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Wired Walleye

by Captain Dave Adams of D & D Charters

The tactics of today's angler will always associate to the angler of yesterday. From what our grandfathers taught us to the latest technique in our favorite outdoors-magazine article, we always strive to be a better angler. To combine some old trolling techniques with a new idea will not only help an angler catch more fish, but it will bring back excitement into your fishing adventure. Wire fishing line may be an old product, but when combined with unique ideas, it can be a very productive and fun fishing experience.

Admittedly, many anglers have stated that wire-fishing line can be hard to obtain, but good quality stainless steel wire line can be found easily. Generally any bait and tackle stores will stock spools of different poundage or will gladly order line for you. Also most of the outdoor catalog companies will carry stainless steel wire fishing line. Acquiring wire-fishing line can be effortless as well offering the benefit of low expense and a new feel to fighting a fish.

Certainly, using a product that will bear a resemblance to something that should be in a piano can be strange, but just as we learned to cast the open face spinning reel it soon be became familiar and pleasurable to use. Flexibility and ease of use in stainless steel fishing wire is measured the same as monofilament, in pound breakage. The most versatile for most open waters such as the Great Lakes is 12 pound. This will give the feel of normal line while offering a sense of assurance that when those extremely large walleye hit, they will be brought to the net.

Once walleye have finished spawning and begin to feed, a pattern will start to develop. On Lake Erie this generally starts the beginning of June and continues till the end of September. At this time, the plug is combined with wire to present a precise trolling match that consistently yields walleye. Whether using planer boards or flatlining behind the boat, the amount of wire line trolled behind the boat combined with a diving plug can provide some exciting moments.

The amount of line drawn from a spool can be measured by counting the number of times the line guide goes from left to right. Have one person hold the line and walk the line back until the line guide moves back and forth one time. Measure the length of line, angling terminology for this is "raps". Often a walleye angler will say that the walleye are hitting a 20 "raps" or the line guide has moved back and forth 20 times. The length of line from one line guide movement is 10 feet multiplied by 20 "raps" which is 200 feet. Many reels are available that will handle wire fishing line with ease and reels that are made for trolling or bait casting will also offer line counters. However any reel that can hold 300 or more yards of line can be used with wire. When stainless steel fishing wire is used, it only needs to be matched with the right lure combination and trolled at the right feeding range.

Catching walleye consistently requires proper depth control and trolling the correct lure. The conventional lure that offers both ease of use and steadfast production is the plug. From deep diving to shallow diving they all offer the same benefit, precise depth. When fishing a large body of water such as Lake Erie, the large deep diving lure such as the Long A Bomber has proven very successful. Although any color or depth may work, a certain combination does seem to provide the best results.

On Lake Erie using a green or fire-tiger Long A Bomber behind a 4 foot leader of 20 pound test monofilament line will reach the depth of 35 feet when trolled behind 320 feet of 12 pound stainless wire. The strongest and most reliable rig is to twist the wire line onto a number 12 barrel swivel. Below the swivel, tie on a 4-foot leader of 20-pound test monofilament line and attach the lure. By switching to smaller plugs or smaller diving lips, this tactic can be used on any body of water, the amount of line trolled combined with the size of plug will give precise depth every time. The correct depth control plays an important part in consistently catching fish, but once the fish are found, that pattern will hold true during the entire feeding season.

Combining old techniques with new also works with the time tested worm harness. The stretch of monofilament will not give the feel of excitement from a lunker walleye. When fishing stainless steel wire fishing line every headshake, dive, and twist will be felt. When using a small diving disk and worm harness, trolling takes on a new purpose. Anglers from Lake Michigan to Lake Ontario are familiar with different versions of diving disks. But to keep lures consistently at a certain depths, the Big Jon diving disks has been the most consistent producer. The 13/4-inch disk in any color is adequate. Try to choose a good quality worm harness. When a good size walleye hits a worm harness, it is absorbing most of the shock. The wire is twisted directly to the diving disk and followed up with a 4-foot leader of 20-pound test monofilament line. By adjusting the amount of line, this trolling rig will run to depths of 20 to 35 feet. Start at 180 and gradually move to 220 feet. Once a pattern is found, this depth will generally produce the entire season. If undesirable fish start to be a problem, try a old "Captain's" trick; instead of letting the crawler trail from the last hook, "ball" up the crawler on the bottom hook, it may look strange, when hooked 5 or 6 times, but the walleye really devour it.

Traditional open water trolling methods produce. But water clarity, fishing pressure, and lower walleye numbers dictate what changes to make in order to be successful. For all day action and size of fish, wire fishing line combined with time-honored trolling tactics can provide an unforgettable day.

Dave Adams is an author and professional charter captain who operates D & D Charters on the Pennsylvania waters of Lake Erie.

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