Ice fishing for walleye! What’s not to love?
They are like the ultimate hybrid between bass, perch, and pike, all rolled into one hard fighting package.
The good news is they are super aggressive and will smash your lure if they see it.
The bad news is you have to choose which one.
Well, help is at hand as we’ve compiled a list that will be sure to get you catching.
Read on to get some great advice and a rundown of the best ice fishing lures for walleye in 2023!
Table of Contents
- Which Ice Fishing Lures Work Best for Walleye?
- How to Ice Fish for Walleye?
- What are the Best Ice Fishing Baits for Walleye?
- Does Colder Water Affect Walleye Feeding Behaviour?
- The 9 Best Ice Fishing Lures for Walleye
- Final Thoughts
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Which Ice Fishing Lures Work Best for Walleye?
Walleye are very aggressive, but that doesn’t mean that they will eat any old lure. To catch one of these beasts when ice fishing, you will have to tick one out of two boxes.
Here’s the thing…
You either need to present them with something that looks like they would naturally find in their habitat. This is called an imitative lure.
You need to find something that provokes them to make an aggressive strike purely out of instinct. Walleye have an aggressive nature, and sometimes it is the sheer movement of your lure that will encourage a take.
It is often possible to get a lure that ticks both boxes at the same time.
And what works the best?
Well, that’s the fun part. No two days fishing for walleye will be exactly the same, and it is figuring out what they are taking on the particular day that is the tricky bit.
How to Ice Fish for Walleye?
There are a few ways you can lure fish for walleye.
The first is to use your lure and ‘jig’ it up and down in the water by lowering and raising your rod. This will make the lure ‘swim’ like an injured fish, and this movement may encourage a strike.
Sounds simple, right?
Well, not quite. You can also choose to fish your lure completely stationary. I’ve found on several days that walleye only hit my lure when it is still. You can get the best of both worlds by jigging and stopping in equal measure.
If you want to get a good idea of what goes on under the water, an ice fishing flasher is practically as good as having an underwater camera. You can even get an advanced warning that a fish is about to take your lure. I’ve got a great article here on ice fishing flashers that will tell you everything you need to know.
My favorite technique is to fish the lure all the way to the bottom and ‘bounce’ it. This works great when you know that the lake bed is muddy. The lure kicks up little puffy clouds of mud that act as a real beacon to a hungry walleye.
How to catch walleye when ice fishing using a lure is a very broad subject. What works on one day may not work on another.
Want to know what I mean?
This video is really interesting. Filmed over several days of walleye fishing, take a look and see if there is any rhyme or reason for the fish strike. There’s no consistency in how they behave at all!
What are the Best Ice Fishing Baits for Walleye?
Remember how I said imitative lures are designed to represent what a walleye might find in its natural habitat? Well, you can go a stage further and use the actual real thing.
Want to know what my favorites are?
I think live minnows are one of the best walleye baits out there. The only downside is that it can be hard to keep them alive for long when it is cold out on the ice. The cold water doesn’t do them any favors either. But that said, even as static ‘dead’ baits, they tend to catch really well.
Nightcrawlers are also some of the best ice fishing baits for walleye. Even if you can’t find real ones, you should be able to pick up a pack of artificial nightcrawlers without too much difficulty.
Does Colder Water Affect Walleye Feeding Behaviour?
The truth is that walleye don’t seem to slow down when it comes to ice fishing. Whether it is the scarcity of food or the fact that a big juicy lure is too good of an opportunity to miss, I can’t be sure.
I’ve fished summer days where walleye would only take a static bait and winter days where they would chase anything that moved.
The 9 Best Ice Fishing Lures for Walleye
You’ll find that when it comes to lures, there’s an almost infinite range. But you are looking for things that work.
If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I have lots of great suggestions. If you are looking for an article about ice fishing lures for trout, you’ll find it here. I can even suggest some great ice fishing lures for crappie too!
Here are some amazing suggestions for walleye ice fishing lures.
Salmo Chubby Darter
The Salmo Chubby darter is considered a true classic amongst dedicated walleye fishermen, and for a good reason. It really works.
The beauty of this lure is its slow sink rate. Due to its shape, it will ‘walk’ down through the water. To ‘reset’ the lure, all you do is pull it up a couple of feet and then it will sink and swim down through the water again.
The hook eye is located on the top of the body, perfect for suspending the lure from directly above and giving you the best chance of hooking into walleye, famous for ambushing prey from underneath.
Reward: The best slow fished walleye lure.
- A proven walleye catcher.
- Realistic shape and color.
- The high price point for a single lure.
Just like my ice fishing, I love starting strong. As walleye ice fishing lures go, this one really should have a place in your lure box.
Lunkerhunt Straight Up Jig Fishing Lure
Let’s keep it natural.
Walleye love nothing more than to obliterate baitfish. When you see this lure, you’d be forgiven for thinking it is the real thing.
Remember what I said about imitating a walleye’s favorite foods?
This is a great example. This lure is designed to look like an injured shiner, which features heavily in a walleye’s diet all year round. The best bit is that lunkerhunt offer a range of lures, all equally realistic, designed to match the local species found on your lake. So whether your walleye prefer trout or perch fry, there should be one to fit the bill.
One really great feature is the double hook at either end, so even if the lure is taken head-on, you should get a hookup.
Reward: The most realistic walleye lure for ice fishing.
- Clever dual end hook design.
- Really lifelike imitation.
- This is a minor point, but often with a treble and a hook at each end, it is quite easy for the line to tangle on the lure when jigging.
As lifelike bait imitations for walleye go, this is one of the best that I have seen.
Rapala Jigging Rap 05 Fishing Lure
When it comes to lures, Rapala is a household name. Often considered the ‘gold standard’ of imitation lures, they are solid fish catchers. The Rap 05 is a mixture of fish all in one, so if you can’t decide, why not go for a mix? It looks like a small pike, shiner, and trout all in one lure.
As with the Lunkerhunt lure, it features a double hook point at the tail and lip and is mounted on the top. This makes it perfect for jigging when ice fishing. This lure will swim in a slow circle when lifted through the water.
The lure has a glow finish, ideal for fishing in low light conditions.
Reward: The best premium walleye lure for ice fishing.
- One of the most trusted lure brands out there.
- Circular swim motion perfectly mirrors that of an injured baitfish.
- As with the Lunkerhunt lure, there is good potential for the line to snag with so many hook points.
A really solidly performing lure that should catch fish.
Live Target Golden Shiner Lure
This shiner imitation lure looks super realistic and is available in a few different finishes, so if you find that they are more silver-colored at your venue, you have a good option.
I like the super-realistic eyes, which often can encourage even the wariest of walleye to strike.
Did you hear my criticism of the Rapala lure? With this shiner, you needn’t worry about the hooks snagging as you can choose your own.
This is ideal if you are fishing in weedy water and want to minimize snags.
Reward: The best all-round walleye lure for ice fishing.
- Very lifelike and realistic looking lure.
- Durable and hard-wearing.
- Ok, so I like that you can fit your own hooks. I wouldn’t want to do it with cold hands. That said, with a decent pair of fishing gloves, it shouldn’t be too challenging.
This lure would be ideal for several species, all the way through to the summer. So although it occupies a premium price point, provided you look after it, it offers excellent value for money.
DOA Jerk Bait 13PK Golden Shiner
Let’s stay on the theme of shiners.
After all, they are one of the walleye’s favorite foods!
The beauty of these lures is that they are easy to set up on a jig head, and they sink really quickly. You can hook them so that the hook point is only exposed when you get a bite, meaning that they are essentially a weed-free lure.
They Would make the perfect choice for ‘bumping’ the bottom using the technique I described at the start of this article.
Reward: The best budget walleye lure for ice fishing.
- Super realistic and strike inducing fluttering motion.
- For the money, you are getting 12 lures, really great value!
- I wish these were ever so slightly brighter. I feel like in cloudy water, they would be quite hard to see.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know what I love a bargain. With this many lures in one great package, you can’t go far wrong.
SteelShad Mini-Series Lipless Crankbait
These little lures are small and pack a real punch. They actually contain a really clever feature. You can mount the hook in multiple ways to make them swim differently. If you are fishing two rods, you can try different combinations using the same lure to figure out what’s catching.
The belly section of the lure is heavily weighted, ensuring a really quick sink. These would be great for kicking up puffs of dirt and silt on the bottom.
Don’t let the small size fool you. When the bites are slow, you can often invoke a take even on quiet days by going miniature.
Reward: The best walleye lure to use for multiple species.
- Versatile hooking methods.
- Available in several realistic finishes.
- The dual treble hook will ensure a fish doesn’t get away, but it can often make unhooking difficult when you have two treble hooks.
These are really effective lures and are ideal for many species. You get 10 lures in a pack, so they are actually good value for the initial outlay.
Mepps Walleye Kit
Mepps spinners are some of the oldest lures on the market. Or, to put it another way, they are really tried and tested.
These aren’t so much imitative as they are designed to provoke. The rotating blade flutters and creates a dazzling flashing effect, irresistible to a wandering walleye.
If you have read my article on ice fishing at night, you’ll know that vibration can be really important in enticing predatory fish. Mepps spinners are really great at making this effect.
The best bit is that you get quite a lot of variety in each pack, so there is plenty to work through until you find what the fish-like.
Reward: A classic. The most tried and tested walleye lure for ice fishing.
- A tried and trusted method for catching walleye.
- Lots of variety.
- Spinners can sometimes become tangled, especially when jigging.
I can’t really fault Mepps spinners. They’ve been around for over 100 years. This should be a testament to how effective they are.
Dovesun Ice Fishing Kit
While we are on the subject of variety, check these out.
Regardless of what color or style you think will work, this low-cost kit will have you covered. Quite simply put, I love it.
There’s a weighted jighead of every color, not to mention imitation patterns of nightcrawlers and jelly tails. If you want something that will make a walleye seriously angry, you should find it in this box. It even includes glow in the dark jigheads, perfect for charging under a powerful headtorch.
As I said, I love a bargain. With 58 lures and countless combinations, this should be all you need to catch something.
Reward: The best value walleye lure kit for ice fishing.
- Huge variety and countless combinations.
- Great for bottom fishing.
- Too much choice? In all seriousness, this is a great kit.
For a beginner, it can get expensive if you are buying lures at $16 a pop. When starting out, your best bet is to get something that is cheap and gives you plenty of options. This kit would be ideal as a great starter setup.
LikeFish Ice Fishing Jigs with Treble Hook
Fluttering and vibration are crucial, especially in low light and murky water. These lures will flap and flutter, creating miniature ‘pulses’ that act as a dinner bell to a hungry walleye.
The cool thing about this jig setup is that it even includes a glow in the dark lure as part of the set. So you’ll be covered for any time of day or night.
My particular favorite is the bloodhead lure. For some reason, walleye seem to go mad when there is a red splash on the lure.
The body of the lure is made of lead, giving a super fast flutter and sink. Great for when you want to really impart some up and down action to encourage the walleye to lose its temper and lash out!
Reward: The best walleye lure for low visibility conditions.
- 4 vibrant colors in each pack.
- Dual vibrating blades creating lots of action in the water.
- Dual bladed lures can spin on the retrieve, twisting your line.
Although slightly unconventional in appearance, these will work. Walleye love lots of motion (when they are in the mood), and they don’t move much more than this.
If you nail your lure choice early on, you should get lots of bites.
When choosing the best ice fishing lures for walleye, the trick is to have plenty of options, so if plan A doesn’t work, you have a backup.
If you are serious about ice fishing, feel free to check out my other articles. I talk about all of the best gear. From ice augers to the best ice fishing jackets, I’ll have you covered.
What style of lure do you find works best? Let me know in the comments below.