When using spinner rigs at traditional trolling or drifting speeds, precise line length isnât critical so long as snags arenât too bad. In fact, a bit of extra line allows the bouncer to maintain light bottom contact when it sinks to follow a deepening contour. Something approximating 45 degrees is about right for your lineâs angle of descent behind the boat. Coupled with a relatively steady drifting or trolling speed, the wire leg will skip along bottom and crawl over snags, keeping the arm and trailing spinner out of harmâs way.
When fishing slowly and precisely with standard livebait snellsâoften incorporating a slip bouncerâfish the setup more like a livebait rig. Let out barely enough line to touch bottom as you inch along the contour at the fishâs depth as it appears on your electronics. Lift, drop, touch; lift, drop touch. If snags arenât too bad, you can feed line to a biting fish. If theyâre nasty, donât feed excess line on the bite. Simply lean the rod tip back toward the fish for a moment, then sweep forward. A slipbouncer functions like a slipsinker rig for extreme rocky conditions so long as you donât let it fall and lie on bottom, where it becomes prone to snagging.
A slipbouncer isnât bent like a traditional bouncer, however, and features different characteristics. First off, it has a straight wire leg with an attachment loop at the top and no wire arm. Instead, the top of the leg inserts directly onto your line or into a sliding clevis attachment that rides on your main line, and you need to tie in a barrel swivel to determine the length of your snell. In effect, it functions much like a long-legged sliding slipsinker with a hinged connection to your main line.
This hinged joint tends to reduce any rocking effect imparted to your snell each time the bouncer touches bottom, because only the sinker pivots, rather than the entire assembly. The upshot is, you tend to get subtler presentations with slipbouncers, which is fine if thatâs the effect the fish prefer.
The Foam Walker, a slipbouncer from Todayâs Tackle, offers an interesting innovation; with an interchangeable weight attached to the base of a foam body, it becomes a floating snag deflector prone to crawl over boulders. And you can pause your drift or troll occasionally, because the foam body will remain standing at restâideal for finesse fishing livebait on a plain hook snell.
âFor a bit quicker presentation,â adds walleye guru Mike McClelland, âa plain old bouncer and a one-hook (two hooks for crawlers) snell is fine. Once again, the key is simply dropping the rod tip back toward the fish on the strike, giving it a moment of reduced tension or slack to inhale the bait before you sweepset the hook.
Itâs similar to spinner rigging in all regards, just at a slower speed and without the added flash and attraction. Think of it as quick livebait rigging without a blade. When fish are modestly aggressive, you can mow âem down simply because you can cover water faster than with a traditional lighter-weight slipsinker rig.
âIn my early tournament days, I used bouncers and plain snells to great advantage to cover more water than other contestants, in the process sorting through more caught fish to maximize my daily weight. Competitive fishing is an odds and efficiency game, and anything you can do to raise your odds and gain an advantage over the competition will put more dollars in your pocket. Bouncers sure filled mine with a lot of walleye gold.â
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