When it comes to fishing line, one size does not fit all — especially when targeting early-season walleyes, says Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Legendary Communicator James Lindner. Depending on when and where you’re chasing ‘eyes this spring, be sure to spool up the right Sufix® line for the conditions.
“There’s a big difference in line type and weight — in how it functions and feels for specific fishing situations,” says Lindner, a director, producer and co-host of Lindner’s Angling Edge television show. “I’ve got different line rigged on different rods for all different reasons.”
Many anglers, however, use the same 8- or 10-pound-test line all year in all conditions. If that’s you, Lindner says “you’d be really amazed at how many more strikes you’d get if you used a lighter line, and one that’s perfectly suited for your situation or condition.”
When walleyes are occupying flats in 4 to 10 feet of clear water before a lake’s vegetation starts coming in, Lindner targets them with minnows or soft-plastics rigged on 1/8- to 1/16th-ounce jigs thrown on 10-pound-test Sufix 832® Advanced Superline® braid tipped with a three- to four-foot leader of 10-pound-test Castable Invisiline™ Sufix 100% Fluorocarbon. The diameter of 10-pound Sufix 832 braid is equivalent to that of 4-pound-test monofilament line.
Whether you’re casting or dragging your jigs, Lindner says, a “variety of key attributes” make the braid-fluoro combination key to putting fish in the boat — increased sensitivity to feel light bites; the ability to make long casts; and easy hook-sets.
Because fishing pressure and clear water make walleyes on shallow flats easily spooked, Sufix 832 braid’s “ability to cast farther away from the boat,” is key, Lindner says. And making those long casts in front of the boat is usually more productive than casting perpendicular to the flat you’re targeting, or dragging your jig behind the boat. It is “critical,” he says, that your bait beats the boat to the fish.
“I’ve seen it so many different times when we’re out on Otter Tail Point, or up on Winnie, and guys are dragging baits directly in back of the boat and they’re watching us and wondering why we’re catching so many fish,” Lindner recalls. “We’re drifting too, but we’re casting in front of the boat, so we’re not spooking the fish.”
Because this tactic creates a bow in your line, Sufix 832 braid is critical to your success. One reason is that braid does not stretch, so when you set the hook, the fish is pegged almost immediately. Monofilament and fluorocarbon line will create a slight delay (more so with the mono), because they stretch. “If I’ve got 45 feet of mono out on the end of a cast and I start to pull up on the bait, you have to take some of that stretch out of it,” Lindner explains.
And with Sufix 832 braid spooled on, you don’t need a super-human hookset to get the job done.
“You don’t really hookset the hook, per se, that hard, you just reel down, tighten up and you got ‘em,” Lindner explains. “With the really sharp, fine-wire, finesse hooks we’re using today, you just lift up with that braid and you got ‘em.”
Another reason Sufix 832 braid will improve your hook-up ratio is that it’s available in two colors that make it easier to see strikes before you can even feel them — neon lime and hi-vis yellow.
“When you’re popping the bait up and down off the bottom in front of the boat, you don’t have direct contact with your bait — there’s a loop, or bow, in the line,” Lindner explains. “That’s where that really bright line can really help. You’ll see the line just tighten up … or straighten out a bit. And if you have monofilament, you can’t see that.”
Split-Shotting Shiners On Deeper Flats
When Lindner is split-shotting live emerald shiners in clear water on top of deeper-water flats or near ledges on the edges of them, he ties small, light-wire, Aberdeen-style hooks directly to a 6-pound-test Sufix Elite monofilament main line. “You can go as low as 4-pound test, but you’ve got to be pretty delicate and have [a specialty] rod,” he says.
Because fish aren’t super aggressive in the colder water of spring, “you want to slow your speed down and, actually impart less action to the bait,” Lindner explains. “What monofilament does — with that stretch — is slow everything down. Some people don’t believe that, but it does.”
But again, the ability “to get your line way away from the boat” remains “critical,” Lindner says. Because Sufix Elite™ mono is so soft and supple, he says, “you can cast it pretty far and get it out away from the boat.”