TROLLING SPINNER HARNESSES FOR WALLEYE
RESEARCHED, TESTED, PROVEN, AND FREE ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS
Ever notice how select lure types seem to produce especially well on certain species? For trout, no better lure was ever developed than the iconic Rooster Tail® Spinner. When it comes to putting walleye in the livewell, the Hildebrandt® Hammer Time™ Walleye Spinner is just as iconic. Tipped with a fat nightcrawler the Hammer Time Walleye Spinner puts the hammer down on walleye living in natural lakes, rivers, impoundments, and the Great Lakes.
The beauty of the Hammer Time Spinner is this setup can be fished on structure using the Spin-N-Glo® Bottom Walker or used to target suspended walleyes by incorporating keel sinkers, small diving planers, snap weights, and other trolling sinkers.
A CUT ABOVE THE REST
The success of the Hammer Time Spinner starts with the quality components used in manufacturing. The 60-inch leader is tied using a premium 15# test fluorocarbon line. Fluorocarbon line is super tough and nearly invisible in the water. A pair of premium quality Eagle Claw No. 2 beak hooks are snelled onto the leader, followed by a series of colorful beads chosen to contrast nicely with the blade color. Hildebrandt uses a “quick change” clevice that makes it easy to change blade size and color in seconds. The blades are Colorado-style and have legendary Hildebrandt quality. Anglers can choose from No. 4, 5, or 6 size blades and 18 different color options.
The smaller No. 4 blades are perfect for structure fishing applications and the larger No. 5 and No. 6 blades are ideal for trolling up suspended open water walleye. What sets this premium walleye spinner apart from others is its versatility. Right out of the package the 60-inch harness is ideal for fishing in combination with a wide variety of trolling weights and mini diving planers commonly used to target suspended walleye. For fishing in combination with bottom bouncers like the Spin-N-Glo® Bottom Walker, this harness can easily be shortened to about 40-45 inches in length, making it perfect for structure fishing applications.
When fishing in rivers, natural lakes, and impoundments, most of the time walleye are going to be found in close proximity to the bottom structure. The Hammer Time Walleye Spinner paired up with a Spin-N-Glo® Bottom Walker is the ideal presentation for bottom-hugging walleye. Slowly trolled or drift fished, the key to getting the most from a bottom bouncer and spinner combination is letting out just enough line to make “soft contact” with the bottom.
Set properly a bottom bouncer and spinner rig should be running at approximately a 45-degree angle from the boat to the bottom and ticking lightly along the bottom. Often called the “rule of 45”, fished in this manner the bottom bouncer ticks along making contact with the bottom every few feet. When set to make “soft contact” with the bottom the trailing Hammer Time Walleye Spinner is positioned just above the bottom where it remains free of snags and highly visible to walleye.
Structure fishing with spinners is a “speed sensitive” presentation. Savvy walleye anglers fish these rigs by trolling just fast enough to get the blade rotating on the harness. A trolling speed of 1.2 to 1.5 MPH is about perfect for structure trolling with Hammer Time Walleye Spinners. Either an electric motor or a small gasoline kicker motor can be used to achieve these precise and slow trolling speeds.
STEADY AS SHE GOES
When fishing bottom bouncer and spinner combinations, it’s very important to pick a speed and stick with that speed. Because a Spin-NGlo® Bottom Walker is a sinking device, these trolling aids fish deeper at slower speeds and loses depth when the trolling speed is increased.
At a trolling speed of 1.2 to 1.5 MPH a one-ounce Bottom Walker will stay in contact with the bottom nicely in about 10-15 feet of water. A two-ounce Bottom Walker does a good job of staying in contact with the bottom at depths ranging from 15-25 feet of water and the three-ounce Bottom Walker is necessary when fishing in water 25 to 40 feet deep.
Maintaining a consistent trolling speed helps to keep the bottom bouncer and spinner rig just “ticking” bottom and all but eliminates snagging.
FLATS ARE BEST
A Hammer Time Bottom Walker can be fished on a wide variety of structure types. Walleye anglers fish this style of bottom bouncer most commonly on sprawling flats that feature outcroppings of rock, gravel, or boulders that work to concentrate baitfish and walleye.
The bottom bouncer and spinner combination is widely known as the “money bait” among tournament anglers who depend heavily on the fish catching powers of this classic structure fishing presentation. More money has been won on the pro walleye trail fishing bottom bouncer and spinner rigs than all other common presentations combined!
TARGETING SUSPENDED FISH
The Hammer Time Walleye Spinner makes an ideal lure for targeting suspended open water walleye when used in combination with diving devices like keel sinkers, snap weights, and small diving planers. When targeting suspended walleye anglers can troll with flat lines straight out the back of the boat, but incorporating in-line planer boards to get these baits out to the side of the boat will help tremendously in targeting spooky walleye.
TROLLING TOP TO BOTTOM
Anglers who target walleye in the Great Lakes will note that walleye are often found relating to the bottom and at the same time some fish are suspending over the top of key pieces of bottom structure. In this situation, anglers can capitalize by setting up a spinner trolling pattern that presents part of their rigs suspended in the water column and part fishing near bottom.
The Fishing 411 TV crew targets Great Lakes walleye routinely at classic fishing destinations including Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, Green Bay, Munuscong Bay, the Bay of Quinte, and Little Bay de Noc. Walleye in these fisheries are often found using the entire water column. The typical spinner fishing approach employed by the Fishing 411 crew involves fishing four Hammer Time Walleye Spinners on tadpole divers fished in combination with in-line planer boards. These four rigs are used to target suspended walleye.
Meanwhile, two additional lines equipped with Spin-N-Glo® Bottom Walkers and Hammer Time Walleye Spinners are fished straight out the back of the boat. This six-rod spread covers the water column thoroughly from top to bottom and does an excellent job of picking off both suspended and bottom-hugging walleye.
MORE SPINNER FISHING TIPS
Spinner rigs like the Hammer Time Walleye Spinner are the most productive when fished in combination with large and healthy nightcrawlers. The whole nightcrawler is used when fishing these rigs. The front hook on the harness should be poked into the nose of the crawler and the second hook pierced positioned just behind the collar on the nightcrawler. Rigged in this manner the crawler pulls out straight in the water and the tail wiggles enticingly.
Walleye have a habit of short striking and biting off just the tail of the nightcrawler. When this happens rebait with another fresh nightcrawler. If a spinner rig goes 30 minutes without producing a bite, rebait with a fresh nightcrawler and change out the blade size or color.
SPINNER FISHING IS WORK
Spinner fishing is a lot of work because walleye aren’t the only fish species that are attracted to these live bait rigs. Aggressive non-target species like sheepshead, white bass and catfish are sometimes a spinner fisherman’s worst nightmare.
The truth is just about every fish that swims will strike readily at Hammer Time Walleye Spinners. To keep spinner rigs fishing effectively requires reeling them in every few minutes to check the bait and rebait as necessary.
About the Author: Mark Romanack of Fishing 411 TV spends a lot of time targeting walleye using spinner rigs like the Hammer Time Walleye Spinner. Pictured here Mark is targeting bottom-hugging walleye using the Spin-N-Glo® Bottom Walker in combination with the Hammer Time Walleye Spinner.