Jigging with Plastic for Walleyes and Sauger Right Now!


Walt Matan share some of his favorite combos for pitching jigs with plastics for spring walleyes and sauger.

Pitching plastics for walleyes and sauger has gone mainstream! I’ve fished dozens of rivers in the Midwest and Canada and seen plenty of other anglers (besides the guys in my boat) tossing and vertical jigging Ringworms, Moxis and Pulse-Rs. Why? Because they produce! It has even caught on farther south as anglers in Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky have caught on.

Plastic really shines when the water is cold and it is around spawning time. Walleyes and sauger migrate upstream close to dams and the action really picks up. All dams are not the same; some are shallow, some are deep and some are in between. But one thing that they all have in common is current. Find the right current and you will find the fish. There might be 20 boats below the dam, but only a few are catching fish; these guys have found the spot!

When you combine boat position with proper presentation, you will usually be rewarded with fish. I’ve caught sauger in 40 feet of water below a dam, and in 4 feet of water later as the sun warmed the water—from the same dam! Find the active fish, present your bait and it’s game on!

When fishing deep, anchoring is a no-no. You need to have command of your trolling motor or be able to backtroll to hold your position. Then you need to be able to drop your jig into the fish zone without snagging up. That’s easier said than done for a lot of folks.

I’ve found two presentations that work well when fishing deep. A heavy jig like a 1/2- or 5/8-ounce B-Fish-N H2O jig with an AuthentX Moxi plastic tail, lowered to bottom and then raised up and held and/or jigged within six inches of bottom, is prime. Sauger really go for this presentation. You need to lower the jig until it hits bottom and then raise it up a little. Keeping it on bottom will produce a snag.

My other favorite presentation is a lighter jig of 3/8- or 5/16-ounce and an AuthentX Pulse-R. I’ll go lighter if possible. I want to keep vertical jigging, bouncing bottom. Too heavy a jig will snag. Light is key, but you still need to know where your jig is at. Both Moxis and Pulse-Rs have undulating tails that are in constant motion in the current. You really don’t need to add a lot of jigging action to get them to work.

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If you can get to one of these river hotspots at the right time, you can load up on walleyes in a hurry. And if you fine-tune your presentation, chances are the walleye you hook will be big!

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 as much as the line. A bright yellow or orange braided superline with a 6-pound mono diameter spec is my choice. I’ll tie on a 3-foot section of 8-pound fluorocarbon as a leader if the water is clear, but most of the time the water is stained to muddy, so I’ll just tie it directly.

Plastic styles affect the jig/fall rate. Larger plastics give the jig more lift. Thin styles like an AuthentX Ringworm or Paddletail fall quickly. When fish are aggressive, quick is good.

Walleyes are extremely susceptible to color. 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. If I’m fishing with someone and they get one, you can bet I’ll try to match the color they are using, really quick-like! But for me, you can’t beat a purple Ringworm with a white tail. I’ve caught numbers and giants on this bait. Bubblegum, white and glow are good. Basically, I’ll use bright colors on cloudy days and purple or oystershell on bright days.

While my fishing friends have slightly different thoughts on color, we all have one thing in common—we all love vertical jigging or pitching plastics and jigs.


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