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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.