The ABC's Of Jigging Walleyes
by Keith Kavajecz & Gary Parsons

Learning to catch walleyes with jigs can be as easy as "ABC" ... "A" for the Attitude that the next lift of the rod tip, producing an alluring swing of the jig, will cause "B", the Bite of a walleye as it slurps up the light-weight jig and minnow combination resulting in "C", you Catching the fish and feeling the exhilaration of a job well done. It's just that simple.

OK, maybe it's not really all that simple. There is a bit more to being a good walleye jig fisherman than just the A, B and C's. There's "L", Locating the fish, which helps determine "P", the Presentation that will best trigger those fish to bite, and "J", choosing the right Jig to do the job. The part of the walleye jigging alphabet that we're going to cover here is the "J". Understanding the right jig to use in a particular situation is one of the least understood aspects of walleye fishing. By learning about the different styles of jigs and jig presentations, your "A" will jump leaps and bounds to helping you attain the "B"s and "C"s of walleye fishing.

"V": Vertical Jigs
Any time you locate walleyes congregated in small, Rick Olson definable areas in depths of at least eight feet or deeper they are prime candidates for vertical jigging. Just as the name implies, vertical jigging is when you present a jig vertically, directly below the boat, placing the jig right in front of the fish's nose. Although this presentation is most often associated with river fishing, it can also be very effective when walleyes are holding off deep points on a lake.

The jig style of choice is one with a round head and a long shank hook. The long shank hook gives the jig a "cam" action that when pulled vertically, as in a vertical hook- set, increases the chances of getting a successful hook up. A shorter shank hook is more easily pulled out of the walleyes grasp during a vertical hook-set.

Having a jig with a light-wire hook is also an advantage. They penetrate a walleye's mouth easier and are more easily straightened out in the event of a snag.

Another important factor in choosing a jig for vertical jigging is the jig weight. You want to use a jig that keeps the jig vertical, whether battling river current, wind or both. Also, use the lightest jig possible to get the job done, so it's easier for the walleye to suck the baited offering into it's mouth. With proper boat control, even in difficult river current, most vertical jigging can be handled with 1/8th ounce to 3/8 ounce jigs.

Keith Kavajecz "P": Pitching Jigs
On many bodies of water walleyes will move into very shallow water to feed. They may be relating to shallow rocks, timber, or the first breakline along shore. Locating these fish can be very difficult. You may mark fish in deeper water off such structure which would indicate that some fish may be utilizing the shallower cover, but actually fishing for these walleyes is ultimately the only way to find out if they are indeed present. This is where "pitching" jigs comes into play. Since pitching is a more horizontal presentation, a different jig style is in order. This is where shorter hook-shanked jigs have the edge. A jig like Northland Tackle's FireBall has a short shank, wide gap hook that is perfect for pitching presentations. These attributes are important because by fishing the jig more horizontally, you are pulling the jig away from the fish on the retrieve. Therefore you want the lure to be more compact thus making it easier for the fish to inhale the whole jig when it grabs hold. Best jig sizes will be 1/16 ounce (for shallow, calm conditions) and 1/8 ounce (for windier or deeper conditions).

"T": Trolling Jigs
When walleyes are more scattered, like over a mid-depth flat for instance, but are not in an aggressive enough mood to be caught with trolling methods such as crankbaits or spinner rigs, Jig Trolling can be a deadly technique. Working from the bow of the boat and moving along slowly with the electric motor, bouncing a jig along the bottom at about a 45 degree angle behind the boat can trigger walleyes when nothing else can. In this scenario, we will again favor a long-shank hook because the hook set will still be somewhat vertical. Because you want to keep the jig on the bottom as you slowly troll along, a heavier jig will be used than when you were vertical jigging. The typical range would be 1/4 ounce to 1/2 ounce, with 3/8 being the "bread-and- butter" jig in this presentation.

Jigs are among the most productive walleye lures known to man. Learning to choose the right jig and the right jigging presentation may not be as easy as "ABC", but it's close. Just keep the whole walleye fishing alphabet in mind, watch your "P's and Q's", and you too will improve your "A" (attitude) when it comes to jig fishing walleyes.

It's important to take a few things into consideration when choosing jigs for your walleye fishing situation. Color, while not a huge factor, can, at times, make the difference between a good day on the water and a great fishing adventure. In clear water, good producers include blue, silver and gold. In dingy water, bright colors like chartreuse, orange and green can be top picks.

Adding rattles to your jigs can greatly improve your fishing success in some cases. While thought of as a technique for dirty water scenarios, rattles have proven to be effective in clear water as well. That's why our #1 go-to jig for all but pitching presentations is the Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Jig. The Buck-Shot Rattle Rings can be purchased separately to add to any jig to make it more appealing to wary walleyes.