Walleye Baits covers the best bait and tackle for catching this crafty fish. Compare jigs, lures, and more. Learn their habits and characteristics and the strategies that can help you land one of the craftiest adversaries fresh waters have to offer.
Take a look at all the walleye baits and tackle items available. You’ll find walleye rods, reels and combinations and plenty of lures, jigs, spinners, grubs and harnesses. We also have hooks, snells, sinkers, as well as books and DVDs. All are from quality merchants offering well-known brands like Loomis, Abu Garcia, Shimano, Daiwa, Northland and Lindy.
Luckily, social distancing and fishing can be pretty compatible. But, even though you may have access to your favorite waters, it’s becoming more difficult to find local bait&tackle shops open. Not to worry, because thanks to the internet, we can still stock up on fishing line, find that new rod or reel, and enjoy our favorite sport. We’re affiliated with Bass Pro Outlets, so check our shopping pages, we can hook you up!
Early Summer Walleyes
So, now that we’re on the edge of summer and the water is warming into the 60’s, walleyes are hungry and aggressive. And they’re not necessarily feeding at a particular depth, but bottom to top, throughout the water column. There are two major spring/early summer events to consider. First, once the water hits a certain temperature, the algae begins to bloom, attracting minnows to feed on the nutrients blooms provide. Minnows are a walleye favorite, of course, so they will follow them up to the shallower depths along the shore to feast on the baitfish. Snap jigging at a slow troll is often a great way to go. Popping the jig up quickly and then letting it drop slowly toward the floor can appear to a walleye as an easy meal trying to escape.
The Bug Hatch
An additional feeding opportunity at this time of year is the bug hatch. Every spring, mayflies and other larvae and flies are hatching and walleye will gorge themselves on them. Again, this feeding can occur anywhere in the water column because walleye will actually root through soft bottoms searching for nymphs or come right up to the surface to suck them up. Many fishermen figure that when the hatch is on, walleyes are filled to the gills with hatchlings and have no interest in chasing after anglers’ presentations. That’s not entirely true, however. Considering that walleyes are focused on small prey, running smaller spinners, butterfly blades and jigs trailing a leech or half a crawler along the outer edges of insect clouds can be very successful.
Of course, techniques and strategies like the above are only starting points and, with a little research, you’ll find a lot of great ideas for spring and summer success.
Speaking of small butterfly blades, there are several on the market that are slow, smooth and quiet, with lots of flash, if that’s what you’re looking for. The blades are light-weight polycarbonate, so less snagging or stalling. They come in all sorts of colors and configurations, single, double hooks, Super Death, etc. One of the advantages is that you can troll them very slowly, down to .25 mph and offer short-striking walleyes a presentation they’re more likely to take.
Spring for Canada
As, you can see by the map, below, the farther north you are, the later walleye season begins. For our Canadian friends, that should be right about now and we amend our original article to reflect this.
Walleyes will spawn at depths ranging anywhere from 1 to 20 feet, but between 3 and 10 feet is usually your best bet. You’ll find them close to shore above those gravel or rocky bottoms where there is current sufficient enough to provide the best environment yet not sweep the eggs away. Minnow plugs are often the way to go at this time, but live minnows are a great alternative when the plugs aren’t working.
The map shows when you can expect the spawn to begin, give or take a week or two, depending on the weather. It’s also important to remember that in most northern states and Canada the walleye fishing season is closed during this period to stop poaching when spawning walleye are most vulnerable. This practice is still debatable in some circles, but the prevailing thought is that limiting the season helps maintain fish population levels. In many southern and western states, however, the season is year round. So, check your local fishing regulations to see when you can hone in on early season walleyes.
Once the spawn has concluded, walleye like to take a breather and recuperate. This can last from a few days to a couple of weeks – not a great time to be landing your limit. They aren’t particularly hungry and between rests, they’re beginning to transition to their summer spots. But, those deeper, summer locations won’t have any bait fish yet, so you’re still likely to find walleyes close to shore where foraging is better. Look for them just off from the spawning areas around the first drop-off. Trolling spinner-bouncer combinations or crankbaits can be very effective, but take it slow. Somewhere in the 1.5 mph range is more likely to attract a walleye still trying to shake off its post spawn lethargy.
Then again, sometimes nothing beats live bait, especially in the spring. Night crawlers and minnows are often a good choice. If the fish seem particularly active, by all means go with the hard baits. But, if their bites are tentative, tipping a jig with a minnow or crawler can help pique ol’ marble eye’s interest to go for the easy meal.
Looking to land that 10-pounder? Night fishing during this season offers a great opportunity to catch a real trophy. While cooler spring days keep the males close to shore, it’s near and after dark that the large females move in from their deeper holding spots to feed in the shallows.
And, by the way, if you don’t have a boat or aren’t ready to haul it out yet, bank fishing or wading in the shallows can be very productive this time of year. Walleyes will be close to shore where the water is warmer and bait fish begin to proliferate. Like a great example? Check out my nephew’s dusk catch.
Spring may be the most challenging time of year to catch walleyes, but it’s also the most rewarding. There’s nothing more satisfying than beating the odds and if you do your homework and experiment a bit, you’ll get your bragging rights.
Your Walleye Weather!
Use Temperature Drop-down for more choices, Hold left mouse button to move map, + -- to change size
Thanks to the input received from tournament anglers, guides, shop owners and pro staffers, G. Loomis® has come up with the accurate, high-performance, technique-specific GLX Walleye Series Spinning Rod. These walleye rods are all about performance, with improved actions, and more precise tapers and length adjustments to cover the most technical aspects of walleye fishing, especially where light weight and sensitivity are paramount to success.
- High-performance, technique-specific rods
- Especially lightweight and sensitive
- Precise tapers and lengths
- RECOIL guides
- Cork handle
Or the Kids?
When kids can catch fish, they’re more likely to enjoy themselves. Beginning anglers really will catch more fish—and have more fun—with the Shakespeare® Catch More Fish Spinning Rod and Reel Combo for Walleye. Ready to fish right out of the box, this easy-to-use combo comes pre-rigged with premium Stren® fishing line and includes a boxful of lures and tackle specially chosen to help them catch walleye. Tackle box contents: 4 Berkley® PowerBait® Minnows, 4 PowerBait Grubs, 2 jigheads, 1 nightcrawler harness rig, 2 walking sinkers, 3 octopus hooks, and 5 fluorescent beads, plus a handy rigging guide with knot-tying instructions and bait selection advice!
Walleye Weight Calculator
Don’t have a scale or forgot to bring it? Try this calculator. Just plug in the relevant numbers for a pretty fair estimate of your trophy catch’s weight. There are all kinds of formulas for approximating weights, but this calculator has been calibrated to the known lengths/girths of the largest walleyes on record. Be sure to measure from the front tip of the lower jaw to the very end of the tail. Then measure the girth at the widest part around the body.
If you’re using a tape measure, lay the fish flat on top of it. Don’t make the mistake of pulling the tape over the top of the fish, because you’re likely to bend the tape over the fish’s contours. That will give you an inaccurate length that won’t pass muster with Fish & Game on those closer calls.
Early Summer Walleye Fishing Videos
Early Summer Walleye Fishing -- Walleye Workshop
Fish Ed | Early Summer Crankin’
Summer Walleye Strategies – AnglingBuzz TV
5 Top Spring Walleye Baits
Rapala Original Floating Minnow
The Rapala Original Floating Minnow is the lure that started it all and is still one of the most popular lures around. Whether twitched on the top as a surface bait, retrieved as a shallow runner, weighted with a split-shot for medium-depth swimming.
Bass Pro Shops XPS Walleye Jigs
One of the great walleye baits, these jigs have a unique flat-footed design that keeps your bait in a natural ”feeding” position, just out of bottom debris. Great for vertical jigging in current. Upsized wide-gap premium hook; sharp, vivid colors. 6 pack.
Rapala Shad Rap Hardbait
Balsa wood construction under incredible finishes makes the Rapala Shad Rap the lure big fish find irresistible. Built tough with hard-diving tips and sharp treble hooks, these legendary lures have the power to survive even the toughest fights.
Smithwick Walleye Deep Floating Rattlin' Rogue
When you need to get deep, reach for a Smithwick Walleye Deep Floating Rattlin’ Rogue. This proven minnowbait with the extended diving tip floats at rest and digs down quickly when on the move. Equipped with loud fish-attracting rattles
Rapala Deep Down Husky Jerk
A natural for walleye, the Rapala® Down Deep Husky Jerk is designed to reach depths approaching 20′ on the troll and more than 10′ on the cast. Choose from painted, silver-plated finishes or the hot glass patterns with a transparent body and holographic foil spine that reflects light in all directions.