Walleye fishing is fun, but it can be tough. There are many different things to take into account when you’re specifically fishing for walleye. One of themost important things to learn about walleye fishing is that seasonal variation will mostly determine what lure you use – walleye have pretty specific behavioral patterns that vary a lot throughout the year, so most walleye anglers usually keep a wide variety of lures for all season and water conditions in their tackle box.
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If it’s springtime and you’re walleye fishing in the middle of a lake or river, you’re doing it wrong. You just won’t find anything. This is because during spring, walleye tend to congregate around the areas where they’ve spawned, even after the fish have all spawned.
This makes jigging one of the best ways to catch walleye in the spring, and they’re especially effective in the early spring, when walleye tend to congregate closer to shore, around rocky patches.
The walleye are generally only about 5 feet below the surface, and usually only 8-10 feet from the shore. This is because though the walleye are finished spawning, they still feel more comfortable near where they laid their eggs, and typically they will only abandon these hotspots later in the day when it gets a bit warmer, so you’ll do most of your springtime catching with jigs, rigged for shallower waters.
The best way to find these spots is to cruise around the shoreline with a crankbait trolling behind your boat – if you start getting lots of hits, you’ve found a good spot and should rig up a shallow-water jig, and start reeling ‘em in.
If you fish in the shallow waters, you’ll likely bring in mostly smaller males, who stay nearby the spawning beds. If you’re looking for larger females, they typically take off for slightly deeper waters later in the day and can be found nearby the spawning beds, but at a depth of around 10-15 feet, and they tend to venture farther away from the spawning beds later in the day. You can use pretty much any bait you want here – a swimbait, salted worm, or crankbait usually brings good results, and we’ll look at some of those.
Now the walleye, especially the big females, will have mostly left the rocky shore, though that’s still a decent spot to find some smaller males.
However, the best way to catch large walleye in the summer is by trolling or casting deeper into the lake or river – try to find an area of at least 25 feet in depth, preferably up to 35. This is where the large female walleye will be feeding on hordes and schools of baitfish like shad and herring.
The best baits to use here are swimming jigs, crankbaits and swimbaits, and spinners, all rigged (or specifically designed) to run at depths in excess of 15 feet. Compared to the spring, it’s much easier to catch walleye in summer months, as they’ll become much more active, and venture further from their previous spawning areas.
Fall can be a tough season to catch walleye. As the water cools and weeds start to die, they absorb oxygen and release a methane-sulfate into the water that is quite annoying to walleye and other fish, causing them to retreat to deeper waters. Their activity level also tends to drop off – in rivers; you’ll find them gathered in deeper, sheltered waters away from dying weeds in clusters, and in lakes, they tend to collect and suspend in waters 20-25 feet deep and become quite sluggish.
The best ways to catch these fish are with suspending baits and deep diver crankbaits which you can troll through the area, looking out on a fish-finder and feeling for strikes to pinpoint hotspots. This is certainly one of the harder seasons to catch walleye, though, so expect to have a tough time locating good fishing spots. If you keep at it, though, you’ll certainly be rewarded with some nicely fattened walleyes.
The Cordell Wally Diver was specifically designed to catch walleye, and that’s what it does. This 3-pack comes with both flashy and subdued colors, and each lure is made with a deep-diving lip,high-quality hard plastic finish, and two high-quality hooks.
These are exactly what you’ll want when you’re trolling for walleye on hot summer days. Rig one up for 25’ depth, slap a couple grubs or live worms on the hooks, and find a walleye hotspot – you’ll get more fish than you know what to do with.
It can also be used as a cast-and-retrieve crankbait, with a great falling action, huge depth potential, and enticing action, if you’re not a fan of trolling. Its versatility and walleye-specific design are what earn it high marks from us, and if you’re just getting started fishing walleye, you won't want to miss out on this deal.
The Rapala Shad really is a workhouse. This classic balsawood lure is built to be totally versatile, with a great natural presentation both during low and high-speed retrieves, and a great trolling action that really brings in walleye. It runs true and straight and has a medium lip that runs at about 15’, just scraping the surface of the area where walleye tend to congregate in the warmer summer months
. This makes it great at attracting their attention, with its naturalistic silhouette, great rattling sound, and side-to-side “wounded baitfish” profile that Rapala is famous for.
This is a great crankbait to have for just about any walleye fishing excursion, especially in the summer and early fall. It’s also useful for locating walleye hotspots while trolling in the spring, so for its versatility, we’ve got to give it top marks, and it certainly deserves a spot in any walleye angler’s tackle box.
This lipless crankbait is perfect for springtime fishing when you’re trolling off of your boat to find the best walleye jigging spots. It’s versatile and can be rigged up for just about any depth, and since it’s lipless, it doesn’t dive too deeply, so you won’t have to worry about it dragging along the bottom.
It can also be used to seek larger females in those late spring days when they venture out farther from their spawning areas, either by trolling, or with a standard cast-and-retrieve action – the design of the crankbait means that it has a great side-to-side baitfish action at just about every speed, and the loud rattling does the rest.
It also has a great sinking action that attracts plenty of attention, making it a true triple-threat that’s sure to bring ‘em in by the boatful.
It’s also great for rigging up if you want to do some depth-trolling later on in the summer – it maintains a relatively neutral water column profile, so you can rig it for the perfect depth for snagging walleye.
Walleye love worms, and whether you use it on just a jig or a standard hook, these silicone, salt-impregnated worms are sure to draw plenty of attention, especially if you rig them up to run about 15’ below the surface.
Unlike some other fish, walleye tend to shy away from strongly scented worms – garlic, shrimp, etc., and respond better to simple salt-impregnated lures. These worms are inexpensive and versatile and can be rigged up for walleye in just about any way you can imagine, and they present a natural profile and great swimming action with their soft, silicone body.
Worms are classic walleye catchers for a reason, and that reason will become clear as soon as you rig up one of these minnow-styled worms.
Grub jigs are probably the single best lures with which to catch walleye in the early spring.
Combined with a small scented worm or tail, or a piece of live bait, this style of jig is exactly what you’re looking for when you’re trying to jig between rocks near walleye spawning grounds, and its compact profile helps it stay secure and strong even in rocky and weedy waters where the walleye like to congregate in the spring.
If your normal jigs aren’t doing the job, this shiny spoon jig might just be what you’re looking for. It combines a natural minnow profile with a vertical, tri-tip hook, and while it’s flashy enough to help bring in fish, it won’t spook them like some other spoons.
It’s best fished earlier in the spring, with a piece of live bait or a small rubber grub, using a drop-method after you’ve found a good walleye hotspot, but it can also be used to cast and retrieve if you’re looking for a slightly more active technique.
It’s a great tool to have if your standard grub jigs or skirted jigs aren’t quite doing the job, and its versatility (and low cost) make it a great purchase for any walleye angler.
If there’s one walleye spinner to buy, it’s this one by Terminator. It comes with a silicone skirted hook, dual-color, freefloating spinners, and a realistic minnow-head. It’s the perfect lure if you’re trolling for a walleye hotspot, and during the summer the flashy blades will help bring in walleye from far-and-wide.
It’s a little less effective during the spring and fall, as the more sluggish fish are more likely to be spooked by the flashy blades, but during the summer it can bring in walleye like nobody’s business.
While its application may be a bit more limited than other offerings, it’s just as good as a casting bait as it is at trolling, and it performs admirably in the summer, especially during cloudier water conditions, when its dual-color shine blasts through murky waters to bring in your prey from all around.
While there are other baits you can use to catch walleye, we think that these styles and products of baits are going to bring you tons of success.
If walleye is what you’re after, this is only the tip of the iceberg – you can find lots more information about walleye-specific products, techniques, and advice online, and with the advice in this guide, plus whatever else you learn, we’re sure you’ll be a master walleye fisherman in no time at all.
John is the wisest member of our team since he's the oldest person here. He has gathered lots of tips and tricks throughout his 35-year angling career. His love for angling has led him to join our team because he wants to share his wisdom with others. Back in the day, he had to visit locations around the country and speak to many anglers to get more information about angling and now he wants to share it online. He doesn't fish as much as he used to, but his passion for angling is ever present.