What makes walleye fishing so popular? Could the answer lie in the great table fare the fish provides with its flaky white filet? Or is it their finicky eating habits and the challenge of luring them into attacking soft plastic? Maybe the mystique of the iridescent pearl eye, toothy mouth, spiny dorsal fin, with a golden olive color, and their presumed elusiveness? Who knows for sure, but their attractiveness as game fish is well known. Walleye fishing can be challenging, but with the proper gear and presenting your lures with the proper technique, the rewards of catching walleye will be well worth it.
Equipment: Rods and Reels to Fit Your Needs
Any good spinning or bait casting rod can be used to target walleye. However, we recommend using specific rod and reel setups to help maximize your walleye fishing experience:
- Swimbaits- Angling Ai 3.8” RipRap or 3.75” Hammer styles
Rod Length- 6’6” to 7’
Power- Medium Heavy
Action- Fast Tip
Reel- Typically a 30 or 3000 Series Spinning Reel backed with (8-14 lb) Braid Line with 18” to 2’ long fluorocarbon leader (12 lb)
- Split Tails/Worms (3” to 5”)- Angling Ai 4” Jigging Minnow or 4” MC Worm
Rod Length- 6’ to 6’6” preferred
Action- Extra Fast
Reel- Typically 20 or 2000 Series Spinning Reel backed with (10 lb) High Vis Braid Line with 18” (12 lb) fluorocarbon leader
- Curl Tail Grub- Angling Ai 4” Cali Grub
Rod Length- 6’6” to 7’
Reel- Typically 30 or 3000 Series Spinning Reel backed with (8-12 lb) Braid Line with 18” to 24” (12 lb) fluorocarbon leader
Using these setup scenarios as a guide will help you dial in the perfect setup for your walleye fishing experience. Having confidence in your equipment and learning how to apply your technique is key to targeting any species and a successful fishing trip.
Walleye Habits and Color Selection
Walleye have a sensitivity to light and are known to be picky eaters. Water conditions, sunlight, current, and location play a role in how you should target them. On early morning and late evening sunny days, you can fish in shallow areas or flats. The fish will tend to feed better in low-light conditions. Mid-day bright light conditions, the fish will seek deeper, darker water usually. You will want to try and present your bait as close to the bottom as you possibly can. Walleyes tend to love specific color patterns based on water clarity, but when they are actively feeding, the presentation will be more important than the color you chose to use.
- Clear Water — Color will matter the least
- Turbid Water — Gold or chartreuse are favored
- Water Conditions with Algae present — Black or purple
Selecting Your Molds and Techniques to Use
When selecting molds for walleye fishing, you should have a few in your tackle box. Split tail baits and smaller worms are must-haves for walleye fishermen. Anglers should also incorporate a swimbait and the ole faithful curl tail grub.
Anglers that make their own baits will always be at an advantage by being able to have their favorite, most reliable baits on hand. The type of lure they desire to use is just the beginning, as they will also have the perfect color scheme and action that they desire as well. Making your baits your way is the beauty of being a bait maker.
Angling Ai offers molds that fit the four walleye-tested bait categories. Here is a breakdown of each category and how anglers can rig and present these baits to create a memorable walleye experience:
- Angling Ai 4” Jigging Minnow- (Split Tail Bait)
The 4” Jigging Minnow is a must-have for river fishing walleye. The bait is designed with a wider head at just over ¼” for applying larger jig heads to get to the bottom faster. This mold is offered in a 4- cavity or 8-cavity design. Laminate-style baits are easily produced with a dual injector, and an 8-cavity tail mold is also available. Jigging this bait is the most common presentation. Applying a slow and steady jigging motion of 6” to 10” so that you can keep near constant contact with the bottom. Anglers typically rig the with ½ ounce to 1 ounce to help keep the lure close to the bottom, basing the weight on current. This fishing pattern is used year-round but is most effective in the spring, and late fall runs. If fish are short-striking the lure, anglers will often apply a treble stinger hook to increase their hookups. Popular colors are blacks, browns, blue and silver, or chartreuse.
- Angling Ai 4” MC Worm- (Smaller Worm)
The 4” MC Worm is another popular bait for river fishermen. The MC Worm is offered in a 6-cavity or 12-cavity design. It has great popularity with drop-shot fishermen but is an excellent bait for jigging walleye as well. Fishing with the MC Worm and the Jigging Minnow apply the same principle and technique. Most anglers like to use this lure when the walleyes seem to prefer a smaller presentation. Laminate-style baits can also easily be produced using the mold, and a 12-cavity tail mold is also available.
- Angling Ai 3.8” RipRap- (Swimbait)
The 3.8” RipRap is a great addition to the swimbait arsenal. It has a shad body profile with a thinner tail profile creating a tight tail kick when retrieved. When the bait is jigged, the tail continues to have action on the fall. Slow rolling the lure during a retrieve also produces that great enticing action to help get the fish to strike. Available in a 4-cavity top port single injection design allows for laminates to be made easily and efficiently. A 4- cavity tail mold is also available, opening the door to your creativity. When utilizing the lure for walleye fishing, several techniques can be applied. Slow roll this bait over vegetation or rip the bait over rocky terrain. Allowing this bait to contact the rocky structure on the bottom and then ripping the lure 2-4 feet allowing it to fall back down to the structure, and repeating the technique is a method that has won countless walleye tournaments. Rigging this bait is typically done using ¼ ounce to 1-ounce jig heads and, again is based on depth. Natural colors are typically used in clear water, but when water clarity diminishes, brighter colors can be applied.
- Angling Ai 4” Cali Grub- (Curl Tail Grub)
The 4” Cali Grub is often used as a trailer in bass fishing or under a popping cork in saltwater. When applied to walleye fishing, anglers like to rig it with a ¼ ounce to ¾ ounce round head jig with the tail facing down, opposite the hook. The colors preferred are usually chartreuse, orange, silver, or white. When fish are lethargic and do not want to bite, this technique is often applied. When fishing with the grub, you will want to be located around the structure. Applying it when slow rolling is common, but it may also be ripped or even reeled with a cadence for suspended fish. The Cali Grub Mold is offered in a 4-cavity design and can be laminated. If you wish to spice up the lure with a tail color, a 6-cavity tail mold is also available.
Enjoying the Walleye Experience
Walleye fishing can be challenging, but with the right gear, baits, and techniques, it can be mastered. The reward may be varied for each angler involved. Will the memory be the thrill of the catch, the camaraderie with loved ones on the boat, making your lures, or enjoying the crispy white flaky filets, who knows? The beauty of fishing is the passion and the love one finds in the moments. Hopefully, the information shared today helps increase the enjoyment of your walleye experience.