Winter fishing requires more thorough preparation and, to be honest, it is carried out in less comfortable conditions than in the warm season. However, there are more and more lovers of sitting with a fishing rod in front of the hole every year. This is not to a small extent facilitated by the invention of more and more new tackles and lures that increase the chances of a high catch. Our fishermen have relatively recently begun to catch a predator with a balancer, but winter fishing using this lure confidently crowds out more familiar options such as vertical spinners and jigs in all forms.
Today we will take a closer look at this interesting, easy-to-use and catchy bait. After reading our publication, you will surely be sure that the balancer winter lure is worthy of a place in your fishing arsenal. We do not call for completely abandoning the good old lures and fishing techniques, but in any art, which is fishing, there is no limit to perfection. Moreover, the balancer demonstrates record performance, especially for passive fish, when other baits do not work.
Here is an overview of the content of this tutorial, feel free to jump to any section you care about:
- A Beginner’s Guide To Jigging
- Fishing Spoons- All You Need To Know
- Choosing A Fishing Line For Spinning Reel
The balancer is an artificial full-bodied bait that outwardly imitates juvenile fish. Unlike silicones and wobblers, significant deviations in the direction of “fantasy” forms are rare: for the most part, balancers have a running body, pronounced “head” and “tail” – in short, classic small fish. The color can be either close to natural or fantastically bright.
They are made of various metal alloys (often lead-based) and are equipped in the classic version with three hooks: rigidly fixed single hooks in the head and tail, as well as a freely suspended tee under the “belly”. There are options made from other materials – for example, hard plastic, silicone or balsa, but this is an exception to the rule.
They fish on a balance beam in a plumb line, carrying out vertical guidance using a rod. A correctly balanced and imposed bait takes a vertical position in the water. The angler provides animation using up and down movements of the rod of varying degrees of sharpness and amplitude. The classic version is a kind of “eight”, which is described by the pause bait. Its movements are similar to the motor skills of a wounded fish, very attractive even for a passive predator.
Pros and cons of balancer winter lure
Some of the obvious advantages of using a balancer include:
- Efficiency even against a passive predator . With the right choice of bait and play, even a pike that is passive in the wilderness can be forced to attack.
- Simplicity of technique . Basic vertical wiring can be mastered within minutes. And nuances like adjusting the sharpness of jerks, amplitude and duration of pauses are comprehended empirically.
- Versatility . Even representatives of carp species are caught on ultra-light small balancers: chub, asp, carp, and sometimes even large crucian carp. But the main prey is the “big three predatory”: perch, pike, pike perch.
- All-seasonality . Balancer is a typical winter bait, but sometimes it is also used in summer, mainly when fishing from a boat in a plumb line. At the same time, fishing is practiced both from an anchored boat and rafting.
- Suitability for reconnaissance . In a matter of minutes, you can fish all the water horizons, from the bottom to the ice cover, having ascertained the prospects of this place.
The disadvantages of this bait are much less, but they also cannot be ignored:
- High demands on equipment . A good gripping rod with a sensitive nod is required, although there are discrepancies here: some anglers prefer to do without a signaling device at all. High demands are placed on the imposition of the bait. We remind you: in the water – an exclusively horizontal position, otherwise the proper game cannot be achieved even with high professional skill.
- Risks of snags . Hooks located on the tail and head of the bait often cling to the edges of the hole when playing large specimens. Many anglers get rid of them in an artisanal way, but the effectiveness of the bait suffers from this. Fishing in the snag, where the pike traditionally prefers to live, is also difficult – hooks with the loss of the balance bar cannot be avoided.
- Relative fragility and fragility . With intensive fishing, the balancers quickly deteriorate: the paint peels off, the tail blade suffers. But even more harm to the bait is caused by its improper storage: it is highly desirable to dry the balancers after each fishing trip and put them in storage in separate cells of the container.
As mentioned above, the industry is delighting anglers with new models of balancers, but the basic design of the bait remains unchanged. The selection principles are relatively simple:
- Small and medium perch . Miniature models 2-5 cm long are relevant. They work perfectly at shallow and medium depths in a weak current. At the surface it is worth giving preference to models of natural color, at depth – brighter and more eye-catching options.
- Large and medium pike perch and perch, small pike . This fish is best suited for balancers of 5-8 cm. These medium-heavy models show good animation and catchability at medium depths (3-5 m). They work well on flat areas near the bottom without a current, where pike perch often goes.
- Trophy predator . For catching a trophy predator, heavy balancers with a length of 8 cm or more are used. They are good for catching sections of rivers with a strong current, dumps, curbs, bottom pits. They perform well at great depths, especially in the absence of a stabilizer. Models with a bright color show themselves well, sometimes a fluorescent effect is welcomed – in conditions of darkness it is difficult for a predator to see a natural color bait.
The most popular among our anglers are options with a “tail” in the form of a shovel made of metal or plastic. In winter conditions, such balancers are optimal: a delicate brush instantly freezes, and the silicone tail quickly deteriorates. However, these options are also applicable in special conditions, which we will discuss below.
Now let’s figure out how to prepare the tackle. We need:
- Rod . The first thing to look out for is the build quality. The handle should be comfortable and grippy (it can be made of cork, it can be made of modern artificial polymers). The best rod in the mid-price category is made of carbon fiber, which tolerates sub-zero temperatures well. The blank test is selected depending on the weight of the bait. The length for pike and pike perch (they are usually caught while standing) is 45-50 cm, for perch – 25-30 cm. The telescopic design will make the rod universal.
- Signaling device . If you are catching active fish, the nod is not needed – it lowers the sensitivity and smears the animation of the balance bar somewhat. However, it is better to establish it for a passive predator during the dead-winter period – the signaling device will not let you miss the most delicate bite.
- Reel . The most inexpensive and popular option is the good old pull-back reel. It is not too expensive even in a branded version, and it weighs a little, which is paramount for active fishing. Go for small, lightweight models, as 25m line is sufficient for any purpose. A good Daiwa costs more and weighs more, it requires a special winter lubricant. However, the undoubted advantage is that several spools can be equipped with fishing line of different thickness and changed as needed.
- Fishing line . The braided cord constantly freezes and gets tangled, so the priority is monofilament thread. The line thickness is selected in accordance with the weight of the balancer. At great depths and in strong currents, super-heavy models weighing over 20-25 grams are used, while fishing line with a diameter of about 0.3-0.5 mm is taken. By the way, in strong currents and at considerable depths, the use of braids is justified – it practically does not stretch. For light lures in shallow water, monofilament with a diameter of 0.15-0.2 mm is sufficient.
Imposing a balancer winter lure
Professionals have in their arsenal of dozens of balancers designed for fishing different fish in different conditions. The effectiveness of the bait is diagnosed by trial and error, therefore you need to be able to quickly change the bait in far from comfortable conditions. In most cases, rigs provide for attaching the bait through a leash (usually metal or fluorocarbon), which further complicates the task.
Fans of this fishing method can be divided into two groups. Some advocate the direct imposition of the bait on a leash (less often – directly on the main line) for a constructively provided ring (bow, lock) in the back. The simplest way is an elementary “palomar”: we thread a loop of fishing line into the ring, tie it in a knot with the ends of the thread, pass the bait through the loop, tighten, cut off the ends. It is possible to dissolve this knot in conditions of fishing, but it will take precious minutes.
The second group of anglers advocates the method of fastening through a fastener – its use does not affect the quality of the animation in any way, and the bait in which case it is easy to replace. It is best to use special fly hooks – they prevent tees from clinging to them during aggressive play. The only exception is ultralight baits – they are really better to knit directly.
The quality of the imposition and rigging in general can and should be checked in advance. A regular bath is suitable for this. Correctly imposed good balancer will hang strictly horizontally. If he rolls over on his side or lifts his tail or head, you will not wait for a good game. You can correct the nuances with an additional wire load or by modifying the stabilizers with a file.
Fishing with a balancer winter lure is an active type of fishing that involves the constant participation of an angler. The secret to success is choosing the right time, place, horizon and bait. Even with basic wiring, the balancers behave differently. For example, narrow-nosed models (with a center of gravity in the middle of the “little body”) smoothly unfold along a large arc, gaining speed in a straight line. Wide-nosed balancers have a center of gravity in the front, so they can turn almost on the spot.
The general wiring diagram is as follows:
- We lower the balancer to the bottom to the rest position.
- Raise the bait 10-15 cm.
- We make a sharp jerk with the rod upward (the balance bar goes away from the hole).
- We lower the whip to its original position and pause (the bait returns to the hole, describing the ring).
- We repeat the jerk and pause (the lure goes to the other side and returns to its original position, closing the “eight”).
Features of tactics depending on the type of fish
Before going fishing, you should think about what kind of fish and in what conditions you intend to fish. Do not forget about the ice screw: they will have to work hard, because the visual appeal of a place does not guarantee that a predator is there. And on the first ice, he walks wherever he pleases, actively hunting juveniles.
In this case, the principle “without difficulty … you know what” works. Therefore, after making a couple of trial fishing on all horizons, changing the bait and the technique of its feeding several times, it makes sense to move to the next hole, leaving the first one with food.
Correctly selected tactics provide a skilled angler with a decent catch even in the wilderness, and even representatives of the cyprinid family who have fallen into passivity are caught on small balancers.
And now we will get acquainted with the peculiarities of the rigging and the tactics of catching individual representatives of the predatory freshwater ichthyofauna. They may differ depending on weather conditions and the specific body of water, but the basic principles remain the same.
Grass perch is the most popular prey for winter fishing. Even if it rarely weighs more than 300 grams, with the proper skill, you can pull more than a dozen minke whales. Fishing is carried out sitting, therefore, a whip 25-35 cm long is enough. Light and ultralight lures are ideal for fishing lines up to 0.2 mm in diameter. In shallow water, in clear water, models 2-5 cm long show themselves well, having an “authentic” coloration for a perch – the striped robber happily devours its own juveniles. You can give preference to front-loaded models, characterized by the sharpness of their own game.
The grass perch is a schooling predator, alien to any caution. In this case, it is necessary to at least roughly determine the location of the flock, moving from the coast to the depth, and to catch all horizons with the balancer, starting from the lower one.
First, you should tap the bottom with the bait, raising the attention-grabbing cloud of turbidity, then you can start performing the classic wiring. It should be borne in mind that jerks should be sharp and short (an amplitude of 30 cm is sufficient), and the rest phases should be minimal. In the absence of bites, you need to raise the bait higher and higher – the perches sometimes fatten up and right under the ice.
The pike perch, like its closest relative bersh, remains active almost all winter. This fish is quite specific in style of behavior, but many anglers hunt precisely for it.
Pike perch prefers to be nocturnal, spending most of the time in deep pits, from where it is problematic to extract it. However, from time to time he makes forays on the edges and dumps, often visiting flat areas of the bottom. At the same time, it is impossible to predict how the fanged will behave at a certain time of the day in specific conditions. This means that you will have to drill a lot of holes to fish vast water areas, or make friends with an echo sounder or an underwater camera.
Catching pike perch on a balancer lure in winter has a lot of adherents and the same number of opponents who believe that there is no better bait for spinners or jigs with sprat. However, with a skillful selection of the bait and the style of its presentation, the adherent of the balancer will not be left without a reward.
On the first ice and before the ice drift, the fanged is as active and impudent as possible: at this time, you can use standard models with a scapula and a central weight. In the wilderness for a passive predator, it is better to give preference to balancers with a brush without a stabilizer: their play is quite expressive, but it is softer and smoother.
The pike, like all representatives of the freshwater ichthyofauna, is most active at the beginning and end of winter, as well as during thaw periods. At this time, the toothed torpedo goes well on small balancers with a fur tassel, intended for the production of much less impressive specimens. By the way, lures of this type do not deviate from the hole as much as models with paddles, therefore they are sometimes used to catch predators from supports. On a free bottom during these periods, it is advisable to use centrally loaded heavy models with a stabilizer.
The balancers for fishing at considerable depths, where the toothy torpedo lives in the wilderness, do not have stabilizer blades: models with blades, even the heaviest ones, are difficult to lower there. They have a low-expressive play and a small deflection distance, but for a passive predator this is exactly what you need.
The question of the need for a leash remains fundamental. On the one hand, the saw teeth of predators can easily bite into ordinary monofilament, so a leash is necessary. On the other hand, a metal leash is well distinguishable in water and can alert a predator. Therefore, according to the active bite at the start and finish of winter, the use of a metal leash is justified, and in the wilderness it is better to replace it with a fluorocarbon twist or completely abandon this piece of equipment, relying on fishing luck.
This method of fishing is multifaceted, and many subtleties can only be reached experimentally, and the chips that have been worked out may be ineffective in another body of water or on the same, but under different weather conditions. Therefore, in the end of the article, we will provide only general recommendations.
- Do not forget to sharpen the points of the hooks . This is especially true when fishing for zander: the tee of the balance bar must have impeccably sharp stings that can pierce the hard lips of a predator. The hook can be changed if necessary.
- Mark the point of attack . Perch and small pike perch are unable to swallow the whole bait whole, so they attack the brightest point. It is natural to make such a tee of the balancer. You can choose the factory version with a bright eye drop, or you can “decorate” the hook yourself by putting on small beads and a multi-colored cambric. Some anglers, without further ado, simply wrap the hooks with bright synthetic threads.
- Buy quality baits . There is nothing to do with one or two lures on fishing, but you should not increase their number at the expense of cheap nameless “Chinese”. They often lose their blades and peel off, in the water they fall on their side and are difficult to control. Better to shell out and get some lures from a famous fishing brand.
- Experiment . It is possible to fish on a balancer in one hole, but on condition that there is a tangible result – for example, a flock of perches approached it. If several catches on all horizons do not bring success, it is worth changing the bait, the style of work, and subsequently the hole. Active fishing doesn’t tolerate doing nothing!
- Take care of purchasing an echo sounder . If the perch loiters throughout the water area quite freely, the pike usually sits in a favorite place, guarding the prey. It is difficult to predict the behavior of pike perch. Therefore, you will save yourself the extra work of drilling holes by moving on to purchase an echo sounder or an underwater camera.
At the end of our publication, let me wish you success in mastering the basics of winter fishing. Let each balancer you purchase become the most prey and attractive for a large freshwater predator!