With the cooler water temps here, we find ourselves on the water more chasing those light biters, including walleyes, cold water crappie and winter bass. These light-biting fish can be difficult to catch or even to detect the nibbles or strikes.
While fishing for those walleye with the imperceptible ability to mouth our bait rigs and using the drop-shot rigs for crappie or bass, we came to realize it would be necessary for us to refine our techniques and loosen up our grip on the rod handle to sense or gain that “fishing feel”, as I have heard it called.
Here are a few ways we have used and found to work over the past years which may help you maintain an awesome contact with your bait.
As we have discovered, and I am sure you will find that your finger tips are more sensitive than the palm of your hand. Therefore, by maintaining a lighter touch and letting your spinning rod rest mostly on your fingers as you jig, you will become more connected to the lure. This relaxed grip is not as easy with baitcasting gear, but here is where a balanced rod/reel combo is more important. To be focused with this set up, hold the rod just in front of reel and keep rod centered in front of you. In fact, I many times find the rod butt is against and just below my chest which helps me concentrate on detecting light-biters.
On baitcasters, just lightly touch the line by putting it between your index finger and thumb as you support the rod with the other three fingers. One of many techniques for feeling a bite we got from Hank Parker which is touching the line to improve sensitivity. With spinning gear, extend your index finger to touch the line just in front or above the bail but remember to take your finger off the line when reeling.
Other ways to improve sensitivity is to use high-sensitive lines or low stretch lines. We also have found many of the super lines to be more visible which works better for us in stained water. Linda prefers and recommends bright color lines to better see and detect those light bites. We have good success with fluorocarbon lines in clear water conditions, but find them to have more memory with time or during cold weather. To help with this, we use reels with larger spools to reduce coiling or just change lines more often.
And next we replaced our old wimpy ultra-light rods with graphite rods of medium-light to medium action with the stiff butt and a fast-action tip to give us a much more sensitive feel. These rods will telegraph a light bite much better but I still find myself watching the line and rod tip.
Sensitivity is much better if you fish by holding your rod at about a 90 degree angle with the line. As an example, when vertical fishing, the rod would be close to parallel to the water. A high rod tip is not real good and more so on windy days, which interferes with the feel. For this, I prefer to work the bait sideways and keep the rod down with as little line out of the water as possible for better hook sets and this sets me up for that sweeping hook set on walleye.
Lastly, if fish are biting light or not holding bait, we have tried different scents or even power baits to get fish to hold on longer, giving us a chance to hook more fish during times when others tell us “fish are not biting”.
As we write this article, we can not help but plan a few trips to our favorite lakes soon and watch for photos by visiting us at www.larrysfishinghole.com along with Fishing Reports, Product Reviews, Events, Tips and more.
Till Next TIme - GOD BLESS & GOOD FISHING !