How to Choose Walleye Baits and Lures

Types of Walleye Fishing Lures

Lures are designed to mimic a fish's natural prey, so think about­ walleyes' eating patterns and food. Lures that move quickly will attract these aggressive hunters. Additionally, lures should be similar in size to the smaller prey fish.

If you're fishing with a jig head, choose the jig head based on water depth -- the deeper the water, the heavier the head. For the deepest walleye fishing, you'll want a jig head of about ½ ounce. In shallower waters, you can go as light as a 1/8-ounce jig head. If conditions are rough or windy, a heavier jig can help. [Source: Hoffman]

Depending on the time of year, you may want something that sticks close to the bottom, like a small but heavy jig (with a lead head) or a crankbait. [Source: Eggerston] If you go with a crankbait, again, choose one that mimics walleyes' natural prey -- narrow, and between three and five inches long. [Source: Hoffman]

In various fishing conditions, you might want to try:

  • High-action lures designed to go deep (especially in warmer months)
  • Crankbaits such as shad raps, jointed shad raps, or glass shad raps (with built-in rattles)
  • A balsa lure, such as a rapala
  • Live bait jigs (for casting or trolling at the beginning of the fall season)
  • A #3 or #4 spinner [Source: Hoffman]
  • Trolling crankbaits with more subtle action (better for the colder months [Source: Parsons]

Finally, you can key your color choice to the sort of water you'll be fishing. Use brighter colors for weedy or turbid waters.

Obviously, your bait depends on your choice of lure, as well as the fishing conditions. Read on.