How to Tie Your Own Walleye Spinners
When it comes to creating spinner rigs suitable for walleye fishing, the factory-tied versions on the market leave me cold much of the time. For better than 30 years I've taken pride in tying my own walleye spinners using premium hooks, lines, clevices and blades.
The time spent making my own fishing rigs is enjoyable, but even better it's a satisfying feeling reeling in a fish I caught on one of my own creations. My son Jake and I often tie spinners together while we're watching a ball game. My wife Mari even jumps into the act to make sure we color-coordinate things as she sees fit!
A spinner rig can be drifted, cast or trolled. This presentation starts heating up in the spring when the water gets in the upper 40-degree range and remains good all summer long.
Getting started tying your own spinner rigs starts by identifying the proper components. Most tackle shops and mail order houses sell spinner components including blades, beads, leader material, clevices and hooks. An investment of about $50 will set an angler up for producing as many quality spinner rigs. That's a considerable saving over purchasing the factory-tied versions which start at about $2 each and range up to $5 or more!
Walleye spinner rigs can be tied on a variety of leader materials. An ordinary monofilament line is an acceptable and affordable option. Select a hard-surfaced line that has excellent abrasion resistance. Both Maxima Ultra Green and Chameleon are examples of monofilaments that are tough enough to make great spinner rigs.
Fluorocarbon is also popular as leader material for spinner fishing because this line type is nearly invisible in the water. Fluorocarbon also has great abrasion resistance qualities and it holds knots well.
A few anglers use fused lines to tie spinner harnesses. The biggest problem with fused lines is they are soft and tangle easily. Should one of these rigs get tangled, there is little chance of salvaging the rig.
Depending on the size of fish targeted leader material suitable for walleye fishing ranges from 10- to 15-pound test. Both fluorocarbon and monofilament can be purchased in leader wheels, saving money and making sure the line used for tying spinner rigs is fresh and in good shape.
Tackle shops sell beads designed for tying rigs, but I prefer to buy my beads at a craft shop. Craft shops have a wider variety of beads and bead types and many more colour options than routinely stocked at a tackle shop. Also, beads at a craft shop cost about one-quarter of the price of the same ones sold at tackle stores!
A clevice is the device that holds the blade on the leader allowing the blade to rotate. Some clevices are made from stamped metal, others folded metal and still, others are formed from plastic. Metal clevices allow the blade to spin with the least amount of resistance and are superior for slow trolling and drifting applications.
Plastic clevices are often configured to allow the blade to be removed without having to cut and re-tie the leader. This handy feature allows anglers to experiment with blade size, shape and color quickly. The leader in this category is a company called Quick Change Clevices and they are widely distributed at tackle shops everywhere.
Plastic clevices come in two sizes, one for smaller blades and a second model for larger blades. Matching up the right size clevice to the proper blade is important to get good performance from these products.
For walleye harnesses, I favor a short shank-style hook known as a "beak" hook. Similar in shape to an "egg" hook, but with a little longer shank, a No. 4 beak hook is a good all-around choice. When targeting bigger walleye a larger No. 2 beak hook is the best option.
Ordinary bronze hooks are the standard for walleye spinner rigs, but red anodized hooks are gaining in popularity. Many anglers feel that red hooks help to attract fish.
The most popular blade type for walleye spinner fishing is hands down the Colorado blade. Colorado blades spin at slow speeds and give off a lot of flash and vibration. Sizes 2 and 3 are ideal for structure fishing applications and when fishing inland lakes. Larger No. 4 and 5 blades work better for targeting larger walleye or when fishing impoundments and the Great Lakes that produce bigger average-sized fish.
A good second option is Indiana-style blades that are a little more oblong in shape. It takes a little more speed to get an Indiana blade spinning, but these blades work well in most walleye fishing situations for drifting and slow trolling.
These days blades suitable for walleye spinner rigs come in every color and finish imaginable. When buying blades purchase them in groups of 4 to 6 blades per color. That way if a particular color starts producing you'll have other blades of the same color to share.
The best knot for tying walleye spinner rigs is known as the egg loop and anglers can quickly learn to tie this knot at a web page called www.animatedknots.com. The benefit of the egg loop knot is the hook can be placed precisely on the leader allowing the angler to space two or three hooks at exactly the desired distance from one another. Other snell knots allow the hook to slide when the knot is tightened, making it tough to create uniform rigs.
Summing It Up
Tying spinner rigs is a lot of fun and these rigs are deadly when fishing walleye on bottom bouncer sinkers, slip sinker rigs, three-way swivel rigs or when trolling in open water using divers like the popular Off Shore Tackle Tadpole Diver.
Once tied I like to store my spinner rigs in small plastic bags or wrap them up on a short chunk of foam made for insulating water pipes. One length of foam can be cut into about a dozen short leader wheels ideal for storing walleye spinner rigs.
If tying your own spinner rigs isn't an option, some of the best factory-tied rigs are produced by Yakima Bait, Northland Tackle, Lindy Little Joe and Bait Rigs Tackle.