Traditional walleye fishing techniques like a jig and twister tail, slip bobber, or lindy rig are great for catching numbers, but not known for their propensity to catch trophies. In recent years, a small subset of walleye anglers has been specifically targeting trophies, and their results have been fantastic – with multiple 30 inch fish in a season, countless walleyes over 5 pounds, etc. We were able to chat with some of these trophy walleye die-hards, and one of the things that stood out is that targeting big (25 inches and up) walleyes requires a different mindset and different tools than searching for “eaters.”Here are their top 5 presentations for targeting trophy walleyes.
1. Musky Baits
Musky fishermen commonly catch large walleyes in their pursuit of the king of freshwater, and savvy walleye fishermen have followed suit, and are using big cranks like Jake baits, Crane Baits, and classics like Suick and Smity glide baits to produce big walleyes, particularly at night.
2. Paddle Tail Swimbaits
Big walleyes are piscivores, and as such they feed on big baitfish. There’s nothing better at imitating a baitfish than a paddle tail swimbait. Rig a 5 or 6 inch paddle tail bait like the Strike King Swim N Shiner on a ¼ to ¾ ounce jighead and slowly wind it along points, deep weeds, and creek channels. Big walleyes pull up onto these places during low-light conditions and feed.
3. Large Stickbaits
Stickbaits like the Rapala Husky Jerk and Storm Thunderstick have long been staples of the walleye fishermen’s arsenal. To target big walleyes, use the largest sizes available in these baits. The HJ14 is 5 ½ inches long and does a great job of imitating the bigger perch, shiners, and cisco that trophy walleyes feed on.
4. Redtail Chubs
Live bait can also be effective for walleyes, but you’ve got to match the hatch. In northern lakes, big walleyes aren’t feeding on little minnows. Get some large, 5 – 8 inch redtail chubs, rig them with a 1/0 octopus hook and slowly troll them on a heavy (3/4 or 1 ounce) lindy rig around deep weedlines and steep rocky breaks. Big walleyes are looking for a big meal, and a redtail chub is a natural presentation.
5. Bass Style Crankbaits
Trophy walleye anglers are also finding out that as walleyes get bigger, they also become more aggressive feeders. They are commonly turning to bass style crankbaits like the Rapala DT series and Strike King 6XD to generate strikes from trophy spot tails. Fast cranking them on deep grasslines or around points can trigger strikes when nothing else is working.
Updated September 28th, 2020 at 9:56 AM CT