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Hard water and open water rig for pike and walleye

I?like lures and techniques that can be used throughout the year. Quick strike rigs have been around for years but are not understood and not used nearly as much as they should be. A quick strike rig is simply a rig that has two treble hooks tied onto a leader that are adjustable. One of the best rigs is the Quick Hit Rig from Stopper Lures.

This is a rig that we use during the winter, at ice out lasting maybe into late May and once again in late fall. It is equally effective on pike, walleye and yes, bass. Down south many anglers target bass on huge shiner minnows and a scaled down version works here equally well.

The beauty of this rig is rarely will you get a gut hooked fish. My records show a 95% success rate on mouth hooked fish. Before we get into the where and how, the quick hit rig is as stated.

When a fish trips your flag, pulls down your float or hits a dead bait laying on the bottom, the angler picks up any slack until you feel the weight of the fish and then you strike with you hand or a rod. No need to let the fish run.

The best locations are where baitfish are found. The top of a flat with dead vegetation or new young growth in the spring. Dying vegetation at times pushes fish to the drop-off but dead vegetation encourages game fish to search for an easy meal. Cold water fish like an easy meal.

Therefore, one bait should be placed on the bottom. Remember this can be via a Bear Creek tip-up or under a Carlisle slip float during the open water season. Pike love dead bait and are scavengers.

A second tip-up or rod should have a suspended bait. I like having the second bait a foot higher than the bottom on a shallow flat or at the same depth of the bottom of the flat but placed on the edge of the first drop-off. With 3 tip-ups or 3 slip floats anglers can cover the actual flat, the edge of the breakline and the base of the drop-off bordering the flat.

Dead smelt are my go to bait during the winter and the first 2 weeks of ice-out pike fishing. But, we try and carry lively creek cubs or something similar on each outing. Mix it up between the two with a dead smelt definite on the bottom.

Dead smelt are oily and throw of a scent trail. Anglers, you really need to go online and find whole frozen smelt and try them. A true killer bait. The best lively minnows mimic what you have naturally in your lake. This might require trapping a few.

A cheap way to keep minnows alive at home requires purchasing a plastic barrel. If you have a pond then drill a bunch of holes in the barrel and place it into the pond. No pond, then buy an inexpensive aerator and drop that into the barrel. A good place to keep your barrel is in the corner of the garage. Change out the water on occasion and throw in crackers to keep them healthy.

I generally will use an egg sinker that is slid onto the line and then a swivel bearing is tied on. Then tie on the Quick Hit Rig. Your barrel swivel will stop the egg sinker from dropping down to the hooks.

If using a float make sure that it is a Carlisle slip float. A slip float is adjustable for both suspended fish and deep water fish. Use enough weight to keep your float upright but with part of the float just starting to sink. You want just over half of the float submerged. Ice anglers, use just enough weight to keep your line vertical and tight.

Quick Hit Rigs are awesome and have a well- deserved spot in my box. We started using this type of rig 30 plus years ago. If you want to get the jump on the upcoming fishing season check out the Sport Show in Novi in early January.

The author with a dandy pike caught on a deep weedline bordering a drop-off.

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