I have referenced fishing with bottom bouncers before but because they are so successful I have included more information on gear, line, weights, hooks, blade style, colour and size and techniques.
After chasing walleyes for almost 30 years I believe bottom bouncing has to be one of the most successful presentations for locating and catching walleye. Trolling at a speed of about one to 1.5 mph you can cover a lot water both horizontally and vertically but I have caught fish trolling up to as fast as 2.5 mph.
There are basically two styles of bouncer the “L” style and the quick change style. I prefer the quick change style because it allows me to change weights without having to re-tie but both work equally well.
Pulling bottom bouncers is one of the few presentations you can troll over rocky bottoms virtually snag free, moving up and down breaks from six feet down to 25 feet or deeper and back up to six feet without ever changing presentation or speed.
There are a few variations for rigging but I use one of three methods, pulling either spinnerbaits, floating crankbaits, or a single hook on a long snell which is a popular setup for drifting the river at Nipawin. There are more successful presentations when fish are stacked up or holding tight to structure, but for fishing large flats or locating fish, they can’t be beat.
I use the quick change style bottom bouncers on a line slide which allows me to change snell length or bouncer weight without having to retie my rig.
Bouncer fishing is not really a finesse presentation in my opinion so I use baitcast reels and a medium to medium heavy six and a half to seven feet rod with a line rating of eight to 17 lbs. Most of my spinner rigs are tied with 12 or 14 lb. fluorocarbon line, with a main line of either 14 or 20 superline, usually fireline or power pro.
Weight size will vary depending on depth but at the depths I fish in Alberta and Saskatchewan a one to two ounce bouncer is usually adequate, with a rule of thumb about one ounce for every 10 feet of water.
I tie the majority of rigs about 30 inches long and then slide the weight up the line so that my actual spinner rig is about four feet behind the bouncer, about the same length or slightly longer when pulling floating crankbaits and vary the single hook setup from about six to 10 feet depending on conditions.
The majority of my spinner rigs are tied with tandem number two Gamakatsu hooks, about four inches apart, whether I am using leeches, minnows or worms but I use Gulp worms about 80 per cent of the time.
I have tried a large variety of blade and bead colours and sizes over the years and have some of best success with number four to five holographic Colorado blades which is clipped in on a quick change clevis and translucent five to six millimeter beads. Basically all rigs are a variation of silver/black or chartreuse/orange.
If the bottom is a bit weedy or the fish I see on the sonar are riding a little high off the bottom I have other rigs tied with floats or spin-n-glows which ride a bit higher in the water.
If the fish are in a neutral mood you may continue to get “short hits”, this means that you are not allowing enough slack in your line to allow the walleye to inhale your bait. If this happens pump your rod ahead about four feet and allow it to go back slowly every few minutes, this will impart the slack you need for a walleye to eat it. This technique works well if you are trolling spoons, crankbaits or spinner baits.
You can try slowing down to but if are going below about .7 mph your blades will not spin very well.
In this case I have some rigs tied up with smiley blades which will spin at about .2 – .3 mph. This also works well if your partner wants to pull lindy rigs, as you can offer both presentations at the same time.
Bouncers and spinner rigs also work well for pike, but for them I have rigs tied with titanium wire.
As you can see, bottom bouncers are a very versatile presentation that cover multiple depths, with different lures at different speeds, while constantly staying in the strike zone of the elusive walleye……..definitely a go to presentation.