If you happen to live near Lake Erie, Bay of Quinte, or Upper Mississippi River, you must be familiar with the name walleye. Walleye refers to a type of freshwater fish, best known for both its commercial value and popularity in hunting games. With an elongated body covered in olive and gold colors, you can easily spot a walleye thanks to the white belly and the black stripes on the back.
Unlike other fish that hover near the surface, walleye reside mainly in the lower parts of their habitat. This is because walleye prefer the dark, quiet surrounding with a low temperature. They are nocturnal animals, remaining the most active when the night falls as they need to move around to other parts of the lakes, rivers, or bays. During the day, walleye can be found looming around tree logs and roots or underwater plants.
Due to the unique features of walleye, typical angling techniques will not suffice if you want the bait to reach all the way down to the bottom and lure the fish. But worry not, because the bottom bouncing rig for walleye is here to the rescue! To put it simply, a bottom bouncer includes a wire shaped like a letter L, splitting it into short and long arms. The long arm is weighted with an oval piece placed in the middle, while the short arm has a snap swivel positioned at the end.
For a bottom bouncer to work properly, you need to secure the mainline to the notch formed by the short and long arm. Simultaneously, your leader line would go together with the snap swivel. This way, when you drop the bait into the water, the heaviness will provide you with enough control over how deep the rig goes. It even helps to reduce the chances of your baits getting stuck on aquatic plants and other objects lying around. Using the proper bottom bouncer rig for a fish as tricky to catch as walleye can make the whole thing a piece of cake. Sounds straightforward enough, right?
How To Setup And Use Bottom Bouncers
Now that you have understood the application of bottom bouncers, it is time to learn about their setup and usage.
Before assembling a bottom bouncer, make sure you have the following items available:
- Monofilament or braided line to serve as the mainline.
- Fluorocarbon line to serve as the leader line.
- Rig or lure of your preferences.
- A bottom bouncer.
Step 1: Prepare the bottom bouncer. Check out the material to see if it is sturdy and reliable. Look for any dents or cracks on the wire, as it can compromise the quality of your fishing trip.
Step 2: Tie the mainline around the notch formed at the corner of the wire. Most experts recommend using 12 to 14lbs monofilament or braided line, but the line test can vary. Just remember, you need to keep the mainline a bit heavier than the leader line so that the weight is evenly distributed.
Step 3: Secure the leader line to the snap swivel. You should go for an 8lbs fluorocarbon line with a length of roughly 4 to 5 feet. Again, feel free to adjust the details depending on where you plan on fishing and the estimated weight of the catch.
Step 4: Swing the fishing rod around a few times to ensure that the bottom bouncer stays intact. Choose a rig, lure, or live baits to hook at the end of your leader line.
Once again, there is no definitive answer as to what kind of rigs you should use for catching walleye. However, you might want to have a look at crankbaits, stick baits, and crawler harnesses.
Crawler harnesses are the most popular thanks to their affordability and ease of use, but many anglers have claimed that the two other types are more impressive in terms of effectiveness.
After setting up the bottom bouncer, it is time to get things going! There are two main ways to use a bottom bouncer: casting from a standing position and trolling while on a boat.
Admittedly, both of these approaches are feasible, but most experienced fishermen prefer the latter. Casting a bottom bouncer from the shore will prevent the distance and depth that your bait can go, thus limiting the number of fish you manage to get.
Furthermore, if you use live bait, they are more likely to fall off or get shredded during the process. This is different from trolling. When you troll the rig while on a boat, the area of water that your bait moves around is significantly increased, so you stand a higher chance of landing a walleye.
Bottom Bouncer Depth Chart
To make bottom bouncers more accessible for anglers – amateur and professional alike – there has been an attempt to introduce a standard bottom bouncer depth chart.
While not exhaustive and 100% correct, the chart is expected to give people a general idea as to how heavy their bottom bouncers should be when they go out trolling. If you use a 12lbs monofilament mainline and troll at 1.2mph, below is a suggested graph.
|Estimated depth of water||Estimated weight of the bottom bouncer|
|10-15 feet||1 oz or 28.3gr|
|15 - 20 feet||1.5 oz or 42.5gr|
|20 - 30 feet||2 oz or 56.6gr|
|30 - 40 feet||3 oz or 85gr|
It should be noted that these numbers do not represent the exact performance of your bottom bouncer. You can always add a bit more weight to the wire, especially if you decide to troll from a boat using multiple lines.
When the lines are too light and without a proper oval weight to hold them down, you run the risk of backlash, which is both irritating and time-consuming.
Therefore, even when you only fish in water that is 10 to 15 feet, it is better to use at least 2 ounces. This way, the bait will be positioned at a 45-degree angle from your boat, providing enough space for you to swing the rod comfortably without getting snagged.
Another way to determine how much weight your bottom bouncer should be is by using a simple rule of thumb. For every 10 feet of water, there has to be at least an ounce that keeps the bait underwater.
So, all it takes is an addition every time you go deeper, and you will arrive at a conclusion regarding the weight of your bottom bouncer.
Trolling Crankbaits With Bottom Bouncers
Crankbaits are a type of lure that distinguishes itself from others with a special plastic lip designed in various shapes. The unique feature of crankbaits is their ability to sink underwater when reeled in, which makes it perfect company for a bottom bouncer.
You might want to pick out the types of crankbaits that work best for each water environment since a different depth level requires a different crankbait.
For example, if you intend on fishing in shallow water, go for crankbaits with a sharp-angled, shorter lip. Vice versa, deep water calls for crankbaits with a moderate-angled, longer lip since they can go down further.
Another characteristic that makes crankbaits suitable for using with bottom bouncers is their enticing sounds and vibrations. If you recall what we have discussed earlier, walleye prefer the deep, dark water at the bottom.
Given how murky it can be, using merely static lures will not suffice. You need something that can mimic the way a live bait would react, like moving around and emitting sounds. This is when crankbaits come in handy.
So, how do you set up crankbaits with bottom bouncers before trolling walleye? Easy enough! All you have to do is attach the crankbait at the leader line’s end, which is secured altogether to the snap swivel.
Then, feel free to drop the bait underwater and start trolling. In most cases, a bottom bouncer enables you to keep your crankbait within a 100-feet distance from your boat. This length gives you enough room to maneuver without hitting aquatic plants or other objects.
Furthermore, it means you can place the bait at any depth and location as you wish, maximizing the precision level.
Now, walleye trolling does not seem as much of a difficulty if you have the right gears, right?
What Is Walleye Trolling Speed
How fast to troll for walleye depends on the types of baits you use. But generally speaking, most experts recommend an average speed of 1 to 1.2mph.
If it is too slow, then you might end up having to drag the bouncer across the bottom, which compromises your chances of landing fish and even increases the risk of snagging.
But pulling the bottom bouncers too fast may lead to the bouncers traveling higher in the water column, thus targeting the wrong species of fish.
For those who want to use crankbaits, the ideal speed should be around 1.5 to 2mph.
In the case of spinning rigs, you need to dial down and troll at 1 to 1.5mph.
If you use a slow death rig, opt for a slower speed of between 0.5 to 1mph.
After finishing this article, it is time to review what you have learned so far when it comes to the bottom bouncing rig for walleye.
First of all, walleye are mostly found at the bottom of lakes and rivers, which is why you need to use a bottom bouncer to lower the bait at the desired depth.
Secondly, setting up bottom bouncers is pretty straightforward, as you only need to attach the leader line and mainline to the L-shaped wire.
Thirdly, bottom bouncers are better to troll on a boat than casting from shore, and their weight would rely on how deep the baits go.
Fourthly, you should adjust the trolling speed based on whether you use crankbaits, spinning rigs, or slow death rigs.
Are we all clear? If yes, let’s get ready for your next trolling trip!
Born in Lakeland, Florida, Daniel has started fishing since he was just a tiny little kid. His father was a real good fisherman, as he taught Daniel tricks and tips to catch the fish better. From those childhood memories, Daniel has built up his love for fishing. Until now, he has been participating in several bass tournaments and currently serves as the Chief Editor of fishingonsunday.com to share his precious knowledge and experiences with many more people.