How To Jig For Walleye? Walleye Jigging Techniques 

Jigging, a widely embraced and successful fishing technique, stands as the go-to method for anglers in pursuit of walleye, a cherished freshwater species. Anglers are drawn to jigging for its versatility in catching various fish species, effectiveness in mimicking baitfish, and the rewarding challenge it presents. The excitement of feeling a fish strike your jig makes it a fun and engaging technique. Jigging is also cost-effective and accessible to anglers of all skill levels, which explains its popularity among fishing enthusiasts.

How To Jig For Walleye

Walleye predominantly inhabit deeper waters and gravitate towards submerged structures, cementing jigging as the preferred strategy to engage with these elusive predators. In this comprehensive guide,”How to Jig For Walleye”, we will provide a detailed exploration of the gear essentials and expert techniques and tips that are key to triumphing in your quest to catch walleye through Walleye jigging.

Walleye Jigging

Walleye jigging is a fishing technique specifically designed for targeting walleye, a popular freshwater game fish. This method involves the use of a jig head, which is a lead-weighted hook, in combination with either live bait or soft plastic trailers as lures. Jigging stands out as an exceptional fishing technique that blends effectiveness, adaptability, and sheer enjoyment, offering a compelling reason for its popularity among anglers. Anglers love jigging for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of the most popular:

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Walleye Jigging
  • Firstly, its versatility is a key attraction. Jigs prove effective in capturing a wide range of fish species, from bass and walleye to trout, perch, and panfish, adapting effortlessly to various fishing conditions, whether it’s the depths of a lake or the shallows of a river.
  • Furthermore, their effectiveness in luring fish is a significant advantage, as jigs can be manipulated to mimic different baitfish and fished at varying speeds, making them a go-to choice for anglers seeking versatility in their approach.
  • Jigging can be a challenging technique to learn, but it is also very rewarding. The satisfaction derived from successfully employing jigging, especially in challenging conditions, is unparalleled. Beyond the inherent challenges, jigging is just plain fun, offering an active, engaging experience where the excitement of a fish striking your jig keeps you on your toes.
  • Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of jigging enhances its appeal. Jigs are affordable, durable, and can be used over multiple fishing excursions. What’s more, jigging doesn’t demand an array of specialized equipment, making it accessible to anglers of all skill levels. 

Walleye Jigging Setup

To jig for walleye a walleye jigging setup typically consists of the following gears:

Walleye Jigging Setup

Walleye Jigging Rod

Okuma Fishing Tackle Okuma Dead Eye

A walleye jigging rod is a specialized fishing rod that is designed for jigging for walleye. Walleye jigging rods are typically made of graphite or carbon fiber, which makes them lightweight and durable. They also have high-quality guides and reel seats that can withstand the repeated casting and jigging that is required for this type of fishing. It is important to consider the following factors while selecting your jigging rod:

Walleye Jigging Rod
  • Length: Walleye jigging rods are typically between 6 and 7 feet long. This length provides a good balance of power and sensitivity.
  • Power: Walleye jigging rods are typically medium-light to medium power. This type of power provides the sensitivity needed to detect light bites and the power needed to set the hook quickly.
  • Action: Walleye jigging rods typically have a fast to extra-fast action. This type of action provides the responsiveness needed to jig the bait effectively and to set the hook quickly.

Walleye Fishing Reels

PENN Pursuit IV Inshore Spinning Fishing Reel

When selecting a reel for walleye fishing, you have spinning reels and baitcasting reels, each with its own set of advantages. Spinning reels are the more beginner-friendly choice, offering easy casting and operation. On the other hand, baitcasting reels provide more power and control, but they may pose a learning curve in terms of casting.

Walleye Fishing Reels

Several key factors should influence your choice of a walleye fishing reel:

  • Size: The size of the reel should match the size of the walleye you’re targeting and the weight of your fishing line. For walleye fishing, a reel capable of holding 100 to 200 yards of 10 to 15-pound test line is an ideal choice.
  • Gear Ratio: A higher gear ratio facilitates quicker line retrieval but can make bait control more challenging. A gear ratio between 5:1 and 6:1 strikes a good balance for walleye fishing.
  • Drag System: A quality drag system should offer smooth and consistent resistance, enough to protect your line but not so much as to hinder reeling in the fish.

Jig Heads

Jig Heads

A jig head is a versatile fishing lure typically crafted from lead or tungsten. It features a hook attached to it and is frequently paired with soft plastic trailers to entice fish. Jig heads come in various sizes and shapes, making them adaptable to diverse fishing conditions. Jig heads excel at mimicking different baitfish and offer flexibility in fishing techniques. Here are a few tips for using jig heads:

Jig Heads
  • Choose the right size and weight jig head for the conditions you are fishing in. If you are fishing in deep water or a strong current, you will need to use a heavier jig head. If you are fishing in shallow water or in calm conditions, you can use a lighter jig head.
  • Match the jig head to the trailer you are using. Some trailers are designed to be used with specific types of jig heads.
  • Use a light line when fishing with jig heads. This will allow the jig head to fall more naturally and attract more fish.
  • Be patient when fishing with jig heads. It can take some time to find the right jig head and trailer combination and to find the right retrieve speed.

Live bait or a soft plastic trailer

Choosing between live bait and soft plastic trailers for walleye jigging involves weighing several factors, including fishing conditions, the season, and personal preferences.

Live Bait Or A Soft Plastic Trailer
  • Live bait boasts a natural appeal and strong scent, which can draw fish from a distance. It’s versatile, adaptable to various conditions, and can be highly effective. However, obtaining and maintaining live bait can be challenging and costly, and it can get messy, especially in cold weather.
  • On the other hand, soft plastic trailers offer convenience. They are readily available, cost-effective, and durable. However, they lack the powerful scent of live bait and may not attract fish from as far away. Handling soft plastic trailers can be tricky in windy conditions.

Tips when deciding between the two

  • Opt for live bait in deep waters or strong currents, while soft plastic trailers may be more suitable for shallow waters or calm conditions.
  • Live bait tends to excel in spring and fall when water temperatures are cooler. Soft plastic trailers can be effective year-round.
  • Some anglers prefer the authenticity of live bait, while others favour the convenience of soft plastic trailers. The best choice ultimately lies in your comfort and confidence with the chosen bait.

By assessing these factors, you can make an informed decision on whether to use live bait or soft plastic trailers for your walleye jigging adventure.

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Walleye jigging spoons

Walleye jigging spoons

Walleye jigging spoons are purpose-built lures for catching walleye, designed to imitate the movements of their favourite snacks, baitfish. These lures are typically metal and have a curved face that makes them dart and wobble underwater. They often come with treble or single hooks and can be decked out with materials like feathers, hair, or tinsel. They come in different sizes to match the fishing conditions and walleye size and various colours to suit the water and season.

Walleye Jigging Spoons

When you select your walleye jigging spoons, keep these factors in mind:

  • Match the spoon size with the baitfish the walleye are after. Bigger spoons work well in deep water for larger walleye, while smaller ones suit shallower water and smaller fish.
  • Make sure the spoon is heavy enough to stay on the bottom but not so heavy that it’s hard to jig. The right weight depends on the water depth and current.
  • Walleye jigging spoons come in various shapes. Wider ones have a more erratic action, while narrower ones move more subtly in the water.
  • Spoon color matters, especially in clear water. You’ll find them in shades like silver, gold, chartreuse, and orange. The best color depends on water clarity and the time of year.

Once you have assembled your gear, you are ready to start jigging for walleye. Cast out your jig and let it sink to the bottom. Then, jig your spoon slowly and steadily, keeping it just above the bottom. Be patient and persistent, and you will eventually start catching walleye by applying one of the following Walleye jigging techniques.

How to Jig for Walleye through Effective Walleye Jigging Techniques

There are a variety of jigging techniques that you can use to catch walleye. Some of the most popular techniques include:

How To Jig For Walleye Through Effective Walleye Jigging Techniques

Vertical Jigging for Walleye

Vertical Jigging for Walleye

Sometimes, walleye fish like to gather in big groups in one place. This could be near a rock pile close to a deep area, where there is a strong current that creates a swirling pool. They also like to hang out on the high parts of a reef. So, if you can get your boat right over where they are without scaring them away, using the vertical jigging technique can be very effective.

This means you’re dropping your bait straight down and then lifting it up and down, making it look like food to the walleye. It’s a great way to catch them if you can be very precise with your bait’s movements and keep it in the right spot.

Vertical Jigging For Walleye

Simply you can define that vertical jigging is a highly effective fishing method where you manipulate a lure by jigging it up and down vertically within the water column. This technique is renowned for its success in catching a diverse range of fish, including species like walleye, bass, trout, and perch.

Vertical jigging setup

To employ vertical jigging, you will need specific equipment, including a dedicated jigging rod and reel, a jig head, and either live bait or a soft plastic trailer to entice the fish. A typical vertical jigging setup includes the following components:

  • A vertical jigging rod is usually around 6-7 feet long. It has a medium-light to medium power and a fast to extra-fast action. This type of rod offers the sensitivity and strength required to feel subtle bites and respond quickly.
  • Vertical jigging reel should have a line capacity of at least 100 yards of 10-15 pound test line. It should also feature a smooth drag system and a high gear ratio for efficient retrieval.
  • Go for a 10-15 pound test braided line for vertical jigging. This line is robust, durable, and boasts low stretch, enhancing your ability to detect bites.
  • Use a 2-3 foot fluorocarbon leader for vertical jigging. Fluorocarbon is virtually invisible to fish and resistant to abrasion.
  • Vertical jigging jigs come in various sizes and weights. The ideal size and weight depend on the water’s depth and current strength. In most cases, a 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jig head is a reliable choice.
  • When it comes to bait, you have a choice between using live bait or soft plastic trailers. 

In addition to above mentioned components, for setting up a vertical jigging rig, the Palomar knot is your trusty companion, ensuring your setup can endure the constant casting and jigging. Then, the split ring connects the leader to the jig head, allowing it to twirl and dance freely, an irresistible sight for curious fish.

And when it comes to attaching the soft plastic trailer, the Clinch knot guarantees it won’t slip away. Adjust the leader’s length just right so the jig head hovers gracefully above the bottom, fluttering like a mesmerizing invitation for the fish to join your underwater tale.

When you are all done with your vertical jigging setup that, it’s time to dive into fishing! Cast out your jig, let it sink to the bottom, and then start jigging by lifting your rod tip and letting it fall. Keep that line taut to feel any nibbles. As soon as you sense a bite, swiftly set the hook by raising your rod tip. With a bit of practice, you’ll master vertical jigging in a jiffy!

In addition to the above mentioned specifications, vertical jigging rods should also have the following features:

Lifting Jig or Lift and Drop

Lifting a jig or lift and drop is another fishing technique to catch Walleye. This technique involves raising the bait off the bottom a few inches before allowing it to descend back down. This subtle variation in movement can attract the attention of fish and trigger their predatory instincts. Lift-and-drop jigging is often used when fishing in deeper water or when fish are suspended at a certain depth. It is a variation of the more straightforward vertical jigging technique and can be effective for various species of fish, including walleye, bass, and panfish.

Lifting Jig Or Lift And Drop

It’s important to know that the lifting jig technique is particularly effective during the cooler spring and fall seasons. In early spring, when the water temperature is in the 60s, it’s best to work your jig at a slow pace. As summer arrives, you can intensify your jigging. But when fall comes around, it’s time to slow down once more. These adjustments cater to the changing behaviour of fish in response to water temperature fluctuations, ensuring you match your technique to the season for the best results.

Lifting Jig Setup

A typical Lifting jig setup includes the following components:

  • A medium-heavy to heavy-duty fishing rod is ideal, typically around 6-7 feet in length, offering versatility and control.
  • Both spinning and conventional reels can be used. Ensure your spinning reel can handle the jig’s weight, and for conventional reels, opt for one with a reliable drag system.
  • The braided line is the top choice, offering strength and sensitivity. Select a braided line matching the weight of your jig.
  • A fluorocarbon leader is recommended, as it’s less visible to fish. Ensure your fluorocarbon leader aligns with the jig’s weight.
  • There’s a variety of jigs to choose from, i.e. live minnow, a smaller fluke, shad, or minnow-style plastic. So, select the one that suits your target fish and the conditions. A jig weighing 1 to 3 ounces is generally a dependable choice for most fish species. 

After setting up your equipment, it’s time to begin by casting your jig and letting it sink to the bottom. As it settles, reel in any slack line, and then commence the rhythm of lift and drop. Lift the rod tip quickly to make the jig go up, and then lower it to let the bait gently drop down. Repeat these steps until you feel that satisfying bite. 

The specific lift height and drop speed are like your secret code, tailored to your target fish and the conditions. For deeper spots, use a heavier jig lifted higher, while shallower waters call for a lighter jig lower down. As you explore this technique, remember to keep your line taut, experiment with variations, and, above all, exercise patience and persistence. Mastery may take some time, but the rewards are worth it. 

Ripping Jig

Ripping Jig

Ripping is a technique employed when fishing in weedy areas. To use this technique, swiftly lift the jig, almost like a quick escape move, pulling it up and through the weeds. This action mimics a prey item trying to get away, luring in fish that are hiding in the vegetation.

Ripping Jig

Ripping Setup

Here are some important components for ripping a jig:

  • Use a medium to heavy rod with a fast tip for power and sensitivity.
  • A spinning reel can be used for ripping. If you are using a spinning reel, make sure that it has a strong drag system. 
  • Go for a braided line. It doesn’t stretch much, so you’ll feel more action and keep the line tight during the rip.
  • Pick a heavy jig, like a bucktail jig, that can quickly reach the bottom and stay put in the current.
  • A monofilament or fluorocarbon leader is recommended for ripping. The leader should be long enough to keep the jig away from the braided line but not so long that it is difficult to cast.

Begin with medium-speed ripping and adjust it as needed. To rip a jig, first, cast it out and let it reach the bottom into a weed bed.  Always keep the line tight so you can feel any fish nibbling. Once it’s down there, reel in any slack line and then give your rod tip a quick lift to snap the jig up. While it’s on the rise, reel in your line fast to keep it taut. Then, let the jig gracefully fall back down and repeat the whole thing.

Keep reeling your jig in until it’s clear of the weed bed before you cast it to a different spot. After you feel a strike, don’t worry if you didn’t sense it right away. Fish often hit subtly, and that’s why you should keep reeling to make sure the jig is free of any weeds before your next ripping move. 

Now, the speed and aggression of your rips will change depending on the conditions and the type of fish you’re aiming for. Generally, you will rip faster in deeper water or when the fish are super active. You can also play around with different rod tip heights and snap angles to find your winning moves, but stay patient and persistent. Finding the right rhythm and locating the hungry fish might take some time.

Keep reeling your jig in until it’s clear of the weed bed before you cast it to a different spot. After you feel a strike, don’t worry if you didn’t sense it right away. Fish often hit subtly, and that’s why you should keep reeling to make sure the jig is free of any weeds before your next ripping move. It’s all part of the game!

Dragging a Jig

Dragging a Jig

When you’re fishing over hard, flat surfaces, the dragging technique comes in handy. It’s as simple as casting your jig and reeling it in slowly, letting it glide along the bottom. This movement imitates the way little fish or critters move along the ground, which fish find pretty tempting.

Dragging A Jig

Dragging a Jig Setup

To set up for jigging using the dragging technique, a few essentials are key:

  • Choose a long and somewhat flexible jigging rod with a medium to heavy action. This provides the power to cast a heavy jig and the flexibility to work it steadily along the bottom.
  • Whether it’s a spinning reel or a conventional one, make sure it has a strong drag system. If you’re using a conventional reel, go for a lever drag system.
  • Braided line is your best buddy for jigging. It’s strong, resilient, and doesn’t stretch, helping you feel those gentle bites and quickly set the hook.
  • Use a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. It should be long enough to keep the jig away from the braided line but not so long that it’s hard to cast.
  • Jigs come in various weights and shapes. The one you choose depends on the water’s depth and the type of fish you’re after.

Additional gear may include a swivel and a snap to connect your leader to the jig. This helps prevent the jig from twisting the line. To drag a jig, cast it out and let it sink to the bottom. Then, slowly reel in your line while keeping the jig close to or just above the bottom. You can also add some action by gently lifting your rod tip and letting it drop back down.

It’s important to know that you should be patient when you are dragging a jig. Fish that snack at the bottom are often lazy and won’t jump at fast-moving stuff. Instead, focus on keeping your jig moving at a nice, slow pace as it slides across the bottom.

Ice Jigging for Walleye

Ice Jigging for Walleye

Ice jigging is a simple fishing method where you use a jigging rod and reel to move a weighted lure with a hookup and down in the water, trying to lure and catch fish. It’s favorite during the winter when fishing through ice, but it’s also used in open water. Ice jigging for walleye in winter is a well-loved and efficient approach. Walleye tend to reside in deeper waters, making it crucial to employ a quick-sinking jig. Tungsten jigs are an excellent option for this purpose, as they are dense and swiftly reach the desired depth.

Ice Jigging For Walleye

Ice Jigging setup

For ice jigging setup, you will  need the following components:

  • Ice jigging rods are usually shorter and more sensitive than other fishing rods to detect even the lightest bites. 
  • Ice jigging reels are smaller and lighter for ice fishing.
  • You can use monofilament or braided lines. Monofilament is more forgiving and less prone to breaking, while the braided line is more sensitive for detecting subtle bites. For walleye, consider a 6-8 pound test monofilament or a 4-6 pound test braided line.
  • Walleye-specific ice jigging jigs are typically 1/8- or 1/4-ounce in weight and have a single hook. Tungsten jigs, due to their density and quick sinking, are a solid choice. Lead jigs can also be used, but they sink more slowly.
  • Live minnows and shiners are excellent bait for walleye. While artificial bait like soft plastics or spoons can be used, live bait is often the most effective choice.

Jigging for walleye through the ice begins by drilling a hole in the ice over a deep area where these fish are commonly found. Next, thread your line through the hole and attach your jig. Enhance the jig’s appeal by tipping it with a live minnow. Lower your jig down to the water’s bottom and then employ a slow and erratic jigging motion, which can involve up-and-down, side-to-side, or a combination of both movements.

Walleye can be finicky eaters, so it’s essential to exercise patience and persistence. When you sense a bite, swiftly set the hook by raising your rod tip, and once it’s secure, reel in your catch as usual. This method is effective for ice anglers looking to land walleye.

How to jig for walleye from Shore?

Jigging for walleye from the shore is most effective during early mornings or evenings when walleye venture close to the shoreline. To get started, pick a suitable fishing location with rocky bottoms or underwater structures that attract walleye. Use a medium to medium-heavy spinning rod and reel with a 6-10 lb test line and a variety of jig sizes and colors. Live bait options like minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers, and soft plastic baits are recommended. 

Jig For Walleye From Shore

Rig the bait using a loop knot for added action. Cast, let it sink, and then retrieve it with pauses to mimic prey movement. Pay attention to the right depth, as walleye may vary in depth based on the time of day. 

Be patient, especially during low-light conditions, and adapt your technique as needed. Always check local fishing regulations and prioritize safety, especially when fishing at night. Success in walleye fishing often requires experimentation and a touch of patience. 

How to jig for Walleye in the River?

Jigging for walleye in a river is a well-regarded technique. First, pinpoint promising spots by researching the river and consulting local knowledge. Next, equip yourself with a medium to medium-heavy rod and reel combo, spooled with a 6-10 lb test line and a range of jigs in various sizes and colors. Live bait like minnows, leeches, or soft plastic lures can be enticing to walleye. Rig the bait with a loop knot for lifelike movement. 

Jig For Walleye In The River

Cast upstream, allowing the bait to drift downstream while maintaining contact with the riverbed. Utilize subtle twitches and lifts in the line to mimic prey movement and adapt to the river’s current strength.  Experiment with depth, as walleye vary in their location based on factors like temperature and time of day. Patience is key, as walleye can be selective, with dawn and dusk being prime times. 

Jigging for walleye in Summer

Summer walleye fishing presents unique challenges as these fish often move to cooler, deeper waters. To succeed, locate these deep havens, pay attention to low-light periods, and ensure you’re equipped with a medium to medium-heavy rod and reel. Spool your line with 6-10 lb test monofilament or fluorocarbon and use heavier jigs in the 1/4 to 3/4 ounce range. Use live bait like nightcrawlers or larger minnows, as walleye can be less active in the heat. 

Jigging For Walleye In Summer

Rig your bait meticulously and maintain a deliberate jigging motion in the deeper water. Be patient and adjust your approach as needed, using bottom bouncers or slip sinkers to keep your bait near the bottom. Stay hydrated. Adaptability and patience are key to summer walleye success. 

My Final Thoughts

Jigging for walleye is a versatile and effective fishing technique that draws anglers for various reasons. Jigging is cost-effective and accessible, making it suitable for anglers of all skill levels, and offers the adaptability to target Walleye fish in diverse conditions. Whether you’re by the shore, in a river, or during the summer, it offers the thrill of feeling a fish strike, and with the right gear and techniques, you can increase your chances of success. Adaptability, patience, and adherence to local regulations are key to a rewarding walleye fishing experience.

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