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Staying Hooked Up

By Mark Romanack

Smiles like this can only occur when fish bite and stay hooked up. A little
hooking knowledge has helped the angler land countless fish like this over
the years and avoid that “kicked in the guts” feeling that happens
when a quality fish escapes!!
Anyone who fishes will understand the disappointment that comes when a big fish is hooked, but lost before it comes to net. Worse yet is when a fish is hooked and lost before the angler even lays eyes on the fish. Losing fish is part of fishing, but I can tell you that after 40 years of witnessing this event the sting isn’t any less!

Even the most devoted “catch and release” angler needs to lay hands on the fish to be happy. Fortunately there are things an angler can do to mitigate losing fish and suffering that “kicked in the guts” feeling that follows.

Vertical Jigging with Braid

By Mark Romanack

Spring time is vertical jigging time.
The author loves to jig for walleye and strongly
recommends that anglers use premium braided
lines to maximize their sensitivity and ability
to detect subtle strikes.
Vertical jigging for river run fish is one of the most technical presentations commonly used to target walleye. Boat control is a critical part of vertical jigging, but just as important is the fishing line an angler selects. Ultra thin, ultra low stretch and high visibility fishing lines are ideal for river jig fishing applications. A thin diameter and high visibility line has less drag in the water, making it easier to see and also to maintain a vertical presentation in fast moving current. Low stretch lines are more sensitive enabling the angler to detect bottom easier and also to feel subtle strikes. 

The ideal line for walleye jig fishing applications is 10# test eight strand braid such as Maxima’s High Visibility Braid. A 10# test line is plenty strong for walleye jig fishing applications, thin enough to make it efficient at staying vertical, yet this line can also be broken should the jig snag on bottom. Anglers that use too heavy a braided line run the risk of a jig snagging on bottom and a rod tip breaking or the reel bail failing before the line can be broken!

Walleye Hooks

By Mark Romanack

The author uses three primary hook types for
walleye fishing including Treble Hooks, Beak
 Hooks and Slow Death Hooks.
Recently at a sport show the question of fish hooks suitable for walleye fishing came up. Jake and I answered the question and pretty quick that lead to another question and another and another. It soon became obvious to me that not every angler understands the proper hooks for the popular walleye fishing presentations. In this blog we’re going to solve that problem and set anglers on a path to success.

An avid walleye angler is going to have need for several different kinds of hooks. The basic hook types an avid walleye angler will need includes an assortment of treble hooks, beak hooks and slow death hooks.

The factory treble hooks that come on many crankbaits are marginal in quality to say the least. Lots of anglers replace the factory hooks on their lures with after market premium quality hooks. After market hooks are superior not only in sharpness, but also in design. For example, wide bend style hooks like the Mustad Triple Grip and the Matzuo Sickle are good examples of hook types that hook and hold fish better than traditional round bend style hooks.

Powering High Definition Sonar and Video Units

By Mark Romanack
Sonar units help anglers target fish, like this nice Walleye caught on a jig.
Keeping your sonar running all-day requires a good battery.

Just about everyone who has used a high definition sonar unit or the newer underwater video machines has come to the conclusion these fishing tools are invaluable for finding fish, structure and fish holding cover. The problem with these units is they pull a lot of amp power and if you’re not prepared dead batteries are going to be the norm of the day!

In my boats I rig two cranking batteries in parallel to double the amp hours and keep the voltage at 12 volts. Typically I use two 750 cold cranking amp batteries for this work. If there isn’t room for two batteries, I opt for one 1000 CCA model. The extra amp hours virtually guarantees that I will have power not only to start my boat, but to power all my high end electronics.

Mark's Mailbag - Hooking up a Nightcrawler Harness

Mark's Mailbag are occasional posts to the blog in response to questions people submit on the Fishing 411 website.  Mark personally responds to the question and when relevant, we repost his answer here.  If you have a question you would like to ask Mark, please visit us at

On May 1, Brian writes:  What is the best way to hook a crawler on a spinner harness to prevent the crawler from spinning?

Hooking the crawler with the front hook in the tip of the nose and the
second hook in the collar of the crawler insures the bait will pull straight
in the water and no line twist problems will result. This rigging method
leaves a lot of crawler dangling without any hooks in it, but the extra tail
action seems to work well in triggering strikes.
Mark Replies:  Hooking up a crawler on a “walleye spinner rig” is easy, but you’re right if it is done wrong the rig will roll while trolling and lead to line twist. I use two hook harnesses and take the crawler in one hand and the front hook on my rig in the other. I push the hook point into the very tip of the crawler’s nose and then pop the hook through the crawler’s skin about 3/8 inch down from the tip of the crawler’s nose. The second hook is were folks get into trouble. If you put the second hook too far back in the crawler, the crawler will look like a “J” in the water and line twist becomes a problem. I simply pull the crawler straight and place my second hook just behind the crawler’s collar. This set up keeps the crawler pulling straight in line and eliminates any concerns with line twist. 

I like No. 2 beak style hooks for crawler harnesses. Great question and thanks for asking.

Best fishes,

Mark Romanack

Boards on the Beach

By Mark Romanack
The author is becoming a big fan of using Mini
Boards early in the year when fishing shallow
water or close to shore.

In the spring one fact about fishing holds true most of the time. When the main body of a lake is icy cold, the warmest available water is going to be the skinny depths found near shore. This simple, but profound fact of nature has helped guide me into countless brown trout, coho, lakers, brook trout, walleye and pike in the spring of the year.

Shallow water warms more quickly because the sun can penetrate the depths. Submerged rocks, wood and even organic material on the bottom does a good job of absorbing solar radiation and warming the surrounding water. On a bright sunny day, I’ve seen water temperature start out in the morning at around 36 degrees and spike above 50 degrees in the afternoon!

When the waters near shore warm quickly baitfish invade the shallows and predator fish are sure to follow.