Walleye are an outstanding sport fish to target on your next fishing trip. They are a great fish species for both the highly experienced walleye angler, as well as the beginning hobbyist. One of the best things about walleye fishing is that you won’t need to invest large amounts of money in order to get started.
In fact, basic and budget-friendly gear can get you the same great results as higher-priced and more exclusive fishing gear can. When targeting walleye, you can use almost any walleye rigs you are comfortable with including spinner rigs, a slip bobber rig, or by jigging live bait.
Let’s take a closer look at the types of fishing gear you need for walleye fishing and why it might be the best option for your next fishing outing.
Rod for Walleye Fishing
In order to start fishing for walleye, you obviously need a fishing rod and reel. One of the best options for walleye is a standard medium power rod that measures around 6 to 7 feet in length.
A medium spinning rod is great for providing a range of versatility when it comes to what fishing techniques and walleye fishing rigs you can use. It’s also a versatile enough rod that it can be used for other bigger fish species instead of just walleye.
If you are more interested in fishing with finesse jigs, a medium-light power rod might be better. Unless you are experienced and fully understand the differences in spinning rod power and how they can benefit you, starting off with a typical medium rod will be your best and most affordable option.
A decent 6 to 7 foot long medium spinning rod will cost you around $60 or slightly more if you get a rod and reel combo. Although, it might be best to simply purchase the fast action spinning rod first and find a suitable reel for it separately.
A medium light rod for finesse walleye techniques will be slightly more expensive. It is also a waste of money unless you understand how a rod power difference can change up the way you use popular walleye techniques.
Reel for Walleye Fishing
In addition to the fishing rod, you need a spinning reel to hold your fishing line. While you can find a spinning reel included in a fast action spinning rod and reel combo, most anglers will suggest you buy your rod and reel separately.
The best option for walleye specifically are reels in the 30 and 35 sizes. Most anglers will suggest the 35, as the 30 might be better suited for a lighter line and finesse style fishing techniques.
If you want versatility, a size 35 spinning reel weighs a bit more, but can also hold a large amount of fishing line in comparison to the size 30 reel. Additionally, a size 35 reel can also spool different types of line, including a more stiff braided line or heavier test monofilament line perfect for spinner rigs and other walleye fishing rigs.
Line for Walleye Fishing
Monofilament line with an 8 pound test () is probably the best option for walleye anglers to go with. It’s a very affordable line, and offers a bit of stretch. For beginning walleye anglers that may still be learning how to cast a lure into a specific direction, this more affordable line option is desirable in case you get seriously snagged on branches or other debris and need to cut the line.
Slightly more experienced anglers may prefer using fluorocarbon line with a 12 pound test to catch walleye. This line does not have any forgiving stretch to it, which translates better into rod vibrations. It’s also virtually invisible underwater when fishing for walleye which makes even timid walleye or other fish more willing to strike your lure.
For anglers that want to use a smooth long cast to catch more fish, consider a 10 pound test braided line, or a mix of braided main line with a fluorocarbon leader line. Braided line has some stretch which makes it suitable for trolling crankbaits, but is much more durable and resistant to abrasion from walleye or other fish teeth or jagged rocks.
Essential Lures for Walleye Fishing
When it comes to the best lure option, grubs should be your choice when rigging live bait. You can find realistic soft plastics, as well as use live grubs on a double hook harness, to get the best results in various natural shallow water and deeper water walleye fishing spots. Grubs on a jig head with a fast action spinning rod will potentially give you the absolute best results on any fishing day.
For jigging with live bait, grubs, leeches, and minnows can all be a very suitable option to go with – though you may need to switch up the jig heads to get the best presentation. For example, when using a live grub, go with a ¼ ounce fireball style jig head. This jig head helps provide a properly weighted and extremely realistic presentation the walleye won’t shy away from.
For colors on artificial lures and jig heads, throughout the morning, day, and into the early evening, the color chartreuse is the most effective one to use. It’s easily seen by hungry walleye and will contrast well with the surrounding areas at different depths.
You can also go with a more muted and natural colors on the body of your lure such as brown or black, and add a chartreuse tail or jig head to grab the attention of nearby walleye.
As you move into the late night hours after the sun has gone down and continue fishing for walleye, glow lures can get you some successful night strikes. While not one of the more popular techniques for walleye, glow lures while jigging or trolling can get results when other live bait does not.
When it comes to the best size of live bait for jigging or trolling, most of the quickest results can be found on 3 and 4 inch lures or bait, though anything larger should be avoided unless you are finding fish that are specifically able to handle these larger lures and bait.
Necessary Rigs for Walleye Fishing
There are countless rig types that work for walleye fishing regardless of your preferred lures or bait. These can include the Lindy rig, various crawler harnesses, a number of finesse presentations, a spinner rig, vertical jigging, and so much more.
In most cases, you can use bait made from rubber or soft plastics as well as live bait and other lures, jigs, or spoons to get walleye to take notice.
For both beginners and experienced walleye anglers alike, slip bobber rigs are one of the most highly recommended for jigging or trolling. This extremely versatile rig is easy to set up and allows you to customize the depth of your live bait or lures in order to target walleye or other fish wherever they may be suspended.
Slip bobber rigs can be perfectly suitable for a wide range of artificial lures and live baits, but an artificial leech or minnow is potentially the best option for a natural presentation in deep water.
A big benefit to using a slip bobber rig is that the wind can help move your bait into heavy cover areas regardless of the particular depth you have it set to. If you find a nice spot where big fish are holed up, but you are unable to cast into it, cast your rig nearby and let the wind push it into the cover.
If you simply aren’t fond of bobber fishing, consider a live bait rig with walking weight or bottom bouncers instead. This rig is great for keeping your lure or bait down at the bottom of the water near the strike zone, but prevents it from being snagged on every little rock or log.
The bait will be suspended above the bottom of the waterway by about 2 feet, allowing it to move naturally. For live minnows, their struggle will attract nearby walleye in a very short amount of time.
A live bait rig can be slowly trolled through the water as well, giving anglers a wide range of areas to use it in without having to retrieve and re-cast it.
Other Essential Gear for Walleye Fishing
While not necessary, a fish finder can make your walleye fishing day much more successful. Good quality fish finders are not cheap, so should be considered an investment piece of gear once anglers are sure this is a long-term hobby or passion you have.
Fish finders are an electronic component that attach to your boat and will scan the nearby water using sonar to give you a clear and accurate picture of fish and sunken structures nearby. This can not only show you schools of fish, but can also show you areas where walleye or other fish are most likely to be hiding out.
Having a good landing net on board the boat or in your shore-fishing kit is extremely helpful. If you want to save on space, look for nets with telescoping handles. The mesh of the net should be smooth so as not to damage the scales of the fish when it is thrashing around in the net.
Additionally, smaller mesh will prevent the walleye or other fish from getting tangled in the openings. On traditional fishing nets with the larger openings, it’s not uncommon for a walleye or other fish to get their head stuck and have their gills damaged when they are removed.
If you are a responsible angler that enjoys releasing the walleye or other fish with as little stress and harm as possible, a small mesh net is a much safer option for your landing net. They will cost a bit more, but they offer years of durability and the peace of mind you want knowing you released the walleye or other fish as humanely as possible.
Having a good set of hook-removing pliers in your kit is vital for all anglers. You want to find pliers that have a secure handle that you can use even with wet hands. You also want to be sure the material the pliers are made from is corrosion resistant, especially if you will be doing any saltwater fishing.
Pliers are important for removing a hook from the mouth of the walleye or other fish quickly and effectively. They can also be used in case the hook needs to be cut in order to get it removed. Whether you are fishing for walleye, largemouth bass, or other species, pliers should always be in your kit.
Ensuring you have the proper fishing gear and tools on board to catch walleye is important when actively fishing or trolling for a few fish. But you also want to take your own personal safety seriously as well. Always be sure the boat is equipped with personal flotation devices for everyone on board, even if you are fishing in extremely calm water.
If you plan on venturing far from shore in your boat, having a GPS emergency signal or EPIRB on board can potentially save your life and the life of your boating buddies in case of a capsize or other emergency.
This is especially true if fishing on the Great Lakes as these bodies of water can be extremely unpredictable and many boats have capsized without warning when covering water in this area.
In addition to being safe on board, you also want to be sure your favorite beverages are kept cold. Be sure to find and include a high-quality and spacious cooler. It’ll be perfect for holding plenty of ice for keeping your drinks cold, and can even be used as a walleye or other fish storage container later on if need be.