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An Affair of the Heart

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 4, 2010

and a pair of hooks rigged in tandem. You can buy complete rigs, but I make my own at home from 12-pound-test monofilament line and inexpensive components purchased from sporting goods catalogs and hobby shops.

I like to tie the spinner rig on an 18-inch leader, connecting it to the main line with a swivel. To keep the bait near or on the bottom, where walleyes almost always are, thread a 1/4- to 1/2-ounce bullet sinker in front of the swivel.

Instead of using a whole nightcrawler, hook the head of one on the front hook and, after calculating how much the nightcrawler will stretch out, insert the rear hook. Pinch off the rest. Walleyes are notorious nippers, and it's hard to get a hook into them if your nightcrawler has a long, stretched out tail.

Spinner rigs are great search lures when walleyes are scattered along dropoffs or shorelines. Move along a dropoff just fast enough to keep the blade rolling. In calm water, I prefer using the troll motor but, in the wind, my outboard provides better control and doesn't seem to spook the fish.

If the bottom is uncluttered, you can let your lines out 50 feet or more behind the boat. Keep the lines shorter if the bottom is snaggy so you can lift your rigs clear the moment you feel them contact a snag.

Because you have a hook in the tail end of your bait, you can set the hook as soon as you feel a bite. You can also fish minnows or leeches behind spinner rigs, again using a two-hook setup, although it's pretty hard to beat a nightcrawler.

My second best solution for walleye involves trolling crankbaits. I have in my possession a crankbait on which I caught no fewer than 12 walleye in a row - all of them larger than 6 pounds. I'm now afraid to use it for fear of losing it. They don't make the color anymore, and although I've tried to paint other lures to match it, nothing competes with the original.

My best luck recently has been on shad-colored and shad-shaped crankbaits. I troll them as I do the spinner rigs, only faster. They help you search for fish over vast areas of shoreline, flats or dropoffs. I've found that walleye seem to prefer gradual dropoffs to steep-sided ones. You can also cast crankbaits toward windblown shorelines or over underwater points - both

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