Throughout the course of the year, Walleyes can be caught trolling spinners in a multitude of different scenarios. Whether you are targeting Walleyes in the weeds, over open water, or along rocky structures, spinners have become one of the most reliable methods of putting Walleyes in the boat throughout the warm water months. Understanding the many different weight options available will help you pick the proper weight for the job!
The first weight option we will discuss is the no weight or split shot method. This option is most commonly used in very shallow waters. (Less than six feet) This method is your best bet when trolling over the tops of weeds since it allows you to dictate the depth your spinner will run above the weeds. Changing your depth back by only a few feet can make a major difference, many times short leads are your best bet since you will be constantly tending lines to remove weeds. The split shot method can also be used in open water when fish are very high in the water column. This method works great in extremely clear waters, since all the flash from above will trigger an active Walleye to race up and grab your spinner!
Another very popular weight option is the inline weight, which can also be known as bead chains or keel weights. Inline weights come in several different shapes and sizes, which allow an angler to cover any depth desired. The inline weight attaches to your line ahead of the spinner, which is generally 4’-6’ from your spinner. This option works great in open water situations where a specific depth is being targeted. The inline weight also works best in waters that aren’t crystal clear, as the weight is fairly close to the spinner. Inlines are often used in calm to moderate wind situations, as noticeable surge occurs during rough seas which can compromise your spinner’s appearance. Inline spinners are a great all around weight to use for open water trolling when suspended fish are being targeted.
Snap weights have become another handy weight option to have in your arsenal. Snap weights are added onto your line wherever you choose to snap them on. Anglers typically run 20’ - 40’ of line before snapping their weight on and then running more line out. These weights work great in rough conditions, as the weight will lift and fall during surges, which allows the spinner to remain at a fairly steady pace. Snap weights are also a deadly method to use when fishing extremely clear water. Since the weight is added to your presentation a distance away from the spinner, fish don’t tend to spook as easily as they would with other weights near the spinner.
Snap weights work best in open water situations or while fishing suspended in the water column, as they can be tough to keep at a specific depth when trolling structure. As you make minor turns to follow a contour or run over a hump, your inside lines will slow down, which causes your spinner to drop in the water column; this often leads to your spinner making contact with the bottom. On the Great Lakes, this typically results in Gobies making a meal of your spinner, many times without you knowing it.
Bottom bouncers have been around for ages, and for good reason. These weights work great when, you guessed it, targeting fish on the bottom! A bottom bouncer allows you to contact the bottom without having your spinner drag bottom and snag up constantly. Bottom bouncers come in many different sizes and can be used in all depth ranges when targeting fish near bottom. Bottom bouncers also work well when running flat lines, since you can very easily adjust them as the depth changes to maintain the proper depth of your spinner. Bottom bouncers can also be used when trolling emerging weeds and in shallow water situations early in the year.
The final option for pulling spinners is the pencil weight. Pencil weights are typically used for rigging or single rod applications. (Not for trolling planer boards) A pencil weight can be attached inline by the use of a clevis, or even used on a three way rig to keep your presentation higher in the water column. This presentation works best in rivers and dirty water contour trolling scenarios since you are usually fishing rod in hand. Having the weight rigged on your line allows you to feed fish line before setting the hook which makes a huge difference during cold front conditions. Using pencil weights on a three way rig works really well when targeting Walleyes in current situations as your dropper length places the spinner in a precise location near bottom where the fish are feeding.
As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to weighing your spinner down to get to the fish, understanding which weight is your best bet for specific scenarios will certainly put more fish in the boat! The next time you pull out your spinners, make the most of your day by selecting the proper weight for the job!