Gearing Up For Walleye Opener And Beyond
April showers bring May - Walleye! Season opener is fast approaching and now is the time to stock-up on fishing gear. Below is a look at new walleye tackle, but first a springtime walleye refresher.
Post-Spawn Walleye Patterns
Early-season walleye relate to emerging weed beds, sand and mud flats, breaks, points, sand bars, wing dams and river current seams. Particularly productive spots will be near rocky reefs, gravel shorelines, tributaries and other areas where walleye will have spawned.
In many waterbodies, spring walleye abide in the shallows near shore out to 15 feet. After several weeks, they start moving towards summer areas, like deep structure.
A sensitive rod helps detect light walleye bites. This is where 13 Fishing’s Omen Black Gen III rods enter the picture. Responsive, balanced and comfortable to fish, the medium-light and medium power spinning models perform flawlessly for pitching light jigs, hoping Rap-V's, drop-shotting, snapping Jigging Raps and live-bait rigging. Pair rods with a 2000 or 3000 Creed series reel.
Who doesn’t like catching walleye casting crankbaits, like Shad Raps, Tail Dancers and Shad Dancers? Here, the 7’1” Omen Black cranking-specific, moderate action casting rod with a Concept A Gen II or Origin C baitcast reel makes a fine crankin’ combo.
Lay It On The Line
Many spring walleye locations contain vegetation. Using abrasion-resistant Sufix ProMix, 832 or 131 braid is recommended as these thin diameter lines easily slice through weeds when hung-up or when setting the hook. Braid is also zero stretch, helping you feel more bites. Ten- to 15-pound test tied with an 8- to 12-pound fluorocarbon leader pairs well with a Creed spinning reel.
Generally, crankbaits are best fished on a line providing some stretch. Likewise, when trolling a worm on a SpinDrift Spinner Rig behind a heavy bottom bouncer. Sufix Advance Monofilament provides the perfect amount of cushioning and shock-absorption without being too stretchy.
Gear Up With Jigs
Fishing jigs for springtime walleye is not only effective, it’s a lot of fun! Be sure to stock-up on the new VMC Moon Tail Jig, designed with input from legendary walleye expert, Al Linder. The Moon Tail hair jig has an oversized, asprin head for a fast fall and excellent control. Gigantic, 3D holographic eyes trigger walleye and the TechSet technical locking curve hook keeps ‘em pinned.
When walleye prefer boot-tail or split-tail plastic minnows, VMC Moon Eye and Sleek Jigs are recommended. The Moon Eye has an improved asprin head, reliable hook and big, 3D holographic eyes that drive walleye wild. The Sleek Jig is Linder’s top choice for swimming a soft-plastic along bottom and over “incredibly snaggy” terrain. The Sleek Jig also features the no-nonsense TechSet hook.
A swimbait is great for covering water and catching eater-sized walleye as well as trophies. Having a mix of sizes, profiles and tail types is useful for refining a fish-catching pattern. Here are some to consider.
The new Storm Largo Shad has an incredible shimmy with an exaggerated tail swing. The 13 Fishing Churro is a thinner minnow with a jointed design for a steady kicking swim. My Name’s Jeff is a hollow-body, floating swimbait with a subtle paddle great for finesse applications. Donkey Sauce infuses 13 Fishing’s plastics to stimulate walleye’s smell and taste receptors.
Rig any of these swimbaits on a VMC Hybrid Swimbait Jig. The wide spring keeper secures the plastic for no-fuss fishing and the strong hook’s widened gap easily buries in a walleye’s yap.
Last but not least are Storm’s 360GT Searchbait and 360GT Searchbait Swimmer. Pre-rigged on a life-like, rattling jig head, the realistic body and toe-in, boot-tail design is a winning package. Available in several colour patterns to match regional forage.
Versatile Jigging Lures
Casting and hopping a #6 Rippin’ Rap along bottom is a tactic every angler should try in spring. The Rippin’ Rap’s loud rattles, heavy vibrations, tall profile and detailed finish evoke big strikes from springtime walleyes, especially in murky water.
From early spring into ice-up, the #7 Jigging Rap catches walleye. We’ve shared before how its erratic, darting swim and fast, gliding fall effectively cover water and trigger savage strikes. Pitching, strolling and vertically jigging are all in the versatile Jigging Rap’s wheelhouse.
Horizontal Swimming Hard-Baits
Jerkbaits are a great option for typical shallow, spring walleye spots. Using a pull-pause retrieve with a Rapala Shadow Rap, Shadow Rap Shad or RipStop (in standard and deep versions) will put walleye in the net.
The Shad Rap is another can’t-miss bait for cool, springtime conditions. Cast or trolled, this bait is effective at sweet-talking strikes from walleye. Tail Dancers, Glass Shad Raps and Shad Dancers are other great potent walleye crankbaits.
Spring walleye anglers are best to gear-up with a sensitive rod, reliable reel and quality line. A collection of jigs, soft-plastic minnowbaits and swimbaits, along with various hard-baits will round out the collection. Then it’s just a matter of finding the fish and getting to work.