Spinner Rigs

February 23, 2009 by  

By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson


Spinner rigs are very versatile to use whether fishing shallow or deep, fast or slow

Spinner rigs are very versatile to use whether fishing shallow or deep, fast or slow

You can’t beat live bait…or can you? There is a presentation that combines both the natural scent, look and feel of live bait and the flash and attraction of a lure. Spinner rigs offer the best of both worlds and they work especially well on many different lakes across the country as the water warms up during the spring and summer time periods, and even in the fall.

Unlike more stationary ways of presenting live bait like slip bobbers, jigs or Lindy Rigs, spinner rigs are the fastest way to fish live bait effectively. As a result, they can be used as a search tactic to sift through huge areas for fish. That’s especially important when walleyes are in transition from shoreline weeds to the tips of points and larger offshore structure like the mid-lake gravel bars or mud flats.

They can be fished with hand-held rods to stay tight to weed edges or on planer boards to take them far to the sides of the boat and cover more water. They can be trolled or drifted.

By using different weighting systems and different-sized weights, spinner rigs can be fished from just below the surface to the bottom and around weeds, rock and other cover. Your bait choices can range from nightcrawlers to leeches to minnows.

Blade sizes and styles can be changed in a snap with Lindy’s X-Change System. How much more versatile can you get?

The basics

Spinner rigs, usually effective once the water temps get above 50 degrees, consist of a clevis, a blade, and beads to add attraction and keep the blade away from two snelled hooks for nightcrawlers and or one hook for leeches and minnows.

Learn to tie your own or buy commercially-produced ones like the tried and true, single-hook Red Devil Spinners and the double-hook Little Joe Crawler Harness. The new Little Joe Red Devil Supreme Spinners now come with Techni-Glo colors and holographic finishes.

Snell length varies from 36-inches to 42-inches for most commercially made ones to longer if you make your own. But, commercial lengths will usually suffice.

Blade choices include style, size and color. It’s hard to beat a Colorado blade for most situations. They turn well at slow speeds to produce both flash and vibration. Indiana blades have to be trolled at faster speeds, which can be a drawback. Most effective trolling speed range for spinner rigs is usually 1 to 1.5 mph, just fast enough to make the blade spin. Walleyes have to be very aggressive to push speeds of 2 mph and more. Speed control is critical to working spinners effectively. The use of a drift sock while drifting or trolling can make the difference between catching and just fishing.

Eric Hustad taking off an early summer walleye taken on a spinner rig

Eric Hustad taking off an early summer walleye taken on a spinner rig

Be sure to check the rig at the side of the boat before you let out line to be certain the blade is turning and the bait is straight to avoid twisting. Hook nightcrawlers just through the nose with the first hook and insert the second into the body near the collar. With leeches, hook them in the end opposite the sucker.

The unique shape of Lindy Hatchet blades makes them spin well at low speeds. They produce a fish-attracting thump and lots of flash, both of which makes them a powerful choice for very clear or very dirty water.

Size of the blade is dependent on two factors, size of the walleyes in the system and their mood. Use larger blades, perhaps number 4 blades to number 6’s and even bigger, at trophy locations like Bay de Noc and Lake Erie. Use number 2 blades to number 4 blades on lakes where there’s a broad range of fish sizes. That rule of thumb changes when fish are more aggressive (try larger blades than normal) or when they are lethargic (try smaller.)

A wide variety of colors are on the market. Try metallic gold, silver and copper in sunlight or clear water and brightly colored blades in dingy water or on cloudy days.

But, don’t get locked into preset ideas, especially if what you are using aren’t working. In states where multiple lines are allowed, try a few metallic ones on a sunny day or in clear water but use a colored one, too. Switch on a cloudy day or dingy water to a majority of colored blades but use at least one metallic. You just might get a surprise. The key is to experiment with blade choices and let the walleyes tell you want they want on any given day. The X-Change clevis permits easy and quick blade changes. Take advantage of that.

A weighty issue

The style and amount of weight you use depends on where and how deep you want to fish. NO-SNAGG Center Slip sinkers work great for fishing weed edges or over the tops of vegetation. For mud or sand, a dropper to a bell sinker or a Lindy walking sinker work well. Bottoms featuring snags can be attacked with Rattlin’ NO-SNAGG sinkers.

Bottom bouncers also make for a great sinker to present bait on the bottom. Weeds may be the exception. One ounce is good down to 10 feet, 2 ounces to 20, 3 ounces for 30.

Snap weights that clip on the line are the way to go to fish up off the bottom. The key is to attach them in a consistent way so successful presentations can be repeated. Many anglers use a 50/50 rule. They put the spinner in the water, let out 50 feet of line, clip on a weight of one size and let out 50 feet more before adding the planer board. They do the same with their other lines using different sized weights to cover different areas in the water column. Line counter reels help to return baits to the same depth time and again. In August, there are a lot of walleyes that suspend over deep water chasing suspended baitfish. Make sure you try this technique if you are marking suspended fish.

As with any trolling technique, use S-turns to better cover breaks and to vary the speed of the spinners. The inside spinners move slower and the outside rigs move faster as the boat turns. Pay attention. If strikes come on one side or the other during a turn, walleyes may be showing a speed preference.

Use GPS to chart your path and enter waypoints when strikes occur. It will help focus in on areas of active fish. Humminbird’s new Side Imaging technology can also help in locating suspended fish and identify likely looking structure, such as the gravel bars and mud flats.

Try spinner rigs, the best of both worlds during the summer and fall. The action just may leave your head spinning.


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