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Brad Laabs column: Old-school rigging still brings in the walleye

Live bait rigging (commonly referred to as "Roach rigging" or "Lindy rigging" and named after hall of fame anglers Gary Roach and Al Linder) is a technique that has been working for catching walleyes for decades.

It can be fished and work from opening day until the lakes ice up. It is a simple set up that consists of a weight with a hole in it that can slide up and down the main line, a barrel swivel works as a stop that also has a length of leader line with a hook.

There are many variations of the basic theme that can include, but are not limited to, floating jig heads, attractor beads, or even a spinner. Your own creativity can help you modify this rig as a way of adapting to your fishing situations.

Weights can vary in shapes and sizes. In weeds, the egg sinkers or worm weights (bullet sinkers) work well. The walking or shoe shaped weights work well on hard sand bottom areas. In rocky areas, the bell shaped sinkers, stick weights, or the Lindy "no snag" sinkers perform better.

Weight sizes of 1/16th ounce for very shallow water, 1/8th for depths out to about 15 feet, 1/4 ounce out to about 25 feet., and 3/8ths for deep water is the standard.

Wind will force you to size up for proper feel. Most times a 3-5 foot leader of 4-8 pound test mono or fluorocarbon will be the standard. You may want to shorten the leader in weeds or during cold front situations, and go to longer leaders if fishing mud or silty bottom situations.

Hook sizes vary for personal preference, but size 6 or 4 for leeches/crawlers, 4's for small minnows, 2's or 1's for big minnows has served me well for many years.

When live bait rigging, your speed can be very critical.

Most situations you will range from about .2 to .6 mph. Drifting with the wind can be a challenge to maintain proper speeds, as winds and gusts change and vary. Use your electric trolling motor to help control speed and sometimes the use of a drift sock can slow the boat in higher wind situations.

Controlling speed into the wind is usually easier and slight changes in speed can help trigger bites. Move up and down the break as you also move along a break line. Pay attention when you get a bite. What was your speed? Moving up or down the break? Is the bite better going into the wind or drifting with the wind? The details make a difference.

Look at your location in relation to the structure and then "rinse and repeat" to put more fish in the boat. Fish for the fish you see on your locator and don't get stuck just fishing spots. Locating bait fish can be as critical as graphing the actual fish.

"Rigging" is an old school presentation that still produces. Learning by practicing is the best way to become a good rig fisherman. I hope you take the time to get out and rig up some walleyes.

By the way, rigging is also a technique that catches northern pike, bass, and even sunfish!

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)