Slow Death Reborn
New twists make deadly tactic better than ever
Slow Death Rigging has risen from top-secret tactic to a staple presentation in the walleye world, and for good reason. It’s a great way to bridge the gap between live-bait rigging and trolling crankbaits, and shines whenever you want to cover water, especially along tight contour lines or the edges of fish-holding cover.
As the technique gradually evolved into its own genre, a number of manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon with a bounty of baseline hooks and rigs aimed at arming anglers for Slow Death success. More recently, the saga saw the creation of advanced tackle that promises to take the tactic to new heights.
“With the release of its Crawler Hauler lineup, Northland Fishing Tackle raised the bar in Slow Death tackle, providing innovative anglers with tools to push the envelope and make this exciting tactic even deadlier,” reports walleye sage Chip Leer, who hails from Minnesota’s famed Leech Lake and travels the Walleye Belt with the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour.
“Slow Death Rigging has been around for years,” he says, explaining that the tactic was born on the Missouri River system as a means of finding and triggering wayward walleyes. It centers on a half-nightcrawler impaled on a kinked Aberdeen hook, which gives the bait a gyrating, fish-attracting action.
Leer favors Northland’s new size 2 Crawler Hauler Hook, which sports a VMC cone-cut point and Snap-Back-Barb bait-keeper midway on the shank. “This is the only hook on the market that actually addresses the issue of the crawler creeping down the hook,” he says. “The reverse barb also aids in rigging. Just thread the bait on the hook up to the bottom of the keeper, push the hook point out the side of the crawler, and slide the head of the bait to the hook eye. It’s virtually foolproof.”
Rigged correctly, the crawler spins seductively, mimicking a dying baitfish. “You can fish at slower speeds than a crankbait or spinner rig, with more maneuverability,” says Leer. “Plus, the target is little shorter, which foils short-strikers, and the thump-thump-thump of the spinning bait helps attract walleyes.”
Weighting options center on bottom bouncers. “I use a fixed, L-armed bouncer around weeds because it pushes light weeds out of the way, creating a path for the rig,” he explains. In almost any other situation. “I prefer a slip-bouncer like Northland’s Slick-Stick, which is snag-free, less prone to tangles and highly sensitive.” He uses just enough weight to keep his line at a 45-degree angle to the water while occasionally ticking bottom. “You can increase the angle in shallow water to get the line away from the boat,” he adds.
“Slow Death Rigging works well during the early summer transition, when walleyes are pulling away from shorelines and dispersing along weedlines, breaks and edges, as well as spreading out across deep flats,” he continues. “It remains a productive presentation throughout summer for fish scattered around these areas.”
Tricks And Tweaks
Adaptations to the Slow Death system abound. “One of the newest is adding a little color to the presentation by threading a plastic bead onto the leader line just ahead of the hook,” says Leer.
Another trick is upping the flotational ante with a buoyant body.”Northland’s new Float’n Crawler Hauler Hook incorporates a Gum-Drop foam body into the program,” he says. “Because the bait is elevated no matter the speed, you can slow down to a crawl without fear of fouling soft or weedy bottoms. Plus, the rig eases, slides and washes side to side with a hunting-like action.”
To speed things up while boosting flash and vibration, Leer swaps the floating body for Northland’s Crawler Hauler Speed-Spinner. “You can run this Slow Death and spinner rig combo up to 1 mph, making it perfect for open-water trolling or searching for fish along extended weed edges and bottom contours,” he says.
When tracing key contours, Leer notes that cutting edge navigational allies like Humminbird’s i-Pilot Link technology make staying on structure a snap. “Set the system on Follow The Contour, and the sonar and mapping will guide your Minn Kota trolling motor wherever you want it to go,” he says. “Leaving you free to focus on tweaking the deadly variables of Slow Death Rigging.”
See more of Chip’s tips on Slow Death Rigging.