One of my earliest memories as a kid walleye fishing was using walleye rigs. If you’re a walleye angler and haven’t used or heard of a Lindy walleye rig, then you’re missing out on a piece of walleye history. Let me explain.
In the early days, there was a product that came out that changed walleye fishing forever…the Lindy Rig. It was a long leader of monofilament fishing line that had floats, beads, and some with blades leading down to the hook. It was deadly and still is.
Nowadays, there are a wide variety of walleye rigs on the market. If you go to a big-box tackle store, you’ll notice HUGE isles full of various rigs of all kinds.
You can fish them with ANY live bait, really. You can use nightcrawlers (worms), leeches, minnows, shiners, creek chubs, etc. If it’s legal, it’s used on a walleye rig.
While most are high quality and can catch fish right out of the package, be very careful before you stock up on inexpensive rigs. I’ve run into “name brand” rigs that use cheap lines that break easily…ouch.
The fact of the matter, if you don’t want to spend a ton on pre-made walleye rigs, then I suggest making your own. But keep in mind, once you start shopping for components, you’ll probably end up spending almost as much. Making walleye rigs is fun and I make them with my kids…score.
So with that being said, let’s talk about my favorite walleye rig setups.
Slow Death Rig
Besides the Lindy Rig, the invention of the slow death hook can easily take 2nd place as one of the more innovative ideas in walleye fishing rigs. Why? Because it flat-out catches fish!
I wrote a long article on Slow Death Fishing already, so feel free to check that out if you want to get in-depth. The gist of slow death fishing is using a bottom bouncer, with a leader of monofilament to a slow death hook. You can fish it plain, or with components.
Keep in mind, that when you’re fishing slow death I mean you’re fishing SLOW. Usually around 0.5 to 1.0 mph. There are times where speeding it up is the ticket, but usually, you’re fishing it slow.
The key is to use a monofilament line, not fluorocarbon because it floats. From there, if you add components, make sure you use LIGHT or SMALL blades. Because if the rig gets too heavy, it’ll start dragging the bottom and picking up snags.
Also, we typically don’t use longer than 3-foot leaders for this reason. I don’t like my walleye rigs dragging the bottom.
Lastly, see the video below on how to properly put a crawler on a slow death hook.
Walleye Spinner Rig
While slow deaths are my favorite ways to rig walleyes, there are times where you want to speed it up and get flashy. And that is where walleye spinner rigs come into place.
There’s only one problem though, which blade should you use? There are Indiana, Colorado, Willow, Hammer blades, etc., the list goes on.
I think it all comes down to experimenting with various blades, sizes, and colors. Because you never know when THIS color or THAT blade was the ticket, so be prepared.
A walleye spinner rig is basically a monofilament leader, blade, beads, and a hook (or 2 or 3). Again it all comes down to preference. I typically tie my spinner rigs with 2 hooks for fishing crawlers, and one hook for minnows or leeches.
Speed is the key to fishing spinner rigs for walleye. I like to troll around 1.3 to 2.1 mph most of the time. You’ll want to mix up your speeds to find out what’s working best that day. Never be afraid to experiment with different speeds, and don’t be afraid to switch up your blade styles.
Walleye Minnow Rig
A walleye minnow rig comes in many forms. In some respects, you can fish it like a walleye spinner with one hook. That can work at times, but usually, I’m fishing various minnows rather slowly.
I like to have my minnow swimming around, especially when I’m rigging creek chubs. Let the bait do the work for you, just run them slowly.
The big difference in the way I fish walleye minnow rigs is that I rarely use bottom bouncers. Rather, we rig them with egg sinkers and a short leader. I’ve found that long leaders can be almost too much, especially when rigging larger minnow species. To each their own, that’s what works for me.
Walleye Night Crawler / Worm Rigs
Nightcrawlers are one of the more versatile baits to rig. MOST walleye rigs encompass worms or crawlers. Like I mentioned earlier, I always use 2 hooks for my night crawler rigs (unless I’m fishing slow death).
You can get as clever as you want when making these rigs. I like to experiment with various blade and float combinations because as I said earlier, you never know what’s going to turn the walleyes on.
I made a video on making walleye nightcrawler rigs as you can see below.
Shore Fishing with Walleye Rigs
If you’re shore fishing for walleye, then you’ll want to keep your rigs simple.
Again, forget the bottom bouncer…that’s for boats. You’ll want to use flat, heavy weights to keep it on the bottom (especially if you’re fishing rivers with current).
As for the rig itself? I would use a plain leader and a hook. There are times where adding a float can really help raise it off the bottom, too. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Where I usually fish, we can use 2 rods so I will typically rig a plain rig and a floating walleye rig. Find out what they want and adjust from there.
Don’t use blades, please. It’ll just keep the bait on the bottom. 😉
Trolling with Walleye Rigs
Trolling with walleye rigs is something I’ve gotten away from in recent years, but this year, I’m bringing it back. As I stated earlier, you’ll want to experiment with various speeds and techniques for getting the baits down. You can fish bottom bouncers, snap weights, leadcore, etc. Just depends on how you’re set up to fish.
I find using Trollmaster or I-Troll to dial in your speed is important. And every once in a while, try hitting the max speed bottom. At times changing your speeds is what it takes to trigger a fish. Keep in mind, walleyes aren’t afraid to chase bait for a long time.
I’ve probably caught just as many walleye in my life with walleye rigs as any other presentation. Like I said, it just flat out catches fish. There’s a reason why most people do it for that reason.
And making your own walleye rigs doesn’t have to be rocket science, you just need to know your knots and some creativity doesn’t hurt either.
And this is a fantastic activity to do with your kids. You’d be surprised how excited a kid gets when they catch a walleye (or any fish for that matter) on a rig they made themselves. Just another way to get kids outdoors, and that ain’t a bad thing.