Fishing for spring and summer walleyes with versatile lures: crankbaits
Like many of you, I love using crankbaits to catch walleyes during the spring and entire summer. The biggest factor to understand about correctly fishing these colorful, productive lures is this: They have to be at the right depth, right speed, right vibration, and with the proper profile and the color. These are the main ingredients for trolling crankbaits for walleyes all summer longer.
Guys at seminars regularly ask where does crankbait size enter in the equation. My opinion is that small lures, especially during the early season, trigger more strikes. And many times vibration is more important than size of crank. Experiment here and watch your lure in the water.
Get that crankbait exactly where those fish are located – right at them or right above them. I generally shoot for just above where I’m marking fish on my electronics. That’s often where we’ll encounter the most aggressive fish! If you can get them to rise just a bit, you’ll get that strike.
My crankbait trolling speeds range from maybe .8 to 3 miles per hour. I probably average 1.8 miles per hour. Now, here’s a big, big, factor: You won’t get many walleye strikes if you troll in a straight line. (You’ll find this with many species.) Try slowing or speeding up via your kicker or outboard. Make large S-curves as you troll. Pull your rod forward a bit, then let it bounce back. Rip that line forward, pull it forward, or try the old stop-and-go with your boat.
With crankbaits, color is one of the final keys in getting a good catch. I use all colors, but whites are good, and shad colors. Firetiger, truth be told, ranks a little lower on my list. When in doubt, try to match the hatch. If feeding over a gizzard shad forage source, use shiny white or shad colors, or if they’re eating sunfish, then use a sunfish imitation.
Your crankbait thinking priority should run as follows: depth, vibration, speed, color, then sound – rattles versus no rattles. If you’re in an area with lots of fishing pressure, you may want to avoid rattles. And don’t forget, you can run cranks on a three-way swivel rig.