Stickbaits, aka jerkbaits, bring out the worst in gamefish. The lure’s season of prominence is only weeks away in walleye infested rivers, too – mere months on northern natural lakes. These slender, well-bodied baits enrage shallow roaming walleyes. Effectively, stickbaits afford the foremost capacity to cover water and elicit ferocity in warming spring waters.
To this premise, anglers are in for a treat this season with Northland’s new Rumble Shiner. Based on an original design by Ugly Duckling Lures’ creator, Aleksandar Veselinovic, and refined by Jarmo Rapala, this premium minnow-style hardbait is a big hit with just about any freshwater predator species.
Once the ice recedes and seasons open on his northwoods lakes, expect notable Northland pro and professional guide Brian “Bro” Brosdahl to be pulling and pitching Rumble Shiners.
But even before winter says bye-bye, there are opportunities to deploy Rumble Shiners in walleye laden rivers. “Trolling them on a flatline with braid is wicked,” says Bro. “One prime target is the Rainy River, a border water between the U.S. and Canada. Here, I focus on fingers and shoals, trolling a Rumble Shiner with 75 to 100-feet of line out. This technique works on dozens of other rivers, too, in states like North and South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.”
Bro is particular about his trolling tools. “It’s important to troll with a smooth sweeping rod that maintains enough power to set the hook,” he advises. Bro’s pick is the 8’ 6”, medium power, moderate action St. Croix Rod Eyecon – a series developed specifically for trolling walleyes. He utilizes a line-counter reel to identically match line distances to previously successful passes. To it, Bro spools 20 lb. (10 lb. diameter) Sunline SX1 with a three-foot fluorocarbon leader of Sunline Assassin.
As much as Bro enjoys trolling Rumble Shiners, he gets especially jazzed about pitching and twitching them. “It’s really an underused technique for spring walleyes,” says Bro, knowing most anglers rely on the classic jig and minnow. “Nothing surer than a jig and minnow, but if I want to cover water quickly or snags are a real problem, I turn to stickbaits. With a balsawood bait like the Rumble Shiner, I can bump and hover over structure that a jig might snag.”
For spring walleyes on natural lakes, Bro centers his stickbait efforts on shallow gravel, emerging stubble weeds and shoreline rocks under assault by wave action. His typical retrieval cadence is a rip followed by a pause and a slow return to speed. Strikes, he says, transpire on the pause or just as the bait starts trucking along again.
Bro shifts to spinning gear for pitching Rumble Shiners. His fishes an assortment of St. Croix rods, keying on 7-footers with medium powers and extra fast actions. Considering pitching a finesse tactic, he also prefers smaller reels, like a 2000-size Daiwa Tatula LT.
Color-wise, the sagely guide selects patterns like Blue Tiger, Olive Tiger and Silver Shiner in clear water. In darker climes, which are swifter to warm, he casts eye-catchers like Purple Wonder, Bubblegum Tiger and the inimitable Sneeze. Sometimes, the bright and seemingly obnoxious patterns counterintuitively produce in ultra-clear water, so be flexible.
The irrefutable performance of the Rumble Shiner is based on balsawood. “Simply put,” says Jarmo Rapala, “fishing with balsa is better, and we have the best balsa plugs on the market today. All of Northland’s Rumble Series lures – our shiner, shad and stickbait – are hand-crafted using a unique heat compression molding process (HCM) as opposed to a one-piece lathing procedure. With this method, we can create and seal together two full-length halves of the lure body, allowing us to position the weights more precisely for optimal center of gravity, superior flotation at rest, better overall balance, longer casts, and a nice, tight action with just the right amount of roll to drive predator fish crazy. It also allows us to through-wire each lure and finish it off with a light coating of lacquer that’s strong enough to protect the body while adding almost no additional weight.”
“I’m really happy with how the Rumble Shiner turned out,” continues Jarmo Rapala. “It has a high profile with a wider, bulkier body than most other shiner imitations, which should turn on more big fish. We also tweaked the lip angle to get an especially sensitive action that rolls slightly even on a slow retrieve. It also casts exceptionally well for a shiner profile balsa lure.”
That, says Jarmo Rapala, is one of the prime reasons for the success of shiner profiles. “These lures work great for just about any gamefish,” he surmises, “and while Balsa is Better is the rule, just remember that Northland’s Rumble Shiner is definitely the best.”