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Simple approach still catches walleye

Myra Halderson caught this beautiful 29 1/2-inch walleye on Long Lake using a Northland Roach Rig tipped with a leech. The simple approach is still earning nice walleyes, despite the warm weather and increasing water temperatures. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

For those anglers looking to land a Park Rapids area walleye, simplicity is still a good option.

One of the best presentations for walleye, from spring through fall, is the live bait rig.

Also known as a Northland Roach Rig or Lindy Rig, the technique involves a specialized weight called a walking sinker, a double-ringed barrel swivel, a 2- to 6-foot "snell", which is simply a length of line and a small hook at the end of the configuration.

As a guide, my clients use "rigs" quite often. I do the same when I have the opportunity to fish by myself or with friends.

Numerous questions arise when "rigging", since there are so many separate components to successfully catching fish.

Understand that these suggestions are relative to the Park Rapids area lakes. Bodies of water that are larger, rivers with current and certain circumstances are approached on a case-by-case basis.

First, the weight for a live bait rig should be as small as possible while still allowing the angler to make contact with the bottom. For me, a 1/8th-ounce weight performs well in most situations.

The light weight creates less drag, making it easier for the angler to feel a bite. Larger weights "stick" to the bottom, decreasing the chance to feel the bite of a wary walleye.

The line used for the leader material should be light, 6- or 8-pound test.

Swivel size should be large enough so it doesn't get caught inside the eye of the walking sinker. If the swivel is too small and gets caught in the sinker, it will not perform correctly and your line will quickly twist. It's better to have a swivel that's larger rather than smaller and doesn't have much effect on negatively alerting walleye.

The hook can run from a small size 6, medium number 4 or slightly larger number 2. The smaller sizes are used for leeches or nightcrawlers while a number 2 is better for larger minnows.

Very big minnows, like those creek chubs and redtails larger than 4- inches may require a heftier hook to effectively latch onto a fish.

Once the rig is tied on, several other issues need to be addressed. Drop the rig to the bottom and let out a little extra line. It's better to have out too much line versus too little. The sinker should be sitting on the bottom at all times.

Then, you want to put the line on your finger just in front of your spinning reel and leave the bail open. When a fish bites, don't set the hook, simply let the line go and slowly count to 12.

Move the boat very slowly to pull the rig along the bottom and let the live bait do the work; no need to jig.

Finally, be ready to catch anything. Fish from perch to northern pike will readily grab the natural presentation.

For more coaching on "rigs" stop into any local bait shop and simply ask for a tutorial.