Canadian Walleyes Just Love Plastics


I often get specific questions from folks at my seminars regarding fishing Canada. More often than not, the questions directed to me are about the great walleyes up there. With these questions, one of the most sought-after pieces of advice asked for is which bait works best. This month, let’s try and narrow down one of my favorites that I wish more anglers heading to Canada would try.

I’m talking about plastics. That’s right—plastic baits are great for walleye action up north.

Being fortunate to travel into Canada multiple times during the year, I’ve become somewhat of what I call an “experimenter” regarding techniques that are high-percentage, fish-catching methods.

Most folks think of the well-known jig/minnow rig as the staple presentation for walleyes both in the states and in Canada. But over the years of my travels into the north Canadian Bush lakes, I’ve found that using different types of plastic baits can be a fishing bonanza for the anglers willing to try them.

Plastic baits like worms, grubs and shad body baits commonly used here are not that widely used in Canada, at least from speaking with other anglers. They feel the only way to catch walleyes in their country is with the widely used jig/minnow rig.

There are lakes in Canada that do not allow the use of live bait of certain types and some that don’t allow it at all, just artificial baits. So before you bring up your own baits, be sure you check the regulations for your destination to see if it is allowed.

One of my personal favorite plastics that have continued to produce some of the biggest Canadian walleyes for me over the years is the plastic shad body imitation. And not just any shad body, but a particular style—most shad bodies come in two basic styles, the paddle tail and the twister tail. For me, experience has shown that the twister-tail style will outfish the other 10:1. It seems that the rapid vibrations the twister tail emits into the water triggers the walleyes to strike more frequently. Now this may be an “instinctive” strike or a strike out of hunger, but either way, the walleyes of Canada love it.

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In regard to the paddle-tail shad bodies, these seem to work much better when making a vertical presentation directly over some type of structure. A slow lift and falling motions have proven best with an occasional fast lift-and-fall movement thrown in to mix up the cadence. And try and stick with colors that match the forage base of the area. I like to go with the silvers and black combinations as a starter and change colors from there as necessary.

Besides plastic shad bodies, don’t hesitate to try other types of plastics when up there. Plastic worms, lizards and other styles of plastic baits can also catch their share of big walleyes across the border. When fishing these styles, slowly swim them over your typical structure areas such as rocks and reefs. You’ll be surprised at just how well they can work. For these, bring a good selection of different colors. You will find that everything from a traditional earth-tone brown of a nightcrawler to a hot pink hue will at times get these beautiful fish to strike.

Make sure you bring a good selection of jig heads in all different styles and weights to attach your plastics to. You can usually start out with a jig in 1/4 ounce; the weight depends on the plastics used. And make weight adjustments as necessary, as the conditions and waters can change.

Teaming with lakes and rivers, Canada is truly a fisherman’s paradise that should be enjoyed at least once in your angling life. If you have what I call “The Canadian Experience,” you’ll likely never be satisfied by just going up there once. And it makes no difference which province you choose, as the angling adventures abound and truly take your breath away.

I have to say again that fishing in Canada has been, and continues to be, one of the highlights of my fishing adventures. I’m always looking forward to the next Canadian trip. Hopefully you can make plans to go up there and enjoy making some of your own special memories.


           Email your outdoors questions to Mike Cyze at: You can also check out his blog at: or listen to him on ESPN Radio.