Live Bait Rigging My Way

From early in walleye season throughout the year, I prefer live bait rigging. Even when some guys are jigging in May, I still rig with night crawlers. Guiding 100 days per year on Minnesota’s Leech Lake (big, clear, deep) has taught me a number of lessons. Let me share a few of those here.

Total Solutions Technique

I always run green Trilene XT. I’ve tried 6-pound test, and settled on 8-pound test, because I really set the hook hard. This line stands up to abuse and won’t break on monster walleyes. I’ve tested these two lines side-by-side and the 8-pound gets as many bites as the 6.

My regimen includes crawlers early, but sometimes leeches are best in May. I swing back to “blown-up” crawlers for the summer and fall months. I steer away from minnows in fall, because at $1 each, I can get a lot of crawlers.

My rigging presentation has evolved to where it’s super simple. I tie on a number two or four live bait hook; add a tiny split shot up the line, with my slip sinker (almost always a one-half ounce model) above the split shot. This allows me to quickly adjust the leader length if I snag or a pike bites me off. In spring, I generally use a three or four foot leader, stringing this out to eight feet in summer.

I like to drift and I can move faster and keep the bait on the bottom with the heavier sinker, even at a favorite depth of around 20-feet. It also prevents clients from letting out too much line. The walleyes like a faster drift.

Total Solutions Equipment

My rigging rods are all medium-light action Fenwick Eagle  6 or 6 ½-foot spinning rods. A small to medium sized spinning reel spooled with Berkley Trilene XT, 8 pound test in green color keeps things simple and effective. On the business end, a nightcrawler on a size #4 bait hook, and a worm blower is critical to “blow-up” the crawler with a bubble of air to not only plump it up but to help it to stay off the bottom where the fish will see it.

Editor’s Note: A fishing trip with Mark is a true learning experience. Call him for Leech Lake fishing at its finest, 218-766-6909.

Berkley® Trilene XT®

Fenwick® Eagle®  Spinning