Bottom Bouncing For Walleye

If you’re looking for a simple and effective to keep your bait close to the bottom and capture walleyes effectively, then a bottom bouncer is the perfect rig for you.

We first started using a bottom bouncer when trolling spinner rigs for walleye.

When a rod bent down to the water due to a fish grabbing the bait, one of us would grab it, being cautious not to grasp it too quickly so the walleye wouldn’t feel resistance and spit the bait out.

Nice walleye caught with bottom bouncer
Nice walleye caught with bottom bouncer

What does a bottom bouncer do? 

A bottom bouncer’s principal purpose is to keep the trolling lure (or live bait) above but close to the bottom, where a walleye can readily see it and eat it.

The bottom bouncer wire helps to signal that we have the right speed and gives our spinner rig a distinct action when it contacts the bottom, though ideally only slightly ticking the bottom.

How to set up a bottom bouncer rig for walleye trolling 

The weight and leader length of our bottom-bouncing rigs depends on the depth at which we want to fish them.

Most of the time, we use an electric trolling motor, but sometimes, we’ll switch to the kicker motor in order to keep the line at a 45-degree angle while trolling.

The trolling speed you choose will also affect the bottom bouncer weight that is required, which is typically between 1/2 and 2 ounces.

Trolling crankbaits behind bottom bouncers can be deadly for walleye
Trolling crankbaits behind bottom bouncers can be deadly for walleye

For leader lengths, we use about 24 to 42 inches. We just trim it by 6 inches at a time till the spinner rig spins freely without getting snagged. This is necessary if you notice that your rig consistently hangs up on the bottom, or gets snagged on weeds.

However, if you believe that the walleyes are finicky and reluctant to bite (or if snags are not a concern), use a longer leader. A longer leader will allow your bottom bouncer rig to contact the bottom more often.

Also, in order to prevent startling the walleyes if you are trolling in shallow water, it is advisable to use long rods out to the edges of the boat.

And to get baits out farther from the boat, you may even try utilizing planer boards.

Can you make your own bottom bouncer rigs? 

We often create our own bottom bouncer rigs, and we’ve used nickel, silver, gold, and even colored spinner blades. We’re not sure which is better, but you should let the fish tell you what they want.

Also, make sure to use enough red or chartreuse beads, whichever of the blade you choose, to keep it in front of the hook eye. A quick-change clevis is an option, but be sure it will allow the blade to spin freely.

For leeches or minnows, we use single hook rigs, while for crawlers, we use double hook rigs.

Rod and reel setup for bottom bouncing 

We usually use two to four medium-light graphite rods rigged with bottom bouncers. Walleyes won’t encounter too much resistance when they accept the bait thanks to these lightweight rod tips.

While spinning reels and rods can work fine for walleye bottom bouncing, I’ve discovered that bait-casting reels with flipping switches make it simpler to manage line out since you just need to squeeze the thumb bar to let line out and release it to stop. I often have one rod with bait-casting reels in my hand.

To get lures out the furthest from the boat and make them easier to read, the rods we have in the front rod holders are almost horizontal to the water.

As soon as I sense a strike coming on while holding the rod, I carefully lower the tip back and wait for it to load up before setting the hook.

With the rod that I’m holding in my hand, I find myself slowly lifting and lowering or moving the rod back and forth to keep consistent touch with the bottom, which I believe helps to trigger strikes.

How to fish bottom bouncers  for walleye

We like to use bottom bouncers to search for walleyes over and around points and humps, along drop-offs, breaks next to flats, along weed edges, and, of course, on the uneven edges on inner turns.

Walleyes in murky water are actually more attracted to the brightness and vibration of the spinner as well as the ruckus that the bottom bouncer makes while hopping along the bottom, than to the bait.

What is the best speed for trolling with bottom bouncers? 

Walleyes often disperse along breaklines, so we just troll at a speed of approximately 1 to 1.5 mph (or as fast as necessary to keep the spinner moving). This helps us to cover a lot of water very thoroughly.

In order to adjust your speed and hit that sweet spot, run the spinner rig beneath the water surface adjacent to the boat and observe the blade to see what speed is necessary just to maintain its spinning.

When to use a bottom bouncing rig for walleye 

The bottom bouncer rig can be effective for walleye fishing in almost all seasons (as long as there is no ice), almost all weather situations, and even in stormy waters. It has produced walleyes for us in water depths ranging from 8 to 25 feet.

We have also rigged crankbaits behind a bottom bouncer and discovered that the floating kind works better for this rig.


In this article, I’ve focused mostly on walleye, but you can also use a bottom bouncer to capture other fish that like to feed close to the bottom. We’ve caught big bass, catfish, and even bluegill with it.

Check out our homepage at Larry’s Fishing Hole to get more up-to-date fishing reports, angling advice, as well as information on current events in the local world of sport fishing.