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Walleye Fishing with HammerTime Spinners

By Mark Romanack

The author's "go to" walleye spinner rig in
recent years has become the Hildebrandt
Hammertime Spinner.  Tied using fluorocarbon
line, premium hooks, premium blades, and
quick change clerics, this spinner rig is ideal
for bottom bouncer fishing applications.
To walleye fishermen, the bottom bouncer and spinner rig is affectionately referred to as the “money rig”. This common walleye presentation has won more money for more tournament anglers than all the other fishing presentations combined!

The question is - why is the bottom bouncer and spinner rig so effective and the answer is as simple as the fact this fishing method works just about everywhere walleye are found. From natural lakes, to the Great Lakes, reservoirs and even in rivers this “go to” structure fishing rig catches walleye day in and day out.

Getting a grip on fishing the bottom bouncer and spinner rig starts with an understanding of the bottom bouncer itself. A trolling sinker designed to fish slowly and make contact with the bottom, a bottom bouncer consists of a  length of wire bent into the shaped of an upside down “L”. On the long arm a lead weight is molded into place and on the short arm a snap swivel is added to accept the spinner rig. The most common sizes of bottom bouncers are 1, 2 and 3 ounce models.

The main line is tied to the elbow formed between the long and short arms and a spinner rig ranging from 40 to 50 inches in length is attached to the snap swivel on the short arm. Most spinner rigs are tied on fluorocarbon line and come equipped with a blade that spins on a clevice, some colorful beads and a pair of beak style live bait hooks.

The rig is complete when baited with a live nightcrawler and lowered to bottom using just enough “line out” that the bottom bouncer makes contact with the bottom every few feet as the boat slowly trolls along. Meanwhile,  the trailing spinner is positioned just off bottom where walleye can spot it easily.

Bottom bouncer sinkers come in many variations. The Hildebrandt Hammer Time Bottom Walker is a little taller than most bottom bouncers, making it user friendly and easy to set. The biggest mistake made when fishing bottom bouncers is letting too much line out while setting the rig. If too much line is played out when setting the bouncer, the rig will lay on its side and drag on the bottom instead of standing up, ticking the bottom every few feet and presenting the spinner just off bottom.

Taller bouncers like the Hammer Time Bottom Walker can be set with a little too much line out and still keep the spinner positioned up off bottom.

Young Jordan Nelson, the grandson of Fishing 411 videographer
Paul Chilson, caught this awesome walleye on a Hammertime
spinner, fished in combination with a bottom bouncer sinker.
When setting a bottom bouncer, seasoned anglers describe the process as the “rule of 45” meaning the bouncer should fish at an angle from the boat to the bottom of about 45 degrees.

Before the bottom bouncer can be set, the boat’s forward speed must be established and maintained. Speeding up and slowing down makes it impossible to set a bottom bouncer rig and keep it fishing properly.

A good trolling speed for bottom bouncer fishing ranges from 1.0 MPH to about 1.5 MPH. Once the boat speed is consistent, lower the bottom bouncer and spinner rig a few inches into the water and check to be sure the blade is rotating properly and that the harness isn’t tangled on the bouncer or the hooks tangled in the crawler.

Once it’s confirmed everything is functioning properly, the rig is lowered to bottom by free spooling line off the reel. The second the bottom bouncer contacts the bottom, the reel spool will momentarily stop spinning. Put your finger on the spool to prevent additional line from playing off and allow the boat to move forward for a few seconds.

The forward motion of the boat will pull the line tight. As the boat moves forward friction on the fishing line and the bottom bouncer rig causes the sinker to rise up off bottom a couple feet. At this point, free spool the bottom bouncer a second time until it hits the bottom again.

Put the reel in gear and place the rod in a conveniently located rod holder. Set in this manner, the bottom bouncer will travel near bottom, making contact with the bottom occasionally and presenting the trailing spinner just off the bottom.

Baitcasting rods and reels are the ideal choice for fishing bottom bouncer rigs. A medium action rod from seven to about nine foot in length is ideal. Matched to this rod, a baitcasting reel loaded with 10 to 12 pound test monofilament line makes for a perfect bottom bouncer set up.

Spinner fishing is fundamental to walleye success during the
spring and summer months.  The rewards are countless eating
sized walleye like this one caught by Jake Romanack
of Fishing 411.
The spinners designed to fish on a bottom bouncer sinker are not all created equal. Some of the critical features of a good walleye spinner rig include a premium blade, a quick change clevice for allowing blade colors and sizes to be easily changed, using premium beak style hooks and a fluorocarbon leader material.

Until recently most serious walleye anglers custom tied their own spinner rigs because it was difficult to find commercially produced rigs that meet all of the critical features outlined here. The Hildebrandt Hammer Time Spinner is a premium product built with the professional angler and serious recreational angler in mind.

Available in 10 popular finishes and in No. 4, 5 and 6 Colorado blades the Hildebrandt Hammer Time Spinner is perfect for fishing in combination with the Hammer Time Bottom Walker sinker.