Fishing for walleye is nearly effortless. Well, maybe not effortless—there are plenty of setups involved. But you can troll for them effectively, cover a lot of H2O real estate, and do it all day long.
Walleye are just like most fish, slow and lazy in cold water—fast and energetic in warm water. Armed with that knowledge, it should dictate your walleye trolling speed. Your bait has a lot to do with it and should include stickbaits, crankbaits, and live baits.
You can certainly catch walleye by more traditional means. However, walleye are shady fish and not predictable. They are one of the more notoriously difficult fish to find. Trolling eliminates that drawback efficiently.
Best Walleye Trolling Speed
Since trolling speed is predicated on the seasonal weather, it changes with the warmth and the cold. When walleye are cold and slow, keep the speed at 1 to 2mph. In the summer, take it up a notch, to somewhere between 2 and 4mph.
If you were forced to give a generalization, your speed should be between 1 and 2 mph. During the spring, you should keep it really slow. Just a lazy day on the water, barely inching along at about half a mile per hour.
Some anglers think that trolling is a lazy way of fishing, and maybe it is. But, here’s the thing—the object is to catch and eat fish. Trolling for walleye is one of the most effective ways to do just that. So, why not?
Tips for Trolling Walleye
Although there are a lot of good tips out there, nothing trumps experience. Getting out there and trying new things will inevitably end with new discoveries and better methods than anything listed here. But everyone has to start somewhere.
1. Adjust your trolling speed based on the weather
The spring and fall months are the slow trolling months, with fall a little faster than spring. You can cruise across the water a little faster in the summer. Walleye don’t make themselves more scarce during any particular season, but they do slow and speed up accordingly.
2. Number of rods
More rods mean more walleye. Of course, some states put certain limitations on how many rods you can troll for walleye with. If you can fit four on the end of the boat and stay within regs, do so. The more the merrier. Use two rods off the port and starboard and two rods aft, angled 45° out on each corner.
When you’re trolling for walleye, you want to keep everything identical. If you’re trolling with four rods, use the same line, lures, rod size, and reels. Use a fishfinder on your trolling adventures. A reel with line counters is important, so you can match everything to the rod that’s getting the hits, including line length.
You also want a premium reel, not something with cheap, weak drag. For rods, you want two shorts and two longs—6 feet and 8 feet. Use the long rods for long lines, trolling 75’ from the back of the boat or more.
Best Lures to Use
We mentioned crankbaits, stickbaits, and live baits in the beginning but which ones are the best? A spinner harness goes a long way with walleye. They like all that colorful movement. Lipped crankbait is one of the best options, but you will also have a lot of success with Salmo Hornets (typically in the spring) and long stickbaits in the summer.
Also, walleye prefer natural colors, so stay away from lures with wild, neon, bombastic color displays because it’s definitely overkill. If you’re trolling in a lower water column, down twenty or so feet, Rapala DT crankbaits are a great option.
Walleye don’t congregate in one big spot and throw up signs announcing their presence. That’s what makes trolling for them the perfect attack angle, especially if you know the right speeds throughout the four seasons.
Just remember to keep it slow in the colder months, speeding up a little in the summer, especially when it gets really hot out. Repetition is crucial while trolling for walleye too, adjusting everything to match the rig that’s having the most success.
Walleye aren’t known for being prolific fighters or making it easy for anglers to find them. But they sure are good to eat.
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