Fly Fishing for Walleye
Inside the Outdoors, May 22
, 2015

Before I get into the main subject matter of today, I received an email that may be educational to readers of this column when it comes to the outdoors.

One man said he took his kids out to St. Vincent Lake and stated, “That place is packed full of fish.” One of his daughters, he said, made a fly pole out of a stick, tied some string to it and then a fly. Her dad said, “It worked just fine.”

There’s no doubt about the fact that there are plenty of fish in that lake. The Carp Master, Frank Miedel, caught 95 carp there one year. He did it on a catch and release basis, but was thrilled every time he hooked one of those giants. And they do get big out there.

As for what one may catch, there are additionally, crappie, channel catfish, bluegill, sunfish, bass, and maybe some others I have yet to be informed about.

He said he was using white dry flies. May I add wollybuggers? They seem to work well on a variety of species.

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While downtown Latrobe one day, an angler came up to me and told me he was catching small silver fish in the creek but had no idea what they were. “Most likely you are catching Creek Chubs,” I told him.

For those who wish to be educated on these fish, I went to the Internet and pulled up www.feps.edu. According to what it stated, “The Creek Chub is a common minnow. Its back is olive-colored; it has silvery sides, and has a long blackish-brown stripe down the side. It has rounded fins, and the dorsal (back) fin has eight spikes. Creek chubs can grow to 12 inches, but are usually much smaller.

This was interesting. “They prefer clear to slightly cloudy water with a gravel bottom. They like to be near beaver dams,” it said.

Many anglers use Creek Chubs for bait. According to the website, “They are preyed upon by Largemouth Bass, Kingfishers, Mergansers, and even large Creek Chubs!” I can’t help but feel the notorious Blue Heron might consider these fish a delicacy.

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Fishing for walleye using bait can be a frustrating experience. Leeches are one of the prime foods used for such purposes. Walleye can suck one of those black wiggly creatures right off one’s hook faster than one can say “three eggs in a basket.” Then it’s re-bait time only to go through the same rig-a-ma-roll frustrations all over again.

Why not try a new approach this time and fly fish for this tasty gamefish? Grab a light to medium action rod that has some play to the top of the rod and tie on a fly instead of worm, leech or minnow. Of course, fly fishermen, use fly rods and all the required equipment that comes with that phase of the sport.

Actual fly anglers should use an 8 and one-half to nine and one-half length rods with 5 to 7-weighted lines. Sinking lines are recommended. Attach a 6 foot tapered leader. Tippets can be 4 to 12 pound test.

“What is a tippet,” one may ask?

A tippet is line attached to the leader that has been attached to the fly line. In other words, one starts out with backing line on the reel, fly line, and a tapered leader. When the leader’s diameter gets too wide and the line won’t fit into the fly’s eye of the hook, a smaller line needs to be tied to the leader to enable the fly to be attached. Such a line is called a tippet.

According to Larry Tullis , Cabela’s, expert on the subject, “Walleye like to eat minnows, crayfish and leeches, so small flies are seldom used. The Inverted Zonker in size 4 is my first choice. It’s tied upside down, with a weighted belly so the hook point rides up and is less likely to get snagged on rocks or debris on the bottom. Use yellow, white and chartreuse during the day and darker colors like black, olive or purple in low lit situations.”

He goes on to state, “In deeper water, fast sinking flies like the Clouser Minnows do very well in chartreuse and white and black, natural minnow colors.” Wooly Buggers work well, too. The difference between the ones used for trout and that for walleye is that the latter have a twister tail instead of marabou. Third, he recommended wiggle-type bugs.

“Wiggle Bugs, with their foam back and diving lip, swim in serpentine motion like a crankbait,” Tullis said. “They’re naturally snag-resistant, and perfect for fishing deep in rocky or stick-filled waters.”

Since this is early walleye, saugeye, or sauger seasons, now is the time to try for walleye using flies. Once winter rolls around, get ‘em back out. They are great for ice fishing, too.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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