Favorite Walleye Lures and Jigs of Expert Guides

Walleye are tricky fish. When you need to get hooked up in any situation, lures and jigs mean everything.

Captain Rick Millette

millette

Captain Rick MilletteF&S

Rick Millette
Location: Lake Erie, Ohio
Credentials: Millette has taken the knowledge gained fishing Erie since 1962 and turned it over to his clients, who have put walleye over 14 pounds in the box with his help. While experience is great, using the right walleye lures and jigs goes a long way too. Number of years guiding: 28
Contact: (614) 771-1910; eriequest.com

Favorite Shallow Hardbait: Storm Junior Thunderstick
Color: Hot Tiger
Size: 3 ½ in.
Weight: ¼ oz.
Details: "Perch are a major forage for our walleye, and this is a great imitation. Thundersticks roll slightly, which give them a lot of side flash. Over the years, I devised a reeling pattern that works well for these lures. I'll cast out, crank three times just to get the lure tapping bottom, then stop for three seconds and repeat. That stop-start action broken up in threes always catches walleye for me."

Favorite Deep Hardbait: Storm Deep Junior Thunderstick
Color: Metallic Rainbow Trout
Size: 3 ½ in.
Weight: 5/16 oz.
Details: "I troll these lures most of the time, and they run well with trolling weights, which is very important. The color is also a good match for an emerald shiner. Too many anglers think you can set a rod in a holder, get on the troll and forget about it, but you've got to watch constantly. Even big walleye can hit so subtly, they won't even trip the planer board. Any change in the action of the rod tip can mean there's a fish on."

thunderstick

thunderstick

Storm Junior ThunderstickF&S

Favorite Jig: Standard Round Head
Color: Purple
Weight: ¾ oz.
Details: "I don't really have a brand preference and I buy lots of jigs locally, but plain round doesn't seen to hang as much. Since I fish rocky bottom, that means a lot. A 3/4-ounce jigs might seem heavy to many walleye anglers, but I have a theory that the bigger the jig, the more sound it makes as it bangs off the rocks. That thumping sound attracts fish because they feel it with their lateral line. My catch rates went way up after switching to heavier jigheads."

Favorite Soft Plastic: Berkley Power Grub
Color: Natural Chartreuse
Size: 3 in.
Details: "When the walleye are coming out of the rivers after spawning, the water is turbid and dirty with run-off. These grubs get it done in that situation because they have good vibration and the scent doesn't hurt. Stinger hooks are often only used with live bait on a jighead, but I use them with grubs, too. Rather than try to place a treble stinger in the rear of the bait, I'll let it free-swing back by the tail. That's often the key to coming tight on walleye that hit gently."

sundin

sundin

Captain Jeff SundinF&S

Jeff Sundin
Location: Lake Winnibigoshish/Leech Lake, Minnesota
Credentials: Sundin's 25 years of experience guiding year-round in the boundaries of Chippewa National Forest have given him a knack for leading clients to 10-plus-pound walleye.
Number of years guiding: 25
Contact: (218) 246-2375; jeffsundin.com

Favorite Shallow Hardbait: Salmo Hornet
Color: Red Tail Shiner
Size: 2 in.
Weight: ¼ oz.
Details" "In the spring and fall, we troll lots of water 10 feet deep or less. This lure is rated to dive to five feet and tracks very straight. The color is also a perfect match for northen ciscos, locally known as tulibees, which are a primary walleye forage. Sometimes you hurt yourself by matching forage color too closely with a crankbait. When there are tons of baitfish in an area, the walleye may not be able to differentiate between your lure and the real thing, which sounds good, but throwing an off-the-wall color that shows them something different can produce more fish."

Favorite Deep Hardbait: Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk
Color: Gold
Size: 4 in.
Weight: 3/8 oz.
Details: "The water in the local lakes is often stained and this color stands out really well. The Husky also has a consistent action when trolled at a slow speed. If I'm trolling bigger baits like a Husky, I always start out running at two or three miles per hour, then adjust to find the sweet spot. You can't rely on the speed that worked last week, because wind, depth, and other factors will have an effect on how the lure runs."

Jigs N' Rigs Bugeye Shorty

bugeye

Jigs N' Rigs Bugeye ShortyF&S

Favorite Jig: Jigs N' Rigs Bugeye Shorty
Color: Glow/blue back
Weight: 1/8 oz.
Details: "These jigs have a short-shank hook and tear-drop body, so when you rig a minnow on one, the bait's head stays tight against the lead and can't slide back. This makes for a much cleaner presentation. I liken my jigging method to snapping somebody with a wet towel. I go for that quick snap, but tell clients to always maintain a tight line after the snap because a walleye bite is often very light. It feels more like extra pressure on the line instead of a sharp tug."

Favorite Soft Plastic: Berkley Gulp! Alive Minnow
Color: Black Shad
Size: 4 in.
Weight:
¼ oz. long-shank jighead
Details: "Spot tail shiners are a popular live bait in my area, and if they're in short supply this soft plastic in this color matches them perfectly. I've also noticed that this lure catches bigger fish on average. A soft plastic rigged on a jighead is a very productive lure when the fish are gathered in numbers to spawn in the spring. Strikes can be most aggressive this time of year, so since I use a four-inch bait, it's important to rig them on a jighead with a long enough hook to seat the bend near the tail. This way you don't miss short-strikers."

Captain Karl Palmer

palmer

Captain Karl PalmerF&S

Karl Palmer
Location: Lake Oahe/Lake Sharpe, South Dakota
Credentials: Running over 100 trips between per season, Palmer has a sharp bead on the walleye in his home lakes, using 15 years experience to put charters on walleye topping 10 pounds.
Number of years guiding: 15
Contact: (605) 223-3186; dakotawalleye.com

Favorite Shallow Hardbait: Rapala Husky Jerk
Color: Silver/Blue
Size: 3 1/8 in.
Weight: ¼ oz.
Details: "This lure best resembles a rainbow smelt, which is a main food source for our walleye. In the spring when the fish hold in ten feet or less, the Husky works the shallows very effectively. If I need to get a Husky Jerk down a little deeper, I'll add a few split shots about 14 inches up the line. People think that will affect the action, but it doesn't. In cold water you need to work lures really slowly sometimes, but it can be hard to get them to the right depth without cranking fast."

Favorite Deep Hardbait: Cotton Cordell Wally Diver
Color: Fluorescent Red/Black
Size: 2 ½ in.
Weight: ¼ oz.
Details: "Wally Divers have a tight vibration that ups catch rates on the troll, especially in the spring when the water is usually a little stained from all the run-off. The bright red color has always done well for me in tinged water conditions. When we're on the troll, I tell my clients to set the hook on every little tick. Walleye don't slam a lure like a largemouth. They inhale the lure with a gulp of water, which can equate to only a minor tug in rod tip. I always say, 'hook sets are free.'"

Cabela's Wobble Jig

wobblehead

Cabela's Wobble JigF&S

Favorite Jig: Cabela's Wobble Jig
Color: Pink Glow
Weight: ¼ oz.
Details: "When a Wobble Jig hits the bottom, the hook stands straight up. So if I have a live minnow on the jig, it's now more visible and can't easily burry in the bottom. A minnow's back is designed to be camouflage, so I always put one on a jig upside down. If you think about it, the white belly is now exposed and the bait will flop more trying to right itself. I outfish other guys with this trick all the time."

Favorite Soft Plastic: Mister Twister Lil' Bit
Color: White
Size: 1 in.
Weight: ¼ oz. jighead
Details: "I actually pinch the tail off these lures are just put the body on a jig to give it a little extra color and bulk. This also makes the jig sink a little slower. The biggest mistake anglers make with jigs is fishing them as soon as they hit the water. Even if I mark suspending fish, I tell them to drop to the bottom, because there are usually fish there, too. Depending on the depth, I tell them to count to 20 or so before they even think about touching the reel handle."

kimm

kimm

Captain Kimm BlaquiereF&S

Kimm Blaquiere
Location: Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Credentials: Running more than 60 trips a season for Lake Winnipeg "greenbacks," Blaquiere has a GPS loaded with coveted marks where he frequently finds fish that pin the needle past 13 pounds.
Number of years guiding: 14
Contact: (204) 955-6683; greenbackfishing.com

Favorite Deep Hardbait: Rapala Shad Rap
Color: White
Size: 3 ½ in.
Weight: 9/16 oz.
Details: "White is my favorite color, but it's tough to find a white Shad Rap in the States, so the shad pattern is my number two. Shad Raps run true right out of the box, whereas other brands need tuning in the nose to get the right action. In the summer, Lake Winnipeg has an algae bloom. So I let the swimmers stir up the algae, which gets the bait moving and the walleye move in to feed. I'll troll the outside of the bathing beaches. As soon as the swimmers leave, the bite stops."

shadrap

shadrap

Rapala Shad RapF&S

Favorite Shallow Hardbait: Rapala Jointed Shad Rap
Color: Blue
Size: 2 in.
Weight: 1/4 oz.
Details: "Depending on the water clarity, blue can also be a very productive color, as it has lots of flash and matches many baitfish species. Shallow-running Shad Raps, like the deeper versions, also run very true without the need for tuning. I actually do a lot of trolling in water less than five feet deep. You can cast all day, but by covering more water, even in the shallows, you'll catch more walleye."

Favorite Jig: Round Rattle Jig
Color: Blue
Weight: 1/4 oz.
Details: "Upping the noise level of even a small jig can really increase productivity whether your using a soft plastic or live bait. If the water is at all stained, that tiny click from the rattle can make all the difference. Even when working a jig very subtly, a rattle will make some noise and can actually help to attract walleye from fairly far off."

Favorite Soft Plastic: Berkley Gulp! Minnow
Color: Pearl Silver
Size: 3 in.
Details: "No doubt, the new Berkley soft plastics have increased catch rates. The scent can really produce some larger fish than older soft plastics that were popular in the past. I actually don't use too many soft plastics, but the Gulp! Minnow is pretty popular with many anglers on Lake Winnipeg."