The Weed Drift Rig

Walleye using weed beds can be a challenge for anglers, especially as weeds thicken in early summer.

Walleye navigate through openings at the bottom of weed beds and getting a presentation down to them can be tough. But there is an answer…the “Weed Drift Rig”. This simple rig is designed to get BELOW the weeds and slide through them, presenting a nice juicy leech to walleye hiding in the weeds.

The Weed Drift Rig is the all-time leading money winner for Captain Lance while he was a tournament angler, and he shares all of his insights, thoughts and tips on how this simple rig can put loads of walleye and other weed dwelling fish in your livewell this season!

THE "WEED DRIFT RIG"

By: Captain Lance Valentine

Walleye using weed beds can be a challenge for anglers, especially as weeds thicken in early summer. Walleye navigate through openings at the bottom of weed beds and getting a presentation down to them can be tough. But there is an answer…the “Weed Drift Rig”. This simple rig is designed to get BELOW the weeds and slide through them, presenting a nice juicy leech to walleye hiding in the weeds.

Cabbage weeds, a favorite of walleye, grow as a stalk with leaves. The leaves don’t grow close to the bottom so there is a 12-18” area of open water below the heavy green canopy created by cabbage weed. Walleye and other game fish use this open area to prowl the weeds easily, looking for food. The Weed Drift Rig is designed to get into this open area and slide through the weeds, attracting hungry walleye.

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Setting up the Weed Drift Rig is simple. Onto the main line slide on a bullet shaped sinker from 1/8-1/4 ounce (my favorite is 3/16 ounce). After the sinker slide on a Rattle bead, a plastic bead with small BBs inside that causes the bead to create a vibration. Tie on a small swivel next to attach a leader to.

Before we get to the leader and what to put on it, let’s discuss rods and main line for fishing the Weed Drift Rig. Rods need to be long (7-9’) and should have a medium action with a moderate, soft tip action. These rods don’t need to be expensive and cheaper fiberglass rods work great for this presentation if they have enough backbone and a soft tip. I use my 8’6” trolling rods with line counter reels to help duplicate productive amounts of line out but spinning rod/reel combos work well too. Main line should be 12-16lb low diameter monofilament. Avoid fluorocarbon for this presentation since it sinks.

Leaders need to be short to help keep the rig BELOW the cabbage leaves. Lengths of 18-24” seem to be ideal, and 8lb low stretch monofilament is a great choice for leader line. Options for hooks on the Weed Drift Rig are endless but a few stand out. All the options contain a plain, light wire Octopus hook in size 4-6. In front of the hook anglers can add 1-3 rattle beads that add color, a rattle bead and cork float, or a floating jig head. One of my favorite rigs is a rattle bead, cork float and a Mack’s Smile Blade to add color, vibration and lift! My absolute favorite bait to put on the hook is a juicy leech!

The Weed Drift Rig is fished in a unique way. Rods NEED to be in rod holders. Allowing the rig to catch on the weeds and then pull off is one of the main triggering qualities of the rig, and if the rod is held by the angler the normal reaction is to pull the rig off the weed too early. Rods should be fished parallel to the gunnel of the boat in rod holders that are adjustable to keep the tips near the water.

Drifting is the best way to fish the rig. Turn the boat perpendicular to the wind and set the rig to the bottom. Drop the rig until the sinker hits bottom, let about 10-15’ more line and put the rod in the holder. The idea is to keep the angle of the line at a 45-degree angle when drifting. Drift sox may be needed to slow the drift and keeping the 45-degree line angle is key. Keep an eye on the rod tip, especially after it hooks up on a weed. Walleye will load the rod tip and make it jump, while weeds will create a slow steady pull. Most fish are caught right after the rig comes free of the weeds and settles back to the bottom.

Don’t be afraid of fishing in the weeds! Walleye love to live there, they are loaded with food and the challenge of fishing them effectively can be conquered with the simple Weed Drift Rig!


    CHAPTERS

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. How Walleye Live in the Weeds
  • 3. Why the Weed Drift Rig Works
  • 4. Rigging the Weed Drift Rig
  • 5. Bait Options
  • 6. Rod Reel and Main Line
  • 7. Boat Rigging and Control
  • 8. Fishing the Drift Rig
  • 9. Final Thoughts