In my eyes, I feel walleyes are one of the most difficult freshwater fish to pattern. Why? Well, for starters, there hasn’t been a real long history on walleye fishing. When I was a kid in the 80s, everything was DEEP, DEEP, DEEP…we all know nowadays that that’s not always the case. Walleye fishing has evolved a lot in just 30 years.
We used to fish everything SLOW when I was a kid, and while there are times that’s necessary, it’s also not always the case. I’ve slammed big walleyes trolling 3.5 mph with crankbaits in the spring, so the slow myth goes out the window pretty quick…
Heck, look at the changes in the tackle from then to now? Everything was so simple back then, and nowadays, it’s almost like it’s too complex, at times. Some seem gimmicky to me (I won’t pick on anyone in particular). We’ve all got that ONE lure in your tray that never gets any love. Why? Because it caught YOU and not the fish!
Anyways, the anatomy of a good walleye ice fishing lure goes like this. It has to be flashy, and it needs to have solid hooks. Way too much tackle out there comes with cheap hooks. I don’t have much patience for them, especially when fishing lakes that have some monsters.
And when I say flashy, I mean it has to trigger the bite. That’s really all there is to fishing walleyes under the ice. Warm fronts, cold fronts don’t matter, if you find the right presentation to make them react you’ll be catching most that come through.
There are a lot of baits nowadays that I use to trigger bites. But I’m usually fishing spoons or raps unless the fish are really finicky where I go small. The flash of the spoon usually turns on walleyes. A couple rips and they’ll probably hit it on the fall.
Fishing raps such as Rippin’ Raps or Jigging Raps are amazing because you can work the bait horizontally. And these baits are FAST, with various swimbacks or falls that are when the walleye smacks the bait.
The simple stuff, the slow bobber fishing stuff just doesn’t hold a candle to the production of an active jigging rod for walleyes. And if they do hit the bobber, it’s probably because you called the fish in with your active presentation. In my experience, dead sticks RARELY outfish an active rod. You need to work your presentation and trigger the bite.
My tackle box is getting more simplistic in recent years. I have 5 various trays, separating by presentations. But some walleye lures just work and are hard to be reinvented. I feel the fishing tackle industry has walleye dialed in right now, and there are a lot of walleye baits that just flat out work.
So in my eyes, you really only need 2 types of lures for ice fishing walleye.
- Aggressive Lures – Lures mentioned such as flashy spoons or swimbaits.
- Passive Lures – Small jigs and spoons tipped with a minnow for when the fish are off.
There, I just saved you hundreds of dollars on wasted tackle. Pick up the basics on both ends and you should be able to hit the ice for under $50. And give a lure a fair chance at peak times. Don’t put it on when nothing is swimming and say it sucks, that’s just not how it works.
Find what works for you, and know where to find walleyes for ice fishing is over half the battle…the lures just seal the deal. I’ve found that knowing walleyes tendencies throughout the winter will ensure you’re at least on fish. From there it’s just experimentation.
Good luck this winter and please take a kid fishing. What’s not to love about ice fishing???.