Master(s) of Puppets

New Northland® Fishing Tackle Pitchin’ Puppet puts you in control of the fish strings. 

BEMIDJI, Minn. (August 1, 2023) – Walleye baits and heavy metal? Absolutely.

On a limb, you might even compare Northland’s new Pitchin’ Puppet launch to Metallica releasing their third studio album, Master of Puppets, in 1986. Met with worldwide acclaim, the record made a steady climb up Billboard’s Top 200. And while the band didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel—drawing heavily on early-metal predecessors—their mixture of influences, blood, sweat, and beers brought a whole new sound onto the scene.

Same goes for Northland Fishing Tackle’s new Pitchin’ Puppet, an amalgam of hard-rocking glide baits gone before.


Old School Puppetry

Longtime Minnesota fishing guide (and music lover), Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, has been fishing glide baits for walleyes since word spread after Kim “Chief” Papineau took 2nd place fishing heavy glide baits in open-water at a 2001 In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PMT) tournament on the Detroit River. Unable to keep his winning ice-bait tactic a secret given the bumper boats, Chief’s walleye lure hack spread like wildfire, Ron and Al Lindner eventually taking the technique into a whole new realm.

“I had glide baits in my ice fishing box and started playing with them in open-water pretty early on,” says Brosdahl. “They’ve put tons of fish in the boat for me and my clients over the years. However, the problem has always been that front nose hook, which tends to foul-hook as many fish as it catches, and frequently snags everything from rocks to wood to weeds. The original glide baits on the market were not designed for casting; they were designed for vertical jigging.”

Not to say various tackle manufacturers haven’t tried to fix the issue. There are a number of retail-pegged baits out there sans nose hook, but none have caught on to the level of original glide bait designs.

New School Puppetry

Mille Lacs Lake guide, Brad Hawthorne, helped prototype the new Northland Pitchin’ Puppet and has put countless hours on the odometer chasing marble eyes around the Big Pond (Mille Lacs), putting various design iterations to the test over the past two years.

“The technology is awesome,” says Hawthorne. “The encasing—whatever they’re calling it—is the most durable finish I’ve ever seen on a glide bait. You might get a few scratches working it through the rocks, but get it wet, and it goes right back to normal,” notes Hawthorne.

He says the bait is designed to be “ripped and ripped and ripped some more. It’s a fast-thinking deal to get in front of fish.”

The other thing he likes about the new Northland Pitchin’ Puppet design is it eliminates having to cut off nose hooks from three-hook glide bait designs.

“You can catch fish on just about any glide bait on the market, but they lack a well-designed hooking system. That’s what took us the longest with this new design. We knew it needed a perfect rear hook, something with a wide gap to pierce meat and bone and keep fish pinned. Fact is, your glide bait standards were designed for ice, not casting or pitching. If everyone was being honest, they’d admit that one out of three walleyes are snagged on a traditional minnow-style glide bait. Not the case with the new Pitchin’ Puppet; fish are inhaling this lure.”

For Hawthorne, he says working the Pitchin’ Puppet is a “rinse and repeat kind of thing.”

“I like to set the bow-mount trolling motor to .8 to 1 mph and pitch the bait out 60 to 70 feet behind the boat and just sit, pop, and snap jig it,” shares Hawthorne.

With walleyes well into mid-summer patterns, Hawthorne has been fishing the middle 2-3/8”, 5/8-ouncer a lot in deeper waters. “It’s basically your old’ #7, but a little bit more compact and lacking the nose hook.”

Hawthorne also likes the bait for running rocks. “Without the nose hook you don’t get snagged nearly as often as with most glide bait designs. So, I’ve replaced all the glide baits in my boat with Pitchin’ Puppets. It’s not unheard of to fish four or five different bottom substrates on a given day, everything from rock, sand, to mud. Now I don’t have to clip the front hook off to do my job and make things easier for clients. It comes right out of the package ready-to-fish.”





Brilliant Forward-Facing Sonar Returns

As more and more anglers invest in forward-facing sonar to chase $9.99/lb. fillets, it’s worth mentioning that the new Pitchin’ Puppet has an incredible forward-facing sonar signature.

“The bait shows up like a beam of light on forward-facing sonar,” says Hawthorne. “There’s no mistaking that you’re throwing a brand-new bait with a much-improved sonar return. It really lights up.”

Enter Sandman, the 2024 Northland Pitchin’ Puppet

21-year-old ace guide, trophy walleye hunter, TikTok creator, and Pitchin’ Puppet tester, Michael Showalter, has been fishing the bait extensively everywhere from the St. Croix River to northern Ontario—where his family operates the oldest fly-in outfit in the province, Showalter’s Fly-In Outposts.

“It’s been crazy, man. Just nuts. We’ve caught 16 fish 30-inches or bigger already this year, most of them on the new Pitchin Puppet,” says Showalter.





Showalter’s program?

“I start out looking for walleyes with LiveScope and once I spot ‘em, it’s pretty much game over. If they’re stationary, I move right on top of them and drop the Pitchin’ Puppet down and let it hit bottom. I bring the Puppet back up, give it a wrist snap and then let it descend on what I call a ‘controlled fall.’ A lot of times they’ll hit it when you first drop it down or after a few snaps. If I can’t get the fish to go within 30 to 45 seconds, I move on and find another one,” notes Showalter.

Besides his current deepwater vertical jigging program, Showalter also spends plenty of time pitching the bait, which jibes with the new lure design. Anytime walleyes are moving, pitching is Showalter’s program.

“Here’s the thing, though. I don’t like to pitch more than 60-feet because it’s harder to get a good hookset. But, yeah, if the walleyes are moving around, I’ll Spot-Lock in the general area and pitch over to them here and there.”

Showalter continues: “Right now, I’m fishing anywhere from 25 to 35 feet, so I’m using the 5/8-ouncer. Color doesn’t seem to matter too much, but I do like the brighter colors on brighter days and dark, natural colors on darker days.”

In terms of 2023 open-water PBs, Showalter has scooped sixteen 30-inchers and one client recently landed a 31.5” on an orange, 5/8-ounce Pitchin’ Puppet.






Showalter’s Puppetry Gear

Given the deeper waters Showalter’s fishing right now, he opts for 10-pound fluorocarbon, bucking the trend of either braid to fluoro leader or the straight-up monofilament used by many glide bait anglers. “I like fluorocarbon because it still has some stretch to it to absorb trophy walleye headshakes,” offers Showalter.

His rod and reel choice is nothing out-of-the-box: a 7’1” medium-power, fast-action spinning rod paired with a 2500-size reel.

Fewer Hook Fouls

Given Northland’s two hook, nose hookless bait design, Showalter says he’s snagging “way fewer” walleyes on the new minnow glide bait.

“Walleyes are inhaling these baits. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve snagged a fish with a Pitchin’ Puppet. Seems like everybody is worried about that front hook being excluded, but the wide-gapped rear hook gets ‘em every time. Set the hook and there’s no coming off. I really like that about them. It’s big fish insurance for me and my guests.”

The other plus? Showalter says his live bait expenses have gone way down.

“I don’t have to spend a bunch of money on live bait when I can pitch or vertical jig the Pitchin’ Puppet and catch the big ones.”

“I don’t have to spend a bunch of money on live bait when I can pitch or vertical jig the Pitchin’ Puppet and catch the big ones.”

The Pattern

Guiding on Lake Pakwash, Ontario, and nearby Lac Seul, Showalter says some Canadian walleyes are currently on a cisco feed, with fish belching up giant forage.

“We caught a 30-incher the other day that had a 15-inch cisco in its throat. I couldn’t believe it. But I saw that big ol’ tail sticking out of there, so I pulled it out. We measured it at over a footlong.”

Showalter has been targeting deep rock structure, typically positioning his big ‘glass tiller off the structure and along hard bottom-to-mud substrate transitions.

“I’m catching most of my fish in that 2-foot from the bottom zone, not suspended way up in the water column,” adds Showalter.

And when he does mark fish suspended over deeper basin areas, he says it can be hard to get those fish to commit because they’re moving off structure to digest their food, not necessarily to chase down another meal. Then, once they’ve digested their prey, they move back on or slightly off nearby structure where Showalter says you can “get a few to go, that’s for sure.”

Details: Pitchin’ Puppet

For decades now, anglers have been using vertical jigging lures like the Northland Puppet Minnow® for casting—and with great success. Now Northland has designed a bait specifically for the job. The Pitchin’ Puppet features a lead frame with an over-molded resin exterior and fin, giving it a lifelike translucent baitfish appearance with exceptional durability. When jigged, snapped, or ripped, the Pitchin’ Puppet darts and rolls to trigger strikes. A wide-gap rear hook – and absence of a front nose hook – make this lure perfect for darting across the bottom, and the split-ring connected treble hook keeps fish pinned all the way back to the boat.

  • Over-molded resin body and tail that’s extremely durable
  • Baitfish profile
  • Wide-gap rear hook for better hooking percentages
  • Cast and retrieve or vertically jig to create a darting action like a dying minnow
  • 15 Colors
  • SIZES: 2-inch (5/16 oz.), 2-3/8-inch (5/8 oz.) and 2-3/4-inch (1 oz.)

MSRP $9.99




ABOUT Northland® Fishing Tackle

In 1975, a young Northwoods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components, and most importantly, were catching fish when no other baits were working! Word spread like wildfire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand! For 40 years now, John and the Northland® team have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catch fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota’s finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country’s leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for crappies, bluegills, perch, walleyes, bass, trout, northern pike and muskies.

ABOUT Bagley Bait Company

The personality of any company comes from its founder. Jim Bagley was an inventive, fun-loving, passionate fisherman who became one the most respected legends in the fishing tackle industry. In late 2010, Jarmo Rapala and a group of investors bought Bagley Bait Company. As an admirer of Jim Bagley for his attention to quality and of his product ingenuity and innovation, Jarmo initiated significant changes in operations, enhanced production processes and quality control. Now in 2020, Northland® Fishing Tackle, along with Jarmo as its Chief Lure Designer, maintain the legacy of creating premium balsa crankbaits and topwater lures, as well as jigs and spoons for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.


Noel Vick

Traditions Media

(612) 708-7339

Jim Edlund

Traditions Media

(612) 481-7396