Choose the Right Stuff to Jig Up Spring Walleyes


Preparation and presentation is of utmost importance to a successful fishing trip.

You need a light graphite spinning rod. It should have a sensitive, fast tip and good backbone to handle large fish and snags. The reel doesn’t matter much. The line does. A bright yellow or orange braided superline with a 6-pound mono diameter is my choice. I tie on a 3-foot section of 8-pound fluorocarbon as a leader if the water is clear. Most of the time the water is stained to muddy, so I just tie direct.

Next is jig selection. Jig weight is hugely important. Too heavy and you snag up, too light and you lure is too high off bottom. If you are vertical jigging and slipping downstream in a controlled drift, you want that jig just heavy enough to tick bottom every so often. If you are pitching up shallow, you want a jig light enough so that it doesn’t snag and swings down with the current.

If you use a minnow as opposed to plastic, that same jig reacts differently. A jig-n-minnow falls more quickly than a jig-n-plastic. Changing plastic styles also affects the jig’s fall rate. Larger gives the jig more lift.

The last piece of the puzzle is color. Walleyes definitely prefer different colors on different bodies of water and often react to colors differently as the day goes on. I often have three rods rigged with the same jig weight and the same style of plastic but in different colors.

When it comes to choosing plastics colors, I employ the IJKCUSW method: I Just Keep Changing Until Something Works! I’ve had walleyes jump all over a bubblegum colored Ringworm one minute and then 30 minutes later I’m getting them on a blue/brown combo. Now, if I’m fishing with someone and they get one, you can bet I’ll try to match the color they are using real quick like!

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The three C’s
My buddy, Ryan T. King fishes the Mississippi in Minnesota and catches dozens of large walleyes each spring. He gets way more technical than I do.

“I employ the three C’s of spring selection: color, current and clarity,” King says. “This will help you be more productive and feel more confident in choosing the right plastic for your body of water. If you are on new water it’s always important to do a bit of homework on what baitfish are present in the system.

Color is important. You want to mimic the dominant baitfish’s color as much as possible and then separate your bait from the school by giving it the dying and erratic action to make fish strike,” says King.

“Next is current,” he continues. “Are you fishing a river or a lake? A plastic that may shine for you in a river might not have the action it takes on a lake. Don’t be afraid to up-size in both situations and move more water. The B-Fish-N Pulse-R in 3.25 inches is an incredible bait for this.

“Finally we have clarity. What is the clarity of the water you are trying to dissect?” King says. “If it’s tannic stained or muddy like the Mississippi I recommend dark baits. Blacks and purples, dark green and maroon is always good. In gin-clear water, think about what forage is there and get louder than they are. Get brighter. Chartreuse, glitter silver and orange all will work best in bright sunshine or in clearer water conditions.”

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