Walleye is well known to be a good eating freshwater fish. Lakes are often full of walleye but are not frequently caught unless they are being targeted.
They’re known to be low light feeders and feed well at night but they also feed and bite during the day! Walleye can see better and night than any other freshwater fish which gives them an advantage over their prey. Their eyes cannot see blue and yellow but can see red and green. This is why most Walleye lures are colored red and green. This does not mean that only red and green lures work because walleye can still see reflections and shading variations from other colors.
Water filters out red significantly at depths greater than 20 feet. This means that for lures going down more than 20 feet green, black and shiny colors make more sense.
It is recommended to fish for walleye in less than 40 feet of water mainly because this is where most walleye live, including big walleye. Secondly, if a fish is brought up that is short or that is not going to be kept the fish will not get hurt or killed when the swim bladder expands due to the decrease in pressure. When taking scuba certification training it is taught that a 33 feet water depth change results in a pressure change of 1 ATM which ultimately results in the air volume doubling.
Walleye swim bladders contain a significant amount of air that can only increase or decrease the amount of gas by diffusing or absorbing gas through their blood. Bring the fish up really slowly might help give the fish time to absorb some of the gas but most fishermen are not that patient. A swim bladder deflating device or a fish descender can help bring the fish back to depth. For walleye, it is much easier to just fish in water that is less than 40 feet deep!
Sometimes people think of walleye as a slow fish that can only eat worms. It is true that walleye are fished slowly but they are an aggressive fish with a mean strike. Adult walleye primarily eat fish such as yellow perch and ciscoes and can be caught using large plugs and stick baits.
- Here are the Best Walleye Lures and Baits in 2019
- 1. Bandit Deep Diver (Trolling Lure)
- 2. Stinger Spoon (Trolling Lure)
- 3. Firetiger Husky Jerk (Trolling Lure and Crank Bait)
- 4. Glass Purple Sunfire Husky Jerk (Trolling Lure and Crank Bait)
- 5. Worm Harness (Drift Bait)
- 6. Berkley Gulp Crawler 4 inch worm harness (Attach to Worm Harness)
- 7. Erie Dearie (Drift Bait)
- 8. Blade Bait (Jig Bait)
- How to Catch Walleye
Here are the Best Walleye Lures and Baits in 2019
1. Bandit Deep Diver (Trolling Lure)
Price: Around $7
This is a go-to lure for many charter boat operations in the Great Lakes. The key is being at the correct depth for the fish.
This is controlled mainly by how much line is let out and a small amount by the trolling speed. Precision Trolling sells an app that contains detailed depth charts for this lure and hundreds of other trolling lures and crank baits. Example dive depths for this lure are 30 feet of line is 10 feet down, 90 feet of line is 18 feet down and 195 feet of line in 22 feet down. Typical troll speeds are around 1.7 miles per hour. The lure dives a bit deeper with braided line and shallower with standard monofilament line. If a braided line is being used a four to six-foot fluorocarbon leader is needed. The leader can be tied line to line or with a barrel swivel.
It comes in a variety of popular color patterns such as Coconut Candy, Chartreuse Green Black, Green Clown, and Red.
2. Stinger Spoon (Trolling Lure)
Price: Around $12
This is the NBK color pattern spoon which stands for Natural Born Killer. One great thing about spoons is that they all have awesome names like NBK! This color pattern works great on walleye and salmon. These come in 3 3/4 and 4 1/4 inch sizes.
The stinger spoon is a lightweight spoon that has great action at the slower trolling speeds used for walleye. Heavy spoons can be run straight out the back of the boat but this is not typically done for walleye unless lead core line is being used to get the lure deeper in the water. The spoon is generally attached to a Dipsy Diver, jet diver or downrigger. There are lots of good spoons out there that are primarily made for trolling for steelhead and salmon. Often time these spoons are bit heavier and trolled at higher speeds. Read the salmon lures for the great lakes page for more information about heavier spoons.
3. Firetiger Husky Jerk (Trolling Lure and Crank Bait)
Price: Around $9
The deep-diving husky jerk is similar to the bandit and is also used by many walleye charter boats in the Great Lakes.
It can dive to a depth of 20 feet when trolling and 10 feet while casting. The lure is neutrally balanced in the water and can be paused during the retrieve. This husky jerk also has a loud rattle which is good at attracting walleye.
4. Glass Purple Sunfire Husky Jerk (Trolling Lure and Crank Bait)
Price: Around $10
The Husky Jerk is a great lure for Northern Pike but is also a great lure for walleye.
It can be trolled on a Dipsy Diver, jet diver or downrigger. It can also be cast in shallow water when walleye come to nearshore and shoals to feed in late fall, winter or early spring. This crankbait will work near shore at night when the water is still cold in the shallow depths.
5. Worm Harness (Drift Bait)
Price: Around $3
Worm Harnesses come in blade sizes 4, 5 and 6. They have two hooks for attaching a nightcrawler or Gulp Crawler.
6. Berkley Gulp Crawler 4 inch worm harness (Attach to Worm Harness)
Price: Around $6
When I think of walleye fishing I immediately think about drifting or slow trolling worm harnesses.
This is a very effective way to catch walleye everywhere. One problem is that nightcrawlers tend to take some abuse.
It may get bitten in half, pulled off the hook by smaller fish, or fall off when attempting to set the hook. Using a Berkley Crawler which comes in 4 and 6 inch sizes is a good alternative to live worms.
Walleye are attracted to the vibrations of the spinner on the harness and there is still a nice scented bait for the fish to find. There are other walleye scents out there that can be applied to lures and plastics but Gulp is the best!
A bottom bouncer is the best weight for a worm harness.
It allows the harness to be kept right near the bottom. When jigging the bouncer off the bottom you can feel if the ground is rocky or muddy. For murky water, a short 20-inch leader can be used. In clear water a 3-foot leader is good. Spinners are also available that attach to the bottom bounces which make vibrations and help attract fish.
A three-way swivel is another way to add weight.
By using a three-way swivel. This makes it so the bait gets further off the ground while still dragging weight on the bottom while drifting or trolling. It is a decent alternative if you do not have a downrigger.
7. Erie Dearie (Drift Bait)
Price: Around $5
An Erie Dearie, which is essentially a weighted worm harness. Comes in 5/8, 3/8 and 3/4 ounce sizes.
A not very well known alternative to adding weight to a worm harness is the Erie Dearie. It has the weight and spinner all in one which is very convenient! Simply add a worm, leech, curly tail, swim jig etc. and the bait is ready to be fished.
8. Blade Bait (Jig Bait)
Price: Around $7
This is a classic lure that has been catching fish since the 1950s. This can be vertically jigged or cast and retrieved. This attracts walleye by vibrations caused by the jig fluttering as it moves through the water. Typically it is jigged by quickly pulling the bait off the bottom and then allowed to flutter back to the bottom slowly.
How to Catch Walleye
In summary, the best baits for trolling for walleye are deep diving plugs, stick baits and spoons. For drifting for walleye worm harness and flutter jigs are the way to go. This is exceptionally true in the great lakes and deep lakes. For certain lakes finding structure is important, other-times walleye are schooling at certain depths. Use downriggers and don’t forget to watch the fish finder close and adjust the depth of the baits accordingly.
Dipsy Divers and Jet Divers
Dipsy divers perform two functions. Dipsy’s bring the lure deeper and off to the side of the boat. How far to the left or right they will go can be adjusted by rotating the base-plate of the Dipsy. Dipsy Divers come in three sizes 3/0 mini 2 1/4 inches, 0 small 3 1/4 inches, 1 large 4 1/8 inches, and 3 magnum 4 7/8 inches. These can reach a max depth of 20 feet, 40 feet, 70 feet, and 100 feet, respectively. Depth is primarily based on the amount of line let out but troll speed is a factor. Typically these are all trolled at speed less than 2.5 mph. Braided line will go deeper than the monofilament line. This is a good way to get spoons, stick baits and worm harnesses to deeper depths!
Dipsy divers perform two functions. Dipsy’s bring the lure deeper and off to the side of the boat. How far to the left or right they will go can be adjusted by rotating the base-plate of the Dipsy. Dipsy Divers come in three sizes 3/0 mini 2 1/4 inches, 0 small 3 1/4 inches, 1 large 4 1/8 inches, and 3 magnum 4 7/8 inches. These can reach a max depth of 20 feet, 40 feet, 70 feet, and 100 feet, respectively. Depth is primarily based on the amount of line let out but troll speed is a factor. Typically these are all trolled at speed less than 2.5 mph. The braided line will go deeper than the monofilament line. This is a good way to get spoons, stick baits and worm harnesses to deeper depths!
Thanks for visiting Global Fishing Reports. I hope these suggestions help you catch more walleye!
If you have any suggestions for top walleye lures and baits, leave a comment below!
Captain Cody has worked on charter fishing boats in the Florida Keys, Virgin Islands and Alaska. Cody grew up in Pennsylvania and has also done extensive freshwater fishing including bass fishing tournaments. Cody strives to provide detailed information about the best fishing gear and tactics to help both novice and experienced anglers have a more productive and enjoyable time on the water. Cody also has a background in aerospace engineering and neuroscience but really only takes pride in being good at one thing and that is fishing!