Suspended Walleye

How Deep are the Walleye?

Suspended fish can be caught using a couple of different techniques. Usually when the fish are suspended they'll spread out. The trick is to cover a lot of water and put a bait near as many fish as possible. Crankbaits will allow you to cover quickly and big walleyes have a strong desire to crush these baits.
I will run back and forth over an open water area many times with my eyes glued on my Bottom Line Tournament NCC 6300 until I pinpoint the exact location of the fish or ball of baitfish. They might be suspending off a small finger extending from a sunken island or to a tiny corner on the point. Once I have located these fish, my presentation and bait selection is very important.

Crankbaits run at specific depths depending on size, diving lip, line length and trolling speed. Within the natural diving range of each lure, depth is fine tuned by adjusting line length. Trolling reels with line length indicators have become popular for exact replication of productive depth and pinpoint control. Many manufacturers offer line counting reels now so anglers donít have to count the number of throws a reel goes through to set a specific depth.
Shimano has introduced the Tekotaô line counter and I believe it is one of the best. The drag system on the Tekota is made from material that provides a wider range of drag settings than normal star drag materials, along with the smoothest drag. It also has put on the non-disengaging level wind system which allows the line to track back and forth as the line comes off the spool. This feature eliminates the drastic line angles caused by disengaging level wind systems. An added plus of this reel is that the line counter is accurate in feet and easy to reset.
Few crankbaits dive deeper than 25 feet, even on a long line. To reach depths exceeding the natural diving ability of crankbaits, weight must be added to the line to drop lures down into the fish zone. This is just as true for presenting spinner-crawler combos. Walleye anglers have several solutions for increasing running depth while maintaining control.
Traditional deep water trolling was once accomplished with leadcore line. Leadcore line is braided dacron with a thin lead core, creating a sinker running the entire length of the line. Leadcore was used to toll deep water for walleyes or trout. The answer to the solution of depth was to simply let more line out and the lure ran deeper. A monofilament leader between the lure and leadcore minimized spooking. When a fish hit, you simply reeled the leadcore up into a large capacity trolling reel.
When leadcore was first used with planer boards, it was too heavy; anything more than about 30 yards of leadcore sunk a typical board. This was remedied by tying a 10, 20, or 30 yard segment of leadcore into the main line, 50 feet ahead of the lure. The segmented leadcore approach took lures down to about 35 feet, but was somewhat confusing to most anglers. Multiple reels with different lengths of segmented leadcore were needed to effectively cover a variety of depths.
Open water trolling for suspended fish also taught anglers that walleyes could be caught tight to the bottom. To do this run snap weights near bottom, or switch to three-way rigs or bottom bouncers to make lures or baits run just above bottom. Bouncers run the closest, while three-ways are adjustable by varying dropper length.
I prefer to use the Lindy No-Snagg. It is a banana shaped sinker that has balsa, lead antimony weight, surrounded by epoxy paint and a protective clear seal coating, with a special rubberized coating on the outside. The sinker also has a stainless steel wire feeler out of the bottom that is tipped with a colored bead. This has the super principles of the 3-way, and the bottom ticking ability of the bottom bouncer. Also, the No-Snagg, when it hits an obstruction simply pivots away from the snag and doesnít get hung up. This pause surge pause method of presentation has captured a lot of walleyes in reservoirs.
Trolling large open water expanses has recently been applied to some areas that previously would not have been attempted, with amazing results. This summer donít keep pounding the shoreline in hopes of catching a few fish when you should be reelin in the fish, get out and troll some open water.

Return To The Walleye Articles Page