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The “Slow Death” is Truly a Killer Walleye Rig

Images by Brian Bashore

For the past five or more years, anglers across the midwest have been exposed to the “Slow Death” fishing rig.

It is very easy to get overwhelmed with the selections an angler will come across when feasting their eyes on the ridiculously large assortment of tackle found at any of the major box stores. We have all been there and most anglers are guilty of having way more tackle then we will ever use. But still, we just have to have that next best thing, or 10 of the same thing because that one particular color or lure will be the one that works best that day. We just know it.

By now, most anglers across the midwest have been exposed to the “Slow Death” fishing rig. Some will say this is nothing new, as they have been using this same method of spinning nightcrawler fishing since the 90s, if not as early as the 80s.

Anglers like Bob Propst, Sr. or Dan Stier may have even been the original creators of such method. But then someone took this style of a bent Aberdeen hook to the market, and it responded in a big way.

The Slow Death

In today’s tackle industry, there are several different versions of this spinning nightcrawler rig hitting the water, and I have probably fished them all. What makes these crazy bent hook walleye rigs so effective? It is all about the ability to present it at such variable speeds (sometimes as slow as .25 mph), while still getting good action out of your bait.

I have found that Matzuo’s new Rip-N-Roll (formerly Death Roll) is the best one the market. Not only does this hook give great action to whatever bait you slide on it, but the hook itself is just strong enough that you no longer have to sweat the big one sending a straightened, empty hook back to your boat. If you have not tried a Rip-N-Roll hook from Matzuo and you are using one of the other hooks on the market, trust me, you need to try them. You will never use anything else.

The Matzuo Rip-n-Roll comes in a couple different sizes and colors. My personal preference is a 1/0 tipped with a half Berkley Gulp crawler with a simple 5mm bead on the line above it.

Recently, a feature was added to the Matzuo Rip-n-Roll providing a swivel attached to the hook, giving this system easier rotation while minimizing line twist. My fellow fishing partner and professional guide, Bill McGannon of The Walleye Guys Guide Service, has done what most of us anglers do, and customized this great working rig by adding a size #11 or #12 treble hook no more than a ½” above the Rip-n-Roll hook.

#1/0 Rip-N-Roll with a #12 treble hook & a Mack’s Smile blade

This new-but-old system is a proven tournament winner, and when the bite is tough it is my go to rig. It is a very simple system for any angler to deploy and can catch countless numbers of fish of all species.

When the fish are aggressive, this modified system can cause up to 90% of my hook-ups to happen on the treble hook. It’s so versatile, you can add a spinner and use it as a regular crawler harness with a twist, or add a Mack’s Smile blade or float above the hook to give it a little flash and color.

In addition, to make this system even easier for any one angler to use, Matzuo has just introduced a new quick release bottom bouncer, enabling angler’s easy storage of rigged rods and a quick adjustment when you need to up- or downsize your weight.

So whether you’ve heard of it and wanted to try or are brand new to the Slow Death rig, you now have a pretty good idea of its setup and capabilities. Give it a shot, the fish you catch will prove it even further.

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The “Slow Death” is Truly a Killer Walleye Rig