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Joe Bricko of JT Outdoor Products recently won the AIM Pro Walleye Series tournament on the Mississippi River at Hager City, April 14th, 2024 with partner Dylan Maki. In this video, Bricko discusses the winning setup and technique with Cal of Connect-Ease Rigging. 

Rivers and lakes often require different techniques for success. When it comes to northern Minnesota lakes (like Cass Lake where Bricko won the Master’s Walleye Circuit), forward facing sonar is one of the main tools that Bricko depends on. On the river, however, Bricko goes back to the basics and, for the most part, puts the electronics away. Bricko learned to fish on trout streams reading current seams and identifying eddies where you wait for the fish to funnel through to you. Since they were fishing pre-spawn, Bricko and his partner went straight up to the dam to find a current seam where they would find higher percentage odds despite dealing with “combat-style” fishing where boats were stacked. 

Bricko opted for his 6’3” JT Outdoor Black Reign Spinning Rod and blade baits. The shorter length rod allowed for the most precision for shorter pitches into the small section of the seam close to the boat. This was paired with a 2500 Daiwa Fuego reel for just the right balance, 10lb braid, and a 14lb fluoro leader tied direct. Bricko generally utilizes a 10lb leader, but using a heavier leader can help reduce tangles when using blade baits. 

When fishing blades on the river, Bricko explains that the cadence is just a short lift with the wrist to hop it off the bottom. In spawn-mode, the fish generally hang tight to the bottom so you don’t want to use a big movement like you would with jigging raps. Flutter a few times and drop back down to the bottom. With the current, Bricko explains that if you do too big of a lift, you might pick it up over the fish and miss them. It’s just a short snap to get the blade bait to make some vibrations and keep it tight to the bottom.

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