Catch More Walleye With The Best Baits For Ice Fishing

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases

Learn the best baits and rigs for ice fishing walleye, from live suckers to soft plastics, and increase your chances of landing a trophy walleye on the ice.

Best Baits for Ice Fishing Walleye

Walleye ice fishing can be a thrilling experience, but it requires the right bait to attract these finicky fish. The question is, what are the best baits for ice fishing walleye? The answer lies in understanding the walleye’s behavior and preferences.

Live Bait Options

Live bait is often the go-to choice for many ice anglers, and for good reason. Walleye are naturally drawn to the movement and scent of live bait. When it comes to live bait options, the most popular choices include minnows, leeches, and worms. These baitfish are naturally found in the walleye’s habitat, making them a familiar and appealing meal option. But what makes live bait so effective?

The key to success with live bait lies in its ability to mimic the natural environment. By using baitfish that are native to the walleye’s ecosystem, you’re more likely to trigger a strike. It’s like placing a neon sign that screams, “Dinner time!” to a hungry walleye. Plus, live bait provides an enticing scent and movement that’s hard to resist.

Lures and Jigs

For those who prefer artificial lures, there’s a wide range of options available. Jigs, in particular, are a popular choice for walleye ice fishing. These versatile lures can be used to mimic a variety of baitfish, from shad to suckers. By attaching a curly tail or swim bait to your jig, you can create a tantalizing presentation that’s hard to ignore.

But what about spoons and spinners? These lures can be just as effective, especially when tipped with a minnow or worm. The key is to choose a lure that imitates the natural movement and appearance of the walleye’s preferred prey. Think of it like a game of “match the hatch.” By mirroring the local baitfish, you increase your chances of landing a trophy walleye.

Soft Plastics and Swimbaits

Soft plastics and swimbaits are another popular choice for walleye ice fishing. These lures are designed to mimic the action and appearance of injured baitfish, which can be irresistible to a hungry walleye. The key to success with soft plastics and swimbaits lies in their versatility. You can use them on a jighead, with a spinner, or even on their own as a enticing trailer.

By experimenting with different soft plastics and swimbaits, you can tailor your presentation to the specific preferences of the walleye in your target area. Just remember, the key to success lies in creating a natural, enticing presentation that triggers a strike. So, which bait will you choose? Will you opt for the reliability of live bait, the versatility of lures and jigs, or the tantalizing action of soft plastics and swimbaits? The choice is yours, but with these options, you can’t go wrong!

Live Bait for Walleye Ice Fishing

When it comes to catching walleye through the ice, live bait can be an extremely effective way to tempt these finicky fish. But what kind of live bait should you use? In this section, we’ll dive into the world of live bait for walleye ice fishing, exploring three of the most popular options: sucker minnows, fathead minnows, and waxworms and maggots.

Sucker Minnows

Sucker minnows are one of the most popular live baits for walleye ice fishing, and for good reason. These small fish are a staple of the walleye diet, and their tantalizing movements and scent can be irresistible to hungry ‘eyes. Sucker minnows are particularly effective in cold water, as they seem to attract walleye even in the most sluggish of conditions. Plus, they’re often plentiful and easy to catch, making them a convenient option for ice anglers.

Fathead Minnows

Fathead minnows are another popular choice for walleye ice fishing, and offer a slightly different profile than sucker minnows. These minnows are a bit larger and more energetic than suckers, making them a great option for attracting larger walleye. Fatheads are also more active in warmer water, making them a great choice for ice fishing in the late winter or early spring. One thing to keep in mind when using fatheads is that they can be more finicky to keep alive, so be sure to keep them comfortable and healthy.

Waxworms and Maggots

Waxworms and maggots are often overlooked as live bait options for walleye ice fishing, but they can be incredibly effective. Both of these baits offer a soft, juicy texture that walleye find hard to resist, and they can be particularly effective in areas with heavy fishing pressure. Because they’re not as common as minnows, waxworms and maggots can be a great way to mix things up and catch walleye that have seen it all before. Plus, they’re often less expensive and easier to care for than minnows, making them a great option for anglers on a budget.

Artificial Lures for Ice Walleye

Ice fishing for walleye can be a thrilling experience, and using artificial lures can add an extra layer of excitement to your adventure. But, have you ever wondered what makes artificial lures so effective in ice fishing? The answer lies in their ability to mimic the natural movements and appearances of baitfish, which triggers a walleye’s predatory instincts. In this section, we’ll delve into the world of artificial lures and explore the best options for catching walleye on the ice.

Jigging Spoons

Jigging spoons are one of the most popular artificial lures for ice fishing walleye, and for good reason. These spoons are designed to mimic the injured baitfish that walleye love to feast on. With their fluttering, erratic motion, jigging spoons can be incredibly enticing to walleye. When using a jigging spoon, try to vary your jigging motion to mimic the struggles of a wounded baitfish. You can also experiment with different retrieval speeds and pause lengths to see what works best in your fishing spot.

Small Jigs and Teasers

Small jigs and teasers are another effective option for ice fishing walleye. These tiny lures can be dressed with a variety of soft plastics, such as curly tails or swimbaits, to create a tantalizing presentation. When using small jigs, try to focus on areas with structural features like rocks, weed beds, or drop-offs, as these can be hotspots for walleye. You can also try slowly lifting and dropping your jig to create a subtle, enticing movement.

Ice Fishing Flies and Nymphs

Ice fishing flies and nymphs may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of artificial lures, but they can be incredibly effective for walleye. These tiny, weighted flies are designed to sink quickly and mimic the natural movements of aquatic insects or baitfish. When using ice fishing flies, try to focus on areas with slower currents and deeper water, as these can be more conducive to walleye activity. Experiment with different retrieval speeds and presentation styles to see what works best for you.

Ice Fishing Walleye Rigs and Setups

When it comes to ice fishing for walleye, having the right rig and setup can make all the difference in your success on the ice. In this section, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of setting up your gear for live bait, artificial lures, and choosing the perfect rod and reel combo.

Setup for Live Bait

When using live bait, your setup should focus on presenting the bait in a natural way that allows it to move freely and entice walleye. A simple slip bobber rig or a live bait rig with a sinker and a swivel can be very effective. The key is to use a light enough line and a sensitive enough bobber to detect the light bites that walleye are known for. You can also add a few split shots or a small weight to the line to get the bait to the desired depth.

Setup for Artificial Lures

When using artificial lures, your setup should focus on creating a lure that imitates the natural baitfish that walleye feed on. A jigging spoon or a small jig tipped with a soft plastic or a minnow can be deadly for walleye. Use a medium to heavy action rod and a reel with a good drag system to handle the strong runs that walleye are known for. Experiment with different retrieve styles and actions to see what works best for the day.

Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Choosing the right rod and reel combo for ice fishing walleye can be overwhelming with all the options available. Look for a rod that is sensitive enough to detect light bites, but has enough backbone to handle larger fish. A medium to heavy action rod in the 24-36 inch range is a good starting point. Pair this with a reel that has a good drag system and can handle the cold temperatures of ice fishing. A spinning or baitcasting reel with a capacity to hold at least 100 yards of 10-15 lb test line is a good choice.

Tips for Choosing Walleye Ice Fishing Bait

Choosing the right bait for walleye ice fishing can be a daunting task, but with a few simple tips, you can increase your chances of landing a trophy catch. The key to success lies in understanding the nuances of walleye behavior and adapting your bait selection accordingly.

Consider Water Temperature

Water temperature plays a crucial role in determining the feeding patterns of walleye. In colder water (below 40°F), walleye tend to be sluggish and less active, requiring slower and more subtle presentations. As the water warms up, walleye become more aggressive, and their feeding patterns change. For example, in warmer water (between 40°F and 50°F), walleye are more likely to chase faster-moving baits. By considering water temperature, you can tailor your bait selection to the specific conditions, increasing your chances of success.

Match the Hatch with Local Baitfish

Matching the hatch, or selecting baits that mimic local baitfish, is a tried-and-true technique for walleye ice fishing. By observing the local baitfish population, you can identify the most effective baits. For example, if you find that the local baitfish are predominantly shiners or shad, using a lure that mimics these baitfish can be incredibly effective. This approach not only increases the likelihood of a bite but also helps you present a more natural and appealing option to the walleye.

Experiment with Different Baits

Walleye are notorious for their finicky nature, and what works one day may not work the next. Experimenting with different baits is essential to staying one step ahead of these cunning fish. Try switching between live bait, lures, and soft plastics to find what the walleye are responding to on a given day. Remember, adaptability is key in walleye ice fishing, and being willing to experiment can make all the difference between a successful day on the ice and a blank.

Leave a Comment