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updated: 8/7/2013 12:03 PM

There's no debate: the key's the bait

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  • Video: Learn the Lindy Rig basics


To all those complaining about how the Fox Chain is fished out, how Bangs Lake has lost its appeal, how Busse Lake is devoid of big bass and walleyes, well, give it a rest and use the tools passed along to you by some of the greatest fishing educators in the world.

I literally closed the complaint department five years ago. And I get a kick out of how some anglers now mumble about the days when the pickins' were easy.

While driving to the grocery store I remembered a recent outing in which I was fortunate to use the techniques I learned more than 45 years ago.

Bill Binkelman was a Milwaukee-based curmudgeon who had all the sights lined up -- foresight, hindsight and a mental gun sight (sharpness). He was a strong advocate for the use of hyper-modified nightcrawlers and tiny hooks. He showed us skeptics back then how to cull through a flat (500) of nightcrawlers, pick out the biggest, lay them on beds of moist newsprint, cover with worm bedding, more layers of 'crawlers, bedding, and of course adding moisture all the while. The whole thing was kept in tightly packed and clean cottage cheese containers.

We were taught to use No. 8 or even No. 10 hooks threaded through the nose of the 'crawler. Split shot affixed to the line about 12 inches abover the hook. Keep the bail open on the reel with your index finger on the lone. Feel a hit, and then let line out so the fish can run the fish run. Wait a bit and then close the bail and strike.

Bill and I caught hundreds of fish on Lac LaBelle, Okauchee, Geneva, close to home on the Fox Chain here and also lakes up north.

It was all about "Night Crawler Secrets" and "Walleyes Love Nightcrawlers," two books that became the take-along bibles for anglers who truly wanted to catch fish, rather than not complain about how they just couldn't find and catch bass and walleyes.

And then, like manna from Heaven, along came the Lindy Rig developed by Ron Lindner, one of Binkelman's devout initiates. The Rig was and still is a giant leap forward in live bait fishing.

Lindner came up with a shoe-like shaped sinker with a hole in it. The mono fishing line was affixed to a small swivel and from there the Lindy snell was attached. The early versions had No. 8 hooks.

I use the Lindy Rig as well as Binkelman's Nightcrawler Secrets methods to catch bass and walleyes on the Chain and Lake Geneva. Using 'crawlers, leeches and minnows, my boat partner and I caught our limits of slot walleyes as well as some reel beasts (up to 6 pounds). We did exceptionally well on Geneva using leeches for smallies and big bluegills.

All of this activity recently happened when many anglers usually give up because of the oppressive heat and humidity.

But I knew the fish would be suspended or right on the bottom. Keep in mind I was fresh from a surgical bout, thereby lacking the needed energy to handle the heat and humidity. Fortunately, I was able to persevere.

Lindy Rigs are still sold in tackle stores throughout our area and at online at

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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