What separates Lindy rigging from other walleye presentations is the use of a sliding weight. A jig has the lead molded onto the hook, a split shot rig has the spilt shot weight pinched securely on the line, a bottom bouncer has the leader tied directly to the trailer wire. The sliding weight on the Lindy rig can be used to let the fish run. I use the words “can be” because there are many days on the water when rigging, where you do not have to feed line.
Let me back up and explain rigging to those of you unfamiliar with rigging. Again the key component to a rig is that the fishing line slides through a hole in the weight. So when a fish bites and you feed line to the fish, the line glides uninhibited through the weight, and the fish feels the weight far less than if the weight was secured to the line. It is a more natural way to present bait to the fish. The total concept of the sliding weight and feeding the fish line is driven by the idea that a non aggressive walleye will drop the bait if they feel the weight…
The main emphasis of this article is when to feed line and when not to. You may wonder, why wouldn’t you feed line every time? Here is why…I find on the river that early in the year the fish are generally snapping on a good bite, and the walleye hit the bait, and most importantly have the hook in their mouth. So if they have the hook in their mouth, it is time to get cranking and set the hook. Lindy rigging is not a technique to make sure the fish is gut hooked after it swallows the bait. Rigging is intended for when the fish have the leeches, minnows, or crawlers body but not the hook, then you feed the fish line, count to 10 or 15 or more, allowing time for the whole bait and again the hook to be in the mouth.
The main indicator when to feed line or when to simply drop the tip of the rod back and set the hook is short bites. A short bite is when you have a stub of a crawler, a head of a minnow, or the sucker of a leech on your hook after your hook set. If these nubbins come back it is time to feed line. On the other end of the spectrum if you are constantly gut hooking fish you do not need to feed line to these fish.
The other indicator of feeding line is if fish are coming unbuttoned after the hook set where you feel the fish’s weight but do not land them. I feel in these situations the fish barely has the hook in the mouth, and it somehow pops out of the mouth. In this case feeding the fish line takes care of the problem.
I start the day feeding fish and soon you can tell if that is the right decision or if you can simply drop the rod tip back toward the fish and smack those white tips right away. As mentioned early in the year on the river, I rarely feed line as they are aggressive, also in the current I find I do not feed line often, or in most high water situations where the fish almost always hit the head (and hook) first.
It is important to not gut hook fish as they will die much easier on release. Inevitably it happens that an eye is deep hooked, just cut the line, do not try to pull the hook out. In addition to the released fishes health, feeding line to a walleye that already has the hook in their mouth is a mistake because they can and do spit it out, so when you go to set the hook they are gone. Keep Catchin’
byline: The author has operated Croixsippi guide service professionally for 13 years, and is a 8 time St. Croix River walleye tournament circuit winner.
By Turk Gierke