Thursday, January 26th, 2023
Thursday, January 26th, 2023

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Mini-spinner rigs for summertime walleyes

By Steve Carney

Contributing Writer

I’ve always been a fan of the traditional spinner rig for walleye fishing at this time of year. But recently, I’ve been using what I call a mini-spinner rig, which is a variation of the traditional 10-foot leader, bottom-bouncer style. 

This mini-rig suggestion came from a friend of mine who has perfected this style of walleye fishing. After a couple of weeks of working with it, I am impressed.

The mini-rig is a short, 30-inch spinner rig with a bullet sinker and bead for support. I end up cutting off about 7 feet of leader material from commercial rigs to get to that length. The bullet sinker is absolutely necessary during the summer because of weed growth and zebra mussels. The bullet sinker is perhaps the only weight that can move along the bottom without getting hung up. 

This rig has been really effective when worked over the tops of sand flats and weed edges. The bright bead acts as a buffer because the sinker tends to bang hard on the swivel. 

The swivel is actually the smallest size available because I want the swivel to be as light and streamlined as possible.

The key to working the mini-spinner rig is to get your boat moving at 1.2 mph and then tossing the rig out behind the boat. I back-troll most of the time. Getting up to speed and then tossing the rig creates forward momentum and keeps the spinner from plowing the bottom of the lake. 

I keep the rig about two boat lengths behind me.

The strike on this shortened spinner rig is violent, often knocking the rod and reel out of my hands. When I get a strike, I walk the rod tip back to the fish and then do a gentle, sweeping hookset.

I prefer a single trailing hook and half of a nightcrawler for bait. Some of my cronies prefer the double hook and full crawler, but I catch too many small perch on the trailing hook, which defeats the purpose. 

You’ll get some bonus bluegills from time to time on this rig, but at this time of summer, walleyes need some vibration and noise to trigger them to bite.  

Blade styles on the rig don’t really matter. I have had similar success while using butterfly blades or standard Colorado blades. Blade color doesn’t seem to matter, either.

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