In last week’s On the water online, I spoke with friend and trophy walleye ace, Peter Tully, about his experimentation with flutter spoons in the wintertime.
I mentioned, too, that Peter (who is the category manager for fishing at the main office of Cabela’s Canada) spends most of his ice fishing time on Lake Winnipeg, which is undoubtedly the finest winter walleye fishery on the planet.
Talk about the perfect laboratory.
When we concluded last week’s blog, Peter was talking about the extraordinary attracting and triggering qualities of the Mepps Syclops Lite spoon for catching walleyes in the winter. It lead me to ask him why he thinks the lure is so stellar.
“They’re my go-to spoons for a couple of reasons,” says Tully. “I love the hook quality, and the new UV finishes seem to entice more bites when the water is murky. The multi-curved face of the spoon, on the other hand, is a feature I have always liked, both on the original Syclops and now the Lite version. It reflects light from so many different angles and has such a tantalizing action. But the real key is the rate of fall of the Lite version is considerably slower than the regular Syclops spoon. And it is this slow fluttering action that has allowed me to increase my success exponentially. The #2 Lite is definitely my best producer due to its large profile and slower rate of fall.”
When I asked Tully if he saw any colour trends, he was adamant that, day in and day out, gold is king. In fact, he said there was never a time last winter that he didn’t have a gold Syclops Lite tied onto at least one of his rods. Silver- and orange-hued spoons were tied for second place honours.
“Gold is a consistent producer,” Tully says, “but on sunny days and when there is less snow cover on the ice, I have better success with silver. When the water is murky, I like orange.”
Interestingly, Tully told me that he didn’t discern any noticeable spoon trends related to changing weather conditions, save the sun/cloud comparison already noted. But he did document that his finest spoon success came in the middle of the day.
“I probably had my best rattle-bait catches during the early morning and evening periods,” says Tully. “It’s as though the increasing daylight gets the walleyes tuned into the flash from the flutter spoon, while the dwindling daylight causes them to use their lateral lines to feed more by sound and vibration.”
Tully is also a stickler for using the proper rod, reel and line to present flutter spoons the way walleyes want them.
“I use a longer than traditional ice rod for hole hopping,” says Tully.
“I look for a rod that is sensitive, but with enough power to crack a barbless hook into a big walleye’s beak and then keep her pinned all the way up. My go-to rods are 36- and 42-inch, medium heavy action Fenwick Elite-Tech ice rods. They have the perfect blend of features for this technique, and at less than $50 they’re reasonably priced.
“I also use a slightly larger-than-normal size reel, as the bigger drag face helps prevent the sticky drag problems that many ice anglers experience in cold weather. The Cadillac is the 2500 Shimano Stradic Ci4+ because it is very light in weight. On a less expensive note, the 25 or 30 Pflueger President offers tremendous value and works wonders for me throughout the ice season.
“One thing I can’t stress enough, however, is to check the drag anytime you move out into the cold from a warm shelter. The change in temperature affects the drag and I always find myself loosening it in cold weather. I want a little line to play out when I set the hook, but I definitely want the rod to double over as well.”
As for the ideal line, Tully sticks with 15-pound Power Pro braided ice line for its paramount sensitivity. And he likes the Teflon coating, saying that it significantly reduces ice building up on his line.
“The heavier line is important with the stiffer longer rods that I use,” says Tully. “It prevents break offs when I set the hook. I had some heartbreaks a few years ago when I was experimenting with lighter braids. They’re nice to fish with, but you have a tendency to pop them like sewing thread when you set the hook vigorously.
“I should mention, too, that on the larger reels, 50 yards of braid will not fill the spool properly, so you need to use less expensive monofilament as backing. Then load the braid over top.
“After you fill the reel, you should see less than a 1/8-inch lip on the spool. Too much lip and you will create line twist, which will cause the spoon to tangle when you drop it to the bottom. If you fill the line right to the brim, on the other hand, you’ll get some nightmarish tangles.
“Finally, I always put a two-foot-long leader of 10-pound-test Maxima fluorocarbon between the main line and my Syclops Lite spoon. I connect it to the braid using an FG knot as it is the thinnest and strongest. Many people also like to use a quick change snap, but I prefer to tie directly to the spoon. I’d rather have two rods rigged with different size/colour Lites. I think this fixed-line connection reduces the tangles that you can get when you let the Lite drop on slack line.”
Alright what do you say?
Armed with Tully’s hard won secrets, isn’t it time you spoon fed some walleyes this winter?