Fine Tuning – A Closer Look at Blading
By Daniel Kiazyk
Certainly we've all have had the experience of witnessing how effective blading can be for walleye on many bodies of water. Referring to the term "blading" is simply a form of speach that has become popular in some walleye fishing circles when referring to spinner rigs when fishing for walleye. Many rigs are available commercially, but it's my contention that if you pay attention to some of the finer details when blading you're only going to improve your chance for success. In particular, specific contexts are going to require adaptations to make blading as effective as it is in many circumstances
The actual form of delivery for a blade can be manifold but in the instance I'm going to refer to here a blade is attached to a bottom bouncer. Now having said the prior does not preclude the possibility of delivery via other means. I have of late experimented with lead line (a technique quite common in Great Lakes country) and there are instances when an in-line weight – like a rubber core sinker can be used to fish really shallow water.
The only really important consideration that I should mention at this point for delivery is that when fishing near to a large weed bed which is the inspiration for this article (we were fishing in 8-9 feet of water next to a large weed bed) it is best to go as heavy as possible with the bouncer. Fishing a little heavier means that you are going to be able to move the boat more quickly to avoid obstructions that are often related to weed beds and their irregular edges. Of course the one mitigating factor is going to be the capacity to control boat speed to deliver the spinner at or near the bottom at a speed where the blade is spinning.
OK and the last point did let in on a very important point that is central to this "closer" look at tuning your approach to shallow water/weed line blading - speed as it were is an independent variable that will impact quite significantly a number of dependent variables that will be discussed in what follows;
Firstly, it is important to have the overall length under 24". Going too long is going to have the blade and other terminal components dragging and grabbing bottom stuff to detract from your purpose when out on the water. Shorter blade rigs mean a little bit more forgiveness when trying manoeuver nimbly next to an imperfect weed edge
Secondly, blade size is going to impact how slow you can troll and have a blade turn to attract their intended quarry. At a speeed of .9 - 1.2 mph a #3 blade is going to spin. A number four blade is not going to spin in all circumstances when traveling at those speeds. If the blade at size #4 or even in some instances at size#3 is made of heavier materials it will not turn defeating the purpose of blading. In the shallow water instance which inspired this article a #3 blade worked best with many more fish caught on this size of blade versus a larger #4 blade.
Related to the second point on blade size is that blade colour is going to have an impact on success. Too often too much emphasis is placed on colour. For the purpose of this article and not to spend too much time on this often over-emphasized point most often the yellow/orange/green part of the spectrum will be your best bet. Using a "quik-change" clevis system (which may not allow for blade spin to be as efficient as a steel clevis) will also let you find what colour works for the place and day when fishing.
Thirdly, bead combinations are going to have some impact on the attractiveness of your blading rig. In the perch forage based waters we were fishing this day a combo of red and yellow beads seemed to garner the greatest amount of attention. Size of beads too is a consideration as larger beads would pull the rig down to snag up more often. Having an appropriate sized bead will mean that much more success
Fourthly, the blade set-up we were using on this day was delivering a large juicy crawler requiring two shorter shanked bait holder hooks. The trailing hook was smaller than a larger primary hook. The hooks were set apart with a snell knot at about 4-6 inches. We also noticed that when we traveled into the wind that some walleye were hooked up on the primary hook (which suggest we were going plenty slow enough for them to track down the bait) and when traveling with the wind many were caught on the trailer hook. Lighter, razor sharp hooks are a very important consideration for getting the job done .... cheap-out and you'll miss out!
Blades do lift a rig off the bottom when delivered at an appropriate speed. Of course terminal components can't be too heavy or you'll just be cleaning the rig and not have it in the water where it can catch a fish. Related to the prior and on this day there was a fine point discovered while fishing in shallow water next to a weed bed. On this particular day the fish were not showing preference to blades that were followed by a float. On the contrary, if you had a float you weren't getting bit. Generally we'll use floats to assist with blade lift. On most lakes a float does not inhibit the bite when included as a part of blade delivery....however on this lake and fishing next to that particular weed bed it most certainly did! Creating rigs with and without floats and trying both (with or without floats) can make a difference on what happens when out there .... again fine tuning can really make a difference.
The prior is a particularly important point when working with any type of delivery approach when fishing in different circumstances. The key to success is being flexible enough to adapt to what the fish are telling you what they want. On this particular day where the walleye were relating to a very large weed bed in 8-9 feet of water they wanted a blade in #3 at 18.5" with beads in a red and yellow combination.
So, increasing success when blading means some thought in advance to what kinds of instances you may encounter when out on any given lake. Being able to tie your own blade rigs will mean that you will be better able to create an arsenal that will be more appropriate to the water being fished and in the end yield better results on most days.