Back when I started fishing professionally over 30 years ago, walleye fishing was a little different. Yes, there were walleye way back then and no they did not swim with dinosaurs!
One of the presentations that routinely produced fish in those days was a technique known as “tipping” a wobbling plug. Tipping is the process of adding one or two inches of nightcrawler to either the belly or tail treble hook on a wobbling plug. Tipping presents a scent stream in the water and a little different action or look to the bait.
Ole school wobblers like this FlatFish are ideal for certain walleye fishing presentations. The FlatFish fishes well when tipped with a small chunk of nightcrawler and these wobblers are also great when fished in combination with a bottom walker sinker.
Back in the day, tipping was hugely popular and yet today I can’t remember the last time I witnessed anyone else doing this with plugs. Strange how times and fishing tactics change over time.
CANDIDATES FOR TIPPING
Not all crankbaits are ideally suited to tipping. In part this is because hanging anything off the treble hook of a crankbait can seriously deaden the action. This is particularly true when dealing with lures like stickbaits that have a modest amount of action in the first place.
The best plugs for tipping tend to be high action wobblers like the iconic Yakima Bait FlatFish. The FlatFish features a pronounced side-to-side wobble that can handle a little “tipping” without seriously damaging the lure’s natural action. Other more modern wobblers that cry out for tipping include the Yakima Bait Mag Lip and the Yakima Bait Fat Wiggler.
EASY DOES IT
The way fishermen think scares me sometimes. If tipping a crankbait with an inch of fresh nightcrawler works well, there are anglers out there who would say, “let’s use the whole crawler”! The idea of tipping is to add an enticing scent stream in the water, without destroying the lure action in the process.
In this case a little goes long ways. Breaking a nightcrawler into three pieces is about the perfect “tipping” size for the wobbling crankbaits outlined here.
USING WOBBLERS AS DIVERS
Another old school tactic for targeting walleye is to remove the hooks from a wobbling plug and use the plug as a diving device to get a crawler harness to depth. High action wobblers work well for this chore because they have a steep “Dive Curve” and they are more than capable of towing other lures.
A common set up involves adding a Hammer Time Walleye Spinner to the back of a wobbling plug like a Mag Lip or Fat Wiggler that have well defined diving abilities.
Some anglers might argue that there is no need to remove the treble hooks from the plug. My experience suggests that leaving the hooks on the plug leads to massive tangles in the landing net. Most of the fish are going to be caught on the trailing spinner anyway, so removing the treble hooks from the plug helps to keep tangles to a minimum.
Some of the most successful FlatFish sizes for walleye fishing include the F7 and U20. Classic colors like this Firetiger are hard to beat.
TWO LURE RIGS
For those anglers who insist on keeping the hooks on the plug, I’d suggest running a three-way swivel set up with the main line coming to one end of the swivel, a 36 to 40 inch leader trailing back to a spinner rig on the top swivel and a 12 to 24 inch dropper leader to the plug on the bottom swivel.
Two lure rigs are not legal in all states, so it pays to check with local regulations before putting this ole school rig into play.
BOTTOM WALKERS AND WOBBLERS
It was also popular in the day to combine using a bottom walker sinker like the Yakima Bait Spin n Glo Bottom Walker with certain wobbling plugs. The goal here of course was to fish deeper than the lure was capable of naturally diving.
The Yakima Bait FlatFish is perhaps the most common choice because the FlatFish comes in so many sizes and color options. The other advantage of the FlatFish is this plug doesn’t dive very deep preventing it from dredging bottom and snagging when fished with a bottom walker.
The F-7 FlatFish would be an ideal size for fishing in combination with a bottom bouncer sinker, but FlatFish up to the U20 size are also well suited to this style of rigging. For a little extra enticement try tipping the FlatFish with a small chunk of nightcrawler.
WRAPPING IT UP
Fishing tactics are constantly evolving, but that doesn’t mean that methods used decades ago will no longer work. On the contrary, some ole school walleye fishing methods are just as deadly today as they were back in the day. Throw back Thursday or any day would be a good time to try out some of these oldies, but goodies.