Night crawler harnesses, also known as spinners have become one of the most popular and productive methods used while trolling for Walleyes throughout the Midwest. Spinners can be purchased from your local sporting goods store pre-tied, but these pre-tied spinners are both expensive and lack the necessary customization for specific fishing conditions. Once you understand how easy it actually is to tie your own spinners, you will never again even consider buying a pre-tied one ever again!
There are several things you will need to get started, but once you purchase these items you will be equipped to tie your own spinners for the foreseeable future!
For starters, you will need a spool of line to tie spinners with. I have experimented with a variety of different lines, and have determined that Seaguar Fluorocarbon holds up better than anything else on the market today. I prefer the InvisX when trolling open water, while the AbrazX works great when trolling along the bottom and through weeds and brush as it is incredibly resistant to abrasion from rocks and even Zebra Mussels! When trolling spinners I generally run 15 pound test, but there are times where I will run as light as 10 pound test.
You will also need hooks for your spinners. Octopus hooks are designed for spinners, and are my preferred hook type when pulling spinners. Small treble hooks can also be used as the back hook on your spinners, but I only suggest using trebles when trolling open water, as trebles are much more likely to get caught up in weeds or snagged on bottom debris. Gamakatsu makes the highest quality hook for the price on the market, which is why I exclusively run them on my spinners. Many other brands of hooks will have the tip bend over or round off after extended use, while the Gamakatsu’s maintain their sharpness through it all. Hook size is another variable to consider. When targeting large Walleyes I like to run red #2 hooks, while I prefer #4 and #6 hooks when targeting eating sized fish.
Beads are the next component to a spinner. There are many different bead options out there today, so experimentation is key to finding what colors, materials, and sizes work best for each situation. I suggest purchasing a few of your favorite fish catching colors in a couple different sizes to start, then pur chase more as you determine what works for you. Big Eye Custom Lures has a great selection of great fish catching colors in multiple sizes that have proven themselves as some of the best money can buy.
Clevises are the next component that is needed to attach the spinner blade to the harness. There are two types of clevises, fixed and quick change. The fixed clevises are generally metal, and don’t allow the angler to change spinner blades without cutting the line and re-tying. Quick change clevises are plastic, and have a small opening on the clevis that allows anglers to simply snap blades on and off. I highly recommend the quick change clevises, as being able to change blades often is a huge component to catching more fish!
Barrel Swivels are also recommended for tying your own spinners. I also recommend using stainless steel barrel swivels, as they will hold up much better than the cheaper swivels. The barrel swivel is used to eliminate line twist, and also doubles as a quick change option rather than tying the spinner directly to your line.
Blades are the final component to complete your custom spinner, and potentially the most important. Spinner blades come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. There are countless blade manufacturers today, but there are a select few that fill my tackle boxes. Northland Tackle has some of the most realistic blades on the market, with their Baitfish Series, while Tommy Harris Blades offer the largest variety of high quality custom blades you will find. You cannot go wrong running either one of these companies’ blades!
Now that you have all of the components necessary to tie your own spinners, let’s get to work! Begin by cutting a 6’ length of line, then thread your octopus hook onto the line and tie a snell knot. Slide your next hook onto the line and space it approximately 2.5”-3” from the first hook. Tie this hook onto the line also. You are now ready to add beads to make the spinner come to life! Add anywhere from 4-8 beads depending on size and preference, once completed add a quick change clevis. You may also add a bead or two above the clevis if desired. Once you have your spinner looking good, it’s time to tie a barrel swivel on the end to finish the spinner. Once completed, you now have your first finished spinner, easier than you though huh? You can now add a blade to the clevis if desired and are ready for action!