By Nick Simonson
I’m a Christmas carol guy through and through, which generally makes coming out of the holidays a little hard on my psyche. The satellite radio stations that I’ve been listening to since the day after Halloween are all returning to their regularly scheduled programming for the next ten months, and the last scraps of wrapping paper I picked up from where the cat had them stashed in her corner of the living room from Christmas Eve are signs the season of joy is quickly coming to an end. All we’re left with are the memories, and apparently the request from Michael Bublé that Mother Nature let it snow, with the first stretch of sub-zero temperatures coming with it for good measure, as the drifts outside my office window mount and my snowblower gets its first true test in a few years.
The thought of a long winter, and one with conditions that may even limit hospitable days for ice fishing, doesn’t seem to bother me this year, however, as I’ve set up my plans for time at the lure making desk and found more than the traditional Colorado blades to craft into my favorite two-hook walleye harnesses. In addition to those staples, throughout the previous fishing season I’ve experimented with a selection of new blades and spinner formats and found some great ones that not only caught fish on a patterns I will fine tune, but they also opened me up to some new styles of angling as well.
Among them are smile blades of various sizes and colors that when strung ahead of a standard harness change up the vibration and attraction of my go-to two-hook rig. Where they really shine (besides in the super-clear water) is at the lead of a slow-death rig. When trolling over rocky outcroppings and gravel bars on a few trips this summer, dropping the speed and lowering these slightly flashier offerings helped connect with walleyes when fishing some favorite lakes. The blades turn easily at the slow speeds which the bent-hook rigs require for the hypnotic natural worm action and can be pinched and adjusted to have a more subtle flash or a stronger whir when moved through the water. With just a trio of beads in between the blade and the hook, they’re quick to put together and make a nice offering in the middle of the more subtle standard slow death rig with its spinning, threaded crawler and the standard bottom bouncer spinners with heavier metal blades that require a faster troll.
Additionally, I’ve found a great in-line offering for walleyes that worked well in mid-summer, via the substitution of a butterfly blade in place of the usual clevis-connected Colorado. With two blades set opposite of one another, the butterfly rig spins and whirls along the line, creating a different vibration and a unique look leading up to a single hook or a harness. They’ve been part of my outgoing spinner rig packages to friends and family throughout the past month and will make up a roll of their own heading out of winter, simply due to the success they brought last summer.
With these additions, I have begun to wonder what’s next for my walleye rig tying: chopper blades, similar offset spinner leads, or maybe something different? From the way the snow is mounting outside at this early stage of winter, it’s likely I’ll have a good amount of time to tie them all up before I get the chance to try them out when the landscape is less white and the water is a little more liquid. Until then, I’ll agree with the fading Christmas carols – let it snow! Because in this time, I’ll experiment some more, making rigs to be tried out next spring, and restock my stash with those new ones I found success with in the previous year, be they a modification of old favorites, the flickering of a brand new butterfly rig, or perhaps just a roll of all smile blades, bringing continued joy to my evenings long after the holidays until they are ready to hit the water…in our outdoors.
Simonson is the lead writer and editor for Dakota Edge Outdoors. His New Year’s resolution is to make more lures, and likely give them away to either friends, or snags.
Featured Photo: Smiling at Me. Smile blades pair well with slow-death rigs and standard harnesses for openwater walleye trolling, providing adjustable action that walleyes can’t resist and many new models to bring together in the off season. Simonson Photo.