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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.
Worms – plastic or real will do the trick.
Optional: live minnows, but they’re more important for ice fishing.
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.
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?
Easy to mix and match colors.
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.
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: