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Sander in a drift - vertikal Sanders Print E-mail
Written by Bertus Rozemeijer   

Vertical sander fishing is still fairly new for many anglers. Here in Holland I started this jigging technique in the midst of the eighties. These days there was a lot to improvise. Oh yes, I had a fish finder, but that was about all the electronics I had on board. Later I bought myself a first electric motor. A MotorGuide Backtroller. A electric motor made to back troll as the name suggest. Boy did this engine used juice. It drained the battery in a few hours. Oh yea, I had a so called semi traction battery, supposed to keep the engine running for many hours, but it didn’t. My only option for a day long jigging was drifting and use the electric motor just to correct the drift of the boat. That was about it. Bad fishing? Poor results? No sir, we caught loads of fish and frankly speaking it is my favorite way to catch sander up to this day.


If I was the first to use the so called vertical technique? I don’t know. What I do know was that I was reading top magazines like In-Fisherman, a great magazine for top information, but I never found a article in it describing this technique. In-Fisherman these days was pretty much sander ( walleye) minded. My first experience with the technique was a co-incident. Jan Eggers asked me to assist for the production of a show for Italian TV. Jan showed how we Dutch where catching sander. It took place on a lake near Amsterdam, famous for its sander. Jan was float fishing in deep water. Some of the local authorities told us that sander was slow, hard to catch, and in deep water. I could not do much but fish around, out of sight of the camera. Jan caught … nothing, but I am used to that from Jan on big an deep water. I did some jigging, right under the boat and had a bite. Could not believe it. Than a sander and more. At home I told my experience to some of the friends and the week after we were on one of the local waters jigging for sander. I boated twenty that day were normally a angler would be happy with an handful. We were lost and jig fished wherever we could, gathering friends like Henk Rusman, Stephen Jansen and more, now all respected lure anglers. Where we fished did not matter. It was bingo everywhere and catching up to sixty fish and more was common practice. Of course we had a lot to learn too. Our rods where not that good. Special fast short and parabolic auctioned rods where a demand we had. We started with nylon and believe me, fishing down to over ten meters. There is a lot of stretch in nylon, tempering the sensibility of the combination and bites. I was in the lucky possession to test the first dyneema lines. Horrible looking, but improving the sensibility in a awesome way. Now we could feel how hard a sander was actually biting. Lures where a problem too. No choice whatsoever, but after the first stories I did in some Dutch and German magazines this changes fast. Look at a lure box of a sander angler these days! It is simply unbelievable how many varieties you can find! The problems with the rods where also solved. As a Shimano consultant I could make a nice choice in some suitable rods, and this became a lot better working for Ultimate, where I could design my own range of jigging rods. The problem with the electric engines? They are solved. Nowadays Minn Kota’s and MotorGuides are just great machines who seems to use hardly any power at all!

Still I am a drift angler. Some call this technique diagonal jigging, for me it is vertical fishing. OK, it’s not right under the boat, but in many ways, you do the same. The only time the technique fails is on windless days and how many of that do we have? There is always a trickle of wind and that is sufficient enough for playing the game. So let’s have a close look at the things you need to be successful. First there is a boat and boat control. I think that it is fair enough to say that a well controlled boat makes or breaks the day. A boat should drift slow! If not, make it drift slow. Slow drifting boats offer a deep keel, breaking the speed of the drift. At the same time, they drift perfectly sideways and offer stability. If you happen to have a flat bottom boat or a so called semi V hull boat, than you should use the help of a sea anchor or a set of big buckets. A big bucket on the rear and on in the front of the boat are just great helping aids to slow down the speed. I used this a lot in the time when I was fishing a flat bottom boat and in all honesty: if you lake is not that big and the waves not so high, this kind of boats are great to use. Second is the rod, or should I say rods? I use a few these days with definitely specific purposes. My normal jigging rod is about 190 cm long. It shows a parabolic action and has sensitivity like a open nerve. You should be able to feel the slightest movement the jig makes. Feel yourself under control, this simply improves your trust, thus improves your catches. For drift fishing and in water not deeper than say seven meters, this rod is still OK, but if you have to fish deeper or considerable deeper, than a longer rod, with the same specifications gives you better control. Mind you, in the first sample a jig head with a weight of 14 to 17 gram should be adequate. In deep water and in a sometimes fairly fast drift you need more weight. Jigs with 20 to 35 gram weight should be the partner on the other end of the line. Combines with a often fairly long line out, controlling the jig is far from easy and a longer rod a certain must to use. I use a 210 and occasionally a 240 cm long rod to control the line and lure. Line is crucial too. I guess we all know the benefits of braided lines? There are disadvantages too, but for our job these line are a must have on bait casting reels or spinning reels. The line should have a fine diameter. I would say 0.10 to maximum 0.14mm is your best choice. Keep in mind that a thicker diameter will decrease the pressure on the line. More pressure on the line simply makes it hard to keep the lure on the ground and the last is a must for success. We already spread the words. Baitcasting or spinning reel? Actually both do. Both have a plus and a minus and it’s up to you what to use. Personally I prefer a bait casting reel. Reasons are a line that seldom tangles. This happens a lot with common spinning reels. Without noticing sometimes you wind up line on the outside the spool, on the clutch wing of the spinning reel. Reason two: you fish fine lines and winding and rewinding is damaging the line is a serious way. Not so with a bait casting reel. This type of reel gives and takes line without kinking it, so keeping the line as healthy as a fish. Last plus is the bar on the reel. Need to feel line because you enter deeper water? Just push the bar and lock the reel when the jig is on the bottom. Don’t run to the tackleshop yet! Disadvantages are there too. First it is the balance. A fixed spool reel offer better balance on the combo rod / reel. It simply holds better. Next and very important: a fixed spool reel is a lot faster! I fully admit that I do lose fish due to slowness in winding and keeping contact with the fish I hook. Not so with e Fixed spool reel. They offer speed and at the end more control over a fresh hooked fish. If a fish is well hooked, that there is no problem with the bait casting reels too, but just the light hooked fish who need a second hook set might cause a problem.

Confusing? I hope not. Confusing is yet to come. A lure selection is not easy for all of us. Just check the internet. Look at the sites of the bigger companies and check out the soft bait programs they offer. They are just this big because anglers don’t trust themselves. I have enough and am successful with only a few soft baits. First the normal jigs. Use so called football heads or Erie heads. Great for balance and offering a better presentation than the classic round head jigs. Did you know that they actually should be used while ice fishing? Than they are good, but not for the job they have to do right now. You know about the weight and there should be a lure on it. Pick a soft body with a slim profile. Make sure the lure causes little pressure under the surface. Hard kicking lures do give pressure and are therefore hard to keep near the bottom. Less pressure is better sinking quality. A small tail is OK, but I prefer a thin pin at the end. They should be not that soft. Sometimes softbaits are just a big tougher than water. They are good for the technique we use, but often we have to mouth another soft plastic after a fish. My friend Stephen calls them “one shot willies” and yes it’s not that much more. A bit more strength is a plus and for sure if the sanders are on the feed, and bites are aggressive a harder lures is working in your advantage. I think that you can understand the shape, but what about the colors? Sander waters are not often that clear a bit cloudy or colored is always good for a steady sander population. One often thinks that therefore a lure should be as bright as possible but this is not so. my colors are dull. I use a lot of brown, mainly so called motor oil. These colors are a bit fluorescent and offer good visibility in deep water. Greens, like chartreuse work good, but I feel this is more a summer color. Warm water and warm colors often seems to make a good match. So try yellows and oranges too. In cool or cold water I prefer cold colors like silver and blue, white and pink, transparent with silver flakes and so on.

Now the presentation, what, don’t worry, is not that difficult. With normal jigging, you hold the rod fairly low and with the wrist, make a fast move up from about twenty to fifty cm. Hold it still for a few seconds, then bring the lure back to the bottom in a slow move. On distance this won’t work. According to the distance between you and the lure, the angle in the line and the speed of the drift. You hold the rod in a starting position and seen like a clock at ten. If you have ground, lift the rod in a fast move to eleven and let it there for a short while. Than bring the rod down to ten again. It might happen that you can’t feel ground instantly. In this case you feed line until you are on ground again. Mind you doing this causes more pressure on the line, making it more difficult to keep ground! If you lose bottom all the time, it is time to change the weight of the jig head. Instead of 20 grams move to 30 of a bit more. You’ll be surprised what a difference ten grams of lead can make. During the drift, you might be forced to feed line every now and then It can be caused by depth differences, a bit more speed due to a gust of wind etc. If you have a lot of line out, it is better to rewind and set up the jig again. At the end you will hold control over your lure and for sure, that won’t be good news for the sanders. I am sure that fishing this way, you will open a wide window of opportunities in the whole field of this technique.

Have fun.