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vman11

Laker Rod/Reel Set-Up

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I'm looking to get into Ontario lakers on LOTW this winter and am in the process of gearing up.

Fleet Farm has some killer rod sales right now, so I picked up a St. Croix 36" MH. If I get into it more, I plan to look towards a Thorne Bros 42".

Suggestions on a good spinning reel? Something mid-range, I'd like to spend $50 or less (if possible).

How about line suggestions? I run PowerPro on my walleye rigs with success. Will that work for lakers as well?

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How many rigs total do you plan to take with you? You'll want more than one. You don't want to take a trip like that and not have back up.

I'm not familiar with the St. Croix MH rod but I have purchase a 36 MH Gander brand before and no longer use it for lakers. Just not enough backbone. I have TB rods, Berkleys, Jason Mitchells, and a short St. Croix meant for walleyes but just strong enough for average MN lakers.

If you're thinking about a 42 TB rod, order it now. They haven't had any pre made this year that I know of and they take a little bit of time.

Your spinning reel should be a mid size model with a smooth drag. I would think you could find something decent for around $50. I'm not using anything exciting, just stick with the good brands. I did really like a black Penn reel I saw last year but didn't see in on the shelf this year. Didn't need it but wanted it.

I'm assuming you're going to run into a better average size laker on LOTW than I do around Ely so you'll want to use honest laker gear vs. heavy walleye gear. I run 10 lb mono line and I know Steve Foss uses 12 lb. I'd assume 12-14 should be OK up there and I'd sure stick with mono unless you're going to be in the shack all the time. Power Pro and any other braid will freeze up on you while fishing outside on cold temps.

Good luck! I'd like to get up there sometime myself. smile

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I stopped in TB last night and they had quite a few 42" rods ready to buy. However, I couldn't get myself to spend the +$80 for one having never been out. That's why I thought I'd start with a Croix.

Good point with the mono. Thought about getting a baitcaster set up next so I have 2, but again, just trying to learn the ropes and understand what's good.

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All my stuff is spooled with 12 lb XL mono, except for one 50-inch Scotty Mitchell custom rod that's spooled with 17 XL in case I get to make a trip to trophy lake trout god country one of these days. smile

As Wanderer said, mono is much more versatile when you don't know if you're going to go from heated shacks to out in the open. I like limp mono because there aren't any snag/abrasion issues in winter, and stiffer mono really stiffens up when it's cold.

I'm sold on Shimano for spinning reels. I have 8 of them in various models. If you spend $50 on one of the 2500 series Shimanos and spool it with 12 mono on your Croix MH, you should have a great setup with a smooth drag. The 1000 and some of the 2000 series don't hold enough line, IMO, and the 2500 series is a perfect fit for lakers.

On lakes where you have to play a lot of cat and mouse to get lakers to hit, baitcasters are a bit more sluggish than spinning setups, particularly when you want to drop your bait down the water column. Any line will ice up on the spool when out in the open, and while it's easy to strip frozen line on the spinning reel by lifting the rod sharply, the same cannot be said for baitcasters.

For fighting nice sized lakers I prefer a baitcaster (maybe because I spent so much of my youth after bass, pike and catfish). For ease of use I lean toward spinning. I'd say my clients and I use spinning gear to jig for lakers about 90 percent of the time.

I'd suggest your next rod be just a bit heavier (a not overly stiff H) and spooled with 14 mono. That way you'll have a bit of variation. Over time you'll decide which you prefer. I have four of the now 12-year-old solid graphite 36-inch Berkley Genz Sticks baitcasters (the ones they only made for a couple years with the yellow thread wrap on the guide closest to the reel), and they are plenty strong in MH for lakers. Some other MH rods are just a bit too noodly, though. It really varies among companies.

Up on the northern end of LOW you have serious chances for a 20lber or bigger. Next time out I'd definitely go one step up to heavier tackle.

Have a blast up there! smile

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I stopped in TB last night and they had quite a few 42" rods ready to buy.

Ughh, you may have just cost me $$!!

I didn't see them my last time there and a friend said they didn't have any made. I have two baitcaster/trigger sticks from them; one glass and one graphite. I want a graphite spinning rod though. Real bad. grin

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Ughh, you may have just cost me $$!!

I didn't see them my last time there and a friend said they didn't have any made. I have two baitcaster/trigger sticks from them; one glass and one graphite. I want a graphite spinning rod though. Real bad. grin

You don't have much time to pick one up before the weekend! Special hurried and panicked lunch trip to TB tomorrow? laugh

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Wanderer and Steve - awesome feedback. Thank you for your insight.

I've never fished Lakers but want to give it a valiant effort this season. I fish LOTW for walleye nearly every weekend as I live within 20 minutes but have recently caught this bug to catch a trout. Hopefully I don't get additcted smirk

Since you guys know your stuff, what should I newb like me have in his Laker tackle box? It's currently empty...

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Trust me, vman, when you watch on the Vexilar as that first laker comes bolting up out of deep water and slams your lure 10 feet under the ice and you're toe-to-toe with a 10 lber at the end of 10 feet of line . . . your heart is pounding, your drag is screaming and you can't believe what just happened. shocked

You'll get addicted right then to the strange combination of video game and ultimate fighting challenge that is lakers through the ice.

After that, walleyes and panfish just don't have the same appeal. You could ask me how I know, but . . . . laugh

If you're hitting Bside, many traditional walleye jigging lures will work fine. Forage base there is gazillions of smelt, most of them stunted, so smaller lures will yield you fish of all sizes. Traditional large laker lures often rule out eater sized lakers on Bside, while all sizes of laker will gulp a walleye sized Swedish Pimple, rattle spoon, blade bait or Jigging Rapala. The laker/pout spoons from Big Nasty tackle are also good.

If you want to round out a laker tackle box and drain the checkbook nicely, some continually effective traditional stuff includes several sizes/styles of airplane jigs, tubes, bucktail jigs, Slender and Do-Jigger spoons, Chubby and Lindy Darters, larger sized Jigging Raps and Sonar-style blade baits.

Second line can be a deadstick 10 feet away with a live minnow a few feet under the ice, a tip-up or other live/dead bait rig. Make sure the spool is good-sized and full if you opt for a tip-up. Lakers can make some fast long runs when they first grab a bait. Dead frozen cisco are an option for deadbait, and have long been a standard for laker guys.

That oughta get you started. smile

Once you're in the game for a few trips, you're so darn close to Canada that it would be a shame if you didn't head up to the Sioux Narrows area of LOW, where there are plenty of big fish, as well as other excellent Canadian laker lakes within pretty easy striking distance.

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Again, outstanding! This will definately get me started.

I'll be sure to keep in touch. I HAVE to get out now.

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You don't have much time to pick one up before the weekend! Special hurried and panicked lunch trip to TB tomorrow? laugh

Nope, done deal already. T Bros is in the danger zone - between work and home wink

Might have to make a stop at the other end of the danger zone today - the C store - to use up some points on a new reel to go with it. It's risky working that far away from home. grin

Vman, I was told they just brought the rods down a little while ago. They did have glass spinning rods there for about $56. They're a nice lower cost option. Either way, they all sell fast. If you do get hooked on lakers (yeah, IF) you'll probably be able to justify almost anything to make fishing them more enjoyable. smile

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White tubes work well on LOTW , ice fishing you can not use fish or fish parts on White Fish Bay ( I see this is on your list of spots to go )... barb less also. Jigging 4 to 6 feet or even higher works very well. Good luck

Rob

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I do two trips to Ontario for lakers every winter. You WILL be addicted!!

Your rod should work fine. I know a couple who use that same one and have no problems.

I don't bring my Shimano Stradics and Symetre reels with. It seems like those expensive reels have too tight of tolerances and quit working in the cold. Almost any reel will work at 0 or 10 degrees, but that is a warm day up there. -20 to -30 is not uncommon at all, and you will probably lose the anti-reverse on your good reels at those temps. I bought a cheap Diawa Crossfire and it seems to work well for me. As for line I usually spool up with 12 pound P-Line. It's been my favorite so far of anything I've tried. As for tackle, I bring up a package of 4" white-glow tubes, a couple 5/16 ounce tube jig hooks, and a few good swivels. That's it. No need to make it more complicated. We've tried just about everything up there, and day in and day out a tube is hard to beat.

Good luck, you WILL be hooked!! Be sure to post a report!

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I agree on the Symetre. I've got a whole cadre of $40 and up Shimanos, and for some reason when it hits about -10 the drag on the Symetre gets really touchy, and just a bump sends of from too loose to too tight, or vice versa.

I suppose it being designed as an open water reel and all . . . confused

It's the only one of my Shimanos that acts the way in the intense cold. And it's my favorite one! shocked

So far no issues with the anti reverse on any of the Shimanos in -15 and colder. Fingers crossed!

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How about jigging action? I know I've heard guys will fish for them half way down in deep water, ripping baits through the water column.

When a fish shows up, do you keep ripping? Do you slow down and finesse? Just want to make sure that when the first few Lakers show up I don't mess it up:)

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I tend to reel up fairly slowly and quickly/tightly shake the rod tip when one shows up. Like others have said it happens very fast when they hit the flasher. I do what I do without thinking at this point. If they don't hit on the first pass then I go back to and stick with an aggressive jigging style. Some days they like it more aggressive and some days not so much. I would try and pull up some you tube videos of guys fishing lakers and see how they work it just before setting the hook.

I start jigging about 1/3 of the way off the bottom. Problem is I'm typically fishing a sharp drop off so what looks like the bottom on the flasher may actually be 10-20 feet below that.

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Usually I drop to the bottom , give it a dozen or so good rips, reel up a few feet, and repeat until I'm right under the ice. Then I drop down and repeat. They can be anywhere. I would say I catch the most about 25 or 30' down in 45-60 FOW, although I've caught them in as shallow as 8 feet of water. On my last trip I drilled a hold and dropped my tube down. It quit falling when it got to the bottom of the hole. I thought I snagged the ice, but a 27" laker hit it RIGHT under the ice. I fought and released it and dropped the jig down and when it got about 30' down one raced up and grabbed it. I landed and released that one. 10 minutes later I caught one when it hit about 12" off the bottom, in 65' of water. All of these out of the same hole in less than 15 minutes.

When I see a fish on the flasher I keep jigging as normal, with big rips. Keep in mind this fish is usually going 100 mph at the jig. Right when the fish looks like it's going to nail the jig, I give it an even bigger rip to make sure the trout misses. 90% of the time it will hit the jig on the drop after that last rip. If it doesn't, I like to bomb it down past them, and then rip it back up above them. Really make them mad. This is just how I do it. My dad is a little more subtle with his technique. Both of us catch the same number of fish over the long run. Both of us do very well.

Keep in mind, I have never fished LOTW for lakers so I don't know if they act the same way in there. I fish the same group of 20 or 30 lakes and it works on all of them. I am not ALL that far from LOTW, but they are smaller bodies of water.

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The most important thing to remember is that lake trout are hard wired to pursue.

If you have a laker coming up after your lure, make it chase it. You don't know if that fish is on fire, semi hot, neutral or negative, because most days lakers will chase to some degree even if they aren't "on."

So if you let that trout slow down or stop when it comes up under your lure, you've already given youself a taller hill to climb, and in many cases that neutral/negative fish will not hang around because you've wasted the single prime opportunity you've gotten.

An aggressive fish will hit no matter what you do. Neutral and, in some cases, even negative lakers will overtake a fleeing lure and hit it.

Reel away, reel away, reel away, Dixieland! wink

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