Avoiding Nagging Snags on Rocky Structure


Every summer, I get together with a group of anglers to head to Rainy Lake for a week of walleye fishing. During our stay at Island View Lodge, we have ample time to explore and target walleyes on many pieces of structure found throughout the lake.

If there is one thing we have learned about Rainy Lake, it is that the walleyes on this lake love rocks. However, if you are generalizing about walleyes, I would say that these fish love rocks no matter what lake you are fishing or where they are found. Rocks and walleyes simply go hand-in-hand.

The problem people have when live bait rigging walleyes on the rocks is snags. Being snagged frequently is not only frustrating; it is also time consuming. Once a snag occurs, it is necessary to maneuver the boat to get unsnagged, or worse yet, retie due to a break off.

There is no magic solution for totally avoiding snags when live bait rigging rocks. However, some strategies can be applied that greatly reduce the number of snags that occur.

The first suggestion is to change the style of sinker to something that is more pencil-shaped than round. We have found that Lindy No-Snagg sinkers and Northland Rock Runner weights greatly reduce the number of snags due to their design.

When moving, these sinkers ride in an upright position, which helps the weight slide up and over crevasses and creases in the rocks instead of finding a permanent home. Once a sinker is snagged, these pencil style sinkers usually come free when the boat is moved in the opposite direction.

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Another tactic we use is to fish with heavier weights than normal. We usually use 1/2- to 3/4-ounce weights. This allows for the line to be straight down, not back at an angle. The straighter down your line is, the fewer snags you will have.

Something else we do that reduces snags is lift the weight off the bottom so it isn’t dragging through the rocks. This is a tricky proposition as waves and wind can make it difficult to keep a steady speed. However, the more you can keep your weight just above the rocks, the fewer hang-ups you will experience.

We also use small wire hooks that do not drop into the rocks as easily as heavier hooks. If you find that your hook is constantly getting caught, go smaller and lighter. Floating jig heads also help with this issue.

Bottom bouncers are another possibility for keeping out of the rocks. When utilizing bottom bouncers and spinners, we try to go about a mile an hour or slightly greater to keep the spinners above the snags.

One last thought: Although I do like to use mono on my live bait rigs, if the snag issue is severe, switching to a good-quality braid will give you more feel when it comes to rock issues. Braids do have their advantages when rigging on rocks.

Fishing in snag-infested waters is not always my favorite thing. However, if the walleyes are on the rocks, that is where I am going to fish. By making a few simple adjustments to your live bait presentation, it possible to greatly reduce the number of snags and catch more fish in the process.