Want to catch more and bigger walleyes? Looking for the perfect jigging lure that almost guarantees more strikes? Want an ice fishing lure that helps to hook up and land a higher percentage of fish? Want a walleye ice fishing lure that will draw fish from longer distances and give you more hot ice fishing action in clear or stained water? Well, the answer to these questions is a resounding yes for all walleye fishing nuts.
But do you know my favorite lure? Well, hands down there is no other lure like it and it is made right here in Michigan by the world famous Bay de Noc Lure Mfg. Company in Gladstone and the lure is a Do-Jigger. This lure is my number one all-time fish catching, master angler slaying spoon…here’s why.
Sometimes fishermen get stuck in their ways. They become hardheads and are difficult to change, but if they are successful at trying something new they quickly adapt. I’m such a bone head about fishing, tied to the old ways, unwilling to test new lures, colors, or sizes. This is best explained by a Saginaw Bay outing with good friend and ice guru extraordinaire, Don Leuenberger from Saginaw.
Don guided me a few miles out from Linwood on a clear, sunny, cold winter day. In the distance I could see three young anglers dancing on the ice, fighting and landing fish. I motored close for pictures and found the three high school kids had caught their limit. Soon as they headed for shore Don and I jumped on their holes. Don was first to land fish. I was using a jigging Rapala and soon had a strike but lost the fish at the ice. Don soon had his limit and I lost three more walleyes in a row, when he walked to my holes, extended his hand and said, “try this spoon”.
Little did I know the pearl/lime green spoon he handed me would change walleye ice fishing for the rest of my life! Don coached me to lift the offering two feet off bottom, let it flutter down, and then make it dance. POW! I was fast into a dandy fish that was hooked deep and easy to land. Then another slammed the offering and at lightning speed I put my limit of five walleyes on ice. The first three weighed over seven pounds. Man, what a great introduction to a fantastic lure winter walleyes can’t resist.
One thing I noticed is a Do-Jiggers comes with a solid, sharp, rather large treble hook which bites deep into the walleye’s jaw and makes landing fish a breeze. The problem with many ice lures is the hooks are too small and you will lose more fish than you land. Do-Jiggers get a good piece of the jaw when you set the hook and you can control the fish at the moment of truth when it nears the ice.
Another trick to help you land fish is to angle the hole so you can pull fish out with ease. When you drill a hole, make a second only 6 inches deep on the edge and let it fill with water. Hooked walleyes are pulled into the partial hole and slid onto the ice or grabbed by the gills. If you have an ice spud you can also make a landing zone by chipping ice at an angle to one side of the hole. Once again, make it large enough to slide a big fish up the icy ramp and allow you to pull fish out on the ice with ease. Forget ice gaffs that wound kill and often lose fish. The trick is to use your brain when you fight fish at the hole. Learn to control the adrenalin rush you will get when the huge maw and monster sides of a big fish glides past kissin’ close.
Let walleyes take line at the hole and slowly use give and take tactics to ease their head into the hole. Once they are in the hole, lock down, pull hard and force them to glide out on the sloped platform. Any swish of their tail when their head is facing skyward will cause them to flip out on the ice like a penguin coming home. If they sulk and try to back down the hole, use pressure from your bent rod to hold them in place while you give them a boost from the rear with an ice scoop. Savvy ice anglers have rod in one hand and ice scoop in the other when wildly thrashing hawgeyes come slashing onto the ice.
Well, you know my first stop was Frank’s Great Outdoors in Linwood which has a fantastic supply of Do-Jiggers. Don recommended three of his favorite colors, blue/silver, pearl/chartreuse and pearl/green. I found Bay de Noc makes three different sizes, #1, #3 and the largest #5. The largest #5 is my favorite northern pike spoon when tipped with a sucker head, but I seldom use them for walleyes. My all-time best size is the #1. However, my all-time best big walleye catcher is the #3 Do-Jigger. There are over 30 colors to choose from. During the day I prefer the nickel color with blue, Kelly green or orange. Silver or metallic color is ideal during sunny weather but the white lures in a variety of colors is the ticket. When late winter arrives and schools of pre-spawn fish become aggressive, use more vivid color to attract the fancy of active fish. My favorite is a white spoon with bright fluorescent orange tape. You can order them online at www.FranksGreatOutdors.com.
A few years ago I got crazy painting Do-Jiggers with a variety of glow colors. There are times when discolored water or super thick ice restricts light penetration and these lures worked like dynamite. Of course, a touch of glow is the ticket when the sun touches the horizon and walleyes are on the prowl. But my most effective glow trick was to place super glow paint only on the red clickers used to camouflage the hook. Apparently the clickers have the brand of movement that hold the attention of wary monster walleyes and convince them to slurp the spoon.
Don’t be a hard headed fisherman like me and assume the Do Jigger is only for Great Lakes fishing on Big or Little Bay de Noc, Saginaw Bay, Lake. St. Clair or Erie. Heck, the #1 size spoon is perfect for clear water lakes and I’ve done well on Portage Lake, Muskegon Lake, Lake Cadillac, Lake Macatawa and many more Michigan inland lakes and frozen rivers. The #1 size will catch the eater size fish in any situation and plenty of undersized ‘eyes too. Believe me, it will also guarantee strikes from the monster 10-pounders.
It is the unbelievable action of the Do Jigger that no other spoon can mimic. It has a flashing, dancing action that sends vibrations through the water like no other lure. The trick is to drop the spoon until it touches bottom, lift it about 4-8 inches off bottom and pull upward 12-30 inches and allow the spoon to flutter downward on slack line. What happens is the spoon turns on its back, catches the water and flutters slowly toward bottom giving off fantastic flash and unbelievable vibration. If you want to see this unique action first hand, bring the lure near the surface and watch it flutter through the hole in the ice. Once the fluttering lure hits the bottom, give it a few smaller pumps, then hold the rod stationary and brace for a strike. Sure, some strikes come on the lift when the Do-Jigger is swimming away, others come on the fall, but most winter walleyes are very lethargic and the strike comes at the resting stage of the jigging rhythm. Strikes occur as the fish slurps the minnow, the strike is a tiny peck that often feels like a perch bite.
This occurs when the walleye glides extra close to the jigging spoon, zeros in on the baitfish, opens its maw and vents enough water through its gills to pull the minnow into the fish’s lips. Sometimes you will feel the strike, set the hook but miss the fish because he did not get the hook into its mouth. The strike happens at lightning speed as water rushes the tiny offering into the walleye’s lips or mouth. Sometimes you do not detect the strike and when you lift the rod to jig, you hook the fish. Smart ice fishermen learn to concentrate on rod control at the end of the rigging cadence when the lure is stationary and the bait is jiggled to entice strikes.
Perhaps the greatest trick Leuenberger taught me is the importance of minnows for bait. Sometimes he uses heads, tails, large or small to match the mood of feeding fish. On more than one occasion I’ve seen Leuenberger pull the Do-Jigger out of the water, tail hook a lively minnow and drop the offering into the strike zone. POW! Fish go nuts for the short lived frantic action of struggling baitfish. Leuenberger always uses fresh bait on Do Jiggers and after learning a multitude of ice jigging tricks from him, I’ve developed a few.
Try lifting and dropping the spoon several times, then hold it still at the bottom of the drop, allow it to swing toward the center and jiggle the rod tip, which causes the minnows to vibrate in a dead stick position. If walleyes come to the action, slowly raise the lure and paused/jiggle and stop for the strike. Sometimes you watch the electronics, let walleyes slip under the jigged lure, then pause as they come for the strike. If they don’t suck down the offering, lift it and jiggle the minnow and pause again for a strike. Sometimes you use this pause/lift tactic to bring inquisitive walleyes far from bottom, make them stand on their tail and eventually they bite.
Most strikes come on the pause when walleyes slowly glide into kissin’ distance of the spoon and they slurp the minnow into their lips and crush the bait with sharp teeth. The majority of winter walleyes are barely hooked in the lips because they are not slamming the bait, taking the minnow deep. However, there are days when the fish go bonkers and slam Do Jiggers at lightning speed, take the spoon deep into their gullet and strikes come as a solid thud on your rod tip that almost takes the rod from your hand. These fish are easy to hook and create the brand of heart attack ice adventures keeping us coming back for more. Most ice fishermen live to feel the shark attack bites that signal a big fish has gulped your offering.
With great interest I watched an old fishermen catch his limit of walleyes in less than an hour. I stalked close and eventually got a snapshot of his offering on my digital telephoto camera. Much to my surprise he was using a large sucker minnow lip hooked on a size #3 silver/blue Do Jigger, dropped to bottom and occasionally bounced on bottom. He said the silver spoon acted like a mirror to attract walleyes and the big struggling minnow, with face in the dirt caused walleyes strike. Sometimes pounding bottom, stirring up bottom debris like a feeding baitfish causes enough noise, vibration and visual stimulation to attract predatory walleyes.
I like to change minnows often and prefer to use two crappie size silver shiners. I also like to fish two rods and keep changing lures to determine what fish prefer on any given day. Some days they want silver, others white and come sunset I certainly go with glow. To make quick changes I attach a size #12 or #10 Duo Lock snap swivel on the end of 2 foot of 8 or 10 lb. fluorocarbon leader. The leader is difficult for fish to see and is stiff enough to give lures excellent action. The leader is attached to an ant-size itsy barrel swivel made by Blackbird for steelhead fishing. I use 8 lb. main line and prefer Berkley clear monofilament. The swivel keeps the line from twisting and prevents lures from spinning when you hold them stationary.
Now, I’m not fishing pro and I don’t get one penny from any manufacturer to sponsor their products. I’m just totally sold on Do-Jiggers for walleyes through the ice. Oh sure, I love the action of the Swedish Pimple and often fish a Pimple or Easy Prey on one rod and use the fast action Do-Jigger on the other to bring fish in from long distances. I’m amazed at how often anglers spend thousands of dollars on ATVs, portable shanties, power ice augers and expensive ice fishing apparel but use junk lures. Hey, let me make your day and recommend you give a Do-Jigger a try. It is also a good move to keep changing baits, move to new locations and try a variety of spoon colors until you hit on the hot pattern. At times ice fishing can be a very lonely, cold sport and you deserve to spice up the action with something on the end of your line that will attract strikes from fish long as your leg.