Fishing Lines - Live bait rigging has been working well on area lakes
Live bait rigging leeches and night crawlers have been the main "go to" presentation for my boat while chasing walleyes during the last two weeks. We have mixed in a little jigging and some slip bobbering with leeches also, but the most productive has been "rigging" the 16-24ft water on underwater points that extend into main lake areas, or fishing edges of mid-lake structure. Some fishermen know "rigging" as slip sinker rigging, live bait rigging, roach rigging (named after Mr. Walleye Gary Roach), or lindy rigging (named after hall of fame angler Al Linder). It is all the same thing with different names based on how you were introduced to the technique.
The set-up for this is to have a sliding sinker on the main line. There are many types of sliding sinkers to choose from, with the most common being the "lindy" shoe type, the egg sinker, or the bell shaped sinker. A barrel swivel is attached to the main line and acts as a sinker stop before the leader. Some anglers will place a bead on the line before tying the swivel on as it can protect the knot from being damaged by the sinker. Leader line is attached to the swivel with a hook or floating jig head tipped with a night crawler, leech, or minnow. Colored beads can also be put on the leader as an attractor. Most leader line will be 4-8lb test and most leader lengths will be 3-6ft. Fluorocarbons have become a popular leader material, but remember that fluorocarbon lines sink, so if you are looking to raise your bait off the bottom you could impair your intention with that choice of line.
The concept of the live bait rig is to move along the break line sliding up and down the contour until you contact fish. You will let the line out until you make contact with the bottom (some will drag bottom, others will troll with the weight slightly off the bottom). As you move you will have your line ready to be released as you hold on to the line with your finger or thumb (depending on the type of reel you are using). When the fish bites, you release the line so you are undetected by the fish (the weight remains on the bottom and the line will slide through the weight as the fish swims with the bait), wait a few seconds, secure your reel, pick up your slack line and set the hook. Game on!
Some considerations that can help reduce frustrations will include using fresh quality fishing line. The use of good barrel swivels will help reduce line twist or "rig foul-ups." It is important to not just drop the weight straight into the water. The problem of the main line and leader line coming together and twisting around each other can cause frustration and re-tying. From experience I can tell you I have seen many "macramé projects" from this error. Simply drag the weight and release slowly to the bottom, or flip the weight a few feet from the boat and let the leader and bait chase the weight to the bottom. Most of the time you will be moving under 1mph (mostly .4 to .8 mph) for this live bait rigging technique. Once the fish is on, resist racing the fish to the boat. Let the rod and drag of the reel help you fight the fish. Reeling against the drag will twist the line and cause problems later, so resist reeling against the drag.
Variations of live bait rigging can be used for any species of fish you like to pursue with modifications. Be creative, work out your own variations of this strategy, and get out and practice. It really, really works!
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)