A quiet angler by nature, tournament angler Mike Walters prefers to let his fish do their own bragging.
Mike Walters is one of the quiet ones. Walters is a tournament angler from Troy, Ohio who calls the waters around western Ohio home, but is just as dangerous in southern waters as he is up north. Walters is more than adept at a number of different fishing tactics, but when it comes crunch time, he loves to tight line troll for crappie.
“You can tight line, or slow vertical troll, if that’s what you’d rather call it, at any depth range,” said the B’n’M pro. “You can do it from 2 feet of water down to 30 foot of water. To be effective at that variety of depths, you just scale the weight up or down, whichever you need to, for the depth of water that you’re in.”
Tight lining is one of the most effective, yet often misunderstood, of crappie fishing tactics. It appears to be simple, and quite often is, but the key to becoming effective at tight lining is an attention to detail. It’s those details that Walters, and his son/tournament fishing partner Derak, often credit with their standing on the tournament leader boards.
Though B’n’M designs crappie fishing poles for nearly every scenario imaginable, most professional crappie anglers narrow their choices down to only 2 – 3 models when tight line trolling. For year round fishing, many anglers opt for our Buck’s Graphite Jig Poles, a high quality graphite rod that was designed for its sensitivity in single pole fishing. However, there is ample following for trolling –specific rods like the Pro Staff rod and the Capps & Coleman Series trolling rod. Walters pitches his tent in the Pro Staff rod camp. Redesigned and Improved with the 2012 models, the Pro Staff Trolling Rod series offers Dyna-Flow guides - a light, yet very durable guide. Dyna-flow guides feature an extremely durable alloy in the construction of its stainless inserts that will never pop out while aggressively spider rigging or trolling crank baits.
“In this kind of fishing, detecting a bite is what it’s all about,” said Walters. “Many of our fellow B’n’M anglers like to use the B’n’M graphite jig poles for tight line fishing, but we prefer the trolling rods, the Pro Staff trolling rods, it’s a little bit stiffer pole that’s also available in the 16 foot lengths. We like the stiffer pole because it will translate the bite better.”
“The Pro Staff trolling rod is ideal for slow vertical trolling,” added the pro. “Since it’s stiffer, the tip doesn’t move around as much if you get a little bit of wave or wind action. It’ll hold a little bit better. It won’t bounce as much and we just feel it gives us a little bit more control. You really want more control of the fish when you set the hook.”
Another factor that weighs into the tight line equation for Team Walters is the amount of stretch they can use to soften the blow of a hard striking, yet soft-mouthed crappie. The team uses Eagle Claw line on all of their B’n’M poles and Walters credits the high stretch combined with holding strength of the Eagle Claw line with helping him land larger fish.
“We get some good stretch because we use mono,” he said. “We use a clear mono and we get some good stretch out of both the 6 and 8 pound test but when you’re only fishing with 10 or 12 feet of line out of your pole, there’s only so much line to stretch. You can set your drag lighter, but if set your drag too loose, you’re not going to get a good hook set. You set it too tight, and you’re running a chance of the fish pulling off. It takes a lot of practice. You’re going to get out of it how much time you put on the water and how much time you put into it.”
When fishing a summertime tournament, Mike and Derak Walters have two options, they can employ heavy weights in the ¼ to ½ ounce range per poles and combine the heavy weight with relatively weightless hooks, or they can leverage the combined weights of two jigs to give them both the weight and the hooks they need.
“We’d rather run a double jig rig,” said the pro. “In places like Grenada where we’ll be fishing relatively shallow, even in warmer water, we’ll use two 1/8th ounce jigs. Combining larger jigs gives us a little bit more weight. We can troll a little bit faster. Everything is still vertical. That’s the whole key to slow vertical trolling. You want your line more vertical. You don’t it swinging back behind you, you want a little bit of swing in them, but not a bunch, so we use that double jig. I’m not sure if the double jigs are going to help us catch more fish but it’s going to keep them in the position we want ‘em and that means bigger fish.”
If trolling is the name of your game this summer, take a look at some of the models B’n’M offers to help you catch fish. To find out more, visit your local B’n’M Poles dealer or look through our online catalog at www.bnmpoles.com.