Is there a walleye angler anywhere who hasn’t trolled a crawler harness or spinner rig behind a bottom bouncer, three-way rig or leadcore outfit? It’s a tradition-bound presentation that’s long been one of the best ways to search for walleye when they’re spread out across flats or suspended in the water column.
Historically, these rigs have sported Colorado, Indiana or willowleaf blades. Hard-thumping Colorados are the choice when the water is dark, deep and dingy, while flashier willowleafs get the nod when the water’s bright, shallow and clear. As for Indiana blades, they’re useful for conditions in between. Whatever the style, larger blades excel in big-fish waters while smaller blades trigger bites in more modest systems.
Then there’s the Smile Blade from Mack’s Lure. When they first started using the unusually shaped blade, walleye pros tried to keep it a secret, saying instead they were simply using a spinner rig when they won tournaments. While that was technically true, the ruse was eventually exposed and the walleye world was turned upside down by the Smile Blade’s deadly fishing-attracting qualities.
It isn’t just the shape that makes this blade so effective. Being made of paper-thin polycarbonate, it’s also virtually weightless. That means it can spin at ridiculously slow speeds, allowing you to present a spinner rig in ways that were previously impossible.
More recently, in-the-know walleye anglers have been adding Smile Blades to slow-death rigs, making that deadly presentation even deadlier. When Dave Spaid first invented the slow-death system for tough-bite walleye some years ago, he removed the traditional blades from spinner rigs and instead used a bent hook to cause a small piece of a nightcrawler to spin. With a Smile Blade placed in front of the corkscrewing crawler, the action is accentuated even more. Trout and salmon (especially Kokanee) anglers are also now discovering how effective these blades are.