TROLLING FOR FALL WALLEYE - SIMPLIFIED
Trolling minnowbaits and crankbaits is a reliable way to catch walleye in the fall. In this article we’ll breakdown gear, line, lures, speed and more fundamentals you need to know to consistently catch big, autumn walleye on hard-baits.
Best baits and where to fish them
From walleye holding along weed edges, gorging on minnows, to tanker-sized ‘eyes suspending 30 feet over deep basins, chasing schools of baitfish, we’ve got a bait that’s perfect for every depth scenario. Here are some of our best fall trolling lures for walleye.
Original Floater - This minnowbait is a must for nighttime trolling when walleye cruise shallow shorelines, weed beds and flats close to deep water. The Original’s tight-wobbling action and natural profile are irresistible to walleye. For deeper applications, pull one on lead core line and get ready to fill your limit.
Shad Rap - A cold-water winner, the SR07 (2-3/4”) to SR09 (3-1/2”) are perfect fall trolling baits for walleye. The Shad Rap’s tight-wiggling action makes it a great choice when walleye are relating to mid-depth ledges, points, sand bars and vegetation edges.
Tail Dancer - The Tail Dancer’s banana-style profile and large bill give it a wide tail swimming action, accented with an internal rattle that drives walleye wild. The TD07 (2-3/4”) and TD09 (3-1/2”) cover the 9 to 15 foot range. Trolling Tail Dancers will catch walleye relating to mid-depth contour breaks, rocky points, sand bars and reefs. These baits are equally good at night worked along deep ledges. Tip: For added evasive, strike-triggering action, try our Scatter Rap Tail Dancer that swims like a panicky, escaping minnow thanks to its unique Scatter Lip.
Deep Tail Dancer - Featuring the same great action, but with a bigger profile and an extreme diving lip, the Deep Tail Dancer series dive from 15 to 40 feet deep. These lures are fall fishing essentials for trolling deep water, like river ledges, wing dams, deep humps and basins.
Down Deep Husky Jerk - This lure dives fast and runs straight and true. Its loud rattles attract walleye, while its suspending action triggers bites. Excellent for catching walleye relating to basin structures or open-water baitfish in the 20 to 40 range.
Pro Tip: As fall progresses, expect to find more walleye relating to deep ledges, humps and other structures as well as pods of baitfish suspending over deep water.
Tools of the trade
Having the right equipment is important when trolling for walleye. When pulling baits for shallow fish at night, a 7’ medium spinning or casting rod, reel and 8- to 10-pound Sufix Advance Monofilament is a reliable set-up. Often a cast behind the boat and a slow troll are all it takes to catch fish under the cover of darkness.
Use this same outfit for trolling irregular weedlines. Pull baits on short line for more precise turns along the plant growth.
Different trolling gear is needed for deep water. Long-lining is the name of the game and you’ll catch more fish using a line counter reel as it helps precisely troll a lure at a specific depth, which should be at or above where fish are displaying in the water column on your fish finder.
Pro Tip: Find diving depth information on our Lure Selector App or by viewing this depth chart.
Dive curve specs are based on Sufix monofilament and, as such, we suggest spooling up with at least 10-pound test on one of our 20 or 30 sized RSCII, Delta or Hydros line-counter trolling reels. However, using thinner diameter 30-pound Sufix Advanced 832 Superline increases the running depth of a lure, but adding a 15- to 20-pound, 5-foot fluorocarbon leader in clear water.
For flat lining, or when using inline planer boards, we recommend our Magnum and R-Type In-Line Board Series 7’9” to 8’11” technique-specific trolling rods. These rods provide the right amount of blank flex to keep a big, head-shaking walleye pinned, along with quality components and High Density EVA handles for all-day, fish-fighting comfort.
Pro Tip: An inline planer board pulls a lure away from the boat, which can be essential for catching walleye spooked by the vessel. While unnecessary on some waterbodies, on clear lakes receiving heavy fishing pressure, inline planer boards typically mean better walleye action.
While it’s always best to experiment with speed, pulling baits between 1.5 to 3.25 kilometres-per-hour (1 to 2 miles-per-hour) is a good range in the fall. As water temperature drops, expect better results trolling at the middle to lower end of this range.
It’s also important to test a lure’s action at boat side to ensure it’s tuned properly. Do this for every bait as not all lures perform optimally at the same speed.
Dressing for success
Underestimating fall weather is asking for trouble. Autumn winds can quickly chill an underdressed angler. For comfort and warmth, dress in layers with moisture-wicking clothing, along with insulating layers like our Tech hoody. Good outerwear, like our RapTech Rain Suit, is needed for blocking wind and shielding against rain, snow and boat spray. Insulated hats, gloves and balaclavas are also fall essentials. Lastly, always wear your personal floatation device.
We hope the above tips help you have your best fall walleye season.