Jigging is probably the most popular way to fish for walleye. A simple jighead with a nightcrawler, leech or minnow will get the job done. There are plenty of anglers that will also use soft plastics, but live bait is preferred for the majority of anglers. Green, chartreuse, orange and glow in the dark colored jigheads seem to be the most productive jigheads, although, other colors will also work. Nightcrawlers, leeches and minnows all work well on jigheads.
The jigging technique is simple. You can cast the jighead out and hop it along the bottom or drag it along the bottom back to the boat. You can also fish vertically. When fishing vertically, there are a variety of ways that you can jig your bait. With live bait, a simple lift and drop technique works well. You can also slightly jerk the bait up off the bottom and let it fall back down to the bottom. This more aggressive jigging motion tends to work better with minnows, but it will also work with leeches and nightcrawlers. Another method is to jig your bait up off the bottom and then hold your bait a few inches off the bottom before dropping it back to the bottom. All of these techniques will work for walleye.
Trolling bottom bouncer rigs are a great way to catch walleye, especially in the summer when they are deep. Here are a few things that I like to keep in mind when trolling bottom bouncers. Make sure to use a heavy enough weight to stay on the bottom for the speed you are trolling. A slower speed will allow you to use a lighter weight. A faster trolling speed requires heavier weight. Let out enough line so the line can get down to the bottom. If you’re not bouncing the bottom, you’re going to be missing fish most of the time when fishing for walleye, although, at times, walleye will be suspended.
Spinner rigs work well with bottom bouncers. Green, chartreuse, orange and glow in the dark colors work really well. Nightcrawlers, leeches and minnows all work well with spinner rigs. You can use bottom bouncers with live bait and just a hook as well. Leeches swim well and usually produce quality fish in the summer, but don’t forgot about nightcrawlers, minnows and chubs.
Many anglers will cast for walleye, however, it is often one of the least effective ways to fish for them in many deep water situations. The best times to cast for walleye are when these fish are in water that isn’t super deep. From the shallows to about 15 feet of water, you can definitely be efficient in fishing with a variety of live baits, soft plastics and crankbaits for walleye. When the walleye are deeper though, there are better techniques that you can use to catch more walleye.
Drifting for walleye is a very productive way to fish for them. The key to drifting is getting the right wind. You need a wind that will blow you over the area that you want to fish and it needs to blow you at the right speed. When the wind does blow harder, you can put out some drift socks to help slow the drift speed down, but you still need to have the wind blow in the right direction. Some good areas to drift over are large flats, large rocky bottom areas (reefs), points and along weed lines if you can get the right wind.
Most walleye anglers keep it simple when drifting. A jighead or slip sinker rig get the job done for most anglers. When the drift is faster, you can use spinner rigs and have a lot of success as well. Nightcrawlers, leeches and minnows all work well with all of the rigs that were just listed above. You can also use bottom bouncers or snagless sinkers to help keep you out of snags.
Drop shotting works great for walleye, although, most walleye anglers never consider using a drop shot rig to fish for them. Drop shot rigs will get your bait or soft plastics down to the bottom like a jighead, but this rig will keep your baits just off the bottom. When walleye are in a feeding mood, the drop shot rig works great. There are times that walleye are inactive and a jighead will get more strikes because it gets the bait right on the bottom where many inactive walleye rest, but you can definitely use the drop shot rig and catch plenty of walleye. At times, it may even work better than a jighead so you just have to try it out to see what is going to work best on any given day.
Trolling is one of the most popular ways to catch walleye. You can fish with live bait and artificial lures when you troll for walleye. Crankbaits and swimbaits are the most popular artificial lures that anglers use when trolling for walleye. With live bait, anglers usually use a slow death rig with a half nightcrawler or a spinner rig with a live nightcrawler, leech or minnow.
Trolling speeds depend on the lure selection and the time of year. Anglers troll anywhere from half a mile per hour up to 3 miles per hour, but average speeds probably range from 1.8 to 2.5 miles per hour.