How to Troll for Walleye Like a PRO

Fishing on the lake fisherman baited his hook
Ernest Grey

I love to test new fishing gadgets and share my opinion.

Trolling for walleye is a methodical and rewarding approach to catching this sought-after freshwater species. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting your fishing journey, walleye trolling can be an exciting endeavor. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of walleye trolling, exploring not only the benefits of this technique but also offering an extensive overview of recommended lures, the intricacies of walleye trolling setup, and an array of valuable tips to ensure your success on the water.

Should You Troll for Walleye?

Before diving into the specifics of trolling for walleye, it’s essential to understand why this method is favored by many anglers. Trolling presents several distinct advantages that make it a popular choice:

Coverage and Location. Trolling allows you to cover a larger expanse of water compared to other fishing techniques. This increases your chances of finding active walleye, which can be elusive and move throughout a body of water.

Depth Exploration. Walleye often inhabit various depths, depending on factors such as time of day and water temperature. Trolling permits you to explore these depths systematically, increasing your chances of landing a walleye.

Natural Presentation. Trolling enables you to present your lure in a lifelike and enticing manner. This mimics the natural movements of prey, such as minnows or baitfish, making it more likely to attract walleye.

Man holding a fishing lure

Now, let’s delve into the diverse world of lures and why each type is a valuable asset to your walleye trolling arsenal. For more information check our walleye lure selection guide.

Jigging Minnows

Jigging minnows are remarkably effective in trolling for walleye due to their lifelike appearance and action. They replicate the movement of injured or distressed baitfish, which triggers the predatory instincts of walleye. These lures come in various sizes and colors, providing versatility that allows you to match the hatch and adapt to changing conditions. When selecting jigging minnows, consider colors that mimic the local forage fish, as walleye are often keyed into specific prey in their environment.


Crankbaits are versatile and dependable lures when trolling for walleye. These lures have a built-in diving action that allows them to reach specific depths, making them ideal for targeting walleye at various levels in the water column. Their signature wobbling action and vibrant colors are highly effective at triggering aggressive strikes from walleye. When choosing crankbaits, pay attention to the diving depth and select models that match the depth at which you intend to troll.

Spinner Rigs

Spinner rigs are renowned for their ability to create flash and vibration, making them a go-to choice for attracting walleye. Their rotating blades and added attractants like beads or spinner bodies provide an irresistible combination. Spinner rigs are particularly effective in murky water or low-light conditions when walleye rely more on their sense of vibration and movement. Adding live bait such as nightcrawlers or minnows to the spinner rig can further enhance their appeal.

Walleye Trolling Setup

A successful walleye trolling setup involves several critical components. Let’s take a detailed look at each aspect:


Fishing boat in the middle of the river

Choosing the right boat is pivotal for a productive walleye trolling excursion. Consider the following factors:

Size and Stability: Select a boat size that aligns with your fishing needs and the water bodies you plan to explore. Larger boats provide more stability in open waters, while smaller boats are suitable for more confined spaces.

Motor: Invest in a boat equipped with a trolling motor or an outboard motor that can maintain slow and controlled trolling speeds. This precision is essential for trolling success.


A man on a boat holding a fishing rod.

Selecting the appropriate trolling rod is essential for both control and comfort during long days on the water. Here are some key considerations:

Action and Length: Opt for a trolling rod with a medium to medium-heavy action, typically ranging from 7 to 9 feet in length. This length provides better control over the lines and allows you to cover more water effectively.

Line Guides: Ensure your rod is equipped with line guides designed for trolling. These guides facilitate the smooth flow of your fishing line, minimizing friction and potential line damage.

Trolling Speed

Trolling for walleye demands precise control of your boat’s speed. Here are some insights into mastering this crucial aspect:

Speed Range: Aim for trolling speeds ranging from 1.0 to 2.5 miles per hour. However, be prepared to adjust your speed based on fish activity, weather conditions, and the specific lures you’re using.

GPS and Fishfinders: Invest in quality fishfinders and GPS units. These technologies help you locate underwater structures, identify potential hotspots for walleye, and monitor your trolling speed accurately.

Proven Tips for Walleye Fishing Success

Achieving proficiency in walleye trolling requires a combination of experience, insight, and adaptability. In this section, we’ll delve deeper into a comprehensive set of tips that will elevate your walleye trolling game to a whole new level. From understanding the impact of environmental factors to fine-tuning your trolling technique, here’s an in-depth exploration of how to maximize your chances of landing that prized walleye.

Lure Selection

Lure selection is an art in itself, and understanding the subtleties of different lures can be the key to enticing walleye.

Color Matters. Pay attention to the color of your lures. In clear waters, natural colors like silver, white, and shad patterns tend to work well. In murkier conditions, opt for brighter, high-contrast colors that can be more visible to walleye.

Lure Size. Match the size of your lure to the local forage fish. If you notice smaller baitfish in the area, opt for smaller lures. Conversely, use larger lures when walleye are targeting larger prey.

Change It Up. Don’t be afraid to switch lures if you’re not getting bites. Walleye can be selective, so experimenting with different shapes, sizes, and colors can be the key to success.

Speed and Depth Control

Controlling your trolling speed and lure depth is a fine art:

S-curve Trolling. This technique involves creating an “S” pattern with your boat as you troll. This erratic movement can trigger aggressive strikes from walleye. Experiment with the width and speed of your S-curve to find what works best.

Trolling Depth Adjustments. Invest in precision tools like line counter reels and diving planers to precisely control the depth of your lures. Walleye may be suspended at various depths, so being able to adjust quickly can make all the difference.

Utilizing Live Bait

Live bait can be a game-changer when trolling for walleye:

Nightcrawlers. Nightcrawlers are a classic choice and can be particularly effective during low-light conditions. Thread them onto a harness or spinner rig to add enticing scent and movement to your presentation.

Minnows. Hooking a live minnow can mimic the natural movements of prey fish. Consider using a slip bobber or Lindy rig to keep the minnow at the desired depth. If you are unsure witch hook size to use, read our walleye hook size guide.

Adapting to Seasonal Movements

Understanding how walleye respond to seasonal changes is crucial for trolling success.

Spring Migration. In the spring, walleye often migrate from deeper wintering areas to shallower, spawning grounds. Trolling along their migration routes or near these spawning areas can yield excellent results.

Summer Patterns. As summer progresses, walleye may move to deeper waters during the day to escape warmer surface temperatures. Focus your trolling efforts on drop-offs, underwater structures, and areas with a mix of depths to locate these summer walleye.

Strategic Bait Presentation

Fine-tuning your bait presentation can make all the difference.

Scent Attraction. Experiment with scent attractants on your lures or bait. Walleye have a keen sense of smell, and adding scent can entice even hesitant fish to strike.

Flutter Spoons. Consider incorporating flutter spoons into your trolling setup. These lures have a distinctive fluttering action that mimics injured prey, making them irresistible to walleye. Vary the size and color to find what walleye prefer on a given day.

Final Words

In conclusion, walleye trolling is a nuanced art that requires a deep understanding of the fish and their environment. By taking into account environmental factors, fine-tuning your lure selection, mastering speed and depth control, utilizing live bait effectively, and maintaining patience and persistence, you can significantly enhance your chances of success. Remember, every day on the water is a learning experience, and the more you refine your skills, the more rewarding your walleye trolling adventures will become. Happy trolling, and may you reel in your share of trophy walleye!