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 may be 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!
The ice will be out soon enough and it’s time to think about early Spring walleye, break out the gear and review the best strategies for bringing them into the boat. Spring is a varied season that can be broken into three distinct phases.
Once the water temperature has reached the 38-44°F range, the pre spawn begins as walleyes migrate to their spawning grounds. They will stage themselves on or near these grounds until the spawn, which peaks at about 42-50°F. Walleye spawning grounds are typically shallow, rocky areas in water that moves fast enough to keep the eggs well oxygenated and free of silt.
River walleyes will spawn near dams and other man made or natural obstructions that impede their travel any farther upstream. They also like areas where tributaries feed into the main river. Because shallower river waters warm up quicker, these walleyes usually spawn earlier than their lake brethren.
Lake walleyes are either stream or lake spawners. The stream spawners will stage around structures at harbor mouths and river inlets until it’s time to move up the tributaries that feed into the lake. Lake spawners will make for the shallows when it’s time. They, too, prefer gravel beds, but will settle for hard sand bottoms if habitat dictates. Nature likes to spread its bets when it comes to species survival, so you’ll generally find both types sharing the same waters.
During pre-spawn, the males will move into shallow water earlier while the females will continue to hold in deeper spots until spawn. The water will be cold, so they’re not going to be particularly aggressive feeders. But, if you fish them slow, with big bait, you stand a good chance at taking two or three. Most of the usual bait fish have yet to hatch, so walleyes are looking to older, larger fish that survived the winter. Try large minnows on a Lindy rig and troll as slow as possible to give those lethargic ‘eyes a chance to think and react. When they do hit the bait, let them have some line and time before setting the hook.
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.
Best Winter Walleye Baits
The Rapala Jigging Rap has been around for nearly 50 years and represents the gold standard among anglers. Its sleek, minnow profile and crazy circular swimming motion mimics a wounded baitfish that can ignite strikes from suspended walleyes. The bill at the back-end allows for the rap’s movement on both the rise and fall. Rapala also offers jigging raps with a UV finish, great in low light or stained water. Depending on your line weight and water conditions, you can have a lot of success with sizes #5, #7, or #9.
With its lipless, deep belly profile, the Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap crankbait is designed to dive and rip with the best of them. Flat, skinny sides allow the Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap to flutter on the drop with a hard-vibrating action that’s accented with a loud, BB rattle system. Other features include textured scales and gills with deep-set 3D holographic eyes. Adding to this crankbait’s deadly disposition are fast-piercing VMC® black nickel hooks.
Used in Sweden for more than 100 years, the Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple jigging spoon delivers exceptional results on saltwater and freshwater fish. A tried-and-true ice fishing legend for decades, and the first to incorporate a flicker blade as standard equipment; just use a sharp vertical jig motion to execute an erratic injured baitfish action. Flashy and responsive, the Pimple is effective whether fished plain or tipped with bait.
Made of top-quality, 100% pure tungsten, the compact Custom Jigs & Spins Chekai Tungsten Jig offers superb control for enticing finicky panfish in any ice fishing setting. Its large eyes, concave face, and smooth rounded sides allow you to perform smooth, subtle movements that fool wary fish.
- 100% pure tungsten head
- Attracts all species of panfish
- Affords precise jigging control
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.
Winter Walleye Fishing Videos
Color Selection For Winter Walleyes
6 BEST Winter Walleye Lures
Ice Fishing Walleye Locations
More Great Walleye Lures for Winter
Rapala Original Floating Minnow
The Rapala Original Floating Minnow is the lure that started it all and is still one of the most popularures around. Whether twitched on the top as a surface bait, retrieved as a shallow runner, weighted with a split-shot for medium-depth swimming, or bottom walked off a sinker rig, the Original Floating Minnow’s wounded minnow action continues to be irresistible to game fish. 4-3/8″ and larger sizes have 3 hooks, all others have 2 .
- Wounded minnow action
- One of the most popular lures around
- May be fished all kinds of ways
Bass Pro Shops XPS Walleye Jigs
Endorsed by top walleye pros, theses 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 as used by Gary & Keith. 6 pack.
The jig used by Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz!
“XPS Jigheads are unique, because we took the popular round head style and gave it a perfectly flat bottom. Now, it has that proven round profile, plus the snag resistance and in-your-face bait presentation of a stand-up jig. We think the XPS is the ultimate river jig—especially in these proven-deadly colors!”
Gary Parsons, 2007 PWT Angler of the Year
Rapala Slab Rap
Deadly any way you fish it, the Rapala® Slab Rap makes fish bite in all seasons. Cast or vertical jig as needed; the Slab Rap’s weight-forward design allows you to fish it fast, with aggressive rod snaps to make it swing out wide and circle back, or slow, with gentle lifts and drops that send out subtle vibrations on the rise and a hyponotic side-sway on the fall. The Slab Rap can be comfortably fished at any depth, and is great for many species. Equipped with a pair of VMC® black nickel round-bend trebles.
- Deadly lipless slab bait for all seasons
- Great for vertical jigging or casting
- Fish it fast for aggressive fish
- Fish it slow for neutral or negative fish
- Great for all depths and all species
- Equipped with stealthy VMC trebles
New! Walleye Nation Rip-N-Glide
Through the ice or in open water, the Walleye Nation Rip-N-Glide delivers a unique darting action that triggers fish to respond, whether they’re hungry or not. Darts up and out on the upstroke, then glides smoothly down to a full stop as the rod tip is lowered. High-impact plastic construction and an extra-strong lip ensure that the Rip-N-Glide will remain in tune and safe from damage. Extra-strong tail hook and belly treble.
- Great for ice fishing or open water jigging
- Strong darting action on the upstroke
- Smooth glide on the downstroke
- High-impact plastic body and lip
- Extra-strong hooks
Clam Pro Tackle Drop Tg Tungsten Jig
The Clam™ Pro Tackle Drop Tg Jig leverages the extreme sensitivity of tungsten to ensure higher hookup rates when ice fishing or vertical jigging in open water. Made of environmentally-safe 98% tungsten, a super-hard and extremely dense material, the Tg Jig has a much smaller profile than a leadhead of the same weight; it slices through the water with less resistance, enabling precise control on the drop and the jig stroke. Round-ball head is molded onto a Mustad® 90° hook with low-profile wire keeper.
- Made of environmentally safe 98% tungsten
- Compact and extremely sensitive
- Enables precise rod tip control
- Mustad 90° hook with low-profile keeper
B-Fish-N AuthentX Series Pulse-R
The B-Fish-N AuthentX Series Pulse-R is specifically designed to come alive when fished slow! With its ultra-thin profile, deep belly rings, and large paddle tail, it creates a fishing frenzy like few other swimbaits can. Great for lethargic walleyes. Made in USA.
- Comes alive when fished slowly
- Ultra-thin profile with deep belly rings,
- Large paddle tail produces frenzied action
Custom Jigs & Spins Pro Series Slender Spoon
The Custom Jigs & Spins Pro Series Slender Spoon is the upgraded version of one of the most popular ice fishing lures of all time. With its premium paint pattern and tough, super-sharp VMC® Spark Point treble hook, the Pro Series is perfect for the angler on a trophy quest. With its classic curved body, it has all the extreme flash and proven action of the original Slender Spoon – the wide swing, the erratic flutter on the fall – and fishes exactly the same. Fish plain or tipped; great for open water, too. Made in USA.
- The popular ice fishing bait, upgraded
- Premium paint pattern
- Sticky-sharp VMC Spark Point treble hook
- Curved body delivers amazing erratic action
- Maximum flash and flutter
- Fish plain or tipped, through the ice or in open water