Walleye Fishing Tips for All Anglers

By Sonnox | Fishing Advice

walleye fishing tips
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Walleyes are undoubtedly amongst the popular gamefish species across several states in America. That said, they are as frustrating as they are fun to catch. Whether you are a beginner or someone who has been fishing walleye for a while, it will prove to be quite beneficial to know several top walleye fishing tips and tricks from experienced anglers.

We will look at some of the common ways most anglers find this fish, tempt it into biting the bait, and even dragging it onto the boat successfully. Make sure that you are being creative and combining a couple of techniques as and when you feel it is necessary.

Remember that there are no rules when it comes to fishing, and quite a few cases, the unusual approach can yield the best results.

The Basics of the Walleye

If you are new into walleye fishing, then you will need to get started by understanding a bit more about this species. They are known as Sander vitreus by scientists. The name "walleye" is basically due to its outward-facing eyes that constantly appear to look towards the walls.

This fish can be found all across Canada and the USA. They tend to inhabit different kinds of water, which include rivers, smaller impoundments, and even large reservoirs.

Size-wise, they mostly tend to be medium-sized gamefish that averages anywhere between 12 and 18 inches in length. That said, the fish is capable of growing significantly larger.

In fact, many anglers have caught walleyes that are 30 inches in length and 20 pounds in weight. The largest walleye caught measured more than 40 inches in length and weighed about 30 pounds.

Walleyes are known to have phenomenal vision even in low-light conditions, and this comes in handy when they are on the prowl for food. Since they can see in low-light conditions, cloudy, or turbulent water compared to their prey, they tend to become more active during these times.

During sunny or bright days, this fish will typically withdraw to the depths. Additionally, the walleye is a known predator. It will greedily consume other fish, especially perch and even any invertebrates such as leeches, worms, crayfish, and large insect larvae.

The walleye fish will spawn typically around early spring when the temperatures are about 44 degrees Fahrenheit. It will move into the shallows to spawn before it moves back into the deep water afterward immediately.

The eggs will hatch in a few weeks and will then profoundly begin to feed on small aquatic organisms. The female walleyes are known to be extremely fertile and can deposit close to 500,000 eggs in some cases. 

This fish also tends to be quite long-lived. It is even known to reach about 20 years of age in some rare circumstances.

Walleye Fishing Tips

We are sure that you now have a better understanding of the walleye's habits, biology, and history. Thus, let's move on to giving you some top helpful tricks for the next time you are going to catch it. Additionally, you can take a look at our site where we review several top-rated and different types of fishing reels.

1. Dress up the Lure with a Good Amount of Live Bait

A sure-shot way you will be able to entice the walleye to strike the lure is by ensuring that the lure is appealing to them. There are a couple of ways you can opt to do so, such as incorporating a decent amount of live bait in your spinnerbaits, jigs, and even other offerings.

Putting in some live bait will not just make the lure appear to be more enticing and realistic but also help with the smell, taste, and even the feel by making it more natural. This also gives you the chance to set the hook for another second or so before the fish ends up getting spooked by the plastic or metal of the lure and then spits it out. 

Leeches, nightcrawlers, and minnows are some of the common live baits used by anglers in order to catch the walleye. Leeches and nightcrawlers are mostly useful through the summers whereas minnows tend to be more effective during the other times of the year. That said, don’t be afraid to switch them up as and when you like.

Additionally, you can consider trying out a bigger bait. This can apply to both live baits as well as artificial baits.

If you are looking to catch a bigger walleye, then it makes more sense to stick to a larger sized bait too. You will be quite surprised to learn that several smaller fish tend to run after larger baits.

2. Be Aggressive

Most anglers will tell you that you should start gently and small when you are trying to catch most fish and then only work your way to a more aggressive presentation. However, with walleyes, that is not the case.

You will want to rip the lure a couple of times as that can turn heads and entice bites. It is important to note that the walleyes are not afraid to swallow a mouthful.

walleye fishing tips

3. Use a Jigging Technique Appropriate for the Temperature 

The walleye and quite a few other kinds of fish tend to be ectothermic, which means they are cold-blooded animals. Their biology tends to vary with the temperature.

When the water is warmer, they will swim quicker and also will hunt more aggressively. They will also pursue other fish moving as quickly. In colder water, the walleye tends to be more sluggish and will spend a lot of their time by pursuing prey that also moves at slower speeds.

You must incorporate this information into your jigging practices by either speeding up the jigging movements when the temperatures are warmer or by slowing them down when the water is colder.

4. Consider Trolling When You Have Trouble Finding the Fish or in Unfamiliar Waters

It can be quite challenging to locate the fish at times and in unfamiliar waters. While it may be possible for you to pull up your boat to a known spot or river where you have caught the walleye before, you may not have this luxury if you are fishing in waters that you have never fished before.

At times like these, you will find trolling to be quite helpful to find the fish. Make sure that you are presenting the lure at varying depths, and at the same time, you are keeping a close eye on the fish finder.

Also, make sure that you are trying different speeds when you are doing so. Once you feel you have hooked the fish, you can circle back around and start casting or even vertically jigging in that spot.

5. Try Using a Float to Reach the Fish Holding at Mid-Depths

Walleyes are known to hold near the bottom of the river or the lake, and anglers will typically target them with different types of sinker rigs. However, walleye fish is also known to move up towards the mid-depths of the water. By using a float, you will be able to keep the bait at the eye level of this fish, and it can also possibly draw the fish from below as well.

That said, you may often want to present the lure about 10 to 20 feet below the surface; thus, you will be unable to use a stationary bobber. Instead, you will need to rig up a slip float that can allow the bait to sink to the depth you desire before the float can cinch the line tightly and hold the lure at that depth.

Also, if you are wondering if it is best to cast or drag jigs, then the answer is it depends on the depth of the water. With water less than 10 feet deep, it is ideal to cast a 1/8 or ¼ ounces jig. With deeper water, you can let out the line, so a ¼ to 3/8 ounces jig drags along the bottom as the boat drifts naturally. 

6. Look for Weed Beds or Other Cover Forms  

Flooded timber, weed beds, and even laydowns are typically the kinds of cover sought after by bluegill and bass anglers. These spots can also harbor walleyes.  

You will be able to swim the lure on top of these spots with the hope that you can lure the walleye from its hiding spot. Alternatively, you can also probe the cover in-depth with your lure, and this can put the bait exactly in front of the walleye’s face.

If you are trying to work the lure through a dense cover, then you will need to ensure that you are using weedless lures or that you are hiding the tip of the lure in your bait so that you prevent any snags. A braided line is considered to be a good idea too when you fish in such a spot due to its superior abrasion resistance. 

7. Prefer Fishing During Low Light Conditions When the Walleye Feeds

While the walleye can be active during any part of the day, it is known to be the most active during low light conditions. Most anglers tend to fish when the sky is bright, but to catch a walleye, you need to wait until nightfall. This gives you the best possible chance of catching the fish.

You can also consider fishing on overcast days, especially those days that are on the edge of a storm. Such days are when the walleye become more active. That said, you must ensure that you are using good judgment and are not putting yourself in any danger.

Windy days are also considered to be quite productive as the choppy surface scatters the light and makes the water below dimmer.

8. Use Slip Sinkers to Prevent the Fish from Feeling Any Resistance

It is a known fact that the walleyes are notorious for spitting out the lure once they feel even a small amount of resistance. In such a case, it would be advantageous to make use of a slip sinker rigging when you fish along the bottom.

The slip sinker will allow you to line the pass through the center of the weight. This means the fish does not feel the resistance when they take the lure.

If you want the bait and sinker separated, then you can tie a swivel to your line between them. You will also want to add a bead to the line to protect the knot from the slip sinker when you are doing so. This will end up saving a ton of wear and tear on the line; thus, reducing the chance of the line getting snapped amidst a battle with a large fish.

9. Ensure That the Fish Inhales the Lure Entirely Before Setting the Hook

Many anglers tend to elicit the strike, and yet they have a tough time trying to achieve a solid hook set. This can occur when you aren’t giving the walleye enough time to take in the lure entirely before you set the hook.

One of the best ways you can overcome this issue is by just practicing. You have to pause for a moment once you feel the initial strike before you set the hook. If you wait too long, though, the fish will realize something is wrong with its "food" and then spit it out.

Another way you could help reduce the chance of pulling the lure beforehand is by making use of a rod that has a slower action or by simply opting for a monofilament leader that can provide a bit of elasticity to the rig. Just do note that this will end up slowing the hookset a bit.


We are sure that with all the walleye fishing tips and techniques we provided, you will be able to catch the walleye quicker and even in large quantities.

It is important to remember that these techniques will always change since anglers will develop newer and even better methods to catch this prized fish. The most important thing you must keep in mind is the fish’ biology and its habits. That will help you locate them easily and even elicit strikes.

Keep your knowledge always up-to-date by bookmarking our website.

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