Spinners and Crawlers Heating Up on Lake of the Woods
With summer in full swing on Lake of the Woods and water temps in the 70’s, crawler harnesses, otherwise called spinners with crawlers, are catching a lot of walleyes. I had a chance to get out on a charter boat and we started out drifting with jigs and frozen emerald shiners. With the breeze picking up just a tad, some on the boat decided to switch to a snelled spinner and a frozen shiner. Both the jig and spinner with minnow caught walleyes (and some pesky pike). When someone decided to use a spinner with a crawler, success went up instantly.
For many, a classic jig and a minnow is the go to presentation for summer walleyes on Lake of the Woods. It could be argued that the jig and minnow has caught more walleyes out of the big lake than any other presentation. It still is the go to and super effective. However, there can be some very good arguments made in learning the nuances of pulling spinners for walleyes, also called crawler harnesses or simply snelled spinners with a crawler, minnow or leech can have big advantages. The bottom line, summer walleyes can’t resist crawler harnesses.
Spinners for summer walleyes really kicks into gear as the water begins to warm up. Normally when water starts to hit the mid 50’s, it is time to start considering drifting or trolling with spinners.
This video was not filmed this year but it has some good info about pulling crawler harnesses that is pertinent all of the time. Check it out.
First off, a crawler harness and snelled spinner are basically the same thing. When you are not using a night crawler, we don’t call is a crawler harness anymore, thus it’s a snelled spinner. Semantics out of the way, these set ups are effective for summer walleyes.
Why are spinners for walleyes so effective? A lot of reasons, the flash of the blade. The different color combinations of the beads and blades. The vibration of the spinner is sensed by the walleyes lateral line much like that of the prey they feed. You can put crawlers, minnows, leeches and plastics on a harness.
My go to set up is a two ounce bottom bouncer with a harness between 4-6′ long. It is conducive to use a longer snell in clearer waters, thus on Lake of the Woods, I normally go about 5′ or so as the water is stained. In a nutshell, the key with this presentation is to slowly be pulling this through the water column where the fish are so the blade is spinning and a desirable speed the walleyes want that given day.
What that looks like is drifting or trolling your set up with a desirable 45 degree angle. When I am trolling in my boat, my goal is 1.25 mph. You don’t want the harness way behind the boat like when you are trolling with a crankbait. You want that 45 degree angle and have total control.
Keep the sinker just off the bottom, not dragging the bottom, but rather touch the bottom once in a while to know you are down there and lift just off so you avoid snags and other debris.
When a walleye grabs it, it loads up like a wet sock. Normally they don’t hammer it. Simply lower you rod tip back at the same speed of the boat so the walleye doesn’t feel anything change for two seconds and swing the rod with a mild hookset.
When using a crawler, I suggest a two hook harness and pinch off the crawler once hooked on the harness so only about 3-4″ of tail hangs off of the back hook. This will avoid missing walleyes that grab the back of the rig.
This set up covers water. It can be used from shallow to deep. It will catch everything that swims. And for the folks who go fishing with you less experienced, is a relatively easy way to get walleyes hooked up.
There are many good brands of snelled spinners or crawler harnesses you can purchase with length, fluorocarbon line and quick change clevices. Some anglers like to tie their own crawler harnesses as well which allows creativity in the bead pattern, length of snell, etc.
Give spinners for summer walleyes a try this year, you might be surprised how many more fish end up in your boat!