Blade Baits A Multispecies Magnet

By on January 4, 2016
The blade bait is irresistible to hungry walleyes. Although you can increase your odds of hooking up with blade bait walleye if you concentrate your efforts on early morning and evening fishing. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)

Unless you have seen it firsthand, it’s hard to believe the fish-catching power a simple piece of metal can have. Looking at the bait, it’s nothing fancy: a front-heavy piece of metal with a couple treble hooks hanging off of it. However, it is one of the finest cold water baits known to man.

Blade baits catch just about everything that will eat a minnow, especially when the water is cold. The blade imitates a struggling minnow perfectly, vibrating off the bottom and gliding back down. While fish can be caught year round on the blade, it’s maximum effectiveness occurs when the water is below 55 degrees (Fahrenheit). If there is a chance a fish is near the blade, there is a good chance it can be caught regardless of what species it is. Bass, pike, walleyes, trout, salmon, catfish, whitefish, panfish, drum and, yes, even carp will bite this lure. When the water is cold, their temperature preferences often overlap, putting many different species in the same areas. This is one of the things that makes it so fun — you just never know what might be on the end of the line.

Working the blade is a simple task, moving the blade off the bottom a distance and letting it fall back down. Sometimes they want it ripped up several feet, while other times you just want to barely feel it vibrate before it free-falls to the bottom. My preference is to let the blade fall on a totally slack line. Sometimes they will hit it so hard you feel the bite while it’s falling, but often it is just the weight of a fish when you go to jig again. I cannot stress this enough: Use a very sensitive rod while blade-baiting. It helps tremendously to feel the subtle vibration. But more importantly, it allows you to sense if a fish is there right away. Even a slight delay in sensing a bite can lead an angler to believe his blade just isn’t vibrating, and possibly missing the chance to set the hook.

A simple blade bait fished in icy, December waters. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)

A simple blade bait fished in icy, December waters. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)

One thing you can also do to increase sensitivity is to use braided line when throwing blade baits. I generally only do this in water deeper than 25 feet. When using braid, a fluorocarbon leader becomes a must. The slickness of the fluorocarbon helps to prevent line tangles with the two treble hooks. Not every tangle is going to be preventable, but this will definitely cut down on them. For shallower water, straight 15-pound fluorocarbon is my preferred line. I still get the sensitivity I need, but have a little extra cushion when fighting a fish.

I also like to attach my blades with a snap, allowing for quick color or vibration changes. On certain blades you will notice there are three options for point of attachment. The front option has a narrow wiggle; the middle is an all-around wiggle; and the rear is for a wider wiggle. On blades like this, I most often opt for the middle attachment point. I’m able to feel the vibration really well and it seems to get a ton of bites. I don’t overthink color too much, usually gold or silver will do the job. Although you may find a particular color that really works based on species or water clarity. I believe finding the right rate of fall is much more important. There are a ton of options out there, don’t look at just weight to determine rate of fall either. Different brands, sizes, and variations in shape can make a big difference.

The blade bait is an excellent addition to any angler’s cold water arsenal, whether you are after a particular species or just want something to put a bend in the rod. It’s likely that you’ll find a few surprises on the end of your line the next time you hit the lake.

Top image: The blade bait is irresistible to hungry walleyes. Although you can increase your odds of hooking up with blade bait walleye if you concentrate your efforts on early morning and evening fishing. (Credit: Jeff Elliott)

About Jeff Elliott

Jeff Elliott is a 2014 Bassmaster Team championship qualifier. He has 75 tournament wins, including the 2012 Detroit Lions/Kevin VanDam Charity tournament. He is a seven-time points champion and a Bust’in Sticks TV show champion.

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