The fact that the Butterfly Blades suspend, instead of sinking to bottom like metal blades, produces a stop-and-go action that triggers bites. 

The UV or fluorescent colors make it possible to actually see-thru Ghost Blades. 


Because the Ghost Blades are made from polycarbonate they’re one half the weight of conventional metal blades, which means that you can troll them at speeds down to .4 mph and still get a good thump from the blade. 


Two or three decades ago cars were made almost completely of metal. Today, you’d be hard press to find much metal on a car. Even the bumpers are plastic. There was a time when crawler harness blades were only made of metal too, but that is all about to change.

One of the most exciting product announcements at last year’s ICAST show, at least for walleye fisherman, was Northland Tackle’s ( new Butterfly Blade. Northland’s Whistler Jig, with its metal propeller blade, has been a mainstay in walleyes fisherman’s tackle boxes for years. The classic Whistler Jig emits a sonic, whistling vibration via the metal propeller behind the jig head that is a siren’s song to walleyes. The new Butterfly Blade is kind of a take-off on the Whistler Jig, except the Butterfly Blade is made from polycarbonate or plastic.

Northland Tackle joined forces with Keith Eshbaugh of Dutch Fork Custom Lures ( to co-design and manufacture the Butterfly Blades. Eshbaugh has also created a line of polycarbonate crawler harness blades that has the potential to turn the walleye fishing community on its ear.



Butterfly Blades come in two sizes and 12 colors to permit the angler to experiment with a multitude of color combinations. The light polycarbonate blades spin at an ultra-slow ¼ mph allowing for seductive, tantalizing presentations. Because the Butterfly Blades are made of polycarbonate, they float minimizing snags when you slow down or stop.

The Butterfly Blades come in three hook configurations—a super death rig, a single-hooked rig and a more conventional two-hook crawler harness rig. The Butterfly/Super Death rig produces an erratic, spiraling action that is prefect for tempting finicky wall-eye with a half a crawler, leech or Impluse plastics. The ultra-sharp Super Death hook intensifies the irregular spinning motion of the Butterfly Blade even at a crawl.

The single-hook version of the Butterfly Blade is ideal for using minnows early in the season and trolling ultra slow when the water is still cold. The sonic vibration put off by the Butterfly Blade in combination with the Needlepoint hook makes it the perfect combination for walleyes as well as jumbo perch and small-mouths. The single-hook Butterfly rig excels at presenting worms, half crawlers, minnows, leeches and plastics.


Many anglers are finding that wire harnesses and big thumping blades produce best on big water. Image by Dutch Fork Lures


Using a whole crawler on a harness has always been a prescription for trophy walleyes. The two-hooked Butterfly Blade with a plump, juicy night crawler is the ultimate temptation for trophy walleyes wherever they are found. The 60-inch snell, vibrating and shimmying blade and Needlepoint hooks are a deadly rig for monster ‘eyes.

The fact that the Butterfly Blades suspend, instead of sinking to bottom like metal blades, produces a stop-and-go action that triggers bites. Videos on Northland Tackle’s web site will give you more insights on how to rig and fish Butterfly Blades.

Besides the new Butterfly Blades, Dutch Fork Custom Lures and Keith Eshbaugh have taken the plastic revolution one step further with their line of Ghost Blades. Available in eight different sizes of Colorado, Willow and magnum Willow blades and 133 colors, Ghost Blades stand to give walleye fanatics a whole new arsenal.

“There are several things that make the Ghost Blades unique,” said designer Keith Eshbaugh. “Because the Ghost Blades are made from polycarbonate they’re one half the weight of conventional metal blades, which means that you can troll them at speeds down to .4 mph and still get a good thump from the blade. Because the blades are lighter, they don’t sink. So when you slow down or make a turn they don’t sink to the bottom where they could get hung up. Instead, they hover or suspend, which triggers following walleyes.”



Maybe the most unique thing about Ghost Blades is the fact they are available in transparent shades or colors, meaning that following fish can see the colors on the front of the blade and not just the metallic or painted color on the back of the blade like metal blades. “The UV or fluorescent colors that we manufacture make it possible to actually see though the blades.”

“You can fine-tune your color selection by using different bead patterns that will change the blade color and what the fish actually sees. An example is if you use a chartreuse blade and blue beads, the overall color affect is going to be green. Use a chartreuse blade and red beads and the lure is going to look orange. The color options are infinite.”

Eshbaugh also said that the difference in weight between the Ghost Blades and conventional blades results in an erratic action. “There’s a big difference in how the blades cut through the water,” he said. “In waves, where you’re going to have a lot of stop and go action, the Ghost Blades will just stop spinning and suspend and then shoot forward when you catch the next wave. Ghost Blades will even stop and re-verse direction enticing more strikes when lines are surging. The stop-and-go action drives fish nuts!”


Maybe the most unique thing about Ghost Blades is the fact they are available in transparent shades or colors, meaning that following fish can see the colors on the front of the blade and not just the metallic or painted color on the back of the blade like metal blades.


Eshbaugh advises, because the Ghost Blades are one half the weight of convention-al blades, to use one size larger when using Ghost Blades. “Bigger blades seem to work best in open-water situations, like the Great Lakes,” he advised. “There you want to use 4, 5, 6 or even size 8 blades. Inland, sizes 3 and 4 work well and size 2 and 3 are killer when drifting for perch, like on Lake Erie.”

One real advantage of the polycar-bonate blades is that you can use longer leads. “With the Ghost Blades you can use as long a leader as you want because they float,” offered Eshbaugh. “When you stop or turn instead if sinking to the bottom, the polycarbonate blades float or even start to rise, which is a trigger for any walleye that are following.”

For those that tie their own harnesses, Eshbaugh advise adding enough beads to get the blade above the eye of the hook and adding one bead above the blade. “Adding a bead above the blade diverts water to help get the blade spinning,” said Eshbaugh.

Dutch Fork Lures offers beads in every color of the rainbow. The beads are available in metallic, pearlescent, solid, transparent, and transparent pearlescent colors. The color combinations are endless. The transparent nature of the Ghost Blades enhances the color of the beads and vise versa. The blades have a 6 mm outside diameter and a 1mm threading hole. They’re available in 100, 1,000 and one pound quantities.



Blades are only as good as the clevis that they are rotating on. Dutch Fork Lures makes a specialized line of quick-change clevises. The single “No Loss” Quick Change Clevis is perfect for running Ghost Blades from size 4 and up. The small hook on the clevis makes it easy to quickly change blades without taking the harness off and won’t come off unless you take it off. The plastic sleeve on the clevis allows the blades to rotate freely and the clevis is also available in a metal version. Dutch Fork also makes a unique double clevis with the same polymer sleeve, but with two clips for running two blades at one time and two complimenting or contrasting colors. The double clevis works best with Colorado blades sizes 4 and up and with monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders. Talk about big time thump that will get any walleye’s attention. The clevises are avail-able in 25 packs.

Dutch Fork Lures makes their own line of wire harnesses. The wire harnesses are made with 35-pound coated wire with quality 2/0 Matzuo Sickle hooks that are precisely engineered, chemically sharp-ened and feature macro-calibrated strength bends. The rigs are perfect for big-water worm burners who like to troll faster. The wire rigs are ideal for pulling behind Jet Divers, Dipsey Divers and off ‘riggers. They are available with single or double Colorado or willow blades.

I didn’t get my care package of blades and clevises until late in the season last year. It was well past prime crawler harness time, but I had a couple chances to fish the blades.


Ghost and Butterfly blades allow angler to troll very slowly and still get a good rotation from their spinner blades. Images by 


The first trip I made was to a reservoir that has both trout and walleyes in it where I’ve done well on both using harnesses in the past. Word at the park office was that the fishing was slow, which in layman’s lingo meant no one was catching anything. The ranger said some anglers reported catch some small white bass.

I decided to do a little taste test and run bottom bouncers with metal blades on one side of the boat and Ghost blades and Butterflies on the other. The rangers fish-ing report was right on. The graph showed surprisingly few fish at a time in previous years I’d done well on both trout and wall-eye. Both styles of blades produced a few small white bass and that was all.

Later in September I made a trip to another reservoir that was rumored to have a burgeoning population of walleyes. Again, it was well past prime harness time, but I decided I’d give the Butterfly Blades a chance at least for a while. The blades caught everything but walleyes including catfish, jumbo perch and smallmouth, but no walleyes.



The final trip was to a reservoir known for trophy trout and very respect-able walleyes. Conditions were not the best. Even though it was October, it was hot, dead calm and an algae bloom gave the water the color of a pea soup. I wasn’t to confident, but my favorite walleye spoons fished behind disk divers and 2- and 3-color lead cores produced several rotund trout and a bonus walleye. All while we were fishing I noticed big hooks right on the bottom on the Helix 5 graph. When the bite slowed on the spoons I decided to give the Ghost Blades a try. We switched everything from spoons to bottom bouncers and ran a couple harnesses off the lead core.

Just about the time we had made the changes the reservoir when from flat calm to 3-foot white caps in a matter of minutes. Tending lines and just steering the 14-foot boat became problematic. I told friends Gary and Schuler Boone that we should probably pull the plug and they agreed. But before we could start pulling lines one of the bottom bouncers started jabbing and Schuler struggled to clear the rod from the holder. Once she did, a steelhead-sized rainbow could be seen cart-wheeling behind the boat. Schuler froze at the site of the colossal trout.


Larger blades seem to produce better on the Great Lakes. Using a double clevis and two blades enhances the attraction. Image by Dutch Fork Lures


“Reel, reel, reel! I shouted, but Schuler was in a trance, mesmerized by the sight of the enormous trout. The rambunctious rainbows did a couple more somersaults over the lead core and then dove for bot-tom under the remaining bottom bouncer on that side.

“He’s history!” I thought to myself, but right then the trout stopped to take a breather. I yelled for Schuler to bring the rod tip down so I could grab the line and told her to reel as I pulled in the line. The trout played nice and I slowly pulled him towards the boat. When I was looking at the hooked-jawed male in the eye I told Schuler to grab the line.



“Hand me the net!” I shouted to Gary. I told Schuler to slow pull the trout toward the boat. The trout was within 5 feet of being netted when he went berserk again and was gone.

I guess Ghost Blades and Butterflies will work on trout, too.



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1 comment

New here. Looks interesting.

James Frank

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