Few fish can be more fun to catch than Walleye. These colorful and highly active fish are not only a great target fish for new and experienced anglers to go for, but they also taste amazing and can make a very suitable panfish.
Fishing for walleye can involve a wide range of different rigs and gear styles. Many anglers are turning to the Bottom Bouncing rig for their walleye fishing. This rig is versatile and effective when you want to land some seriously big walleye on your next fishing trip.
The Bottom Bouncing Rig For Walleye Explained
Walleye can be somewhat elusive. They love staying suspended towards the bottom of the lake or waterway and may not be as active as some other fish such as bass or pike. However, if you can deliver your bait or lure down to where walleye are holding, they can be very aggressive strikers on a wide range of bait types.
The bottom bouncer is a great choice for getting your bait down low in the water. It drops quickly and efficiently, and once it is down there you can start trolling slowly or retrieving it with your reel. The way the rig is designed will keep your bait moving and reduce the amount of snags in vegetation, on rocks, and on twigs.
What is the Bottom Bouncer Rig?
In short, a bottom bouncer is made to keep your bait near the bottom of the lake while slowly trolling through the water. Since walleye commonly stay low in the water, you want your bait to be in that area as well. This gives you a much higher chance of having fish notice your bait or lure and feeling confident enough to strike it.
When compared to other rigs, the bottom bouncer will keep your bait lower than most. One of the biggest concerns with low bait is that it can get snagged on underwater vegetation, rocks, and other heavy cover. But the bottom bouncer is designed in such a way that this risk is minimized.
How does the Bottom Bouncer Rig work?
The entire purpose of the bottom bouncer is to keep your bait close to the muddy lake bottom while also reducing the chance it gets hung up on rocks or sticks. A unique feature of the rig is the weighted wire that hangs below your hook and bait or lure. This is used to bounce your bait and hook up as the weighted wire gets dragged across the different textures on the bottom of the lake.
This bouncing not only helps grab the attention of nearby walleye, but it also prevents the hook from getting caught on vegetation due to the leverage type motion it makes. However, in order for this to work properly, you need to ensure you have rigged it with the right length of bottom wire and the right weight size.
The length and weight may vary depending on the type of bait or lure you are trailing, as well as the depth of water you will be fishing in. The trolling speed can also play a huge role in how well the bottom bouncers actually bounce and avoid getting snagged.
Bottom Bouncer Rig Set-Up
Obtain or make an L shaped bouncer component. This can be from wire that is thick enough to hold its shape, but small enough to be used with an egg or diamond weight. If you don’t want to make one, you can usually find a bottom bouncer wire at some tackle shops to save you some time and effort.
Where the wire bends in the center to make the L shape, put another small bend to help designate the spot for your main line to attach. If you are purchasing a premade bounce wire, there will be a very distinct spot in the center already. The main line will be attached to the center of the wire, as your leader will be on one end, and the weight will be on the other to create leverage for the bounce.
Secure your main line to the center of the bounce wire. Your main line can be either monofilament or braided, though it’s important that the main line is stronger than what you used for your leader line.
Most anglers will go with either a monofilament line or a braided line. Regardless of your choice, you want to be sure the line is strong enough to haul in even large walleye. A 12-16 pound test is a good choice for most main lines.
Secure your leader line onto the end of the L shaped wire. Your leader can be anywhere from 3 feet to 7 feet long, though most anglers will stick with a somewhat shorter leader line. You can also choose to use a snap swivel between the bouncer wire and the leader line.
The snap swivel is especially important if you will be using curved soft baits, traditional spinner blades, or other soft rubber baits that might twist as they are pulled through the water. You will also see a benefit in using a swivel when fishing with either a spinner harness or any classic spinner harness rigs (get one here).
With your leader line, an 8 to 10 pound test fluorocarbon line is a great choice. However, if you prefer using a monofilament line for your leaders, that can work too. You may run into some issues with buoyancy, however.
At the end of your leader line, attach your favorite lure or bait. When walleye fishing, live minnows and live leeches are very suitable options to consider, but since walleye are opportunistic, they may willingly strike at various other types of bait and lures as well.
At the bottom of your bounce wire you will add a weight. Most anglers will use a slip weight that is secured midway up the wire specifically as their bouncer weight. You want there to be a small “antenna” of sorts that drags into the bottom mud and vegetation of the lake, but want the weight to be large enough to keep the entire rig down towards the bottom.
As it is trolled through the water and snags on vegetation, rocks, and other sunken debris, it will bounce. Due to the L shaped design of the wire and the leverage it causes with your main line secured to the center, your bait or lure will be yanked up and over heavy cover areas to prevent snagging when using it to find scattered fish.
How to use Bottom Bouncer Rigs
Most anglers will easily fish bottom bouncers from a boat to catch bigger walleye. These rigs do exceptionally well when trolled slowly through the water to find active fish. However, that’s not to say you can’t fish with them from shore as well, though you will get better results when trolled over a mile or more.
Bottom bouncer fishing is a great choice when fishing with live baits such as minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers. When using live baits, trolling with them through the water can preserve the bait for longer periods of time. When the bait is stationary in a single spot, it can easily be picked off the hook without actually catching any fish.
When trolling with live bait on the hook, walleye taking notice of the bait will have to strike instead of just getting a chance to nibble and steal the bait.
Trolling for Walleye with Bottom Bouncers
Bottom bouncer trolling speed
Bottom bouncers do best when trolled at a slow speed. Around 1 to 1.5 mph is usually a suitable boat control speed, though most anglers will keep their speeds closer to 1 mph as a basic starting point. A higher speed runs the chance of losing contact with the bottom of the lake which presents your lure or bait too high for walleye to really take notice.
Additionally, a speed that is too slow will end up bogging down and running a higher risk of your hook getting snagged in vegetation. The right speed for your rig and fishing location may take a bit of trial and error. You want to ensure the rig has good contact with the bottom of the lake, but doesn’t have a lot of time for the leader line to sink down and get snagged.
A constant horizontal trailing of your leader line from the bounce wire is important for a good presentation of your lure or bait. If you feel like your bait is getting hung up too often, adjust your speed to be a bit faster than what it currently is. On the other hand, if you don’t feel any vibrations of the weight on the bottom of the lake, slow down your troll by a notch or two.
Bottom bouncer depth chart
The feet of water you will be fishing in will determine the size of weight you need for the best contact with the bottom as well as the best leveraged presentation you offer when trolling. If you are running with a 12-pound test monofilament line and are trolling at a speed of 1.0 to 1.2 mph, you will be using weights ranging from 1 ounce to 3 ounces in anywhere from 10 to 40 feet of water.
Water Depth — Recommended Weight Size
- 10 – 15 Feet Deep — 1.0 ounce
- 15 – 20 Feet Deep — 1.5 ounce
- 20 – 30 Feet Deep — 2.0 ounce
- 30 – 40 Feet Deep — 3.0 ounce
Bottom Bouncer Rig FAQs
Can you use planer boards with bottom bouncers?
Planer boards can be used when trolling with a bottom bouncer. The main thing to keep in mind is that you may not get the solid hookups that you want if the walleye is not an aggressive striker. Since you will be using a crawler harness on this setup, your reeling speed and reaction time with bottom bouncers will be much less than usual. As a result, less aggressive walleye may not get the hook set in their mouth properly leading to missing fish or difficulty in finding scattered fish.
Can you troll crankbaits with bottom bouncers?
Crankbaits are a great choice when using a bottom bouncer. These very effective lures help get your rig down to the bottom of the lake quickly so you can start trolling immediately. When using a crankbait with your bottom bouncer, you are able to troll at distances of 100 feet or less which gives you good control when moving around sunken structures and heavy cover.
Additionally, with this lower trolling distance, you’ll be able to precisely target certain areas by following contour lines of the lake or trolling over certain depths. Being able to more precisely control the location of your bait when trolling can help get more bites from walleye holding under thick cover.
Can you use bottom bouncers from shore?
Bottom bouncer rigs can be fished from shore, however you will not get as good of results as you would if you were trolling it slowly behind a boat. Shore casting will limit your chance of moving the rig past suspended fish, but can still get strikes if walleye are holding under cover near the shoreline.
Bottom bouncers cast from shore do best with a spinning rod setup and can be effective when used with a rod holder, but you will need to ensure you are using a short leader line of around 24 inches on a bouncer rod.
A longer leader line will make casting at distance much more difficult. Additionally, longer leaders can easily get tangled with your main line during the casting and sinking process, especially if you are using a traditional soft plastic fluke as their curled tails will grab onto your bottom bouncers main line.
If using a spinning setup to cast your bottom bouncer from shore, long rods of around 7’6” to 8’ are the best option. This longer rod length gives you much better leverage when casting bottom bouncers at distance, even if they might seem too light. The further you can cast your rig when fishing bottom bouncers, the more chances you have of passing by hungry walleye when reeling it back in.
Final Thoughts on Bottom Bouncer Fishing
Fishing bottom bouncers is a very effective way of catching walleye when you decide to fish deep water. While the bottom bouncer is much more effective when trolled slowly behind the boat, it can also get reasonable results when cast from the shore of natural lakes and along weed line edges.
When trolling bottom bouncers from a boat, the best speed is around 1.2 mph to ensure the bottom bouncer gets good contact with the bottom of the lake without bogging down in the mud. If casting bottom bouncers from shore, using a seven foot casting rod or longer is best in order to get a good casting distance when fishing bottom bouncers.