Hungry spring walleyes rarely pass up the opportunity to gobble up a slow moving stickbait. Getting them down is the tough part.
We are no environmental scientists, but in the past couple of years, anglers fishing the Great Lakes have all noticed that walleyes are spending way too much time down deep than they’ve done in the previous decades.
The bottom line is that it’s getting tougher and tougher to find walleyes high up in the water column, suspended for your fishing pleasures.
And there is no time of the year where this bottom-dwelling tendency is more on display than in the spring season. When the water is cold in the spring months, not only are walleyes all the way down, they are also way more careful about what they decide to bite on. What’s needed during this time is real finesse, and very subtle presentation.
Hard baits with lengthy diving lips can get deep down to reach walleyes hidden at the bottom of the lake, but their action is a bit stiff, to say the least, when pulled at slower speeds.
On the other hand, while the shallow diving stick baits (which are great for the summertime) can be pulled with finesse and achieve the necessary slow moving presentation, they are not exactly designed for deep dives.
Having said all of that, we are to present you with THREE solutions to this conundrum to help you land the walleye of your dreams!
- Getting the lead out
Leadcore lines are made up of thin lead cores (as the name suggests) and Dacron outer shells that surround the core. The use of leadcore lines was originally popularized by resourceful salmon trollers.
Leadcore lines change color every 30 feet or so, which allows you to keep track of how much line you let out, so that you can reset a stickbait at exactly the same depth, every single time.
Leadcore lines present the subtle presentation you need because the weight is distributed throughout the entire line. This is very different from using a snap weight which only adds weight to one spot on the line.
Very minute speed changes will make a stickbait cast out in a leadcore line rise or sink in the water column in subtle ways, which makes it a lot easier for you to get your favorite stickbait to the desired depth without having it drag at the bottom.
The main issue with leadcore lines is that if you run more than two of them behind a boat, then you’re almost guaranteed to have tangles.
- Thin it out
Monofilament lines are ideal for most walleye trolling expeditions. But there are times when you might want to swap the 10 lb monofilament and replace the line on your reel with a braid that has a smaller diameter.
Doing so can help you get a stickbait down an extra 6 feet at least because braids create way less drag in the water.
A 12 lb braid is strong enough to land the largest walleye, but only has half the diameter of a 10 lb monofilament line.
If you switch out your rig from a mono to a braid, make sure to set your drag looser than usual, because the lack of stretch makes it easier to pull the hook out from a walleye’s mouth.
- Three’s the charm
This tactic is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s super effective: troll your stickbaits on a three-way swivel.
Tie the main line to one swivel eye. Tie a short leader and a stickbait to a second eye. The third swivel eye should be tied to another leader or a dropper line, so that the sinker can be attached to your stickabit, in order to get it to your desired depth.
The most common mistake here is not using a sinker that’s heavy enough.
Also, be sure to have your line at least 4 feet long, if you’re going to be trolling it behind your boat, because the length of your dropper does not equal the distance that your bait will run off the bottom (as the moving boat will cause your line to rise slightly on account of the water resistance).
Be sure to try out these techniques when you go trolling walleyes this spring!