"I've seen more heavy spinnerbaits recently, 1-ounce and heavier. Is this overkill? When would I want to use that big of a spinnerbait?" - Member Dan Fochtman, Cary, North Carolina
It's definitely not overkill, and I use them quite a bit. In fact, I'd say a heavy spinnerbait is my No. 1 big-fish bait.
The two key situations in which I use them most often are when fishing deeper water, or when I want to wind a spinnerbait really fast, but need to keep it down in the water column. My favorite way to fish one is to slow-roll it over deep timber or grass.
Really, whenever I slow-roll a spinnerbait, I like to do it over or through some type of high-percentage cover.
All spinnerbaits have lift, meaning the faster you reel, the shallower they'll run. So, you want to choose a head size and blade combination that lets you fish at the depth of specific cover.
My favorite big spinnerbait is a 3/4-ounce Strike King Premier Pro Model with a single willow-leaf blade, or double willows. If I need a little more weight on it, I apply some tungsten Sticky Weight on the hook, right behind the skirt holder. - Kevin VanDam
HANDLING WILLOW CATS FOR WALLEYES
"I've heard willow cats make great walleye bait, but I also heard they can give you a nasty sting. What¹s the best way to handle a willow cat when baiting up?" - Member Gregg Maisler, Eagan, Minnesota
Willow cats, which are also widely known as madtoms, are most common in medium and large rivers throughout eastern North America, particularly the Upper Mississippi River. I've used them a lot, mostly on the Mississippi, and they're a great little bait. They leave a trail of gooey slime and the walleyes eat them up on wing dams.
As you say, their pectoral fins can inflict a painful sting. So, you do have to be careful when placing them on a hook, and hold them a specific way to avoid trouble. To handle them safely, I lay one in the palm of my hand, with the head toward my index finger and thumb. I let the cat relax until its top and side barbs are lying down.
Then I take my thumb and slowly slide it from the nose of the willow cat over the top of the back spine. Next, while holding the spine down with my thumb, I pin the baitfish with my index finger. With the willow cat immobilized, I hook it through the lower jaw and up through the lips.
I usually fish them on a live bait rig. I just toss one out in front of a wing dam, let it sit there a few minutes, then bring it back slowly, stop it, and bring it back a little more. I throw to different parts of the wing dam until I connect with fish. -Ted Takasaki
"I like to crank rocks and have noticed a difference on some of my crankbait lips. Some crack, mostly those that are part of the bait itself. Lips that are glued in don't break, but wear down over time. Is there an advantage to one type of lip over the other?" - Member Gene Rivet, New Albany, Indiana
Inserted lips are usually made of polycarbonate, or Lexan. To avoid breaking it has to be somewhat soft, and that's why rocks will wear it down over time. With a two-part constructed body, the lip is a harder-density plastic and therefore more susceptible to chipping on rocks.
Polycarbonate has an edge in your situation because in order to have the digging characteristics of a good rock crankbait, like the Rapala DT10 and DT16, you want a more flexible lip that bounces and deflects off cover. Lip wear is just the nature of the beast, so I keep a separate box of cranks I use specifically for cranking rocks.- Mark Fisher, Director of Field Promotions, Rapala