By Daniel Rego –
This rig was what kicked it off… Before there were fishermen whom used lures, there were the old timers whom used bait! The primary function of a harness is to rig baits and give your presentation an extra attractant.
Creating a harness requires only a few materials, many of which you may already have in your tackle box. Typically harnesses are outfitted with a flashy spinner blade, multi-color beads, a clevis and one or two hooks.
As already noted, harnesses can be designed in multiple ways including single hook and multi-hook constructions. In many cases the rigs have the front hook adjust to your bait size and hook sizes can range from a popular 1/0 to as small as a size 8. All in which is a fisherman’s preference. Making a harness requires the proper ability to “Snell” or tie or fasten a hook onto the harness (see videos).
You must also consider leader length, and line test which play big factors in the creation of the harness. I recommend 17# fluorocarbon, with a 2′ leader. The length of a harness is a matter of personal preference but harnesses typically run 3 to12ft. with 30-lb. a monofilament line. It is suggested that in very clear water and bright days, a long 5ft. 6 to 18ft harnesses can generate a good outcome when the boat is trolling slowly. However, longer leads are challenging to use when the current is faster or the boat is moving at an accelerated pace.
Next comes the addition of the beads. Colors are a hard choice. I prefer pink in the spring, red and gold in the summer, lime or chartreuse in the fall, and the bright colors on gloomy days.
Start your beads at a 3mm size, and move up to a 6mm or 8mm. Then you will need clevices (suggested size #2 to #4 folded (spinner blade) clevices) and blades. Colorado, Indiana or Willow Leaf style blades work well when rigging a harness. In general smaller blades are used on inland waters and the bigger blades are preferred in open water situations
I personally prefer a size #1 Colorado blade because they are very affordable and they tend not to hit your bait while spinning. Besides the blades is not what catches the fish. They are simply an added attractant.
How to use a harness:
There are many methods to using a harness rig. Some troll, some cast, most of which are fished with bait. Some anglers, including myself, even use soft plastics which have resulted in many big catches.
Anyone can cast these and produce Walleye and other fish at some point. Trolling has a different technique. A slow troll is used and it is best to use a trolling motor on the front of your boat. Allow enough line to get the harness to approach the bottom. You want it about 2′ above the bottom. The blade should be flashing like crazy. A trolling keel weight may help to retrieve depth goal. And honestly almost any bait can be used, shiners are nice bait.
When fishing with two hooks put one book in the head of the bait and put the other towards the baits pectoral fin. The key is to look for structured spots on the bottom… kick the boat in and out of gear to allow the rig to drop when water levels get deeper.
These rigs produce more than just walleye, and once mastered your fishing numbers will expand!!! Good luck out there!
Check Out EZ Angler’s Video Tips on Walleye Harness Fishing Here
About Dan Rego
Dan is the owner of Maine-based Rego Tackle Co. which offers many ready made harnesses.