Although dead-sticking with natural bait can be extremely effective when out on the ice sometimes you need a bit of action or vibration to get walleye to bite.
The best walleye ice fishing lures tend to produce an injured bait-fish action. Jigging is most definitely one of the most productive methods of snagging a winter walleye out on the hard-water.
Some of the best walleye lures can be used year round even in the depths of winter. Trolling with a harness rig is pretty much finished once the ice starts to form, but your summer jigs can be used during winter.
Action, vibration and a flash of color are the most important attributes of a good ice fishing lure for walleye.
There are generally three types of lures that are most effective:
All of which require a jigging action to add some life, vibration and flash into them.
A common technique is to put a small piece of natural bait on one of the treble hooks. This also adds some scent onto your lure which is often overlooked when ice fishing for walleye.
A small night-crawler, minnows or leeches can work wonders on a small spoon or jig head.
This really was a toss up between the Jigging Rap and the Bay de Noc below as to which would be first in our list of the best ice fishing lures for walleye, but the Jigging Rap wins it just by a whisper.
The Jigging Rap has been producing fish for the past thirty years and shows no sign of slowing down with age it is a type of jig that can also be categorized as a swimming lure due to it's lifelike swim action.
And it is just as effective in summer as in winter. If you are ever stuck trolling a harness and seeing no results, find a few walleye on your depth finder and start jigging with a Jigging Rap!
For walleye you can use up to a size #9 although that would only be on the largest of waters where you know there are big walleye lurking.
A good approach is to start with a size #5 and see what is biting. Color wise I always try to "match the hatch" as they say. If there is a healthy population of small perch in the waters you are fishing then start with the classic perch pattern.
Otherwise the classic silver is a safe bet.
The all time classic walleye ice fishing spoon the Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple is responsible for catching literally thousands of walleye down through the years.
It is the go to flutter spoon for many walleye fishermen. It's swim action imitates an injured minnow or other small bait fish.
Fishing a Swedish Pimple is very simple drop it to the bottom or just off it, reel in some slack and then jig it with vary different twitches and pauses of your rod tip.
It flutters on the drop and and emits a lot of flash that can pull in walleye from a long distance especially in low light scenario's.
You can add scent easily to the treble hook using a head or tail of a small minnow or shiner.
A lot of anglers will go o far as to replace the treble hook with a single or dropper chain.
Size wise look at the number #3 or #4 in a variety of colors. A good place to start is with a more natural gold or silver and it that is not producing switch to one of the more flashier artificial patterns.
The Sebile Vibrato as is part flutter spoon part swimming jig and it sure does produce. Another all time classic ice fishing lure for walleye.
It is best worked with shorter, snappier twitches of the rod tip rather than with long powerful strokes. These shorter twitches done in batches of two or three with a brief pause between give it a very distinctive movement through the water.
Allow it to rest on the bottom for a brief count of two or three seconds and then start again. A lot of the time you'll actually get a strike when it is at rest on the lake bottom.
A classic jigging spoon with a rather chunky body the Slender spoon from Custom Jigs and Spins is simple but certainly effective.
Unlike a lot of other flutter spoons the Slender spoon is actually quite wide at the head and thinner at the tail. This shape gives it quite a pronounced fluttering action as they fall through the water.
Walleye love them and they are best jigged with a slower action given the width of the body. Again it is to imitate an injured minnow so start with more natural colors and start from there.
Although it may look pretty similar to the Jigging Rap above the Rapala Snap Rap has a much more pronounced swim action. This ice lure can be fished in almost the same way as the Jigging Rap but you do need to be a bit more form with your jigging action to get the best out of it.
It has a beefier tail fin than it's more popular cousin and has a more slender body. These design differences means that it has a different swim action.
They tend to sink much quicker and are more suited to deeper jigging work. The Snap Rap is also useful in larger open water jigging.
A jigging spoon with a difference as the name suggests the Northland Buck-Shot Rattle spoon have a built in rattle that helps draw in walleye from far under the ice.
A very basic jigging spoon but with addition of the inbuilt rattle it can be a top performer when other spoons seem to fail.
The patterns are also top notch with the gold/perch being one of the best ice lures for walleyes of all time.
Size wise look for the 1/16 or 1/8 of an ounce as the go to sizes.
You can fish these off the bottom with a nice rhythmic jigging action. Some of the patterns are glow in the dark so if you are ice fishing for walleye at night then make sure to have a small selection of these excellent walleye ice spoons in your tackle box.
Another walleye ice lure that has an inbuilt rattle the Lindy Darter Rattling is pretty similar to one of the most successful lures of all time the Salmo Chubby Darter.
They are great in darker waters where the walleye need the added attration of a little bit of sound to help with the strike.
They have a slightly slower action and sink rate than some of the other lures listed above, so they are not really suitable for really deep walleye jigging.
There are a few main types of lures for walleye ice fishing. They will of course vary by size shape and color depending on the brand that you buy.
Once you have a small selection of each lure you can be pretty sure that you have almost every situation covered.
You don't need a massive tackle box full of lures, just a decent spread of colors and types.
Start out with a couple of each of the lures from out list above. Those lures are considered all time great walleye ice jigs and you can be sure that on any given day one if not half of them will definitely produce.
A common addition to any of these lures is to add some form of natural bait to one of the hooks.
Most of these lures worth by giving out a flash, vibration and/or a rattle or a combination of all three.
However, you can really increase your chances if you add a small bit of bait to the hook.
Natural bait has a scent that will increase the chances of a walleye investigating your lure.
Nightcrawlers or a minnow head are the two most popular choices to use.
Just be aware that if you add too much bait to the hook it will affect the swim action of the lure so you need to be really careful to only add just enough.
When using minnows the most common practice is to only use the head of the minnow.
Although there are literally thousands of walleye lures available out there narrowing down your choices is what will yield the best results.
The best walleye lures are never going to work in every situation and every possible light or season.
You need to pick the right tool for the job. Crankbaits, trolling lures, blade baits and jigs have always been the most productive lure for walleye that have stood the test of time.
The best walleye lures to have in your tackle box are:
The Cotton Cordell Wally Diver can be considered as one of the most successful walleye lures ever.
Great for trolling thanks to an aggressive lip which gets them running down to just under 20 feet depending on your setup.
A slim design profile gives a tight wiggling action on the retrieve.
There are two sizes available a CD5 and a CD6.
The CD5 is 2-1/2 inches in length will dive down to a depth on about 8 feet when casting and when on the troll down to roughly 11 feet. Like all trolling lures for walleye this can be extended down to deeper depths with the use of a downrigger or lead core line.
The CD6 is 3-1/8 inches in length. When using a casting setup it'll go down to about 11feet, when trolling it'll go to 18 feet.
Between both sizes you can cover pretty much any depth that walleye are commonly found at.
With a big range of colors available there are lots of options depending on the time of year and the what kind of light you are fishing on.
The Rapala Shad Rap along with the Wally Diver above is one of the best walleye crankbaits every built.
Personally I have a pretty even split of Shad Rap's and Wally Diver in my tackle box. Of those Shad Rap's I tend to favor the size 5 with a few number 7's thrown in for good measure.
Available in a shallow diver(with a shorter angled lip) and a deep diver variation. Once you find the most productive colors for the water you are fishing it is a good idea to get those colors in both the shallow and deep diving models.
This way you can use the colors that you know are working at a variety of depths.
The Shad Rap is a solid performer and with only a handful of the size #5's you should be able to catch walleye in almost any type of light and water.
The Salmo Hornet is quite the stocky looking little crankbait. As a walleye lure it is best fished in a size #3 or a #5. Occasionally you may need to move up to a size #5.
With a big dive lip and short stocky body it produces quite an aggressive swim action.
There is also a 'rattlin' model available with a built in rattle. Personally I only tend to try those types of lures in very bad light situations.
Fuzz-E Grubs are the all time classic walleye lures used for jigging. The distinctive marabou tail gives them an extremely life like action when jigging.
Personally I have found any color variation that contains chartreuse or black to be the most effective.
One of the go to walleye lures for late spring or early summer the Storn Hot 'n Tot Mad Flash has a highly erratic left to right action.
The action needs to be tuned to the speed at which you run the lure for the best results.
The 1/2 ounce size is a particular killer if trolled in lakes. The black/chrome and black/gold are the basic colors that work well.
You can experiment with the brighter colors depending on the day. Sometimes the fire tiger will produce all day long other times it's the more naturals looking lures that work best.
The Husky Jerk from Rapala is a really versatile lure for walleye. It is just as good a performer as a casting lure as it is for trolling.
Unlike the Original Floating Rapala featured below the Husky Jerk is a suspending model meaning that it has an almost perfect neutral buoyancy.
This neutral buoyancy allows you to use a stop/go retrieval method when casting from the shore over gravel bottoms and on the outside edges of weeds beds.
When casting from the shore line you can throw the Husky Jerk retrieve for a few seconds then pause. Instead of starting the retrieve again give the it a little 'jerk' by twitching the rod tip.
This tactic is particularly effective in cold water as walleye will be generally a little lazier. You'll find this can be more effective than trolling as a winter walleye will try to expend as little energy as possible.
When trolled they will run deeper than the original floating Rapala without the need for lead core line or split shot to be added to your setup.
Often thought of as a ice fishing lure only, those in the know have used the Jigging Rap to murder walleye in the early season.
It has a very distinctive circular swim pattern when used for vertical jigging in open water. Best used when the bottom structures change in depth such as a drop off shelf or some thing similar.
A great lipless crankbait the Strike King Red Eye Shad gets it's name from the distinctive red eye that shimmers when light reflects off of it. They also have a built in rattle which helps walleye to hone in on them.
These walleye fishing lures work best in shallower waters. They are a sinking lure so you can control the depth at which they run by using a slow count after they hot the water before you start to retrieve them.
When a Rapala is just running too shallow and you need to get your lures down into the depths it is the Reef Runner Deep Diver the reigns supreme.
Available in a large range of colors this lures are responsible for producing some of the largest walleyes ever caught.
The Original Floating Rapala is one of the best selling lures of all time. They've taken monster musky, salmon, trout and walleye. When you troll one of these you get one of the most life like swim actions ever produced.
Each one is individually hand tested in a tank to ensure the very best swim action.
There is a big range of colors and sizes available. They can be flat lined or used with downriggers and lead core lines alike.
Built from balsa wood they are a floating lure and will generally dive to shallow depths on retrieval.
Salmo lures for walleye have been one of the top performing crankbaits for decades. Countless large walleye have been taken on lure like the Salmo Hornet.
Without a doubt the the Hornet from Salmo is their most popular crankbait. Walleye love it's action when trolled.
We'll take a look at the best way to fish them and some of the best Salmo Hornet Colors for that are tried and tested.
The original Salmo Hornet is arguably their most popular crankbait and with good reason; it produces on the water!
They are a real killer when trolled and you generally do not need that many different colors especially if you fish the same lakes on a regular basis.
How to make the original Hornet even better ?
Add a built in rattle to the body of the lure. Hard-bodied lures with rattles have been proven time and time again. The inbuilt sound acts as an added attraction, especially in low light scenario's or in darker waters.
The most popular sizes of Salmo Hornet to use when fishing for walleye are the size 3 or size 4.
You can of course move up to the larger size 5, but for some reason walleye prefer the somewhat smaller sizes.
The color that you choose can have a massive impact on how well you fish. However I'm still convinced that trolling depth is the most important thing to get right.
The most popular choices would be:
Hornets are probably best trolled from a boat however you can use then to cast near dams and rocky beds or near drop offs in the depth of the bottom on a lake.
When walleye trolling you generally need to troll along some kind of structure. That structure can take the form of a dam wall, weed beds, rocky shallows or a drop off in the bottom.
In summer months trolling along long contour lines of the bottom deep down is highly productive as walleye will tend to favor a specific depth.
You can control the depth with a couple of different methods:
This depth is usually determined by water temperature. How the depth and temperature relate to each other like a lot of other variables will change from venue to venue. The best approach is to experiment at a different depths through the day and record the water temperature if you find fish at a certain depth.
Speed wise you should be looking to maintain a speed of roughly 2 miles per hour. This can of course vary depending on the depth that you are trolling at.
Crankbaits for walleye are one of the most versatile lures you can have in your tackle box.
The best walleye crankbaits imitate smaller bait fish that the walleye will naturally feed on. This imitation combined with an irresistible action or wobble forces the walleye to strike the crankbait lures really hard.
There are a number of different types of crankbaits that you can use:
As you can see from the list above there is a huge range of crankbaits that you can choose from. Combined with the vast array of colors and different brands available the choices are seemingly endless.
Below we have profiles the top crankbaits for walleye. With so many walleye lures available to choose from we have tried hard to keep the list short at only 10 lures. You could easily pick a few 100 crankbaits and every one of them would produce fish depending on your location, time of year and weather.
Along with the original floating the Shad Rap is one of Rapala's most successful lures. It can be see as the ultimate walleye cranking lure. Available in a massive range of colors and 4 different configurations there is literally one for any occasion.
For walleye the most popular sizes would be the #5 and the #7. Casting them on light spinning tackle can be a lot of fun and trolling with the larger sizes has produced many specimen walleye.
The Wally diver from Cotton Cordell is a killer on the troll. It has a very aggressive lip which helps get it down to about 20 feet when trolled depending on the size. The action is pretty tight as you would expect from a lure with a slim profile.
If casting is your thing you can do quite well with the neutral/suspending model. Lots of pausing and twitching can tempt fussy walleye that refuse to hit anything that is moving at speed.
The Yo-Zuri Deep Diver is a staple for those out trolling deep for larger walleye when they lie down in the depths in the summer heat. Available in a large range of colors, some of the more popular are the bright reflective ones on dull days and the more natural ones on brighter days.
These lure have a great action and tend to run quite deep. Trolled over larger structures or along steep drop off's in larger lakes and reservoirs are when they are most effective.
The Red Eye Shad from Strike King is one of the best lipless lures available. It has a built in rattler and bright red eyes(as the name suggests) that all add to its attractor qualities.
These work great in the summer months cast over a sand bar or flat or a gravel bed when walleye fishing on rivers. Allow the lure to sink and create a small plume of sand as it it's the bottom, continue this action on the retrieve. You can cover a large area by working each cast over a large arc across the sand flat.
They can also be trolled at very slow speeds along weed beds and other vegetation.
With it's large lip and big chunky body the Model A has a big action for a small lure. The large plastic lip can be used to bounce it off of rocks and is a killer when cast along the side of weed beds and other structures.
On the retrieve it will dive to between 6 and 8 feet depending on your set up and speed of retrieval. If you are in really shallow water you can work it with the rod tip up and as fast speed, the resulting wake just under the surface can help to force strikes.
The original mioow lure from Rapala is probably the most successful floating minnow lure ever made.
Each lure is hand tested in a tank to ensure the perfect swim action. The #11 is a a favorite and can be trolled in just about every situation provided you have a means of getting it down to your desired depth.
They don't dive super deep but because of their shape and lip have what is arguably the most natural swimming action you can find in any lure.
Another deep running crank for trolling the Reef Runner. The range has a lot of of crazy colors to choose from and most will work best on really dull days or when night fishing for walleye.
This are best when water temperatures are low. In summer heat you can try to get them down deep where the water can be may degrees cooler.
Yet another shad crankbait, but just as high a quality one as the previous ones listed. Just like all Rapala lures these are individually tank tested for optimal performance.
They have a distinctive flicker when retrieved hence the name.
One of the smallest lures listed here the Hornet is an excellent choice if you are fishing in really shallow water. As the name suggests it has an in built rattle that helps entice fish out from under cover.
Another small lure just like the Salmo Hornet above it but just as effective as some of the other larger crankbaits for trolling.
The type of colors that you choose when fishing with crankbaits for walleye like most other lures will generally depend on the weather or in other words how bright the sun is shining.
To a lesser extent the water temperature can also have a big impact on what to fish with. Just be aware that water temperature and sunlight are of course closely linked, but what season you are fishing in will generally have a larger impact on the water temperature.
Without a doubt on bright days and in clear water you really do want to avoid anything too unnatural or flashy.
Overly bright and flashy colors will work best on dark days or in darker water. You can use florescent pink as an extreme example especially when down real deep. Try to pick patterns that have some kind of contrast on them such as a firetiger or sparkling minnow.