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
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.
Any time you locate walleyes congregated in small,
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
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.
"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).
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
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.