November 21, 2023
I think everyone can relate to being out on the lake and catching walleyes, only to see a significant drop in action when the wind starts blowing. In reality, it should be the opposite. When the wind starts blowing, it breaks up the surface and makes walleyes less spooky, it moves bait around and the list of advantages goes on.
The reason many anglers’ productivity often dips during these windy periods is that we don’t adjust to what the wind does to our presentations. Here are five things to consider when the wind blows on your next walleye trip.
Modern braided or fluorocarbon lines have significantly less stretch than monofilament line. The average monofilament has a stretch in the 20% range, whereas braid features less than 5% stretch. This difference in stretch is a big deal, as your lures surge in waves, or during turns it can cause lures to significantly change the speed at which they run—most lures blow out to the side when moving too fast. An added benefit is that stretch also helps improve landing ratios with less hook tear out.
2. Drift Bag
If there is one inexpensive item that walleye anglers should always carry in their boat is easily a drift bag. Drift bags work wonders for slowing your boat’s trajectory anywhere from just a smidge to a couple miles an hour as the wind speeds increase. As important as speed, the reduction of surge is what I believe also helps produce more bites. Carry different sizes so that you can adjust your speed to the varying winds. A drift bag is almost like an autopilot in that it gives solid boat control and can drastically reduce the number of adjustments that otherwise may be required.
To those in the know, leadcore line is the elephant in the room. The number of walleyes that guides and tournament anglers have caught using it is astronomical. The reason they use it is simple, it consistently works. The advantage to leadcore over other weighted systems is that the weight is distributed over the entire length of the line compared to a snap weight, bead chain or other weighted system. The distribution causes the lures action to be much less erratic and keeps them from quickly raising and lowering in the water column. Less surge equals more bites day in and day out—it’s reliably accurate.
4. Rod Selection
You don’t need high dollar trolling rods to be successful in walleye fishing, but you better have the right rod action, or you will dig yourself into a hole. Rods that are too fast at the tip or too heavy in power can do everything from rip hooks out to change your lures action in the same manor we discussed with line type. I use Shimano Compre 8-foot, 3-inch 3 MD rods for a majority of my crankbait and small diving-device trolling applications. While this model excels for hard baits, I noticed that it was too stiff for fishing spinner rigs or other live bait presentations, and I worked with Shimano to develop the Compre 8-foot, 3-inch MMD model. The MMD is much softer or more moderate and significantly increases the number of bites and fish landed with live bait. I have also started using them with crankbaits when the wind blows enough to create significant waves to again reduce surge.
5. Doubled-Up Boat Control
Anglers often ask, “Should I use a drift bag or my trolling motor? Or my kicker instead of an electric?” Properly using two forms of boat control can be the answer in many cases. When the wind is blowing, I often find it effective to use a drift bag out of the rear of the boat to slow my surge and speed, but also use the bow mounted trolling motor for both steering and for speed adjustments. This setup is also very useful for straitening the boat out when it wants to dog leg when under troll.
Along the same lines, using a kicker and a bow mount at the same time can help you keep control of your boat when going into the waves or when attempting navigate rough seas and fishing at the same time. Each boat and setup will handle differently, which will likely demand different needs, but don’t be afraid to use more than one form of boat control.
We often have so many variables to consider while each scenario is occurring, it can be difficult to fully understand what is making a difference when it is actually happening. Time on the water will help you identify each component to better boat control. A great many hours on the water has taught me that simple tricks like the five above will reduce surge and keep your presentation under control when the waves increase, ultimately getting you more bites.
Capt. Ross Robertson