Walleye anglers target fish using different methods, at different times, in different depths and with so many fishing styles and options available, selecting the right bait can be overwhelming. Whether you’re new to fishing for Walleye or just brushing up effective tactics, here are seven Walleye baits that you can rely on all year long.
Jigs may be the champ of the “year-round bait” category for fishing walleye. Jigs tipped with plastics or live bait will catch Walleye in almost any water condition or temperature. Jigs work in the grass, near rocks or wood, and even in open water. The simple design and easy to use nature of walleye jigs make them a popular choice for virtually any angler. During the springtime try hopping a jig and minnow along steep rocky banks. In the summer months, thread on a paddle tail swimbait on your jig and target shoreline grasses or offshore humps. The bottom line is that no matter the cover, depth, or season – jigs can produce bites.
Jerkbaits are multi-species killers but will work especially crush Walleye in the early spring. Try trolling larger profile jerkbaits during the spring months as fish continue to push shallow before the spawn. Also, in the cooler water seasons of early spring and late fall, slender profiled jerkbaits with flat sides and a subtle wobble will reign supreme. As the water warms, moving to baits with wider wobbles and more aggressive retrieves will keep the fish biting. Once they go deep.
Harness rigging for Walleye is tactic anglers utilize when fish are spread out. Covering water with crawler harness baits allows you to pick off roaming walleye more effectively. Finding the right boat speed is key in getting dialed on a hot harness bite. Once you get bit it’s important to remember what speed you were moving at in order to help replicate the process over again.
Jigging Rap style baits are often thought as an ice fishing deal however, these things are also deadly in the open water season too. With electronic graphs and mapping, functions continuing to advance, many anglers spend as much time looking at their graph than they actually do fishing. Once an angler marks a fish using their electronics a jigging rap is a good bait to pick up. The denseness of a jigging rap allows for a quick fall rate on the way down, and erratic darting action when jigged. Being able to drop down and present vertically to a fish you’ve marked is a highly effective way to catch hungry walleye and there are few lure options better than a jigging rap.
Floats, bobbers, corks, strike indicators or whatever you want to call them… The things that help you suspend a bait at a specific target depth while also floating on the water surfaces to help indicate bites. One of the most effective ways to catch Walleye is with live bait under a float rig. Minnows in the spring, leeches in the summer, worms in the late summer a finally jumbo minnows after that. Match your offering as closely as possible to what the Walleye in your lake or river are feeding on and you’ll see bobbers dropping in no time.
Soft Plastic Swimbaits
Swimbaits provide walleye anglers with precise action and diving depth allowing them to choose how, when, and where to effectively fish these realistic baits. Typically a casting tool, swimbaits paired with a well-balanced jig head help anglers cover water with a presentation that seems to yield larger fish. Make long casts with a swimbait and let the bait fall to the desired swimming depth while keeping an eye on your line as the bait pendulums down the water column. Usually, a slow and steady retrieve will do the trick but you can impart quick rips or jig strokes to help create a reaction strike out of nearby fish.
The key to lipless crankbaits effectiveness is that they can be fished in both shallow and deep water. This is also what makes them effective Walleye lures year-round. In the spring, pre-spawn walleye will be plumb, angry, and easy to fool. This is the time of year you’ll want to make sure to have a lipless crankbait. In summer, they are an excellent tool to cover water and target schooling fish. They are also easy to fish through grass, and stumps as well as open water.
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