Suspended Walleyes

February 23, 2009 by  

By Chris Hustad

Scenario: You wake up and spend all morning working deep or shallow water walleyes off structure, humps, points and breaks. The results…nothing. While the graph is showing a few spotty fish here and there off the bottom, you move on trying to work another piece of structure in search of fish. The whole time that you’re moving to and from your favorite structure, have you noticed anything suspended on the graph? And if so, why are you ignoring it? While programmed in my mind that walleyes should be off the bottom, it’s hard to argue with the graph.

A technique that is very old, but still works today are 2 and 3-way rigs. Most anglers can overlook these methods. The purpose and method isn’t hard to understand. Try and figure out what depth most fish are moving at. I prefer to keep my bait right in that zone or a little above it. Depending on the time of year, you might have to make adjustments to your rig accordingly.

The 3-way rig is basically a 3-way swivel, which attaches to the weight and to the bait. The purpose of the rig is to keep the bait at a consistent, suspended level. If the fish are running 10 feet off the bottom, run a 10 foot line from the swivel to the weight…it’s that simple. What choice of weight is truly up to you, but make sure that it’s always on the bottom. During light wind conditions, I’ll use a ¼ ounce weight. But during windy conditions, you might have to bump up to a ¾ or even a 1-ounce weight. It’s probably best to go a little heavier than you may think, just in case wind conditions change for the worse. The choice of leader coming off the swivel is also dependent on the angler. I try to stay away from anything under 24”, and normally don’t go beyond a 60” leader. Early in the year I’ll use a floating-rig trailer and drift to move as slow as possible. As the water warms up and the fish become more aggressive, try changing to a spinner and try a slow or medium troll. A little trial and error is inevitable in fishing, so use what works best for you.

The difference in a 2-way rig from a 3-way is basically in the swivel. I’m assuming that all anglers have swivels in the tackle box, if so you’re ready for a 2-way rig. I prefer a 2-way rig over a 3-way rig for a big reason, better feel. I traditionally learned to run the swivel with the bait ABOVE the swivel with the weight. But as I’ve experimented, I’ve found it works best to run the swivel with the bait through the swivel with the weight (as in the example). The result is a little better feel when it comes to light biting walleyes. The choice of line is up to you, but keep strength and feel in mind. Any form of SuperMono should be sufficient.

These two tactics are something I feel every angler should be prepared to use in certain situations. Always keep an eye on the graph. If you’re not picking up any fish, but are seeing a lot of suspended fish; give it a try. You can never have too many weapons as a walleye angler, some days I suppose this could make or break your day.

Good Fishing and don’t forget to take a kid fishing this summer.


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