fishing tips using metal lures in all water temperatures to prompt walleye strikes.
Heavy Metal For Walleye
By: Jim Corey, Cripple Creek Bait & Tackle, Dennison Oh
No, I’m not talking about music that’ll make the fillings in your teeth vibrate like a Rattletrap. I’m talking about metal fishing lures; jigging spoons, bladebaits, chunks of steel that cast like rockets and sink nearly as fast. Usually thought of as cold water baits, they definitely have a place in the Walleye, Saugeye, or Sauger anglers warm water arsenal. There are few lures that imitate a baitfish as well as a spoon. It darts and flashes, rises and falls and sometimes triggers fish that didn’t seem to be biting at all. I don’t think that a spoon can be fished wrong. Cast it and snap jig it, swim it, rip it vertically, and I wish I had counted all the times that I have stuck my rod in the rod holder to get a drink from the cooler or eat a sandwich and had the rod bend double under the weight of a fish that just came up and inhaled the hanging spoon.
I have a fishing buddy who actually can crawl a spoon over the bottom, dragging it slowly, a foot at a time. How he does it without losing spoon after spoon I’ll never know. I can’t do it. And he catches fish doing it. A young child or a novice fisherman seems to catch fish easily with a spoon. They don’t know how they are supposed to fish it so they jerk it, let it lay, move it erratically, forget about it for minutes at a time and end up giving it a unique action that those poor fish have never seen.
I fish a lot of Walleye tournaments and jigs were my “go to” bait for years. I am convinced that the spoons are another versatile way to cover water fast and yet have the option to slow down and finesse without having to change baits. Try vertical jigging with a crankbait! When the fish are up shallow and feeding I cast and snap jig the spoon back to the boat. For those of you with a Bass fishing background, you will have to form a new habit. Finish your cast! Most Bass fishermen are casting to spots that they hope will hold fish. With Walleye, those fish could be anywhere between where your lure lands and the boat. Always finish your cast, ending up directly under the boat, vertically jig the spoon a few times, let it rest a few inches off the bottom, and jig it again.
Many fine Walleye are taken directly beneath the boat. I try to maintain bottom contact with each jigging stroke; snap it up and let it fall to the bottom, kicking up puffs of sand or mud or clicking on gravel or rock. Experiment. Sometimes the fish seem to want the spoon to fall on a fairly tight line. This holds the nose of the spoon up and lets it pendulum forward. Other times they seem to prefer you to just dump slack and let the spoon dart erratically down, this way and that. This is probably the most difficult to master because, when in an aggressive feeding mood, Walleye tend to hit the spoon on the fall, making it difficult to feel the hit.
Be a line watcher and take up the slack quickly. Set the hook at the slightest sign of resistance on the
upstroke. The way I fish a spoon most often, though, is to let it fall on “controlled slack”. A slight bow in the line allows the spoon to flutter down with a side to side motion and in a more vertical descent. When fishing in this manner I don’t snap the spoon as much, rather gliding it towards me on the upstroke. When the fish are biting short, skinning or stealing minnows or leeches, we’ve all had those days when a stinger hook just doesn’t work. They just don’t seem to want it. With a spoon, the business end is the back. It’s hard to hit too short to miss the treble hook on the back of a spoon.
I fish bladebaits basically the same as spoons except that I rely on bladebaits more often for vertical
presentations. Some days the fish seem to want the flash of a spoon and other days the vibration of the bladebait is the ticket. In my experience, the bladebait is a better performer in colder water.
Have any of you ever fished in a tournament where the fish just weren’t to be had? Of course, we all have, at one time or another, encountered conditions that just shut the fish down as if they had lockjaw. Let me give you an example of what heavy metal can do in these situations.
In late October of 1999, The Southern Ohio Walleye Club held it’s two-day, year end championship on Tappan Lake, in East Central Ohio. Saturday dawned clear and cloudless and there had been a twenty degree drop in temperature overnight. The water lay like glass with not a ripple on the surface for most of the day.
The majority of the contestants in the tournament fished tried and true traditional methods. My Partner and I went to deep water where we had located fish during pre-fishing and began vertically jigging large, 1/2 ounce Vib-“E” bladebaits. We worked the blades aggressively, ripping them on the upstroke and dumping the slack, letting them fall erratically. At days end, at weigh-in, it was a glum and solemn group that gathered around the scales to see how everyone else had done.
Out of the entire field, only two boats weighed in fish. Our boat weighed in a limit. One other boat weighed in two fish for a total weight of under 4 pounds. Day two was virtually identical to day one as far as the weather was concerned. We started out with ice in our rod guides. One boat came near where we were fishing and asked us what we were using. We told them what, where ,and how and gave them some Vib-“E”s. At weigh-in that afternoon, again, only two boats were able to bring fish to the scales. The boat that had asked us for help weighed in four fish, moving into second place. We again weighed in a limit.
Total weight for third place after two days of hard fishing was less than 4 pounds. Second place was less than 7 pounds. Our boat weighed in a total of 43.23 pounds! Our biggest fish was nearly 7 pounds. Now this doesn’t sound like much weight if you are used to fishing Lake Erie or one of the other premier Walleye lakes, but this is a small, inland reservoir and these were Saugeye, not Walleye. With a minimum 14” limit, many events here are won by weights ranging from 10 to 15 pounds. We could see the fish on our electronics and the bladebaits triggered the otherwise neutral to negative fish.
And all you Bass fishermen take heed! We catch a lot of Bass, both Largemouth and Smallmouth, on
heavy metal during the course of a season while fishing for Walleye. So dig out some of those spoons or bladebaits that you rarely use , and give them a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.