Snap weights take lures to new depths
Mike Norris Outdoors - July 8, 2003
I love trolling crankbaits to strain open water for hungry gamefish. Depending on how much line I let out, I can cover water from the surface on down to the maximum depth my chosen crankbait can achieve. Walleyes, stripers, northern pike, musky, white bass and catfish have all succumbed to this method.
With the discovery of lead-core line, I've begun to troll crankbaits just off the bottom. Concentrating on walleyes, I've caught huge trophies that would rival any I've ever seen on a magazine cover. When crankbaits don't work, a bottom cruiser and spinner rig with a juicy night crawler always helps me catch a few extra walleye.
Spinner rigs and bottom cruisers are undoubtedly one of the most consistent walleye catching tools I've ever used. For me, a 116-pound, 15-fish second place finish at a Lake Erie PWT Eastern Pro-Am tournament can attest to that.
Yet, unlike the often-used crankbait, the spinner rig has had a limited use. Anglers fish it on top or fish it on bottom, but how can they fish it in between?
Well, thanks to "snap weights," spinner rigs can now be suspended at a number of mid-depths.
Snap weights are the creation of Off-Shore Tackle, Port Austin, Mich. The company, known for its innovative walleye catching products, uses the same pinch pad release used in their side-planer board. The release is modified by the addition of a heavier spring, a split ring and snap swivel.
Snap Weight kits include four pinch pad releases, split rings, snap swivels and eight oblong shaped lead weights, ranging in size from 1/2 to 8 ounces. Kits are available at local tackle stores.
What makes snap weights unique is that they can be easily attached and removed from your fishing line at any predetermined distance. Simply let out your favorite lure and as much line as you'd like, attach the snap weight, and let out more line. Varying the weight sizes allows you to suspend spinner rigs down anywhere from 5 to 20 feet.
Snap weights are ideal for slow-trolled offerings like a spinner rig or minnow imitating crankbaits. This pattern has accounted for many victories for anglers fishing the Professional Walleye Trail.
Vary your weights
Troll at speeds of .5 to 1.5 miles per hour, let out 50 feet of line, attach the pinch pad snap weight and let out another 50 feet of line, suggests veteran walleye pro Keith Kavajecz. Vary your weights to suspend your offering at various depths. Once a pattern is established, match each snap weight with identically sized weights to repeat the pattern.
For fishing water deeper than 20 feet, try the 4 and 8 ounce weights. The thing to remember is to try to use whatever size weight it takes to keep your line at a 45 degree angle.
A friend and I fished Saskatchewan's Hatchet Lake in August several years back and rewrote the book on summer lake trout. Traditional methods for catching lake trout there include vertical jigging one ounce jigs and twister tails over deep schools of trout.
Let's face it. Jigging for lake trout can become tiresome and is dependent of staying over suspended, roving fish. It's a hit or miss proposition at best.
By weighing down our crankbaits with four-ounce snap weights, we trolled Storm Deep Thunderstick Jrs. down to 55 feet. At this depth we were able to present our lures to suspended schools of lake trout, averaging one every five minutes.
Fishing for walleyes
Late last fall we experienced similar success fishing for walleye at Lake Erie. Unable to reach sluggish walleyes 25 feet down in the cold November water, we used 2-ounce snap weights to troll our slow wobbling minnow imitating lures through 8 to 12 pound walleyes.
Snap weights should be included in every angler's trolling arsenal. They don't take up much room in the tackle box, but are huge when it comes to catching fish roaming in deeper water.
Give snap weights a try the next time you're out and marking fish deep on your depthfinder. They're a snap to use, and could make a difference of the success of your fishing trip.
Outdoors with Mike Norris is heard every Thursday from 3-4 p.m. on AM1280 WBIG. Mike Norris can be reached at email@example.com