Walleye World: Hard to Beat the Tried-and-True

Preparation is of utmost importance to having a successful fishing trip.

Almost any veteran walleye angler will advise a novice to begin planning by making a list of the essential items. Once the list is completed, pare it down to a manageable amount of gear. After having visited both fly-in and drive-to lakes, and after having strained my back lugging my gear into an outpost cabin I can testify to the validity of such advice.

Regardless of whether you decide to pack everything you own or take only the basics, a few fundamental items of fishing gear greatly increase your odds for success.

Most anglers heading north target the ubiquitous walleye and the sleek, fang-faced northern pike for net, camera and frying pan. If I had to choose one system of fishing with which to begin, it would be some type of trolled live-bait rig. Under most conditions there is nothing simpler or better than the Lindy Rig, invented by the Lindner brothers more than 50 years ago. The components for this rig—hooks, weights, swivels and floating jig heads—are small enough that I can carry everything in a compartmentalized plastic box in my larger tackle box.

Basically, with a juicy night crawler hooked through the nose, or a black leech sucker-hooked, anglers troll the Lindy rig as slowly as possible over or along the sides of rocky points, parallel to shorelines when the fish are making a migration to deeper water, over any humps or reefs with ledges dropping into deeper water.

If you think you are going too fast, try back-trolling or shutting off the motor and drifting with the wind. The biggest walleye I ever caught in Ontario, a 9-pound-plus, was taken on a Lindy rig with a big black leech while my partner and I drifted over a submerged weed bed.

A variation on the Lindy rig can be created by adding a variety of beads, clevises and spinner bait blades, then attaching the same types of live bait. Trolled behind Church Tackle Company planer boards they are deadly on walleye and most northern predatory fish. For most of your trolling needs check out their fine products at churchtackle.com.

To the collection of live bait rigs add about a dozen or two Rapala Minnows in sizes, 9, 11, and 13 and a handful of Rapala Husky Jerks in similar sizes. With colors such as blue/silver, black/gold, firetiger, or natural perch colors you have some of the best walleye lures on the planet. A few years ago I landed a true 30-inch walleye on a Husky Jerk in Purple Perch pattern.

When you find suspended walleyes and need to dig them out of the depths, switch to some of the long-billed Rapalas, Storm Hot-N-Tots or Cordell Deep Red Fins in the above-mentioned colors. A Hot-N-Tot in or plain gold can be awesome, too. Over the decades gold has been proven to be one of the best go-to colors for both walleyes and pike. It is a color fish like so I stick with it.

To learn more, check out the March Issue of MidWest Outdoors, available now at a newsstand near you, or by subscribing on our website.