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How To Troll For Walleye | Practical Guide

Trolling is a versatile and efficient technique for targeting Walleye, known for its effectiveness in various conditions. Whether it is the early morning or late evening hours when light is low, or when Walleye are dispersed throughout the water, trolling offers anglers the advantage of exploring different areas while keeping their baits in the strike zone. This method’s ability to mimic natural bait movement and cover extensive water makes it a go to strategy for many Walleye enthusiasts.

How To Troll For Walleye Practical Guide

In this guide, “How to Troll for Walleye” we will break down the essential gear and share expert tips to help you catch Walleye using the trolling method.

Check What Do Walleye Eat?


Why Walleye Trolling?

Anglers use the trolling technique in their pursuit of Walleye for several strategic advantages. Trolling enables them to efficiently cover a wide expanse of water, which is particularly beneficial given Walleye’s diverse habitats within lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. This expedited search increases the likelihood of locating active fish. 

Why Walleye Trolling

Further,  trolling empowers anglers to precisely target Walleye at specific depths, often near the bottom, using tools such as bottom bouncers and weighted lures. Trolling with flashy and noisy lures can attract even picky or less active Walleye, especially in low light or changing weather conditions. Additionally, anglers can use multiple lures at once while trolling, improving their odds of catching Walleye, which is handy when fish are spread out or their preferences are uncertain.

Check Is walleye A Good Fish To Eat?


How to Troll for Walleye? My Personal Preference

Let me tell you, success in trolling walleye depends upon developing a pattern to find where the walleye can be, which lure they will prefer, and the presentation of the right trolling speed. You can use electronics to locate the walleye and then adjust your equipment accordingly.

How to Troll for Walleye My Personal Preference

Trolling rods with line-counter reels help you let out the right amount of line for the desired depth. While planer boards help cover more water.

Check How To Catch Walleye?

When we talk about trolling specifically for walleye, it’s of two types. 

  • Structure Trolling
  • Open Water Trolling

Let’s discuss both in detail.

Structure Trolling

When we target walleye Close to the bottom and near underwater structures like points, break lines, or humps, it is called structure trolling. Sometimes, the depth can vary as we move along the structure. I prefer to use crankbaits to reach the desired depth. Along with that, I prefer Lead core lines because they have resistance to water and can help in adjusting the bait depth by controlling the trolling speed. 

Structure Trolling

You can increase the bait depth by decreasing the trolling speed. On the other hand, increasing the trolling speed can help you to raise the bait depth. Structure trolling needs a lot of practice to master, but still, it’s an effective walleye trolling technique.

Another method is the “tick and lift,” where you let your lure hit the bottom and then raise it slightly to trigger bites from fish near the bottom.

Check Best Crankbaits And Jerkbaits For Walleye.

Open Water Trolling

This technique is particularly used to target the walleye roaming in open water. Still, choosing the right crankbait and targeting the correct depth is an important factor. I use a planner board to cover more area and spread the lures over open water. I take help from monofilament lines and Snap Weights to reach the desired depth. Snap Weights release 50 feet ahead of the lure, which provides accuracy and precision while trolling walleye in open water.

Open Water Trolling

My Walleye Trolling Secrets | Nobody Will Tell you

Here are three key tips for successful trolling in simple terms:

My Walleye Trolling Secrets

Know Your Bait’s Depth

While trolling for walleye, you should be aware of your bait depth in relation to the bottom and fish. You can use different electronics and charts to locate your bait depth. Make sure your line leaves the rod at a 45-degree angle to the water surface. You can adjust the weight to achieve this angle. If it’s too vertical, you can increase the weight, and in case an angle is less than 45 degrees, you can increase the weight to get the desired result.

Vary Your Speed

Many anglers are aware of the typical trolling speeds for crankbaits, which range from 1.5 to 3 mph. They follow the same pattern but forget to experiment with something new. If you are marking the walley but unable to catch it. Try to experiment by varying the trolling speed. Making an “S” turn can be a great way to experiment with different speeds. By doing so, the outside lines speed up, and the inside lines slow down during turns.

Explore Shallow Waters

Another factor is assuming all the walleyes are in deep waters. But let me tell you, the majority of walleye, mostly the larger ones, are found near their food source and shallow waters. Try to locate walleye near creek channels, weed edges, bars, and reefs when trolling for walleye because these areas are rich in baitfish and can be very productive.

Check Best Fishing Line For Walleye


Walleye Trolling Setup

A Walleye trolling setup typically consists of the following equipment:

Walleye Trolling Setup

Walleye Trolling Rod

13 FISHING - Defy Gold Trolling - Telescopic Trolling Fishing Rod

A Walleye trolling rod is a purpose built fishing rod tailored for the specific technique of trolling for Walleye. It is important to consider the following factors while selecting your trolling rod:

  • These rods usually fall into the medium to medium-heavy action range. This action is ideal for trolling lures and rigs that are weighted with bottom bouncers or leadheads.
  • For trolling lengths spanning from 7 to 9 feet. This length allows anglers to cast long distances and to keep their lures in the water column at the desired depth.
  • Walleye trolling rods are usually constructed from materials like graphite or fiberglass, these rods prioritize durability and a lightweight build. 
  • Walleye trolling rods need to have durable guides and reel seats that can withstand the weight of heavy lures and the rigors of trolling.

This combination of features ensures that anglers can effectively handle the demands of trolling, making them ideal tools for pursuing Walleye in this fishing style.

Walleye Trolling Reel

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

A Walleye trolling reel is a special reel designed for trolling to catch Walleye. Several key factors should influence your choice of a Walleye trolling reel:

  • Line Capacity: For Walleye trolling you need a reel with a large line capacity. Walleye trolling often involves using heavy line to handle big fish, and having sufficient line capacity is essential.
  • Drag System: Ensure the reel has a strong and smooth drag system. Walleye can be powerful, and you will need a reliable drag to control and land them.
  • Reel Size: Consider the size of the reel. A larger reel typically provides more line capacity and greater power, making it suitable for trolling. However, balance it with your rod’s size and weight for a comfortable setup.
  • Gear Ratio: The gear ratio indicates how fast the line is retrieved. For trolling, a lower gear ratio (around 4:1 to 6:1) is usually preferred as it provides the necessary power to handle larger fish and heavier lures.

Walleye Trolling Lures

Walleye Trolling Lures

The art of trolling is in the presentation of lure, not just the equipment or location. There are many different types of trolling lures, some of the most popular types of trolling lures include: Crankbaits, minnows, Spinner rigs, Bucktail Jigs, Spoons, Stickbaits and bottom bouncers. All these lures are available in a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes and varieties. 

Selecting the right lure for your fishing adventure involves considering several important factors like the species of fish you are targeting should guide your choice. Walleye, for instance, prefer lures with a zigzag swimming style,the depth you intend to fish at. Certain lures are crafted to dive deep like Rapala DT crankbait, while others remain near the water’s surface. It is crucial to select a lure that can reach the depth where your target fish are actively feeding.

Furthermore, take into account the type of underwater structure in your fishing area. If you are surrounded by weeds or other potential snags, use a lure that is less prone to getting tangled. Lastly, the time of day and weather conditions come into play. Brighter lures shine in low light settings, while darker ones excel under sunny skies. Adapting your lure to these variables will significantly boost your chances of a successful catch.

Walleye Trolling Rigs

Walleye Trolling Rigs

Walleye trolling rigs are special setups for catching Walleye while trolling. They are often weighted to stay close to the lake or river bottom and feature different lures or baits to lure in fish. These rigs work in different water depths, and the choice depends on factors like depth, season, and bait preference.

Check Best Walleye Spinning Reels.

Once you have chosen your equipment and rigged your lures, you can start trolling. Here i am going to explain some of the most popular Walleye trolling rigs and how to troll for Walleye using these rigs:

Bottom Bouncer Rig

Bottom Bouncer Rig

Bottom bouncing is a smart trolling technique used for targeting Walleye, which tend to stay near the lake or river bottom. To give it a try you will need to set up a bottom bouncing rig i.e tie the bottom bouncer to the end of your line. And then attach a leader (about 1-2 feet of fluorocarbon line) to the bottom bouncer, secure a lure to the end of the leader.

Once your rig is ready, start trolling at a speed between 1.5-3.25 kilometers per hour (1-2 miles per hour). Keep the bottom bouncer in touch with the lake or riverbed as you go. You can pick from various lures for bottom bouncing, including crankbaits, spinner rigs, and jigs. Feel free to experiment with different lure types and colors to see what tempts the Walleye best.

For successful bottom bouncing troll in spots where Walleye typically feed, like weed beds, drop-offs, and sunken reefs. Keep switching up your lures and colors to figure out the walleye’s preferences and try to maintain a slower trolling speed to ensure the bottom bouncer stays in contact with the lake or river bottom.

Walleye Trolling with Crankbait Rig

Walleye Trolling with Crankbait Rig

Crankbait trolling is a highly effective approach for landing Walleye, offering anglers the versatility needed to adapt to varying fishing conditions. To maximize your success you need to consider important things like  choosing the right crankbait for Walleye, go for crankbaits in the 2-4 inch range with a tight wobble. Popular options include the Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk, Bandit Walleye Deep Diver, and Salmo Hornet Crankbait. 

Another important factor is to maintain an appropriate trolling speed, typically around 1.5-3.25 kilometers per hour (1-2 miles per hour), but do not hesitate to experiment. Further you need to adjust the depth of your trolling to match where the Walleye are actively feeding, using a depth finder for guidance. Focus your trolling efforts around known Walleye hotspots like weed beds, drop-offs, and sunken reefs. Additionally, try a variety of crankbait colors to cater to the Walleye’s preferences and exercise patience, the fish may take some time to bite. With practice and these tactics, you will find yourself enjoying a successful Walleye trolling adventure, especially during the summer months.

Walleye Trolling with Spinner Rig

Walleye Trolling with Spinner Rig

Spinner trolling is a technique where a spinner rig is trolled at a specific depth. This technique is effective for targeting Walleye that are feeding on smaller baitfish. Whether you are fishing in deep or shallow waters, clear or stained waters, it is an effective method for nabbing Walleye, suitable for a wide range of conditions.

Setting up your spinner trolling rig by tieing the spinner rig to your line, add a leader of 1-2 feet with fluorocarbon line, and secure your lure at the end of the leader. For Walleye, popular lure choices include nightcrawlers, leeches, minnows, and soft plastic trailers. Once your rig is ready, start trolling at a speed of around 1.5-3.25 kilometers per hour (1-2 miles per hour) while ensuring the spinner keeps turning. 

It is wise to focus on known feeding spots like weed beds, drop-offs, and sunken reefs, and experiment with various lures to gauge the Walleye’s preferences. Spinner trolling is an excellent approach for Walleye fishing, particularly during the spring and fall months.

Lindy Rig

Lindy Rig

A Lindy rig is a popular and simple fishing setup for catching walleye. It’s made up of a weight, a leader, and a hook, designed to keep your bait or lure just above the lake or river bottom where Walleye often lurk. To create a Lindy rig you need:

  • A sliding sinker (ranging from 1/8 to 1 oz)
  • A snap swivel (size 4-6)
  • A Fluorocarbon leader (4-6 lb)
  • An octopus hook (size 2-6). 

Assemble the rig by tying the sinker to the main line, attaching the snap swivel to the sinker, connecting the leader to the swivel, and adding the octopus hook to the leader. Bait the hook with a nightcrawler, minnow, or another live bait. To use a Lindy rig, troll it behind your boat at a speed of 1.5 to 2.5 miles per hour, and watch for any indications of a bite from the movements of your rod tip. 

Some tips for successful Lindy rig fishing include selecting an appropriately weighted sinker, choosing a leader length that keeps your bait or lure off the bottom but still allows you to sense bites, matching the hook size to your bait or lure, experimenting with various bait or lure colors and types, and exploring different depths to locate where the Walleye are actively feeding.

Three-Way Rig

Three-Way Rig

A three-way swivel rig is a versatile setup for fishing at any depth, ideal for Walleye trolling, casting, and jigging. To make one, you will need:

  • A three-way swivel
  • A fluorocarbon leader
  • A snap swivel
  • An octopus hook and a weight. 

Tie the three-way swivel to your main line, attach the leader to one eye, add the snap swivel to the other eye, secure the octopus hook to the snap swivel, and put the weight on the swivel’s end. Bait with nightcrawlers, minnows, or live bait. Troll at 1.5-2.5 mph, and you can also cast or jig. 

Tips include using an appropriate weight and leader length, matching the hook to your bait, experimenting with bait types, colors, and trolling at different depths to find feeding Walleye. 


Trolling Speed for Walleye

Trolling speed plays a crucial role in Walleye fishing success, and the ideal speeds vary with the seasons:

Trolling Speed for Walleye
  • Spring (0.5-1 mph): Cold water slows down walleye, so slower trolling speeds work best during this season.
  • Summer (1.8-2.2 mph): Slightly faster speeds are suitable, but you might want to slow down when using live bait.
  • Fall (1.3-1.8 mph): Moderately paced trolling is effective during the autumn months.

Adapting your trolling speed to the season can significantly improve your chances of a successful haul.


How to Troll for Walleye at Night?

Trolling for Walleye at night can be highly productive, especially when you target specific areas where walleye are actively feeding. Key locations to cover during nighttime walleye trolling include breaklines, points, sandbars, and shoals located near deeper waters. These areas serve as transitional zones where walleye move from deeper to shallower waters to feed under the cover of darkness. By focusing on these prime locations, you increase your chances of a successful night of walleye trolling.

When it comes to nighttime trolling for Walleye, crankbaits and minnow baits take the spotlight as they go to lures. These lures, with their various wobbles and wiggles, cater to the changing moods of Walleye throughout the seasons. It is a good idea to stock your tackle box with a variety of trolling baits, including straight and jointed options, along with narrow and fat billed designs. Additionally, spinner rigs adorned with worms, leeches, or minnows are another top choice for night trolling, adding versatility to your Walleye catching arsenal.

How to Troll for Walleye at Night

For successful night fishing, keep things simple and organized. Have essential gear like nets and flashlights at the ready. Use orange onboard lights to deter bugs. A headlamp is a handy tool for hands free lighting.

Check Best Walleye Reels.

Night trolling for Walleye requires safety precautions due to reduced visibility. Use running lights, wear a life jacket, and be cautious around other boats. Arriving early lets your eyes adjust, share your itinerary with someone on land, and carry a communication device for emergencies. Night trolling promises active Walleye and solitude.


My Final Thoughts

Trolling for Walleye is a versatile and effective method offering several advantages. It enables precise depth control, extensive water coverage, and the use of various lures. Whether you are using crankbaits, spinner rigs, Lindy rigs, or three-way swivels, there is a tactic for every angler. Night trolling adds excitement, and with the right lures and safety measures, you can enhance your success in low-light conditions. So, get out on the water, explore different depths and lures, and enjoy the rewards of a successful Walleye trolling adventure.

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