Snell Length for Walleyes--Are You Long Enough?

Daniel C Nielsen   Tuesday, April 03, 2007 12:57 PM

Snell length in the walleye world is basically either a feast or famine situation. Some days, the walleyes want the leaders short, others they want it long. Its always hard to tell what they want until you get out on the water. What worked yesterday might not work at all today. Tomorrow is too far away to even think about in terms of a walleyes wants.

There are no hard or fast rules that determine snell length, only general guidelines to get you by. Aggressive fish can be fished on shorter snell lengths, down to a foot. Much shorter than that and you can get by quite nicely with a jig. Non-aggressive fish, and the ever present neutral population demand longer snell lengths. 2 - 4 feet snells are common and I have seen them as long as 8 foot.

8 foot is a long leader to be fishing with, but if the sun is out, the walleyes are shallow and the water is even remotely clear, longer snells may be your best bet.

But you run into problems with longer snells. That much length out and you can rest assured that your bait is dragging on the bottom...literally. And anyone who fishes walleyes knows that sometimes...most of the times, they want it up in their faces. In order to get it up there, you either have to troll faster, or resort to the basically useless floating jig heads.

Again problems...the neutral fish may not want a faster moving bait. They just kind of want that minnow or worm or leech to dangle in their faces so they can get a really good look at it before they eat it...if they eat it.

There are ways around even these problems, but if you are a shore fisherman, then 3 ways are out of the question, since you won't be able to maintain the necessary rod/line angle to make the presentations work the way it is supposed to.

So what do you do?

This past weekend found me in both boat and shoreline situations. It was easier to resolve the problem from the boat than it was from shore. I managed to pop some nice fish though with a simple split shot rig and larger minnows.

The split shot were placed about 3 foot ahead of the smaller octopus style hook and then a minnow was hooked below the dorsal fin so it really had to struggle to keep itself upright. The rig allowed me to work through shoreline rip rap without getting hung up to often and also managed to help me take a limit of nice walleyes two days in a row.

As always, I experimented. Shorter leaders, longer leaders, heavier shot, lighter shot, different style hooks, etc. The results were pretty evident. I took bigger fish on longer leaders since the bigger fish have been around longer and have seen it all. The split shot were unobtrusive, and the minnow proved irresistible to old marble eyes.

I also began my tests with the fluorocarbon line. Very impressive, although I am not altogether happy with the way the stuff handles my knots. It seems to break easier, although with a little patience, I found a knot that worked the best, though hardly looked good at all. All in all, however, the fluorocarbon will stay on my rigs, and if you are serious about pursuing bigger fish, then you should at least consider it for tying longer leaders.

This upcoming weekend will find me back fishing on the Big Missouri and a few other lakes to try my hand at the walleyes there. No telling what they'll want but with longer leaders, I know I will at least be in the ballpark.

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re: Snell Length for Walleyes--Are You Long Enough?
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