There’s a reason that I am so passionate about having the best walleye lures.
I have caught a lot of fish, but if you asked me what gives me the biggest thrill each time, it is easy to answer.
No question about it. Not even close.
I’m sure you know the feeling – when you pull a walleye out of the water and the sun hits its belly a certain way, it feels like you’ve caught a pot of gold.
As far as I am concerned, walleye is the best of all worlds:
It is a delicious tasting fish found in the best restaurants, it puts up a great fight on your line, and is a prized sport fish that requires skill and knowledge to catch.
So, let’s take a look at the best walleye fishing lures to help you bring in the yellow pike!
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Keeping it Brief
If you really want to just hit the water, I don’t blame you. So I’ve summarized everything you need to know to catch big walleye.
You should still read the full list for specific examples, but here’s what you need to have a great chance of attracting the fish:
- Swimbaits that imitate walleye food.
- Soft plastics and jig heads to match with them.
- Crankbaits and other deep divers.
- Crawler harnesses.
- Worms – plastic or real will do the trick.
- Optional: live minnows, but they’re more important for ice fishing.
Ready… Set… Catch!
If you came here looking for the best baits to catch walleye all year long, you are in luck. If you’re not already familiar, read up on the best time of day to fish for walleye too.
I’m going to share with you the top six best walleye fishing lures and jigs.
However, I should warn you about something up front; be disappointed.
It’s almost impossible to pick the best lure for walleye fishing.
But don’t worry, that’s actually a good thing.
There’s a simple reason it’s such a challenge, as there are so many great options.
Let’s take a look at them.
TOP 6 Best Walleye Fishing Lures & Baits
Storm Original Hot n Tot Fishing Lure
There’s a reason this bait tops the list at number one.
I’ve caught more big walleye with this than anything else in my tackle box.
Seriously – they can’t get enough of it!
And for the money, you can’t beat it.
While this bait works great all year, I love it because it is one of the best spring walleye fishing lures.
It has a few notable advantages. First, it looks like a true walleye bait fish – it is shaped like a normal minnow, but it’s nice and fat.
It also has dynamite action. Watch it in the water – you can barely keep your eye on it!
Depending on where you look for it, this bait can be expensive, but it can also be sourced at more reasonable prices with a bit of effort.
Another advantage is that it comes in a lot of colors, so you can easily identify which color the fish are after just by switching up your lure.
I’m not kidding – if you only start with one lure in your tackle box, go for the Storm Original.
Just keep one thing in mind when fishing this bait:
It tends to dive deep. So don’t launch it at the shore line, because you could end up losing your lure.
And this one is so good, I’d be crying as much as you if you lost it.
- Looks like walleye bait fish.
- Great action.
- Comes in different colors.
- Deep diving action can cause snags and loss of lure.
Rapala X-Rap 12 Fishing Lure
I’ll be honest – it was really hard to choose between the top two for this list.
This double-jointed X-Rap from Rapala is another personal favorite – in fact, it is one of the first lures I learned how to catch walleye consistently with.
This style of bait is also one of the best walleye lures for trolling.
It’s sleek, long, and looks a lot like a real bait fish.
The tail on it, which usually comes in red or silver, adds a little flash that is hard to describe.
You need to see it to believe it.
The material it’s made from absorbs light really well, which provides additional visual appeal as it moves through parts of the water that are different shades of blue.
The action is also electric. When retrieving it, it suspends in the water when you pause reeling
Why does that matter?
A lot of lures simply sink or float when you pause during retrieval. This makes them look fake and can easily cause a chasing fish to give up. It is not natural behavior.
A lure that suspends in the water, like this X-Rap, looks like a real bait fish that has stopped suddenly.
Which is even more tempting for that giant walleye following behind!
And it gets better!
This thing casts like a dream.
Seriously – you don’t need to use all of your strength to bomb it out there. A small flick of your wrist and it flies – making it ideal for effortless casting – which is particularly useful if you’re kayak fishing.
- Great action.
- Amazing visual in the water.
- Easy to cast.
- Can be on the more expensive.
Berkley Johnson Silver Minnow
Sometimes, when you are really eager to catch a huge fish, there is a temptation to do what’s called “reinventing the wheel.”
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
It’s one that’s true of all fishing, but especially walleye fishing:
Classic lures are classic for a reason.
That’s it. That’s the secret.
And I don’t think any lure is a better example of this rule than the Berkley Johnson Silver Minnow.
I mean, just look at it. It could have been in your great-grandfather’s tackle box!
If you want an option that has been catching walleye for as long as people have been catching walleye, you need to own this lure – or one like it.
It does exactly what you would expect – it creates a striking visual in the water that is easy for fish to see, but doesn’t look too ‘weird’.
It comes in a selection of colors that are easy to match to the bait fish in your lake.
And it’s a budget-friendly purchase, meaning you won’t break the bank to buy a few or feel terrible if you lose one of these lures.
However, because this lure is so old school, it does require some active fishing on your part. It will sink if you pause its retrieval, which, again, is an unnatural look in the water.
And its action is pretty straightforward and consistent, so if you want this lure to produce movement in the water, you need to create it yourself.
- Time tested – we know it works.
- Good, predictable action.
- Budget lure for building your walleye fishing tackle box.
- A little one dimensional – what you see is what you get.
- Sinks if retrieval is paused.
Lindy Colorado Blade Crawler Harness Spinner
This is a lure that first appears a lot more complicated than it really is. If you have ever looked at it and thought, “nah, not worth the effort,” I hope this next section will make you re-think.
There are so many things to like about this bait, it’s hard to know where to start.
So let’s talk about the blade.
The blade on this bait adds a lot to the presentation. If you have ever seen one in the water, you know what I mean.
It creates the two main things that are essential to any great walleye bait: color and movement.
That should be enough, right?
But there’s one more element you add to this bait to make it a true walleye slayer.
Seriously. These harnesses have color, action AND a worm.
Now you know why it made this list.
I know it may look a little complicated, but I promise – it’s not.
There are two hooks on the set-up.
One end of the worm goes on one hook, and the other end goes on the other hook.
It literally could not be any simpler.
Having a worm on this bait adds so many more options to your walleye fishing strategy.
You can put a live worm on if you want to use a combination of artificial and real bait in your set-up.
You can also buy plastic worms in a wide variety of colors, which will give you a variety of color combinations.
If you are new to this bait, give it a try. Good news: it’s cheap to try it.
Just keep one thing in mind, okay?
Because it contains fishing line (the line that ties the two hooks together), it can get tangled in your tackle box.
So you need to store it carefully, or it can really frustrate you.
And this bait works so well, I would hate for you to be disappointed with it.
- Great color and action.
- Easy to switch it up.
- Requires care to avoid tangling when in storage.
Goture Ice Fishing Jig
I admit it – ice fishing isn’t for everyone.
But it’s definitely for me!
Nothing beats fighting a fish on a rod that’s half the size of the one you normally use, and pulling it through a hole in the ice.
Ice fishing is a great break from what can be a long and boring winter in many parts of the world, and it keeps keen anglers from losing their minds waiting for the thaw!
Obviously, there are a few differences between ice fishing and “normal” fishing.
For example – you are restricted to moving your bait up and down, and you need to be creative when trying to lure a fish from the icy depths.
This means picking the right bait is an important first step.
Most ice fishing baits are considered “vertical jigs”, meaning they are designed to move straight up and down, instead of being cast out and retrieved over a distance.
These Goture ice fishing jigs really do the trick, and they offer great up and down action.
They also have lots of hooks, so it is easy to add a live minnow to your bait, which is a common ice fishing strategy.
- Great color variety.
- Awesome vertical (up and down) action.
- Lots of hooks to add additional bait and increase chances of hooking fish.
- One dimensional – can only use it for vertical jigging.
YUM Grub Curly Tail Swim Bait
Okay, if you’re with me so far – you probably have a pretty good start to your walleye tackle box.
This bait is going to complete it. Not only that, it’s very affordable.
Seriously – add in what I think is the best walleye fishing jig, and you will have so many options that catch big walleye consistently, you will have trouble deciding which to use.
That’s a problem you’ll thank me for.
These curly tail plastics do it ALL.
Their action is phenomenal. They buzz through the water in a way that attracts attention, but still looks perfectly natural.
That’s a hard thing to pull off.
However, you need one other component to fish with these successfully – a jig head.
When you’re buying curly tails and jig heads, think visually. Think about the color combinations you are buying and how they will look together.
Ask yourself, what color jig head would look best with what color curly tail?
If you give yourself lots of options, you are almost guaranteed to find one that will work.
Just remember, these baits are a soft plastic, so they get torn up from lots of use – especially if hungry walleye are biting them.
So plan on using lots of them – because you’re going to catch lots of fish, right?
- Great action.
- Easy to mix and match colors.
- Very affordable.
- Need to buy additional jig heads to use this.
- Soft plastic breaks down with use.
Buyer’s Guide for Walleye Lures
I think you’ve figured it out: there is a lot of choice when it comes to walleye baits!
So the following buyer’s guide will give you some general rules to help you always pick the right one.
We already looked at a few great examples of swimbaits. It’s easy to understand what a swimbait is – it’s right in the name.
A swimbait is a bait designed to look like a swimming fish. So really, any minnow shaped lure in your tackle box is a swimbait.
There are a few reasons these are great for walleye. For one thing, walleye are aggressive feeders – they love to swallow up small prey fish around them. Any bait that looks like something they would see in the wild is going to do very well for you.
Another reason I love swimbaits is that they come in a variety of colors, so it is easy to mix and match to find out what the walleye in your lake are hungry for.
Swimbaits also usually have three treble hooks on them, for a total of nine hooks per bait. If you have ever felt a big walleye fighting on your line, trying desperately to get off, you know exactly why having multiple hooks is so important.
Swimbaits come in lots of brands and varieties. I love Rapala and Storm. I like to have a mixture of long and skinny-shaped swimbaits as well as short and stubby ones in my tackle box.
As far as colors go, my personal favorites for walleye are dark yellows and oranges, but having a variety available to use at any time is what’s important.
Jigs and Jig Heads
A jig and jig head combination is another great approach for catching walleye.
They give an angler an important key to success when you are on the water:
If you have a few colors of the best walleye fishing jig, and several more colors of jig heads, you have almost endless possible color combinations that you can use on your fishing trip.
That means if the fish are biting, you are almost guaranteed to find the right bait for them with your jig set up.
Earlier in this article, I looked at some of the best brands and makes for jigs. You will also notice that jigging style lures are among the best walleye ice fishing lures.
Making Color Count
The first thing I do on a fishing trip where I am using a jig to catch walleye is a color contrast.
It usually works.
What this means is that I want the color of the jig head to contrast with the color of the plastic jig. It’s pretty simple.
If you put me on a lake right now, this minute, I would probably reach into my tackle box and pull out a white jig head and an orange jig.
Or the opposite – an orange jig head and a white jig.
You can’t beat the contrast. You will know what I mean when you see it moving in the water. It also offers the fish two different colors to feed on – in this case, you have a good chance of catching a fish that wants to eat orange bait or white bait.
As I was saying… more choice means more fish.
And more fish is the goal, right?
Change Depth, Find Fish
Jigs offer another unbeatable advantage for walleye fishing. They’re really easy to change depth with.
Think about it.
A jig is one of the easiest lures to control. If you want it deeper, you just let it fall. If you want it higher up in the water column, just reel it in.
We know that walleye change depths throughout the day. Generally, they move shallower as it gets closer to sunset.
This makes a jigs’ ability to easily change with them a huge advantage.
The Final Word
I admit – there are so many great walleye baits out there that this summary contains a lot of information.
I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed or confused, so just focus on these basics.
Walleye are predators. They love to eat baitfish. So choose baits that look like their natural food.
Swimbaits, crankbaits, worms… you got it.
They also have terrific senses. Sight, touch, smell… they can pick up on it all.
So go for bold, bright colors with great action, and you can’t go wrong.
Also, think about ways to create contrasts in your bait choices – pick colors that look especially appealing when they go together.
And don’t be afraid to give a crawler harness a chance if you have never tried it before.
There you have it.
The top six best walleye lures. If this isn’t a great start to your walleye fishing career, I don’t know what is!
Let me know which lures you prefer and why, or if you have any top walleye hunting advice you’d like to share.
But if you follow all these tips, I’ve got great news:
It’s walleye o’clock!