Fishing Bottom Bouncers for Walleye

bottom bouncer for walleye
bottom bouncer for walleye

A Guide to Fishing Bottom bouncers for Walleye

Walleye fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience, especially when you use the right techniques. One effective method is using bottom bouncers. Many fishermen consider this an alternate technique when nothing else will work. Tournament fishermen use this method to target bigger fish that live on the bottom. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about fishing bottom bouncers for walleye.

What are bottom bouncers?

Bottom bouncers are fishing weights designed to keep your bait near the bottom of the water. They have a unique L-shaped design that helps them glide over rocks and other obstacles. They can easily be made at home or bought from a big box store. You can even pour the lead yourself to make them.

Parts of a bottom bouncer

PartDescription
WeightThe heaviest part, keeps the rig down
ArmExtends out from the weight
WireConnects the weight to your line

Why Fishing with Bottom Bouncers for Walleye?

trollingWalleye often hang out near the bottom of lakes and rivers. Some of the largest fish in whatever body of water you are at, hang out on the bottom. Bottom bouncers help you reach these fish effectively. They have heavy weights that aid in getting your bait to the bottom.

Benefits of bottom bouncers

  1. Keep your bait in the strike zone
  2. Cover more water quickly
  3. Reduce snags on rocky bottoms
  4. Work well with various baits and lures

How to set up a bottom bouncer rig

Setting up your bottom bouncer rig correctly is key to success. There are a few different baits that you can use with bottom bouncers, we will cover those later in the article. Follow these steps:

  1. Tie the bottom bouncer to your main line
  2. Attach a leader (usually 3-6 feet long) to the arm of the bouncer
  3. Tie on your chosen bait or lure

Recommended gear

ItemSuggestion
Rod6-7 foot medium-heavy spinning rod
ReelMedium-sized spinning reel
Line10-14 lb monofilament or fluorocarbon
Leader8-10 lb fluorocarbon

Choosing the right bottom bouncer weight

The weight of your bottom bouncer is crucial. It affects how well you can feel the bottom and control your presentation. Weight can make a difference in where your bottom bouncer sits with the boat. If you use lighter weight the bottom bouncer will be further behind. If you use heavy weight the bottom bouncer will be under the boat. Remember, factors like current and wind can also affect your weight choice.

Weight selection guide

Water depthRecommended weight
5-10 feet1 oz
10-20 feet1.5-2 oz
20-30 feet2-3 oz
30+ feet3 oz or more

Best baits and lures to use with bottom bouncers

You can use various baits and lures with bottom bouncers. The most popular choices are live bait and spinners. Here are some popular options:

Live bait

  1. Nightcrawlers
  2. Minnows
  3. Leeches

Artificial lures

  1. Spinner rigs (aka crawler harnesses)
  2. Crankbaits
  3. Soft plastic worms or minnows

How to fish with bottom bouncers

Now that you’re set-up, let’s look at how to fish effectively with bottom bouncers. There are a few different ways to fish bottom bouncers. You can use a spinning setup for inland lakes, and on the Great Lakes use trolling rods. Just keep in mind these can be hard to manage if used on trolling rods.

Trolling technique

  1. Lower your rig until you feel it hit the bottom
  2. Reel up slightly so it’s just off the bottom
  3. Troll at 0.8-1.2 mph
  4. Keep your rod tip up at about a 45-degree angle
  5. Watch for bites – they often feel like a sudden weight on the line

Drifting technique

  1. Cast out your rig
  2. Let it sink to the bottom
  3. Slowly reel in, keeping contact with the bottom
  4. Pause occasionally to let the bait flutter

Where to fish with bottom bouncers

Bottom bouncers work well in various walleye habitats. Walleye sit in different areas at different times of the year. Bait and weather can also affect where walleye are located. Look for:

  1. Underwater humps and ridges
  2. Drop-offs and ledges
  3. Rocky points
  4. Weed edges

Seasonal locations

  • Spring – Look for shallow flats leading into spawning areas
  • Summer – Deepwater sand bars and offshore locations
  • Fall – Still deepwater locations, look for the last dropoff close to shore
  • Winter -Offshore and shore locations will hold fish

Tips for success with bottom bouncers

To increase your chances of catching walleye, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Maintain bottom contact: You should feel a steady tapping as the bouncer hits bottom
  2. Vary your speed: Sometimes a change in speed can trigger strikes
  3. Experiment with leader length: Try different lengths to see what works best
  4. Pay attention to your electronics: Look for fish on your fish finder
  5. Be patient: It may take time to find active fish

Common mistakes to avoid

Even experienced anglers can make mistakes. Fishing bottom bouncers has a specific technique and time to fish them. Here are some to watch out for:

  1. Using too light of a bouncer: This makes it hard to maintain bottom contact
  2. Reeling too fast: This lifts the bouncer off the bottom
  3. Setting the hook too hard: A gentle sweep is often enough
  4. Ignoring wind and waves: These can affect your presentation
  5. Forgetting to check your bait: Make sure it’s still in good shape

Caring for your bottom bouncer gear

To keep your gear in good shape:

  1. Rinse your bouncers with fresh water after use
  2. Store in a dry place to prevent rust
  3. Check for bent wires or damaged paint
  4. Replace worn-out bouncers to maintain effectiveness

Environmental considerations

As responsible anglers, we should always consider our impact on the environment. Although losing fishing gear is inevitable while fishing with bottom bouncers for walleye, there are precautions you can take. Using tungsten weight is one of those options, but it’s expensive.

  1. Use lead-free bottom bouncers when possible
  2. Properly dispose of any lost or damaged gear
  3. Follow local fishing regulations and limits
  4. Practice catch and release when appropriate

FAQ

Q: Can I use bottom bouncers for other fish species?

A: Yes, bottom bouncers can be effective for other bottom-dwelling fish like perch, sauger, and even some bass species.

Q: How do I know if my bottom bouncer is the right weight?

A: You should feel a steady tapping as it contacts the bottom. If you can’t feel the bottom, go heavier. If it’s dragging too much, go lighter.

Q: Can I use bottom bouncers in very deep water?

A: Yes, but you may need to use heavier weights, up to 3 oz or more, to maintain bottom contact in very deep water.

Q: Do I need special rod holders for trolling with bottom bouncers?

A: While not absolutely necessary, adjustable rod holders can make trolling with bottom bouncers more comfortable and effective.

Q: How fast should I troll with bottom bouncers?

A: Generally, trolling speeds between 0.8 and 1.2 mph work well, but don’t be afraid to experiment with faster speeds.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to fishing with bottom bouncers. The more you use this technique, the better you’ll become at reading the bottom, detecting bites, and catching walleye. Good luck on your next fishing adventure!