Early season walleye jigging tactics
I love using jigs but too many anglers aren’t fishing them correctly. Just starters, understand that you won’t always feel the thump of a walleye when it strikes a jig.
Guys expect that sure bite or hit. Many times you don’t feel it. So often you drop the jig down and it stops. Maybe you’ll just feel some extra weight.
Concentrate on your rod, and don’t wait too long to set the hook.
The right rod helps here. When jigging, I use a 6-foot, 8-inch or 7-foot rod when jigging with a light-action and fast tip. This really helps increase the number of bites he detects, which translates into more fish.
Use a short-shanked jig for live bait and a long-shanked jig when combining that live bait with a dressing. The latter can be plastic, Gulp, or maribou. If you face a tougher bite, use less bulk and movement in the water. Don’t vibrate your offering as much. Listen to the fish to extrapolate their mood, then upsize or downsize properly.
Under most conditions, I avoid stinger hooks. If you’re missing strikes, however, and want to try a stinger, use it properly. Just let it free-fall behind the lure.
I think you get fewer bites with a stinger, so if I’m missing fish, drop that rod tip first, and let them take it.
As for jigging actions, think beyond just lift-drop. That’s fine if it’s producing, but often just holding it at one depth, say 3 inches off bottom, is enough. Let that minnow work.
If you want to get creative, try quiver jigging (gyrating the rod ahead of the reel), snap-jigging, dragging, or just casting and retrieving jigs.
Also, use a heavy enough jig to contact bottom, but not so heavy that fish blow it out. Vertical jigging should offer just the right weight to tick the bottom.
And if you feel a bite, set the hook hard. Really swing that rod tip up.
Always tie your jigs directly to the line. Suspend it periodically out of the water and let it unravel to eliminate line twist and tangling.