The Iconic Bottom Bouncer
An iconic walleye fishing presentation known as the bottom bouncer and spinner has probably produced more walleye then all other others combined. What makes the bottom bouncer/spinner combination so deadly is it works in natural lakes, rivers, impoundments and the Great Lakes. Secondly, this presentation is easy to master.
SET THE SPEED
The first step in setting a bottom bouncer/spinner rig is to set and maintain the boat speed. If the trolling speed is constantly speeding up and slowing down, the amount of line out it takes to present the bouncer perfectly is also constantly changing.
Slow and steady is the answer and for most applications a boat speed of 1.2 to 1.6 MPH is considered perfect.
RULE OF 45
A bottom bouncer and spinner rig functions best when it is fished in close proximity to bottom, but not in direct contact with the bottom. Dragging the bottom bouncer causes the trailing harness to make contact with the bottom, potentially fouling on vegetation, debris and zebra mussels.
A better option is to let out just enough line so the bottom bouncer skips along the bottom, making contact every few feet. This “touch and go” presentation keeps the bait close enough to the bottom to be effective, but far enough off the bottom to avoid catching bottom debris.
This delicate “touch and go” presentation is achieved by free spooling the bouncer and spinner to bottom. When the bouncer crashes bottom, the line on the spool will stop playing out momentarily. At this instant, put your thumb on the spool to stop line from playing out and hold the rod still for a few seconds to allow the line to pull tight.
After about five to 10 seconds, take your thumb off the spool and allow more line to play out until the bouncer crashes bottom a second time. When the bouncer hits bottom the second time, close the reel bail and place the rod in a rod holder with the tip of the rod positioned a few inches above the water surface. Set following this regiment, the bouncer will be positioned at about a 45 degree angle between the boat and bottom.
ROD HOLDERS WORK BETTER
Lots of fishermen like to hold the bottom bouncer rod in their hand to detect light strikes. Often what happens is when a strike occurs, the angler over reacts and literally pulls the rig away from the fish before it is hooked.
The bottom bouncer/spinner rig is best fished in a saddle or cradle style rod holder such as this Cisco Fishing Systems rod holder.
Using rod holders slows up the process and gives the fish time to eat the crawler and turn away. This is precisely why the best bottom bouncer rods feature a very soft tip and Medium/Light parabolic action that telegraphs the bite, without tipping off the fish something is wrong.
A cradle style rod holder is the perfect match for bottom bouncer fishing because it allows the rod to be pulled straight up when a fish is hooked. Tube style holders force the angler to pull the rod forward and toward the fish, creating slack line and allowing some fish to escape.
The ideal harness length for bottom bouncer fishing varies from about 36 inches to 48 inches. The shorter versions are fine for stained or off color water and the longer versions produce better in clear water.
If the harness is much longer than 48 inches, the blade, crawler and hooks will angle down and make contact with the bottom.
The majority of the time, bottom bouncers fish best with a Colorado blade style. At times, the Indiana blade is also productive. Blade size depends on the body of water fished. For inland waters where walleye tend to be rather small on average, a No. 2 or 3 blade is a good choice. For impoundments and the Great Lakes where walleye run larger, No. 4, 5 and 6 blades are the most popular.
ULTRA SLOW SPEEDS
There are times when the bottom bouncer/spinner combination is simply too fast a presentation to generate consistent bites. In this case, using a couple of different presentations on the bottom bouncer can save the day.
Slow Death is a presentation that involves using a special hook and leader presentation designed with just the right bend to cause a small piece of nightcrawler to roll enticingly in the water. Most of the major hook manufacturers feature a “Slow Death” style hook made from ultra thin wire.
The Revolve L22
hook produced by Eagle Claw in the Lazer Sharp line is the ideal hook for this presentation when fished on about 36 to 40 inches of 10 pound test fluorocarbon leader material. Break a nightcrawler in half and thread it onto the hook, leaving an inch or two long tail protruding beyond the hook. The Slow Death presentation works best when the boat is moving from 1.0 to 1.3 MPH.
Another ultra slow speed presentation that works wonders with a bottom bouncer is the iconic Spin n Glo floating attractor produced by Yakima Bait Company. The Spin n Glo is a foam float with mylar wings that threads onto the line. The slightest forward movement causes the wings to spin, putting out flash and vibration.
Spin n Glo bodies come in hundreds of body and wing color options plus 10 different sizes. The most popular size for walleye fishing applications are the No. 6 and 8 versions.
BOTTOM BOUNCER SIZES
Bottom bouncers come in a host of sizes/weights designed for different water depths and trolling speeds. The most common sizes are 1, 2 and 3 ounces, but a number of manufacturers produce these trolling sinkers in sizes up to eight ounces for fishing in deep water applications.
The bottom bouncer is not intended to be a finesse presentation. Use as much weight as is required to establish the bouncer in close proximity to the bottom, at the desired trolling speed.
The garden variety bottom bouncer is little more than a raw piece of lead molded onto a “L” shaped wire. Some manufacturers paint their bottom bouncers to help them attract fish. Others like Yakima Bait add attractors such as the Spin n Glo body, www.yakimabait.com to pull in fish.
Attractor bouncers tend to work best when fish are active and the garden variety or “stealth” bouncer works better when fishing is tough.
WRAPPING IT UP
One of the most challenging things associated with fishing bottom bouncers is figuring out a way to store bouncers and the harnesses. I use plastic utility boxes without any dividers to store my bouncers.
Foam leader boards such as produced by www.fisinengproductions.com do a very nice job of organizing the harnesses. Leader boards are in turn stored in utility boxes without dividers, by stacking two or three boards into one box.
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