There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that works as well for Walleye as crankbaits. But, oh man, do your arms get tired casting and retrieving.
The answer? A nice bit of trolling.
By towing the bait behind you, you’ll only need to handle the rod for the best bit. The strike! To ensure this happens, you will need to pick the best Walleye trolling lures, and I’m here to help.
This is my complete guide to choosing the best walleye lures for trolling and how to fish them.
Ideally, the best Walleye trolling baits will be deep diving. When being pulled behind a boat, the natural tendency is for them to come up to the top of the water. Aside from this, look for bright colors, especially if you are trolling at speed!
After more info? Here is everything that you need to know…
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Choosing the Best Walleye Trolling Baits – My Ultimate Guide
Chances are that if you fish for long enough, most lures will eventually work. But why not cut out all the hard work so you can get on with what matters, actually catching fish!
I have a quick checklist I run through when I am selecting walleye lures for trolling. Here are the things I tend to go for:
This should be your first port of call when choosing a trolling lure.
Unlike with regular Walleye lures, you aren’t going to be inhibited by how big or heavy you can cast. The boat is doing all the hard work.
You can afford to go a little bigger.
I tend to find that lures that are around 4 – 6 inches are my particular ‘goldilocks’ zone. It also cuts down on the nuisance species that will start attacking your lure if you go too small (although I never complain about catching the odd bass).
I’m just going to come right out and say it.
The brighter, the better.
Unlike with shore fishing, when trolling, the fish will get one chance and one chance only to see your lure, so you had better make it count! This is particularly true in murky water.
Anything that strongly contrasts the surrounding lake bed or water is a good place to start. You’ll tend to find that most trolling lures (such as those on my list below) are really bright and bold.
That’s not me being flamboyant…
It’s because they work.
Remember, Walleye have excellent eyesight, but it never hurts to give them a helping hand to see your lure even more clearly.
You’ll often find that the Walleye will circle around and have another go if you leave your lure sitting if you get a missed hit when shore fishing. When trolling, this isn’t an option. By the time the walleye circles around, your lure could be 20 yards further away!
What I’m getting at is…
You want to guarantee a hook-up each and every time the fish bites the lure.
Treble hooks, and plenty of them.
Be sure to choose a lure with at least 2 sets of trebles. 3 sets are even better.
Whereas when shore fishing with lures, often the problem is keeping them away from the bottom, in trolling, the reverse is true.
When you are pulling a lure behind a boat, it will naturally tend to ride up into the upper reaches of the water due to being pulled at speed. In fact, you’ll have a fight to keep it off the surface. This happens even with the best Walleye trolling spoons (which weigh a lot).
Here’s the solution.
Pick lures with big diving vanes. This ensures that they swim to the depths you need to get them down to. Some even come with adjustable vanes, so you can vary the depth you are fishing, all with one lure.
This is a big one.
If you made 100 runs with a lure with rattle and again without, I reckon you’d find that the lure with a rattle would be more successful by several orders of magnitude.
I can’t say it any plainer than this…
Walleye love hearing a rattle in your lures.
Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!
What is the Best Trolling Speed for Walleye?
Listen up. I’m going to teach you something here that works a treat!
Figuring out the best trolling speed for Walleye is easy, provided you follow a few rules of thumb. The first is that the warmer the water, the faster you go. Walleye are much more likely to chase something in the summer than the winter.
Second. The brighter the day and the clearer the water, the faster you can go. Bright conditions will allow the fish to see the lure that much clearer.
Want an easy formula?
You might have to get a little European here, but this really works.
If you know the water temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, divide this by 10 and then cut the answer in half. That is your maximum trolling speed.
So, for water that is 60°F, your max trolling speed would be 3mph. (As a ballpark figure). 40°F would be 2mph… Great, right?
If you can’t be bothered with complex math, here’s a quick reference table to help you out:
1.3 – 1.5 mph
2.0 – 3.0mph
1.5 – 2.5mph
Didn’t you know that walleye season changes based on Season? Don’t worry; here’s everything you need to know about walleye fishing times.
TOP 7 Best Walleye Trolling Fishing Lures
Ok, now you’ve got an idea about what to look for, let me show it to you in practice. Here’s some great walleye trolling yours for you to have a good look at, fully reviewed.
Bright? Check. Plenty of trebles? Check. A nice deep-diving vane? Check.
What I’m saying is this one ticks all the boxes.
You’ll find that with a decent pull, this one is easily capable of reaching depths of up to 27 feet, staying well below the surface.
Fruit dots might not look natural, but the splashes of color mixed in with plenty of white means that you’ll get plenty of visibility. The black head even creates a nice silhouette against the sky when viewed from below.
Each lure comes with a string of beads inside, too, giving that signature crash and rattle that we talked about before.
If you don’t like the color or want a range, loads are available. I’d probably recommend getting the chartreuse black stripes as a good fallback option.
Loads of colors available.
Nice diving action.
Could have used better hooks and split rings.
Not good for shallow water fishing.
Quality lures always have a little mark up so don’t let the price put you off. This one is worth every penny. In bright conditions, it really shines and is one of the best Walleye trolling lures for summer without a shadow of a doubt!
This is one of my go-to lure companies when I want something that works.
You know those cheap Walleye trolling lures? This is what they are trying to imitate.
Now, with this one, you have got a couple of options.
You can fish it ‘virgin’ and as white as it comes, which is deadly on super dull days.
You have the option to paint it in a finish of your choosing. In fact, this is what it is designed to do. Find what works, get a few of these cheap, and then make more of them. It is that simple!
The diving vane works well, and you might notice this lure has got a curved upper lip, too, preventing the lure from going too deep and making it perfect for trolling in mid-shallow water.
Literally unlimited options (provided you have the paint).
Highly effective, even if unpainted.
Great for mid to shallow water.
It is not that much cheaper than pre-painted lures…
If you’ve read any of my articles on fly tying, you’ll already know that there is no nicer feeling than catching on something you have crafted. This lure represents this mantra too. It’s from a well-known lure company and will work really well. Give it a go!
When the summer is in full swing, walleye love to tear into shoals of tiny perch. And this lure will certainly encourage that unruly behavior!
I chose this one because I loved the finish, and it just so happens Walleye do too!
It only comes with two trebles, so I had missed the odd fish when the lure was attacked from the side, but generally, it is rock solid in terms of performance,
The other stand-out feature is its behavior when trolled. With a constant pull, it will swim dead level at 20ft…
When you pause, it doesn’t rise back up to the surface and instead will ‘hang’ at whatever depth you have left it at.
All in all.
It’s pretty perfect!
Beautiful realistic finish.
Excellent swimming behavior for trolling.
Some sizes and finishes aren’t that wallet-friendly.
I wish it had an extra treble.
My ‘cons’ are minor. If there was one on my list to choose, this might be my favorite. I love the way it swims, the build quality, and of course, how many Walleye it catches, and you will too!
Strike King Walleye Elite KVD 300D
Did someone call for three trebles?
Now, this is what I am talking about.
I mean, it’s called ‘sexy shad’… If that doesn’t make it worth a go, I don’t know what will.
As the name would suggest, this is sleek, realistic looking, and it does the job. The yellow stripe seems to trigger more frequent bites, and the realistic 3D eyes are a premium feature you’d normally find on lures that are 2x the cost!
This is a relatively shallow swimmer, so I’ll say that it is great for summer, not so good for winter (when the fish are down deep).
There are other colors in the product line too, if ‘sexy shad’ isn’t your bag, give ‘violet alewife’ a try.
Huge range of colors and finishes.
Perfect for warmer conditions.
It isn’t exactly budget, but that said, it works well, making it worth the cost.
This one is heavy enough to cast as well as troll, so you’ll have plenty of scope to use it. I’d treat this as a ‘special’ lure reserved for when the big boys are out and hungry. It’s not to be used over weed, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
What caught my eye here is the chrome blue-black finish. It looks a little like a desert sunset.
I could go on a rant about the middle treble being missing, but considering that I got twice as many bites using this means I didn’t see a drop in my catch rate!
At 3.5”, it is just perfect for Walleye, big and small, and the diving depth of 14 feet makes it just about ideal as a good all-rounder for both deep and shallow water.
If you are fishing in cloudy water, go for “popsicle”, I swear even I could see this underwater.
A vibrant range of colors.
Perfect depth makes it one for all seasons.
Easy to see.
Guys, where’s my middle treble? Come on!
While I didn’t mention it in the review, this lure is a budget version of the ‘big players’… but the fish don’t know that. Essentially you could get a range for 50% of the cost, neat, eh? Aside from missing the middle hook, this is perfect and should work well.
If you’ve read my article on different types of lures, you’ll already know that predators love a ‘blood head’ finish. It triggers something primal in the fish and is devastatingly effective.
And there’s more than just the color.
Remember I talked about adjustable vanes?
This features a bendable metal diving lip, allowing you to tweak and optimize until it swims at the perfect depth for your trolling adventure. Alright, you might have to play around, but you don’t need to worry about trolling speed as you can tailor your lure to swim perfectly every time.
The white color is perfect for 90% of lighting and water conditions.
And finally, the hooks. These things are razor-sharp and seem to have held their edge, even after being stuffed in my best tackle box during the colder, damper months. This is a big plus in my book!
Tried and tested fish-catching finish with the ‘blood head’ design.
Adjustable diving vane.
Mid-priced offering value and quality.
I love the adjustable vane, but it might be a bit advanced for beginners who don’t know what they are doing.
Deep diving walleye lure? Shallow diving walleye lure? Or something in between? The answer to all is “yes” when looking at this lure.
Pick your color, set your depth, and you’ll be away in no time. You’ll get a max depth of 27”, making this an ideal lure if trolling for Walleye in winter too!
For those of you who have gone out and bought super cheap Walleye trolling lures, I feel your pain.
Let me guess…
It was swimming off to the side, twisting your line, and left you feeling fed up and hacked off?
This is the answer.
No, it isn’t expensive. Yes, it will swim true and straight, which is just what you want. Oh, and did I mention it catches mega Walleye too?
“Sunspot” and “candy slush” are my go-to colors at the moment. They work really well in colored water and are lethal towards the evening when Walleye come out to take advantage.
The lure is a little bigger than most, but don’t worry, Walleye are known to attack things nearly their own size, so they’ll have no trouble in gobbling this up!
Oh, and before I forget, you can also insert a glowstick into the lure, making it a good walleye trolling lure for night fishing!
Deep diving, perfect for faster-trolling speeds.
The best walleye lure for night fishing, with glow in the dark inserts.
I’d rather charge the glow in the dark with a torch instead of investing in glowsticks.
There is no better lure in my box for night fishing and trolling. I even use the glow during the day, especially when it is cloudy, which seems to work wonders. This has excellent deep diving action making it my go-to choice for getting down deep and dark.
You’ll find a range of the lures above in my box at any time of year. Armed with a selection of the best Walleye trolling lures, with a range of colors and diving actions, you’ll be starting from a position of strength (which you’ll need, man these fish pull hard).
If it’s the depths of winter, why not consider ice fishing for Walleye? Which was your favorite from the list above? Let me know in the comments. Tight lines!