Walleye 101 – The Lindy Rig

Posted by MNAngler On June - 28 - 2010

I’ve met some really cool, interesting people since I started my fishing blog a year ago. One of them is the WalleyeGuy. He approached me about guest posting a few weeks ago and having seen the quality of his other guest posts, I had no hesitation in agreeing. If you’re a frequent reader of mine, you know that I just started learning about lindy rigs last year and have had very little success with them so far. My first real success of the technique was this weekend. However, I know full well that they are a time tested technique and I intend to keep practicing with it.

The WalleyeGuy wrote a great intro to lindy rigs for his guest post on my blog, so pay close attention. And then visit his site for more great information. Stay tuned to him because I’ll have a guest post for him shortly as well. It will be more of a story, so it won’t be as useful, but hopefully entertaining. Enjoy.


I’ve been reading this blog for a while and love the fact that MN Angler enjoys going out and chasing all different species of fish. The simple joy of catching fish, no matter what flavor, is one of the classic outdoor experiences. I’ve fished nearly all of my life and have caught just about every species of fish Minnesota lakes have to offer. When I was younger I had a thing for huge northerns. Every trip was a test to see if we could hook a monster. But my passion turned to walleyes nearly 20 years ago when I moved north and started learning what quality walleye fishing was really like. Like many others who chase the Minnesota state fish, I started with the most versatile walleye weapon around… the Lindy Rig.

The beauty of the Lindy rig is its simplicity. The rig allows bait to be presented naturally, allowing it to swim/move as it would when traveling untethered. It also allows the fish to take the bait without feeling any real resistance. The other great thing about the Lindy rig is that, in its simplest configuration, it can be tied up using three simple components.

Tying Up A Rig

I sketched the diagram above to give you a basic idea of how to put together a Lindy rig. There are different varieties of sinkers to use (like the “no-snag” banana shaped sinkers), but the walking sinker is the original design. You should have a variety from 1/4 ounce to 1/2 ounce. The deeper you fish, the heavier you probably want to go to get a good feel for the bottom while you are moving. The swivel is just a basic barrel swivel. The Lindy kits will often come with a snap swivel or a swivel that allows you to quickly hook a snell on without tying a knot (great when you need to experiment with different snell lengths). I prefer the basic swivel and tie my snell directly. I’m too paranoid about multiple points of failure, but the quick-snap is definitely more efficient. There are a variety of hooks available for this type of rig each designed for a different type of bait, but hooks in the 2-4 range are good. When hooking your bait, the object is to hook it in a way that allows the bait to move as naturally as possible. Minnows should be hooked just behind the lips from underneath to allow the minnow to swim. A leech should be hooked once through the sucker to allow it to fully extend and move naturally through the water. A crawler should also be hooked once. You can either buy a syringe to inflate the crawler to keep it up off of the bottom, or you can buy floater hooks that are encased in bouyant material to accomplish the same task. Many fishermen will break a crawler in half to keep a walleye from “short-biting”. I would suggest you start with a whole crawler, and if the fish are taking the bait off short of the hook, then start breaking them up.

The length of your snell completely depends upon the presentation method and mood/position of the fish. Early this season friends were fishing with 6 foot snells and moving very slowly (.5 mph or so) to allow the leech to swim naturally and attract finicky fish… with great results. We tried this same length on another lake and could not entice a bite. Then we switched to a 3 foot snell and immediately started catching walleyes. I think that starting with a 3-4 foot snell is a good average. Keep your speed on the slower side (1 mph or less) to start and then experiment from there. Sometimes fast moving bait will trigger a strike from a walleye in neutral or negative mode. Sometimes the bait needs to be going extra-slow to entice a finicky fish. Walleye are generally bottom-oriented, so you want to focus your efforts near the bottom. Instead of worrying about suspended fish, simply experiment with different depths (hopefully you have electronics that will help you mark fish as you move so you have an idea what depth the fish are in). When we are not sure, we will work likely structure by starting shallow and moving out to deeper water, then back in until we start to get bites. Points, sunken islands or humps, rock piles, and patches of cabbage are great places to start your search. When you are fishing shallow, pay out plenty of line so that the bait is far away from the boat. This will lessen the chance of the boat spooking the fish. The deeper you go, the less you have to worry about this.

When fishing Lindy rigs I use spinning reels and keep the bail open while I am trolling with the line hooked in my pointer finger. This combined with the sensitivity of the rod I use allows me to feel the tell-tale “whack” when a fish hits the bait. The second I feel that “whack”, I let go of the line and let line spool off of the reel. The more finicky the fish, the more line I let out to allow the fish time to take the bait. When I start to reel and take up the slack I will be very careful to try and feel for the weight of the fish on the line. As soon as I feel that weight, I set the hook hard and never let the line go slack as I reel in the fish. I’ve seen too many nice fish make it all the way to the side of the boat only to throw the hook when the person holding the rod let the tension out of the line. My son saved my tail one night dipping the net three feet under to scoop up a walleye I fell asleep on. He never hesitates to remind me.

The most important thing is to practice. When you are in an area that you know holds walleyes, you need to have the patience to try different methods. This includes changing speeds, changing snell length, and changing bait. I’ve seen everything from small leeches to 8 inch red tails fished on a Lindy rig. It’s a time-tested method that should work in wide variety of fishing conditions. Give it a shot the next time you are chasing walleyes.

I write about tactics like this and my own personal fishing experiences on my WalleyeGuy blog. Pay me a visit if you would like more information on walleye fishing.

The WalleyeGuy


8 Responses to “Walleye 101 – The Lindy Rig”

  1. MNAngler says:

    WalleyeGuy, what effect does a longer or shorter snell have on the bait that would entice or discourage a strike? It seems to me that if you hook your bait right, it should be swimming naturally either way.

  2. WalleyeGuy says:

    A longer snell will be more effective for fish that are suspended off the bottom or if you are using a large bait, like a big creek chub, to give it a chance to get up off the bottom and move. If you are moving a bit faster, a longer snell will allow the bait to stay up off the bottom a little better. I know for a fact that Lindner recommends a short snell. Starting at 3 feet and going down from there, moving slow the entire time. Fish can be attracted to the sound or motion of the sinker at first, and having that bait close to that action could trigger a bite from a fish that might be in a neutral or negative mood.

    You are right, however, in that the entire goal of the rig is to allow the bait to move in a natural manner. You want that happening at the same level the fish are hanging out, and you are only going to learn that from watching your electronics and experimenting with the length. It can be a pain to change, but well worth it if you find the right combination.

  3. The lindy rig is great not only for walleye. I use something very similar for summer trout, and it works awesome. Walleye Guy, you’re writing some great articles. Thanks.

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  5. MNAngler says:

    This post was picked up by the Chicago Sun Times: http://bit.ly/a2tqyi

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