The early-season walleye trilogy: the humble yet versatile and effective jig
My next three blogs on this website will focus on top techniques for early season walleyes. Let’s start with arguably the most popular tool for walleyes in rivers and lakes alike: jigs.
Whenever considering or viewing jig fishing, I see the same lift-drop mentality with so many anglers. Many times that’s not the approach I use! Instead, I’ll shake my rod or try “quiver jigging” by dancing that jig in a specific depth.
Use lively live bait and remember that your minnow can become the attractor and trigger. Accomplish this by holding that jig stationary and allow that good healthy minnow to perform. This is such an obvious approach, but too often we get stuck doing the same thing over and over.
As for jig weight, it should be just heavy enough that it ticks bottom. Only use heavier jig in deep water, current, or when encountering aggressive fish. (You want that jig to drop faster so you’re not wasting time waiting for it to fall.)
Short-shanked versus long-shanked? I usually add minnows to short-shanked lures, then I’ll add a dressing (for color or bulk or both) to long-shanked jigs. Don’t be afraid to still tip those long-shanked setups with live bait!
And experiment with those dressings. Different sizes and materials will alter action and strikes. More bulk of course means minimum movement, so don’t be afraid to alter any dressing by trimming it up.
As for line, with jigs I use mono only with a softer tipped rod. I avoid braided lines when jigging because it doesn’t stretch, and I’ve seen lost fish because anglers yank it out of fish mouths. If you’re using braided, keep a deft touch on hook-sets. (Or switch over to mono.)
For minnows, look for 2- to 3-inch fatheads, and my standard way of hooking is through the mouth and head. That said, don’t be afraid to vary your hooking to offer a different profile to any walleye.
Miracle in a fishing lure? The humble jig: Don’t leave home without them!