“Rigging,” as of late has become better known, especially in this area, as Lindy Rigging. As most of you who have fished for more than just a few years well know, the use of slip sinkers has been around since the first egg sinker hit the market back in the ‘40s.
What the Linder brothers really did was, like many tackle manufacturers have repeatedly done, take a concept a few creative anglers used successfully and refined it a bit. The second stage, of course, is to market it, which is easy if the product is effective.
Lindy’s refined sinker exposed in the sixties what a select few anglers knew: rigs catch walleyes. At that time the initial use for most area anglers, however, was pretty much limited to the summer. The jig and minnow still ruled in spring and fall.
Today, I would still say 90% of fisherman use of the rig is from mid summer, when the water warms and the fish go deep, until the water cools. Then the fish go back to their spring haunts and most people change back to jigging.
Contrary to popular belief, though, the rig can actually be used quite effectively from the beginning to the end of open water season.
I personally don’t rig much early or late mainly due to the amount of time I spend on the water. I also like the variety jigging offers for about the first six weeks and after that I switch to rigging for the next seven weeks, and back to jigging the last six weeks. For me it’s more about the diversity of fishing techniques as opposed to effectiveness. Jigging the entire season would be like eating pizza for every meal, great at first, but boring for the long run.
Even though I prefer jigging in the early season, rigging actually works very well at this time because the water temps are cold and the walleye’s metabolism is still low.
To rig effectively in these conditions, slowly troll the spawning areas or areas where shiners are frequenting a select section of shoreline. I prefer a minnow earlier due do the cold water and because minnows are the main forage at this time of year.
When the water temps get in the mid sixties, I like to switch to leeches first, then to crawlers. When a fish picks up the bait let out line. This means fishing with the bail open and holding the line with your index finger on spinning rods or thumbing the spool on casting reels.
As soon as you feel a bite, which is usually very subtle, let go of line. The key is to let the fish tell you when it has eaten the bait. I start out with a five second count. Then, tighten up the slack and pull back very gentry. If it’s snug, set the hook. If you swing and miss, on the next bite, go for a ten second count. Experiment with different counts until you start consistently hooking them. If by chance you can’t get hooked regardless of amount of time, or they’re picking up the bait and dropping it, try closing the bail and setting the hook as soon as the fish picks up the bait. This might goes against the concept of rigging, but if it works use it.
Rigging is effective because it gives walleyes the time to eat the bait and not have to chase after it. For them it is like having room service. It works well all year because it lets the fish have the time they need to take the bait. In warmer water the fish will chase, but with warmer water they have more food sources to choose from and are usually not under fed.
Given time to look at your bait, walleyes will usually eat it, but it needs to sit right in their face for more than a couple seconds. As far as bait, you can use any type of live bait fish are feeding on or looking for at that time of year.
When fishing early and the fish are usually shallow, you only need one eight or a quarter oz, sinker, depending on the wind mostly, or personal feel or type of the bottom.
The leader is most important part. I like to use a clear fluorocarbon line, which is virtually invisible to the fish. They may see your line and sinker, but nothing else until the bait appears. This just one of many small things that just might make the difference between having a good day and having a great day.
Whether you are rigging or jigging, while on the water be safe and courteous and have fun.
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Walleye & Northern Pike - May 12, 2018
Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass - May 12, 2018
Muskie - June 2, 2018
Charlie Worrath talks early season walleye for the television program Jason Mitchell Outdoors on Lake Winnibigoshish in northern Minnesota. (watch the video)
Jason Boser appearing on an episode for the television program Jason Mitchell Outdoors on Lake Winnibigoshish in northern Minnesota. (watch the video)
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