Capt Ross unhooking a pig caught on a spinner rig

There are many ways to catch walleye these days. But still, the number one producer of walleye in the great lakes region are spinners, aka crawler harnesses. The spinner rig is a simple one made up of a few hooks, beads, and a blade. Even though the rig itself is simple to build, getting it into the mouth of a hungry walleye consistently isn’t easy for some fishermen. What I hope to do with this next series is to help you get bit more often when trolling spinners. The best place to start is with the rods, reels and lines being used and what characteristics you should be looking for in your selections. When talking about presentation of trolling spinners, we are going to be talking in the terms of using in-line planer boards as our main delivery.


Having a well put together combo when spinner fishing is critical to not only hooking but also landing walleyes. There are a lot of rod options on today’s market, and Captain Ross Roberson of Big Water Guide Service employs a 8’6” Mr. Walleye rod. This particular rod has plenty of backbone for running in-line planer boards, yet soft enough to handle the surges from a walleye making one or two last runs boat side. They also telescope for easy storage. Daiwa, Shimano, Berkley and a few other rod makers out there also make very similar rods of varying price points to match your budget. Here are just a few options to check out:

  • Shimano Compre Trolling Rods (CPCTR86MH2B, CPCTR83MB,CPCTR710MHB) -$99.99 -$129.99
  • Mr. Walleye Gary Roach Trolling Rods (MWS86MCT)- $79.99 Capt Ross’s Rod
  • Cabela’s Depthmaster Trolling Rods (DM-PB-86M , DM-PB-90M) – $44.99


When looking for a reel there are a few key things you need to keep in mind: a reliable drag system, ample line capacity and an accurate line counter. Capt. Ross relies on a Shimano Tekota 500 LC, “These reels are super smooth and have a great drag with an accurate line counter.” Daiwa, Shimano, and Okuma all make reels that fit this bill and have options for every budget:

  • Shimano Tekota (TEK300LC,TEK500LC) – $179.99
  • Daiwa Sealine (SG27LCX ) – $129.95
  • Daiwa Sealine SG-LCA (SG17LCA, SG27LCA-W) $89.95 to $94.95
  • Daiwa Accudepth Plus (ADP17LC, ADP27LC-W) $64.95 to $69.95


The most common line used is monofilament in 10lb to 14lb test. You are looking for a tough line that can handle the shock of boards surging and fish making there last ditch run at the boat. Berkley Trilene XT makes a great all around choice for a trolling line. Some Pro’s and Captains though have found ultra thin and a strong mono called Sunline Super Natural. Sunline Super Natural in 16lb test has about the same line diameter as Trilene XT 10lb, yet it is tough enough to get the job done. Just about every brand on the market has a line that will work for trolling now a days.

Also See:

Trolling Spinners – Part 2  The Rig, and getting it bit.

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