Outdoor Articles

My Favorite Wiper Tactics

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Freshwater Fishing

We’re nowhere near the height of the open water season, but I thought I would summarize what I know about wiper fishing.

Bait fishing:
Slip or egg-sinker rig, with 1-3′ leader, baited with cut baits like carp, or shrimp, or live baits like crawlers or minnows. Worm harnesses bounced on the bottom, or pulled behind bottom bouncers from a boat also work on the bottom. Certain soft plastic jerkbaits are also said to work, although I haven’t tried them.

Bobber fishing:
At the right time of year (Spring, early Summer, and Fall), a 3″ live shiner or sunfish suspended 4′ below a large bobber can produce nice fish in areas where wipers come in to feed around dusk (along dams or riprap, or on sandy bottom flats.

Long-bodied poppers, like the Rapala Skitter Pop and similar poppers can produce well in the early morning and around dusk, especially when shad are schooling high in the water column.


Trolling a Rat-L Trap 1/4 oz. can be deadly during the spring and well into summer, and during the fall. It also works to cast them into schools of shad when you run into wipers pounding them at the surface. Other crankbaits produce wipers, too, such as the Rattlin’ Rapala and classic floating or suspending Rapalas in fairly short lengths that have a more vigorous action than longer Rapalas. I haven’t tried jointed Rapalas, but I suspect they will work well also.
Experiment with colors and patterns, but I find that silver and blue Rat-L Traps work as well as any crankbait.

Streamers – Fly fishing:
Wipers are always hit or miss, so some people don’t like to expend the energy required to cast heavy streamers with heavy rods. Those that do are often rewarded by hungry wipers. I fish Lefty’s Deceivers and Clouser Minnows tied on stainless steel hooks in sizes 2, 4, and 6. I like chartreuse and white, pink and white, blue and white, black and white, and brown and white. I keep switching until I find the right colors. You can use #1, 2 or 3 fly leaders, if you want, but it’s more economical to just use 12 lb. test mono (about 7-10 ft.) because you don’t need a tapered leader when you’re throwing heavy streamers. I have used floating, neutral, or sinking lines with success.

Wipers are hit and miss in most places, but when they are on, you won’t find a fish with more game. They produce nice fillets, too.

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