Ripping and Shredding for Weedy Summer Walleye
With the heat of summer upon us, now is the time to be targeting deep weeds for big walleyes. Here in the Madison area there are PLENTY of weeds that are often overlooked when targeting walleye. I have found on many occasions that going to a casting presentation this time of year utilizing aggressive lures will consistently produce fish while other techniques such as vertical jigging, slip bobbering, and trolling may be hit or miss.
If the walleye aren't suspended following schools of baitfish, they are most likely going to be holding tight to structure, and as we all know weed beds are some of the most prevalent structure in our local waters. Target depth varies based on the time of day, cloud cover, and the type of weeds. My general rule of thumb is to fish shallower weeds (5-9 feet) early morning and evenings and deeper weeds (10-25 feet) during the day.
The technique itself is very simple: cast, let the lure hit the top of the weeds, rip it out of the weeds, let it fall, rip, fall, rip, fall, all the way to the boat. It's so easy that even I can do it. That said, choosing the equipment is critical to being successful with this method. My assortment of lures for this technique is somewhat small, however these are my tried and true baits for the Madison lakes.
Rapala Rippin' Rap
This shad style lipless crankbait produces an insane amount of vibration and flash and triggers violent reaction strikes from big walleye. My favorite colors for Madison are pearl grey shiner, gold chrome (shown here), and chartreuse shad.
Vibrations Tackle Echotail
The Echotail hybrid bade bait from Vibrations Tackle (made in McFarland, WI) is another one of my favorites for weedy walleye. It combines the flash and intense vibration of a blade bait with the subtle action of soft plastic.
Bait Rigs Oddball Jigs and Plastic
Jigs and plastics are just plain hard to beat. My favorite is the Oddball jig tipped with a 3 inch Berkley Powerbait grub in watermelon or chartreuse. You want a jig light enough to tick the top of the weeds, but heavy enough to stay in the strike zone. I usually start with 1/4oz and adjust accordingly.
As far as the rod and reel end of things goes, I like a 7 foot medium power, fast action spinning rod spooled with 20lb power pro braid. My rod of choice is the Fenwick Aetos 7' 2" with a Pflueger President size 30 spinning reel. Finding the perfect blend of sensitivity and backbone can be tricky, but this rod pretty much nails it.
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