1. Jig and Live Bait Combination
What can I say? More walleyes have likely been caught on a jig and live bait presentation than all other lures and baits combined. Jigs are that deadly. The reason, of course, is that a jig is unobtrusive, yet by changing its weight – from 1/16-ounce for shallow water all the way up to 3/4-ounce for deep water or heavy current – you can cover all the various options. Plus, when the walleye are color conscious, you can select a hue to turn them on. As for live bait options, the cardinal rule is to use minnows in the spring and fall when the water is cold. Leeches often become better when water temperatures warm into the 60s and 70s, while nightcrawlers reign supreme in the warmest water. Still, you carry all three bait options and let the fish decide what they want to eat on the end of a jig on any given day
2. Bottom Bouncer and Spinner Combination
Walleyes eat spinner rigs or crawler harnesses, call them what you will, with a vengeance. Single hook harnesses are ideal for leeches and minnows, while two and three hook harnesses team up best with nightcrawlers. Just be sure to experiment with blade shapes, sizes and colors. Willowleaf blades spin the fastest, emitting plenty of flash, but they are also the most silent. Colorado blades, on the other hand, spin much more slowly but they thump aggressively. Indiana blades are somewhere in between, making them ideal choice for starting the day. Large blades are ideal in dark and dingy water, when you need to call out to the walleyes to let them know that dinner is ready. Large blades are best, too, when the fish tend to be on the bigger size. Don’t discount smaller blades, however, when the water is clear and the fish are in a funk. Finally, nothing allows you to present a spinner rig better than a bottom bouncer. Just don’t drag the bouncer. Let out line until you can feel it just ticking the bottom every so often. This means you’re trolling your harness in front of the fish.
3. Slow Death
Slow Death fishing for walleyes is sweeping the country because it is so deadly. In times past, walleye anglers were fanatical about attaching their baits perfectly straight so they didn’t spin. How times have changed. Slow Death involves using a hook (Mustad makes the most popular Slow Death hook, although many anglers prefer a #2 Aberdeen Tru-Turn style) with a distinct bend to it. Then, you thread on your nightcrawler (a live crawler works well but a Gulp! or Trigger X worm is often better) so that the head covers the hook eye and the body takes on the shape of the hook. Then you snip off the crawler so that only an inch or so is hanging behind the bend of the hook. It is best to use a three to four foot long, 10-pound test leader behind a bottom bouncer and troll at about 1-mile an hour. The finger-size crawler chunk spins like a corkscrew that the walleyes can’t resist. As for depth control, the standard rule of thumb is to use a 1-ounce bottom bouncer when you’re fishing in 10-feet or less of water, a 2-ounce bouncer in 20-feet of water and a 3-ounce bouncer in 30-feet. But these are only starting points, so don’t hesitate to experiment.
Fishermen have caught more walleyes over ten pounds the last 7 or 8 years on swimbaits than all of the other walleye options combined. And you won’t believe how they’re rigging them. They’re using 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ounce saltwater style bullet shaped jig heads. Five and six inch swimbaits (X-Zone Swammers, Berkley Hollow Belly and Split Belly Swimbaits) work best. You also need to use a 7-foot long, medium heavy action spinning rod spooled with a quality 14-pound test braided line (Sufix, Fireline or PowerPro). Then use back-to-back uni-knots to attach a two to three foot long 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader. Because of the weight of your terminal tackle you can cast this set up a mile and it sinks quickly. After it hits the bottom, lift up your rod tip and start swimming the lure back to the boat. You want to keep it within a foot of the bottom at all times, ticking it occasionally, as you drop your rod tip to pick up line. That slight pause is also when 90-percent of the walleyes will eat your bait. It is quite simply the deadliest big walleye pattern known to man
5. Casting Crankbaits onto Shallow, Windy, Rock Structures
In the summertime, when the living is easy, one of the most predictable walleye patterns – for numbers as well as trophy size fish – is to search out shallow, rocky structures like underwater points, reefs and rock piles. The best are often the “sea gull rocks” that just barely break the surface of the water. And they come into their own when the wind is blowing onto them. Under the waves, the walleyes will sneak up shallow, even in the middle of the day, and feed aggressively. So there is no need to tippy-toe around with this presentation. Select a crankbait that will run slightly deeper than the water you’re fishing. That way you will attract and trigger walleyes as you bang bottom and ricochet it off the rocks all the way back to the boat. It is that simple. Cast your crankbait up shallow and start your retrieve, stopping for a second or two, every time you feel your crankbait hit a rock. Walleyes typically devour it as it rises up and over the obstruction. The key, of course, is using a crankbait (a favorite is the time proven Rapala Shad Rap) that is buoyant enough to float up and over the rocks when you pause the retrieve
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