Walleye Fishing Gear Decoded: An Expert Guide to the Best Rods, Reels, and MorePublished on 06/24/2023 · 4 min readOnly time on the water will make you a better walleye angler, but this article by Fishing expert Jack Pietruszewski will give you the proper gear to get started!
Photo by Joe Ferguson
Gravel lizards, wall-does, wall-dogs, walters, eyes, white tips, rock-melons, and, my favorite, shore lunch are all names used to describe one of the most challenging fish to catch. Yep, you guessed it, walleyes! Of course, the tastiest fish is also the most elusive, and that is what makes targeting walleyes fun and challenging. Only time on the water will make you a better walleye angler, but this article will give you the proper gear to get started!
There are several ways to target walleyes, and you can dial in each technique as much as you like down to the finest detail. In a few months, you will have a boat...then garage...then house... full of gear, with your spouse saying, "Are you kidding me? Don't you only catch a couple of walleyes when you go out if you’re lucky?" In this guide, I will discuss gear that can do it all, while saving you money, time, and headaches.
Let’s start with rods.
There are both casting and spinning rods and then within those categories, there are lengths, powers, and actions to take into consideration. When you are walleye fishing and you’re looking for one rod to do it all, go with a 7' medium power, fast action spinning rod. This is by far the most versatile fishing rod on the market to target walleyes. With this rod, you will be able to jig, live bait rig, use bottom bouncers, crawler harnesses, spinner rigs, cast lures, slip bobber... heck, I have even trolled small crankbaits with this kind of rod! It really hits the sweet spot when it comes to length, power, and action.
When it comes to a reel, look no further than a spinning reel. Sure, casting reels have their place for techniques, like trolling big plugs and planer boards, but a spinning reel is going to handle most of your walleye needs. To really simplify choosing a spinning reel, the only thing you need to consider is size. Go with a 2500 size reel because, like the 7' medium-fast rod, it is a middle-of-the-road reel that can do it all.
Braid, fluorocarbon, and monofilament are the major players when it comes to line, and this is where I will get a little picky with gear. Walleyes can either be extremely finicky fish that bite softer than a mosquito or they can be voracious predators that smack baits as hard as bass after a topwater. Walleyes tend to hang around rough cover, like rocks, gravel, wood, and ledges, therefore, you need a line that is sensitive, strong, abrasion-resistant, and invisible. Those great big eyes have the best vision and pick up light better than any other freshwater species! That is why I recommend going with a 15lb braided main line with a 3 foot 10 lb fluorocarbon leader. The braided main line will give you the best sensitivity, a thin diameter for cutting through deep water, strength, and the abrasion resistance you need to pull walleyes out of any cover. Meanwhile, the fluorocarbon leader will remain invisible to the fish yet be sensitive enough to feel those soft bites and strong enough to get them boat side. Braid to fluoro is the only way to go and will cover all presentations for walleyes!
The best walleye lure that has caught the most fish by far is the jig and minnow. The jig and minnow flash and flutter as you drift along, bouncing off the bottom at a steady pace, making it an easy meal no walleye can resist. Whether it is in the shallows or deep water, the classic painted jig head tipped with live bait is a must-have for all walleye anglers.
Rather than let water depth dictate my jig head weight, I like to let the wind and the mood of the fish determine my choice. If walleyes are aggressive and fired up, a heavier jig head, like a ¼ oz or ½ oz, can really trigger them into biting. On the other hand, cold front walleyes prefer a natural presentation that floats and swims as you are jigging, which is where an ⅛ oz comes into play. If you are just starting out and want some fish in the boat, go with a ¼ oz painted jig head and tip it with a minnow, leech, or nightcrawler. It will match the above gear and do it all for you!
There you have it—walleye gear made simple. Get a 7' medium power, fast action rod with a 2500 size reel. Next, spool it with a 15lb braid main line and tie about a 3-foot-long 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Lastly, tie on your favorite colored ¼ oz painted jig head, and tip it with a minnow. That is all you need to catch plenty of walleyes on your local body of water.
Check out the Expert Journal here on Curated for more Fishing content. Good luck and tight lines!