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Best Walleye Baits – Top Picks – Tips And Tactics

Years ago, I was introduced to the art of catching Walleye by my father, who showed me the simple technique of placing a worm on a hook. I remember how excited I felt, believing this was the most effective method to lure in these elusive fish. And, indeed, it did work remarkably well.

In today’s fishing world, simplicity has given way to complexity, with anglers often overthinking their approach. However, having a diverse set of lures and tactics in your fishing arsenal is key to becoming a versatile and successful walleye angler, especially when dealing with changing conditions or exploring new fishing locations.

Best Walleye Baits

This article will guide you through essential categories of best Walleye baits and lures: crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinners, soft plastics, and live bait. Additionally, techniques for catching Walleye using them. These tools and methods will enhance your ability to excel in the world of Walleye fishing. To learn this art Keep scrolling!

Check Best Jig Colors For Walleye


Choosing Best Walleye Baits

In my pursuit of the elusive Walleye, I learned the art of “matching the hatch,” like speaking their language. Using the right size, color, and bait was crucial. I kept a variety of bait in my tackle box. It was like having an artist’s palette, with each bait a different color on my fishing canvas, experimenting with different options to entice Walleye.

When it comes to the colors of fishing lures or baits, what we see on the surface may not be exactly what fish see underwater. Reds become brown, followed by yellows and blues at greater depths. White and black lures work well, particularly when they contrast with the surroundings. Chartreuse and white are popular Walleye lure colors, but experimenting with different combinations is wise.

Choosing Walleye Baits

Walleye’s seasonal movements are vital. In spring and fall, they stick to shallow spots, head to open water in summer, and sheltered depths in winter. As an angler, it is crucial to adapt your techniques and bait according to these movements.

In the world of Walleye fishing, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I had to be bold and willing to try different rigging techniques and presentation methods. Each fishing trip became a new chapter in this exciting saga, where the Walleye’s ever-changing preferences challenged me to become a better angler. 


Best Live Baits for Walleye

To catch Walleye, using live bait that mimics their natural food sources is a winning strategy. These baits trigger their instinct to feed. Here are some popular live bait options for Walleye:

Best Live Baits for Walleye

Minnows: 

Minnows are a top choice. Walleye are accustomed to them and enjoy their taste. You can rig minnows on jigs, spinners, or floats. Some popular minnow species that are used for Walleye fishing:

Minnows
  • Fathead minnows: Fathead minnows are a hardy minnow that is easy to keep alive. They are also a good size for Walleye.
  • Golden shiners: Golden shiners are a popular minnow for Walleye fishing because they are active and flashy.
  • Emerald shiners: Emerald shiners are a good minnow for Walleye fishing because they are abundant and have a silvery sheen that walleye find attractive.

Check How To Catch Walleye From Shore?

Leeches: 

Leeches are tough and long-lasting as live bait. They can withstand being on a rig for a while. Leeches work well on jigs or as bait for bottom-fishing rigs. Some popular leech species that are used for Walleye fishing:

Leeches
  • Tiger leeches: Tiger leeches are a popular leech for Walleye fishing because they are active and have a bright coloration that Walleye find attractive.
  • Mud leeches: Mud leeches are a good leech for Walleye fishing because they are abundant and hardy.
  • Leeches: Leeches are a general term for a variety of leech species that can be used for Walleye fishing. When choosing leeches, be sure to select leeches that are healthy and active.

Nightcrawlers: 

Nightcrawlers are versatile and can attract a variety of fish, including Walleye. They are relatively easy to obtain and can be kept alive for extended periods. They can be rigged on jigs, spinners, or bottom-fishing rigs. When it comes to rigging a nightcrawler for Walleye, you have a few effective options:

Nightcrawlers
  • Jig and Nightcrawler: This is a straightforward and efficient method. Thread the hook of a jig through the head of the nightcrawler and out its back. Then, add a bead or weight above the hook to keep the nightcrawler in place.
  • Nightcrawler Harness: For a more sophisticated approach, consider using a nightcrawler harness. These rigs typically feature two or three hooks attached to a leader. Thread the nightcrawler through the hooks and secure it with a rubber band, offering versatility in presentation.
  • Bottom-Fishing Rig: To target Walleye that are feeding at the bottom, a bottom-fishing rig is a reliable choice. Attach a weight to the end of your line, and about 12-18 inches above it, tie a hook. Thread the nightcrawler onto the hook and secure it with a rubber band. This setup effectively presents the bait to walleye lurking at the bottom.

Selecting Live Bait:

Selecting Live Bait

When selecting live bait for Walleye, make sure it is healthy and lively, and choose the right size for your target Walleye. Store your live bait in a cool, aerated container to maintain its liveliness. Make your bait look as natural as possible when rigging it. Avoid using excessive weight or oversized hooks. There is no one-size-fits-all method for presenting live bait to Walleye. Try different rigging techniques and presentations to discover what works best on a given day.

Seasonal Shift: 

Seasonal Shift

In the fall and early winter, larger baits become more enticing to fish as they imitate the prey available during this season. Even smaller baitfish that might be ignored in the summer become attractive to fish during this time. It is all about matching the bait size to the seasonal preferences of the fish.


Walleye Crankbaits and Jerkbaits

Crankbaits and Jerkbaits often feature a diving lip or bill, which allows them to dive to specific depths when retrieved. They are versatile lures used for both casting and trolling, and they can attract a variety of predatory fish species, including Walleye, bass, pike, and more, depending on the design and size of the crankbait. When retrieved, crankbaits create an erratic swimming motion that can trigger strikes from fish.

Read detailed article about Best Crankbaits And Jerkbaits For Walleye

Walleye Crankbaits and Jerkbaits

Crankbaits are a good choice for deep, open water. Hence, they are the best trolling lure for Walleye, while jerk baits are good to use in shallow water. To fish Walleye, cast your crankbait or jerkbait and retrieve steadily, occasionally pausing to let it sink. Experiment with occasional twitching for an erratic action that can attract Walleye.

Check Best Walleye Rods

Fish at different depths locate their feeding zone. It may take time to find the perfect crankbait and presentation method for the specific fishing conditions. Here are some of the tried and tested best crankbaits and jerkbaits for Walleye fishing:

BANDIT Deep Minnow

BANDIT Deep Minnow

This 4 3/4-inch slender minnow/jerkbait is an effective lure for trolling to depths of around 27 feet, featuring a wide, searching swimming action. It’s highly favored by walleye, zander, and other predators and gamefish. The lure’s universal color patterns make it versatile and widely effective. It was designed in collaboration with walleye fishing experts and has a molded-in lip for durable, true-running performance. The lure has a length of 4.75 inches and weighs 5/8 ounce.

Berkley Flicker Shad

Berkley Flicker Shad

The Berkley Flicker Shad Jointed Crankbait is a must have for trolling anglers, mimicking fleeing baitfish to attract Walleyes and other game fish. With a realistic shad profile and sharp Fusion19 hooks, it triggers bites and offers excellent hooking ability. This 1/5 oz, 2-inch lure dives to depths of 5-7 feet.


Best Walleye Spinners

Spinners consist of a metal blade that spins on a wire shaft and a hook that is attached to the shaft. The blade spins when the lure is retrieved through the water, and it produces a combination of flash and vibration that is attractive to walleye. Walleye spinners can be fished in a variety of ways, including casting, trolling, and jigging. 

Check Best Trolling Rods For Walleye

Walleye Crankbaits and Jerkbaits

To effectively use a Walleye spinner, go for a slow, steady retrieve when casting and retrieving the spinner. Walleye are inclined to strike at slower-moving baits. For trolling with a Walleye spinner, maintain a speed between 1.5 to 2.5 miles per hour. This speed generates sufficient flash and vibration to entice walleye. For jigging, lift the rod tip and then allow it to drop. This action makes the spinner flutter up and down in the water, which frequently appeals to Walleye. Experiment with these methods to discover which one works best under the prevailing conditions. A few of the best Walleye spinners on the market are:

Colorado Spinner Blades

Colorado Spinner Blades

The Shaddock Fishing Lure Kit contains 255 pieces, including colorful spoons, Colorado blades, wire shafts, clevises, and beads, all in a convenient plastic box. This DIY kit allows you to create various types of spinners and lures for different fishing situations. The Colorado blades add extra action and flash to your baits, making them attractive to fish Walleye. 

Kingforest

Kingforest

A set of 10 fishing lures suitable for various predator fish in freshwater and saltwater. They feature sharp treble hooks bright rotating blades, and come in two different weights. The packaging box is convenient for storage and makes for a great gift. The seller offers free replacements for damaged or missing products.

Dr.Fish Walleye Rig

Dr.Fish Walleye Rig

This 240-piece tackle supplies kit is ideal for customizing Walleye rigs. It includes 30 Colorado blades in various sizes and patterns, all designed for increased rig attractiveness. The high-quality coated blades enhance their durability. Assembling your Walleye rig is straightforward, with provided components like clevises, snell floats, and spacer beads neatly organized in a small tackle box for convenience.

LUNKERHUNT Hatch Tail

LUNKERHUNT Hatch Tail

The Lunkerhunt Hatch Spin is an exceptional spinnerbait that performs well in heavy currents, deep water, when fish are suspended, and on long casts. It features a subtle swimming action and a silver willow leaf tail blade to attract fish. This lure can be cast like an inline spinner or spinnerbait, making it versatile for different fishing styles. Its shad-imitating profile generates explosive strikes, and its high-quality hooks are designed to prevent snags. 

Strike King Premier Plus

Strike King Premier Plus

This fishing lure features an advanced Perfect Skirt with Magic Tails, enhancing its visual appeal. It comes pre-rigged with a Sabre Point trailer hook for better hooking potential. With double willow blades and a sculpted baitfish-style head, this lure is designed to mimic natural prey, making it attractive to a variety of gamefish.


Selecting a Spinner

When selecting a spinner for a Walleye, consider blade size and shape, as they affect flash and vibration production. Larger blades provide more of both, while smaller ones produce less. Color is crucial, too; bright colors work well in clear water, while subtler shades are better for murky conditions. Additionally, the spinner’s weight dictates its fishing depth, with heavier ones reaching deeper than lighter options. These factors should guide your choice to match the specific fishing conditions and the preferences of the Walleye.

Selecting a Spinner

Best Walleye Soft Plastic

A Walleye soft plastic refers to a type of fishing bait or lure made of soft, flexible. Soft plastic lures are crucial for catching Walleye because they look like their natural food, work in various conditions, and last a long time. They are typically attached to hooks and used in combination with fishing techniques like jigging and rigging to entice Walleye to bite. They are known for their versatility and effectiveness in Walleye fishing. Plus, they move naturally in the water and are good for fishing in weedy areas. They can even have special scents to attract Walleye. 

Best Walleye Soft Plastic

Check Best Walleye Jigging Rods.

Plastic lures are better than live bait for Walleye fishing because they allow you to fish more aggressively and avoid losing expensive live bait. Live bait can often get tangled in weeds or cover, causing frustration and wasting time. In contrast, plastic lures are durable, so you can fish confidently without needing live bait. Some of the most popular Walleye soft plastics include:

Gulp

Gulp

Gulp soft plastics are a popular choice for Walleye anglers because they are highly effective and easy to use. Gulp plastics are made with a unique scent attractant that walleye are drawn to, and they are also very durable, so you can fish them for long periods of time without having to replace them. Gulp minnow is all-around soft plastic, while Gulp Nightcrawler can be fished in a variety of ways, including jigging, trolling, and casting. Gulp Leech is suitable for fishing in deep water for shallow water. Gulp Swimbait is a great choice.

Minnow

Minnow

Berkley Gulp minnow is an excellent choice for drifting or jigging when fishing. These minnows are designed with a small profile that effectively triggers feeding responses and can be used to target various species of fish. Despite their modest size, Gulp minnows have the potential to attract and catch larger fish. They are available in a black shad color and are sold in packs of 8, with each minnow measuring 4 inches in length.

Twitchtail

Twitchtail

The minnow design incorporates a tail with an irresistible action that appeals to both bass and Walleye, making it a versatile and effective lure for targeting these species. Additionally, brand new pro-designed colors have been introduced to enhance its attractiveness to fish. What sets it apart is its exclusive power bait scent and flavor, which further increases its appeal to fish and can improve your chances of a successful catch.

Paddle-Tail

Paddle-Tail

Paddle-shaped tail that produces a lot of action in the water. This fishing soft plastic jig is powder coated for durability, weighted to control depth, and designed to create lifelike movements underwater, making it a great match for the 5-inch Money Minnow soft plastic bait. Sold in packs of three, it is a handy addition to your tackle box for attracting a variety of fish species.

Fork Tail

Fork Tail

The Zoom Super Fluke is a classic forktail soft plastic that has been catching Walleye for many years. The Super Fluke has a unique flat body and a forked tail that gives it a lot of action in the water. The Super Fluke is also available in a variety of colors, so you can choose one that is appropriate for the water conditions you are fishing.

Curling Tail

Curling Tail

The Yamamoto Single curling Tail Grubs are highly versatile and proven fishing baits. These 4-inch soft lures excel at catching bass, pike, walleye, and inshore saltwater species. Their unique tail design creates an irresistible swimming action. They are a top choice for attracting small to medium Walleye species and are known for their high-quality soft plastics.

Shads

Shads

Shads are a good imitation of the baitfish that walleye prey on. The Northland Impulse Shad is a versatile shad soft plastic that can be fished in a variety of ways. It has a realistic shad shape and a soft, pliable plastic that gives it a natural swimming action. The Impulse Shad is also available in a variety of colors, so you can choose one that is appropriate for the water conditions you are fishing.


Selecting Soft Plastic

When using a shad soft plastic to target Walleye, remember to cast and retrieve with a slow, steady pace can be a winner, as Walleye tends to favor unhurried movement. For trolling success, maintain a speed of 1.5 to 2.5 miles per hour to create vibrations that attract these fish. When jigging, employ a method of lifting and dropping the rod tip to make the shad soft plastic flutter. This presentation style frequently lures in Walleye.


My Final Thoughts

Walleye fishing is an art of complexity and versatility, where the key to success lies in adapting to changing conditions and understanding the ever-shifting preferences of these elusive fish. While simplicity, such as using a worm on a hook, might have worked in the past, today’s angler has a diverse set of lures and tactics at their disposal. 

This article has explored essential categories of the best Walleye baits, lures, and techniques, including crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinners, soft plastics, and live bait. By matching bait size, color, and technique to the season and location, anglers can maximize their chances of catching Walleye. With the right tools and methods, the world of Walleye fishing becomes an exciting and ever-evolving adventure, where each fishing trip is a new chapter in the quest to become a better angler. So, get out there and keep fishing!

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