Msg 1 Posted: 09:46 AM 06/20/06 (CST)
WHAT TO THROW AT THEM|
Its time to join the plastic revolution
With all due respect to walleye phenom Mike Gofronthe Tiger, the Michael, the Ichiro of his sportthe man is darned near addicted to live bait. With wriggling critters on jigs and spinners, the 38-year-old has won about $500,000 in professional tournaments, a gob of money in the sport of competitive walleye angling.
Which is why, on an outing to Michigans Upper Peninsula with Gofron, the bait virtuoso was reluctant to give up on his fathead minnow until the score was lopsided: my plastic worm, 5; his live bait, 0. But when Gofron switched to plastic, his first cast connected, and he proceeded to put on a show.
My sediments &sentiments
Soft plastics are the new paradigm of walleye fishing, an emerging discipline at odds with a fixation on live bait. Plastics, you see, are not just for bass anymore. They have evolvedin sizes, shapes, and texturesfar beyond the venerable curly-tailed grub. Given a generous amount of speed and snap, jigs and plastics commonly trump bait in side-by-side comparisons.
Live bait is too often a crutch, says Eric Naig, a professional walleye angler living in Cylinder, Iowa. In the last few years weve figured out we can catch bigger fish on artificials than on live bait. People are finally coming around in spite of themselves.
Until the last few years, most soft plastics have been too garish for walleyes. Tentacles, wings, and action tails have bass written all over them. Enter the straightforward Bass Pro Shops 4-inch Squirmin Worm, with pumpkin body and chartreuse tail. The subtle worm is the perfect size and profile for walleyes. Other plastics engineered specifically for walleyes are Manns 4-inch Walleye Worm and Berkleys Power Jigworm, a 3-inch model with soft tail for flapping action, and new favorites, Berkleys 3- and 4-inch Power Minnows. In addition to their flexibility, the ersatz minnows are infused with scent developed and tested on captives in the companys laboratories.
How you work any of the soft plastics plays an important role in their effectiveness. When jigging, try boosting up with an extra 1/8-ounce of weighta 1/4-ounce jig in place of 1/8; 3/8 instead of 1/4. Extra weight is needed to snap the jig, and speed is crucial to triggering bites. Cast out, let the jig sink to the bottom on a tight line, pull out the slack, and snap it. Let it fall back, and the moment it touches bottom, snap it again. Youll either feel the line jump when a walleye grabs the jig on the fall, or set the hook with the next snap.
Tackle selection helps, too. Pick a 6-foot 6-inch spinning rod and spool the reel with stretch-free 8-pound Berkley FireLine. The superline gives the jig extra snap, pops it free from weeds, and sets the hook in a flash.
Consider plastics the end of your bait-bucket dependence.
IF IT'S WET...IT'S CATCH'N FISH