Minnows work great for walleye. Anglers use a variety of minnows to catch walleye, but some of the popular minnows to use are fathead minnows, emerald shiner minnows and golden shiner minnows. Creek chubs, redtail chubs and suckers are also some great bait fish to use for walleye.
Smaller minnows in the 3 to 4 inch range are great for action. Most anglers will go with extra large fathead minnows when using smaller minnows. Smaller chubs, sucker minnows and shiners can also be super effective in this size range. You will catch some bigger walleye with smaller minnows too, but expect to catch mostly smaller walleye.
When you want to target bigger walleye, go with the bigger minnows. The 5 to 6 inch chubs and sucker minnows are perfect for targeting big walleye above 20 inches. You don’t need to go super big either, so don’t feel like you need the huge minnows that are typically used for northern pike and muskie. The 5 to 6 inch minnows will work well for walleye in the 18 to 30 inch range and even bigger.
Best Live Bait Techniques for Walleye
Fishing Vertical for Walleye
Vertical fishing is probably more popular for walleye than for any other freshwater fish. Anglers usually use a jig and minnow to fish vertical, but you can use several other rigs as well. The Carolina rig and drop shot rig are two other great rigs for fishing vertical. By using your electronics, you can stay on top of the better fishing structure and get more bites by fishing vertical. Minnows, leeches and nightcrawlers all work great fishing vertically.
Slow Trolling Live Baits for Walleye
Slow trolling while staying vertical is a popular smallmouth bass fishing technique over deep water, however, it works great for walleye as well. Set up your favorite live bait and slowly move along the piece of structure to target feeding walleye.
Trolling with Spinner Rigs or Scroungers & Live Bait for Walleye
Trolling a spinner rig is probably the most popular way to target walleye in the summer. You can use them from spring through fall though. Nightcrawlers and leeches tend to work better in the summer, but minnows will attract walleye from spring through fall with these techniques.
Types of Minnows That Work Well for Walleye
Best Live Bait Rigs for Walleye
A well place slip bobber works great for walleye. When the fish are in the shallows, a regular bobber will work as well.
This rig is popular for walleye especially when fishing a little deeper and using some live bait. The heavier weights will get the bait down to the bottom, but the extra line allows the minnows and leeches some freedom to swim around a bit, which can help attract more bites at times.
The drop shot rig is one of the best rigs for catching walleye. Use this rig shallow and deep and everywhere in between and if you know how to set up the drop shot rig, you will only use the weight when you get snagged up which saves time compared to using a jighead when fishing in rocky areas.
A jig and minnow is the most popular way to fish for walleye. Make sure to match the correct jig size for the bait you are using and for the depth you want to fish. Most walleye anglers use a jig and minnow to fish on the bottom or just off the bottom.
A split shot rig is also is a great setup for targeting walleye in the shallow to mid depth ranges and even for suspended walleye. Use just enough weight to get your bait down to where the fish are.