Use of Spinner Rigs

By Mark Schram,

Spinner rigs have been in existence for over 30 years, and have been an effective method of covering water to produce walleyes once water temperatures reach above 45-50 degrees.  The rig itself consists of a weight (Lindy, bottom bounce or snap on) and a spinner setup.  The spinner setup includes a live bait hook(s) (minnow, night crawler, or leech), a set of 4-6 beads, snap swivel, Clevis and a blade.

As the harness is pulled through the water the blade will create vibration and flash to attract the walleyes.  Typically, a #1, #2 or #3 Colorado,Indiana, hatchet or willow leaf blade is used.  On the Great lakes a #5 or #6 blade is common.  I suggest using a quick clevis so blades can be changed quickly throughout the fishing trip to find appropriate patterns.  In dirty water conditions, a larger and brighter blade will be more productive.  In clear water; white, bronze, copper, and silver works well and metallic work even better in the sun.  The fish will tell you what they desire.  For brand of blade, my preference is Tommy Harris Custom Blades.

Tommy Harris Custom Blade, with an E-chip

The leader of the harness should be 12-17 pound test.  Many fishermen prefer to use a lighter test than the main line, in the 6-12 pound test range, so if the rig gets snagged, the line should break between the bait and the weight, saving the weight.  I take a different approach using a heavier test which will wear better where zebra mussels are present.  The zebra mussels have sharp edges and will nick the monofilament and compromise the integrity of the line.  A heavier test provides some additional protection.  The snell should be examined periodically to ensure the line is good.

The sinker weight is normally placed about 36” in front of the bait in clear water, and a shorter distance in stained water (18”).  By moving the weight closer to the bait in stained water conditions, the walleye are able to hoan into the bait easier.  Remember, Walleye may be attracted by the banging of the weight on the bottom content, and in stained water conditions they have reduced visibility in the water. Weight of the sinker should be determined by the desired fishing depth.  This is a good rule of thumb:  Use 1/2 oz to 1 ounce for depths under 10 feet or less, 1-1/2 ounces for 10- to 20 feet, 2 ounces for 20- to 35 feet.

Presentation of the bait can be accomplished by drift fishing if a wind or current is available.  A good trolling motor or small kicker motor can accomplish the same if conditions are not conducive to drift fishing.  Target speed should be 0.8 to 2.2 miles per hour.  In stained water or cold water/front conditions, a slower presentation can be more productive.

Spinner rigs are a very productive method to attract active walleyes which are scattered.  Give this method a try and you’ll be having shore lunch in no time