How to Troll for Walleye

Walleye are one of the most fun and sought after fish in the world but can sometimes be a trick to catch.

 Trolling for walleye can be a highly effective method to catch these elusive and prized fish, especially in larger bodies of water where they roam. Whether you're a beginner or looking to refine your trolling skills, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know to increase your chances of success.

 Understanding Walleye Behavior

Walleye are known for their nocturnal feeding habits and sensitivity to light, which makes them more active during low-light conditions such as dawn, dusk, and overcast days. They often inhabit deeper waters during the day and move to shallower areas at night to feed. Understanding these patterns can help determine the best times and locations to troll for walleye.

Choosing the Right Equipment

  • Rods and Reels: Medium to medium-heavy rods will do just fine but make sure to pair them with reels that have a smooth drag.
  • Line and Leader: It's best to use monofilament or fluorocarbon line in the 8-12 lb test range for mainline but fluorocarbon leaders of 10-15 lb test are ideal to prevent line visibility and withstand the walleye's sharp teeth.
  • Trolling Lures: Common trolling lures for walleye include Rapala Scatter Raps, Husky Jerks, Bandit Walleye Deep Divers, and Salmo Hornets. Choose colors that mimic local baitfish and vary your lure depth to find where the walleye are feeding.

Casting for Walleyes on Crank by Matt Straw – Great Lakes Angler

Setting Up Your Trolling Rig

  • Depth Control: Adjust the depth of lures based on where walleye are located. Use downriggers, planer boards, or diving weights to achieve different depths.
  • Speed: Walleye typically respond well to trolling speeds ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 mph. Experiment with different speeds to find what triggers bites that day.
  • Spacing: If using multiple lines, stagger your lures at different distances behind the boat and use planer boards to get your lines spread out to the sides to cover more water and avoid tangles.

Trolling Techniques

  • Straight Line Trolling: Simply trail your lures behind the boat at a consistent speed. Adjust your boat's direction to cover different areas.
  • Figure Eight Pattern: When you reach the end of your trolling run or spot a potential strike zone, make a figure-eight turn to keep your lure in the strike zone longer.
  • S-turns: Varying your boat's speed and direction in S-shaped patterns can mimic erratic baitfish movements, triggering strikes from walleye.

Location and Timing

  • Structure: Focus on trolling near underwater structures such as drop-offs, points, weed edges, and submerged rocks where walleye are likely to ambush prey.
  • Time of Day: Early morning, late afternoon, and evening tend to be the most productive times for walleye trolling due to low light conditions.

Patience and Persistence

  • Experiment: Walleye can be selective, so don't be afraid to change lure colors, sizes, depths, and speeds until you find what works.
  • Stay Alert: Watch for signs of fish on your depth finder or bird activity indicating feeding walleye.

Conservation and Ethics

  • Catch and Release: Consider practicing catch and release to conserve walleye populations, especially with larger fish that may be breeding stock.
  • Follow Regulations: get familiar with local fishing regulations and size limits to ensure sustainable fishing practices.

Learning from Others

  • Community and Resources: Engage with local anglers, join fishing clubs, and watch instructional videos to learn new techniques and stay updated on the latest trends in walleye trolling.

By following these tips and techniques, you'll be well-equipped to tackle walleye trolling with confidence and increase your chances of landing that trophy fish. Remember, each day on the water is a learning experience, so enjoy the journey and tight lines!

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