Mark Martin Speaks out about lures and presentations...

Right now, as winter starts to yield to spring, I'm straightening out my tackle box, making a list of new lures and checking it twice. By the time open water unfolds, I'm going to be ready with walleye offerings both naughty and nice. For simplicity's sake, I've come up with three of the most effective lure and bait styles that will do the trick wherever you fish; plus, I'm adding in the most effective ways to work them. But until the moment arrives when you're actually out there, you can bide your time plotting and planning your tackle selection.Sometimes, it seems, the anticipation is almost as fun as the action.

Of all the jigs on the market, none is more effective or versatile than the Northland Fireball Jig. They come in sizes from miniature to magnum, giving you the ability to cover all depths and drop speeds. And they're perfect for snap-jigging, vertical jigging in rivers and lakes, casting and dragging ‹any way you want to fish them. Though they are round jigheads, they excel even in current because of the slight keel shape of the head, which makes them track straight running water.  Fire-Balls are large for their weight, too‹meaning a 1/16th-ounce specimen is bigger than a lot of regular 1/8th-ouncers‹and have bigger, more dramatic profile fish like. More than anything, the Fire-Ball is a live-bait jig, since it comes without a keeper collar to hold on plastics. I use them with minnows, leeches and half night crawlers. In springtime, I turn to a few tricks to catch more fish. When I know a bunch are beneath me, I often bait up with two small minnows, one hooked upside down, the other right side up. This gives you a pair of minnows in the shape of a V for a more enticing profile. And if walleyes are striking short, if one does rob you of one of the minnows, it will often turn around and grab the remaining bait. Something to remember. Every once in a while I hook a single minnow upside down. I do it when I'm fishing very slowly and giving the jig little action; instead, I depend on the minnow to do it for me. Upside down, the minnow is prone to extra antics.

Another jig from Northland that has an important place in my tackle box is the Whistler Jig. It has a streamlined head and a small propeller for added sound and flash. If normally I'd fish a 1/4-ounce round jig, I boost up to a 3/8ths with the Whistler because of the added lift you get with the propeller. Whistlers are great for casting the shallows, around creeks, rivers and shorelines. When I pitch it out, I often work it almost like a crankbait. When it gets to bottom, I lift it and stop, lift and stop‹perhaps a little faster than with a standard jig. With a Whistler I like to turn to plastics as well. Since the Whistlers have a curvature to their hooks, they'll hold plastics in place without tearing off.   

Try small tubes or Berkley PowerJigworms or Minnows. Sometimes I add an extra squirt of Berkley Walleye Scent - One of the more offbeat offerings depends on nothing but plastic,in fact, it's a double-barrel plastic presentation. On a standard jighead with a keeper to hold the plastic, I put a Berkley Power Minnow and then cut an inch or so off the back of the hook, as if I were tipping it with live bait. This unusual combination is great in big rivers where the plastics flip every which way and in times of poor boat control, when you can drag the fake baits over flats.

Finally, this spring I'm going to put a few more Foxee jigs from BlueFox in my box. They come in standup and bullet heads, both of which are great in early season around emergent weed beds. Pitch them out, and they snake their way surprisingly well through weeds because of their streamlined shapes.


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