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The best way to describe walleye is fickle—so it’s no wonder finding good walleye lures feels so difficult. When targeting these picky predators, it’s often feast or famine for anglers. There’s almost no in-between. You either have a full livewell or you’re heading back empty-handed, head hanging low to the dock. If you’re lucky enough to hook one, there are no long, drag-screaming runs. There are no spectacular leaps, only a bit of bulldogging back to the shore or boat.

However, considering they are fine table fare, it’s no wonder walleye are so popular with anglers. So we hit the water to test out jigs, crankbaits, and minnows to find which ones actually work. With that in mind, these best walleye lures should help up the odds of a full livewell in your favor this season.

The Best Walleye Lures

How We Picked and Tested the Best Walleye Lures

During the hay days of walleye fishing, when the Professional Walleye Trail (PWT), RCL and FLW tournaments were in full swing, I was blessed to be one of the main dudes covering the tips and techniques used by the best of the best walleye anglers in the United States. And I’m here to tell ya, the progression of lures and gear over the years I got to witness first hand was quite astonishing. And it was the very professionals I had the chance to pre-fish with who had their hands in helping create today’s walleye baits.

With that said, however, there are some lures that have stood the test of time, which are still a go-to for derby anglers and guides alike. I narrowed down my picks below to the baits that have proven themselves for me time and time again as being high-quality fish catchers.   

Best Overall: Northland Fishing Tackle Deep-Vee Jig

Best Overall


  • Barb holds live bait and plastics snug to the head
  • Simple design, no moving parts 
  • Long-shank hook


  • No trailer hook
  • Pricey compared to other jigs 

Every tournament pro and guide I know sats a jig is the most versatile walleye lure ever made. Northland’s been a staple brand for walleye anglers for decades, and the shape of their Deep-Vee Jig is one of the most unique. These jigs are sometimes hard to find because they’re such a hot item. The 3D eyes just seem to add a little something special to what might otherwise be a very standard jig. Although we also like the little wire keeper on the shank too. Soft plastics seem to be getting less durable, and that little keeper helps keep it from slipping for longer. 

The shape of the head is a standout here too. It’s wide at the top and narrows down at the bottom. This allows the bait to fall straight and fast through the water column, as well ride true during a steady retrieve or when rip-jigging. The unique shape also helps reduce snagging in rocks as easily as a standard ball-head jig.


  • Weights: 1/16-, 1/8-, 1/4- and 3/4-ounce 
  • Hooks: Single with Barb-Wire keeper
  • Colors Available: 16

Best for Trolling: Rapala Husky Jerk

Best for Trolling


  • Durable, neutral buoyant body
  • Wobbles properly right out of the package
  • 2 to 3 Premium VMC black nickel Round Bend hooks, depending on size


  • More expensive

Lauri Rapala—credited for creating the world’s first floating minnow lure—using a shoemaker’s knife and sandpaper, created a lure from cork in 1936. The Husky Jerk has that same life-like shape that’s been fooling fish ever since.  The larger, Deep Down size of this lure can reach depths of twenty feet when trolled, can be pulled at a creep at 1 MPH, and runs well at up to 4 MPH (1.5 to 2.5 MPH is the most common speed for walleyes). 

Rapala Husky Jerk Lure sitting on table
I like the smaller lip on the Husky Jerk for walleye. (Photo/Travis Smola)

Although we like it best while trolling, this jerkbait works wonders when cast from boat or shore too. We’ve found it can easily dive 10 feet on a regular retrieve. The standard model doesn’t go quite as deep. But we’ve found it’s still effective on walleye. The neutral buoyancy properties of this bait make it suspend during a pause. It’s often during the hiatus in swimming that fish like to whack it. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong with a Husky jerk. This lure simply has an action that many other jerkbaits try and fail to replicate.


  • Length: 4-, 4 3/4- and 5 1/2-inch
  • Hooks: VMC Round Bend
  • Colors Available: 24

Best Budget: Berkley Flicker Shad 

Best Budget


  • Good for trolling
  • Good for casting
  • Multi-species lure


  • Lip can be damaged when hitting rocks

In 2007, I watched Gary Parsons win a walleye tournament along the eastern shoreline of Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago. He and his amateur co-angler were casting a prototype lure from Berkley. It only came in one color at the time – white. Since then, the lure, now known as the Flicker Shad, has proven effective both while casting and trolling. We just love the tight action and flash this crankbait puts out. It’s deadly on a lot of fish beyond just walleyes. That makes it a good choice for anglers who want walleye but won’t turn down a bass or two either.  

Berkley injects a lot of value into their offerings. The Fusion 19 hooks on this lure are excellent. They are sharp out of the box, and we haven’t had many fish get away on them. We have also been to Berkley’s testing lab in northern Iowa. They aren’t joking when they say everything has been scientifically tested on fish. Most go through dozens of prototypes and we’re sure the Flicker Shad was no exception. This is just a well-designed crankbait at an excellent price. It’s often on sale too. We’ve seen it on sale for just under $4, with a suggested retail price going for $5.99. It’s a lure one can feel confident in stocking up on when the price is right. 


  • Length: 1 1/2-, 2-, 2 1/4, 2 3/4- and 3 1/2-inch
  • Hooks: Berkley Fusion 19
  • Colors Available: 62

Best SwimbaitZ-Man DieZel MinnowZ

Best Swimbait


  • Snag-resistant
  • Easy to use
  • Resilient to wear and tear
  • Made in the USA


  • Will react and melt other plastics if stored out of the bag

A swimbait is probably the easiest artificial lure to use. While a twitch here and there might induce a strike when fish are finicky, for the most part, a slow, steady retrieve is all that’s necessary. Because of that, the DieZel MinnowZ is a nice choice for beginners to walleye. It doesn’t take a lot of trial and error to start boating them with this lure. The large paddle tail on these lures does most of the work for the angler. It creates a furious swimming action that’s hard to resist.

Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ lure sitting on table
I’m a fan of the grooved hook point pocket in the bottom that helps this bait remain weedless. (Photo/Travis Smola)

This lure is one we look to when the walleyes are in the weeds. The single hook profile allows it to slip through relatively snag-free. Z-Man makes several swimbait heads that work wonders with this bait; but don’t forget about the best walleye lure overall, the Deep-Vee Jig mentioned above. Just keep them in their bag when stored as they don’t play well with other plastics. It’s also best to avoid storing this lure in a hot vehicle or room. However, we love the action, price point, and the fact these swimbaits are made right here in the states.


  • Length: 4-, 5-, and 7-inch
  • Hooks: None
  • Colors Available: 40

Best for Rivers: Lunker City Fin-S Fish  

Best for Rivers


  • Good all for seasons (even when ice fishing)
  • Casts far
  • Works in clear or stained water


  • Can get chewed up by toothy fish

Slow roll it, jig it, swim it, or twitch it. There is no wrong way to fish the Lunker City Fin-S Fish. Although we like it best for scenarios that call for vertical jigging. This includes using it through the ice in the dead of winter. When vertical jigging in large, deep rivers, the Fin-S Fish is best fished on the bottom while drifting downstream. Just do your best to keep your line straight up and down as you bounce it along the bottom. 

Lunker City Fin-S Fish Walleye Lures sitting on table
I’ve found the horizontal tail may not perfectly mimic nature, but walleyes don’t care. (Photo/Travis Smola)

Depending on current speed, a jighead up to one ounce may be needed. This lure does have some durability issues, but we can deal with that considering the fish-catching ability. The first time I saw walleyes being caught with this fork-tail minnow was from the banks of the Missouri River in 1996. That’s a popular area right below the powerhouse holding back Lake Oahe. Here, the anglers that put on a catching clinic would cast out slightly upstream. Then it was a simple matter of working the jig back with a darting action. Lesson learned and we’ve been fans of this lure ever since. 


  • Length: 2 1/2-, 3 1/2-, 4-, 5-, 5 3/4-, 7- and 10-inch
  • Hooks: None
  • Colors Available: 70

Best for Spring: Custom Jigs & Spins AuthentX Pulse-R

Best for Spring


  • Can be purchased in bulk (up to a 96 pack) 
  • Can be fished as a jig, worm or swimbait
  • Good in deep water or shallow water


  • Paddle tail may tear after a catch

During the walleye spring season, when the water is still chilly, the cold-blooded walleye can become quite lethargic. Most will not swim fast or far to take an offering. The AuthentX Pulse-R has a wide ribbed body that allows the bait to be fished extremely slowly. However, it won’t lose any vibration thanks to the ribbing. This part of the design also imparts a nice waggling action via its thin paddle tail. That is the one part of the design anglers must be cautious with. It tears rather easily. However, we don’t think it would impart quite the same action if beefed up. Fortunately, these are sold in bulk for anglers who go through a ton of them. 

When casting and rip jigging it, the water resistance makes this lure fall ever so slowly, which is a good ploy along the edges of weed beds. River anglers will find success drifting the lure to and around wing dams. Additionally, this lure is versatile enough for simpler techniques. A simple long cast and steady retrieve and it’s a swimbait that can be reeled in at a creep. 


  • Length:  2 9/20- and 3 1/4-inch
  • Hooks: None
  • Colors available: 24

Best for Summer: Northland Fishing Tackle Pro Walleye Float’n Harness

Best for Summer


  • Changeable blade via a speed clevis
  • UV beads and painted blades 
  • Long harness keeps fish from spooking


  • May have to be replaced if a northern pike whacks it

Crawler harnesses, like the Northland Float’n Harness, are a walleye angler’s staple during the summer months, especially when the water warms and fish move to cooler, deeper haunts. A lot of area can be covered throughout a day when trailing behind a Northland Slick-Stick bottom bouncer. The added scent of a lively night crawler nipped through its tiptop and mid body is always a fish pleaser. There are a ton of crawler harnesses out there, but we keep returning to Northland’s offerings. Mainly due to the quality construction. These rigs are sold coiled in the package. However, we had no issues with memory after unpackaging them. 

Northland Fishing Tackle Pro Walleye Float’n Harness
The Northland harness is equally effective with a live crawler or a Berkley Gulp Power Nightcrawler like we’ve rigged here. (Photo/Travis Smola)

The only thing we don’t like about it is that a pike or muskie can do some damage to this one. Use caution wherever those species are present. This rig looks tasty to just about anything under the surface. For example, we’ve had issues with bluegills and yellow perch nipping the tail end. If that’s an issue, we recommend a soft plastic worm, such as a Berkley PowerBait Power Nightcrawler. (Sometimes the walleyes prefer this over the real thing, as well.) One tip anglers overlook is not to drag the bottom-bouncer on bottom, but rather have it just “tick” it.


  • Length: 40-inch harness
  • Hooks: Two size-4 octopus-style hooks
  • Available Colors: 8

Best for Fall: Reef Runner Cicada 

Best for Fall


  • Easy to use
  • Easy-to-eat size triggers bites
  • One piece (except for hooks) 


  • May twist and hook line during the cast

There’s something about a lure with lots of vibration and a fast fall that triggers walleyes to strike in autumn. The Cicada can be ripped with a quick lift of the rod tip a foot or two. Then, drop it straight down on a taut line until it’s just off bottom. Repeating this action back to the boat or shore. We suggest braided line for this lure because it allows for better strike detection as the bait falls. That’s when most strikes happen anyway.

Reef Runner Cicada Lure sitting on table
The Cicada is so versatile, I’ve used it ice fishing, too. (Photo/Travis Smola)

If fish are deep, vertical jigging straight below the boat with a quick lift and fall can do the trick. If you keep tangling on the cast, add a small soft plastic, such as a grub used for panfish, to the back hook. This will act as a rudder in the air, keeping the lure from spinning.


  • Length: 2-inch
  • Hooks: Replicable double-point hooks
  • Colors Available: 21

What To Look for in a Walleye Lure

The factors that go into choosing lures for catching walleyes can seem endless. Take the following into account when filling your tackle totes, however, and you’ll up your odds of catching some.


Luckily for anglers, the best walleye lures aren’t too expensive in comparison to baits for other species. Most are well under the $10 mark, with many are half that cost. But don’t be fooled by a walleye lure with the prettiest paint job. It’s the wiggle and waggle that sets the best apart from the rest.  


Overall, the more spent on quality components like hooks, the better. While walleye pros will agree they aren’t the most ferocious fighters, that doesn’t mean it’s wise to skimp on hooks. It sounds obvious, but hooks should be sticky sharp right out of the package. (Hint: To test sharpness of a hook, lightly drag its point across your thumbnail. If it wants to dig in, you’re good to go; if it slips easily across it, touch it up with a stone or file.)  


When it comes to picking color for walleye, simpler is often better. Simple yellow, gold, or silver are the go-to colors for most scenarios. Although many anglers prefer a simple white for clear water scenarios. Additionally, purple, red, and orange are becoming more popular with walleye anglers. If the fishing is super slow, something odd like a bubblegum pink will sometimes draw strikes when nothing else will. Most walleye pros will start fishing with a natural color and work up to odder colors from there. 


The tactics that can be used for targeting walleyes are truly endless. Both pitching jigs and vertical jigging are winners. Although casting crankbaits and swimbaits work well too. Trolling either crawler harnesses or crankbaits is a popular ploy, especially when pulled behind in-line planer boards or with lead core line. 

Drifting with the wind or current while using live bait or jigs takes its fair share of these prickly-toothed predators, also. Don’t forget casting into shallower water, as walleyes will search out prey in skinnier water than most anglers perceive. Last year we fished with walleye pro Johnnie Candle on Iowa’s Lake Okoboji during a press event. We were fishing for bass, but he managed to pull a walleye out from under one of the docks we were skipping under. One never knows where a walleye will be hiding!  


Choosing the right gear for using the best walleye lures can be a little more taxing. It’ll all depend on the technique you’ve chosen. When jigging, for example, a 5 1/2- to 6 ½-foot medium-light-power fast-action spinning rod, with spinning reel filled with 6- to 8-pound-test braid is most common. On the other hand, 10-pound-test braid or fluorocarbon coupled with a medium-power moderate-action 6 ½- to 7 ½-foot rod is preferred when casting cranks. 

Light-power rods with a slow, soft action utilizing 6-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon are perfect for live-bait personations. Trolling with planer boards or lead core takes a little more specialized gear, requiring 7- to 9 ½-foot medium-power rods with a stiffer butt section but soft tip that can take the extra torque.


Q: Can you catch walleyes at night?

Yes. In fact, after the sun sets is when the big girls come out from their lairs to feed. This is a great time to troll or cast crankbaits. Just be very careful not to hook your buddy. Also remember to keep it simple when fishing in the dark. Tangles and the like seem 10 times worse when you can’t see what you’re doing.

Q: Will walleyes hit spoons?

They sure will. Trolling smaller size-0 or size-1 spoons, like those from Warrior Lures, are a good place to start. Pulling them behind a diving weight, such as a Church Tackle Stingray Diving Weight, will get those lightweight spoons down where they need to be – in the face of suspended walleyes. Ten-pound-test monofilament is strong enough to reel any size ‘eye, yet is light enough it won’t impede a spoon’s action. 

Q: What color lures do walleyes like?

Just as with any species, the best color lure to use for walleyes will depend on the color of the waterway you’re fishing. In lakes that are clear, such as the Great Lakes and natural oligotrophic lakes of the north, baits that emulate the natural color of the baitfish in the system should be tried first. Walleye are well known for living in tannic or stained lakes and rivers, on the other hand, which is where brightly-colored baits and metallic gold or copper shine through. Don’t be afraid to think outside the coloring book, as switch to colors out of the norm. 

What Is the Best Walleye Lure?

Walleye can be picky eaters, but the Northland Fishing Tackle Deep-Vee jig has been a winner for anglers the last few years. While it’s not much to look at, the jig has the right combination of head design and detail. That 3D eye does seem to add a little something special that makes walleyes think it’s alive. Combine that with an excellent head design and this lure is a winner. Paired up with the right live bait or soft plastic, it will produce bites when other lures fail.

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