Crawler Harnesses for WalleyeFebruary 15th, 2012 by MUCC Staff.
The winter blues are setting in so it’s time for me to tie up some crawler harnesses for fishing later this year. Seeing that there isn’t any safe ice here in Southern Michigan and little open water, what else is there to do? Might as well get my walleye gear in order so I don’t have to waste time once the ice thaws.
I figured I’d show how I tie up quick and easy spinners for walleye. Starting with a good assortment of hooks, beads, clevises, swivels and spinners, this will save you money in the long run and allow you to quickly tie up a spinner while on the boat if you find a hot bite. Make sure you use quality components when building harnesses. Using cheap blades will result in tarnishing or a flash that can’t be seen by fish. For instance, nickel blades will flash well in very shallow water. Once they get deeper, they flash very little. Use silver plated blades which cost a bit more. Gold plated blades tarnish much less than copper or brass. I like to use Gale Force Tackle, Wolverine or Tommy Harris blades for most of my spinners. Good quality hooks are vitally important as well.
First, start with a high quality flourocarbon line in the 17# range. We usually go through a lot of fish on Saginaw Bay so your harnesses will eventually fail if you use lighter line. I usually spread my arms out and use about that much leader material for my spinners. When fishing in stained waters like in Canada, I can shorten this up considerably.
Insert line into the hook eye and run towards the back of the hook. If you’re using treble hooks, locate the flat side of the shank and lay the line across the flat towards the back. Only leave a short tag on the back of the line.
Taking the long end of the line, wrap around the hook shank towards the back of the hook about 7-10 times.
Hold the hook and the wrapped end of the line with one hand and locate the end of the long line. Run this end back through the hook’s eye and pull tight. This is called snelling on a hook. It protects the line and also allows the line to pull on the shank of the hook, in a straight line with the hook point. I also use this technique for tying on hooks for running spawn for steelhead or aberdeen hooks for perch.
Insert line through the back of the next hook, laying the line along the shank of the hook. Slide the second hook down towards the first snelled hook. The hooks should be pointing the same way, if not, re-insert the line so they are.
I use my hand to keep the hook spacing consistent. If I use a three hook harness, I may space them a little closer together. You can vary this distance depending on the size of your night crawlers that you bait the harness with.
Again wrap the line around the shank of the hook, working back towards the bend. After 7-10 wraps, bring the long end back up and through the eye and pull tight. Now you have two snelled hooks and you’re ready to add some color to the rig.
Typically on big water I’ll use about 7 beads in front of the hooks. This not only adds color but it keeps the rotating blade away from the hooks so it’ll turn freely. If you are running a willow leaf blade, it may take more beads, a colorado blade allows you to run less if you want. Sometimes I’ll add another bead in front of the quick change clevis to keep weeds or water fleas from fouling the clevis and preventing my spinner to rotate.
I use a quick change clevis so that I can not only change colors on the water easily but storage is also much simpler without blades hanging from every harness. Add a ball bearing barrel swivel to the end of the harness to prevent line twist and your harness is complete.
Out on the water you have almost endless options for blades. Colorado blades are the standard go-to blades and give off a good amount of vibration in the water but they do take more speed to start spinning and keep spinning. Colorado blades would be a good choice if you are getting lots of “trash” fish in with your walleyes. More speed can sometimes prevent the other fish from hitting so regularly. Willow leaf blades spin faster, but require slower speeds to rotate and give off less vibration. An Indiana blade will give you a compromise between the Willow Leaf and Colorado blades. Choppers, smileys, spin-n-glos and wobble glos are also good choices, depending on the conditions you are fishing in. For skinny, clear water, you don’t necessarily want a ton of flash or vibration. This is where threading on a spin-n-glo or wobble glo would be a good choice.
Colors are another thing to consider. Remember, if the blade is painted on both sides, it doesn’t give off much flash. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on conditions. New UV painted blades give a great look and I’m using these almost exclusively anymore. No matter if the sun is out or not, the UV blades will “adjust” to the lighting conditions.
Once you’ve got a few tied up, you can use a pool noodle with notches cut in it to easily store your harnesses. I use a Plano 7080 box to store several noodles for harnesses, spoon leaders and other tackle. Throw a box of these on your boat and you are ready for the day. Bring your spinner kit along as well because you never know when the fish will get finicky and you’ll have to tie up some new harnesses on the fly.