How to Catch a Walleye – Complete Walleye Fishing Guide With Tips

Walleye (Sander vitreus) are one of the most popular and sought-after freshwater game fish in North America. Prized for their delicious, flaky white meat and the challenge they pose to anglers, catching a walleye is a true testament to one’s fishing skills. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of walleye fishing so that you could know all about how to catch a walleye.

We’ll delve into the secrets of successful walleye fishing, exploring essential techniques, gear, lures, baits, and tips that will transform you from a novice angler to a walleye-catching expert. So grab your tackle box and let’s embark on an exciting journey to unlock the mysteries of walleye fishing!

how to catch a walleye

Understanding Walleye: Habitat and Behavior

To catch a walleye, you need to understand their natural habitat and behavior. Walleye are typically found in large lakes and rivers, preferring clear, cool, and moderately deep waters. They are a nocturnal species, which means they are mostly active in low-light conditions such as during dawn, dusk, and on overcast days.

Walleye are ambush predators, using their excellent vision to locate and strike their prey, which consists mostly of small fish like perch, shad, and minnows. They prefer to stay near the bottom or in submerged structure such as weed beds, drop-offs, and rocky points where they can easily ambush their prey.

Walleye Fishing Gear and Tackle

Rod and Reel:

Look for a medium or medium-heavy power rod with a fast action. This combination offers the sensitivity needed to detect subtle bites while providing enough backbone for solid hooksets. Spinning rods in 6′ to 7′ range are popular choices.

Pair it with a quality reel with a smooth drag system and sufficient line capacity. Consider reels with a gear ratio between 5.2:1 and 6.2:1 for the ideal balance of speed and power.


Monofilament or fluorocarbon lines in the 8-10 pound test range are suitable for most walleye fishing scenarios. Fluorocarbon has the advantage of being nearly invisible underwater, which can be helpful when targeting walleye in clear water.

how to catch a walleye

Terminal Tackle:

A variety of hooks, sinkers, swivels, and leaders are necessary for different walleye fishing techniques. Popular hook choices include live bait hooks, circle hooks, and jig heads. Slip sinkers, split shot, and bottom bouncers can help you present your bait at the proper depth.

how to catch a walleye

Lures and Baits:

Walleye are known to be selective feeders, so having a variety of lures and baits is essential. Some popular choices include crankbaits, soft plastic swimbaits, spoons, and spinners. Live bait options include minnows, leeches, and nightcrawlers.

Walleye Fishing Rigs:

Walleye fishing rigs are specialized setups used by anglers to target walleye, a popular freshwater game fish. These rigs typically consist of a leader line, hook, weight, and sometimes a spinner or attractant. Popular rigs include the Carolina rig, which involves using a sliding weight and bead to create a natural presentation, and the slip bobber rig, which suspends a baited hook below a bobber for precise depth control. Other popular rigs include the Lindy rig, which uses a sliding weight and snell hook, and the crawler harness, which utilizes a spinner blade and live bait to attract walleye. The type of rig used depends on the fishing environment and the angler’s personal preference

If you are interesting in ice fishing and walleye both then do check our comprehensive guide on ice fishing for walleye, you will love it.

How to Fish for Walleye/ Walleye Fishing Techniques


Jigging is one of the most effective techniques for catching walleye fish by using a jig, which is a type of lure consisting of a weighted head and a hook. The jig is typically tipped with a soft plastic bait or live bait, and the angler lifts and drops the lure in a rhythmic motion to mimic the movement of prey. Jigging can be done in a variety of styles, including vertical and horizontal jigging, and can be effective for catching a variety of fish species in both freshwater and saltwater environments

Drifting and Bottom Bouncing:

This technique involves dragging a bottom bouncer rig with a spinner or live bait along the bottom to cover larger areas of water. Drift with the wind or use your trolling motor to maintain a slow and steady speed. A weight called a bottom bouncer, which is attached to the fishing line and allowed to bounce along the bottom of the river or stream. A baited hook is suspended above the weight, and as the weight bounces along the bottom, the hook moves through the water in a natural and enticing way attracting various fish species including walleye


Trolling is a technique that involves dragging a fishing lure or baited hook behind a moving boat. This technique is commonly used in open water to cover a large area and locate fish that are feeding at different depths. Trolling with crankbaits, spinners, or spoons is an effective way to cover large areas of water and locate actively feeding walleye. Pay attention to your trolling speed, lure depth, and the structure you’re targeting to maximize your chances of success.


Casting and retrieving lures like crankbaits, swimbaits, and spinners near structure can be a productive method for targeting walleye during low-light conditions, with a series of jerks and pauses to mimic the movement of prey. This technique is versatile and can be used in a variety of fishing environments, such as freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes, as well as saltwater bays and estuaries. Be sure to vary your retrieval speed and depth to trigger strikes from finicky walleye.

Slip Bobber Rigs:

Slip bobber rigs allow you to present live bait at a specific depth, making them an excellent choice when walleye are holding near submerged structure. Adjust the depth of your bait by sliding the bobber stop along your line until it’s at the desired distance above your hook. This technique is useful in still water environments, such as lakes and ponds, where fish are feeding near the surface or at specific depths.

Vertical Spoon Jigging:

Vertical spoon jigging is a technique commonly used in deep water environments, such as offshore or near underwater structures like reefs or wrecks. This technique involves dropping a heavy metal spoon lure vertically through the water column and then retrieving it in a series of quick jerks and pauses to mimic the movement of prey.

This technique is particularly effective during the winter months when walleye are often found in deeper waters. This technique can be effective for catching a variety of fish species, including walleye, pike, and bass.

Night Fishing for Walleye

Night fishing for walleye is a popular angling technique that involves targeting walleye during their most active feeding periods. Walleye are known to be nocturnal feeders, and therefore, night fishing can be an effective way to catch them. However, fishing for walleye at night requires specific tactics and gear to ensure success.

Tips for Night Fishing for Walleye:

  1. Choose the right location: Walleye tend to move into shallower water at night, making it easier to target them. Look for areas with rocky bottoms, weed beds, or other structures where walleye may be feeding.
  2. Use the right bait: Walleye are known to be attracted to live bait such as minnows, leeches, and nightcrawlers. Consider using glow-in-the-dark jigs, spinnerbaits, or other lures specifically designed for night fishing.
  3. Adjust your fishing technique: Walleye have excellent low-light vision, but they are still more cautious at night. Slow down your retrieve and use a light touch to avoid spooking them.
  4. Pay attention to the moon and weather conditions: Walleye tend to be more active during the darker phases of the moon, and overcast nights can also be good for night fishing. Windy nights can create choppy water, which can trigger walleye feeding behavior.
  5. Use electronics to locate walleye: Fishing at night can be challenging, but using electronics such as fishfinders and GPS can help you locate fish more easily.
  6. Stay safe: Fishing at night can be dangerous, especially if you are on a boat. Make sure you have proper lighting and safety equipment, and always wear a life jacket.

By following these tips and using the right gear, you can increase your chances of catching a trophy walleye.

Walleye Fishing Tips for Success

Best Time to Catch Walleye:

Walleye are most active during low-light conditions, so plan your fishing trips around dawn, dusk, or overcast days. Additionally, walleye are more active during the transition from Spring to Summer therefore Spring and Summer are called as walleye fishing season.

Water Temperature:

Walleye prefer water temperatures between 60°F and 70°F (15°C and 21°C). Keep this in mind when planning your fishing trips, as walleye may move to different depths or locations based on water temperature.


Modern fish finders and GPS units can be invaluable tools for locating walleye. Use these devices to identify structure, track water temperature, and mark productive fishing spots for future reference.

Patience and Persistence:

Walleye are known for their finicky behavior, so patience and persistence are key. Experiment with different techniques, baits, and lures until you find what works best for the conditions and the specific body of water you’re fishing.


Practice catch and release, especially for larger, breeding-size walleye. By releasing these fish, you’re helping to maintain healthy walleye populations and ensuring future generations of anglers can enjoy this rewarding sport.


Catching walleye requires patience, skill, and knowledge of their behavior and feeding habits. By using the techniques and tips discussed in this article on how to catch a walleye, anglers can increase their chances of landing these elusive fish.

Remember to experiment with different lures, baits, and rigs, and to pay attention to the environment and conditions. To uncover more walleye fishing secrets, consider joining local fishing clubs or online communities to learn from experienced anglers.

With practice and perseverance, anglers can unlock the thrill of landing a trophy walleye in their favorite walleye fishing spots.

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