7 Walleye Fishing Rigs for This Fishing Season

7 Walleye Fishing Rigs to Try
Larry Stark

Professional fisherman, who loves to review new fishing gadgets.

The difference between an empty hook and a trophy catch, walleye fishing stands out as a challenging pursuit. These elusive predators, known for their cunning and keen senses, require a special approach. That’s where walleye rigs come into play – the unsung heroes of successful walleye fishing.

Walleye rigs are not just tools; they are the keys for unlocking these remarkable fish. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just dipping your toes into the world of walleye fishing, understanding and mastering the art of rigging can make all the difference.

Understanding Walleye Rigs

To become a successful walleye angler, it’s crucial to grasp the essence of walleye rigs. These rigs are not just lines and weights; they are the lifelines that connect you to the elusive walleye. In this section, we’ll dive into what walleye rigs are, why they matter, and provide a glimpse of the diverse array of rigs awaiting exploration in this guide. 

Imagine walleye rigs as the bridge between you and your prey. They are specialized setups designed to present your bait in the most enticing and effective manner. Unlike generic fishing lines, walleye rigs are tailored to address the specific behaviors and habitats of walleye.

Their importance cannot be overstated. Walleye, notorious for their sensitivity to light and sound, are known to be cautious and selective when it comes to biting. Here’s where the art of rigging comes into play. By using the right rig for the right situation, you increase your chances of a successful catch.

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store:

  • Bottom Bouncer Rig – ideal for trolling, this rig keeps your bait tantalizingly close to the bottom, where walleye often lurk.
  • Lindy Rig – simpler version of the bottom bouncer, it’s perfect for presenting bait close to the bottom.
  • Drop Shot Rig – versatile rig borrowed from bass fishing that works wonders for catching walleye.
  • Crawler Harness – two-hook setup designed to entice walleye with the allure of nightcrawlers.
  • Slip Bobber Rig – popular choice for float fishing, this rig allows you to precisely control the depth at which your bait is presented.
  • Ned Rig – known for its effectiveness in bass fishing, it’s also a secret weapon for walleye enthusiasts.
  • Three-Way Rig – hybrid rig that combines the best of both bottom bouncers and Lindy rigs, perfect for suspending bait.

If you want to match your rig with a proper lure, see our best lures for walleye comparison guide.

Bottom Bouncer Rig for Walleye

The bottom bouncer rig is a workhorse in the world of walleye fishing, renowned for its effectiveness in trolling and casting scenarios. In this section, we’ll delve deep into the mechanics of this rig, offering a comprehensive understanding of its components, how to use it effectively, and even providing a helpful diagram for clarity.

Anatomy of a Bottom Bouncer Rig

  1. The Wire Frame. At its core, the bottom bouncer rig features an L-shaped wire frame. This frame serves a crucial purpose – it keeps your bait tantalizingly close to the bottom while minimizing snags. The long arm of the frame is where the action happens.
  2. Bullet Weight. Positioned in the middle of the frame’s long arm, the bullet weight is essential for maintaining contact with the bottom. It ensures that your bait hovers about a foot above the substrate – a prime position for tempting walleye.
  3. Line Attachment. Your main line is tied to the notch at the corner of the “L” shape using a sturdy knot like the palomar or double uni knot.
  4. Leader. Attached to the other arm of the bottom bouncer, the leader carries your bait presentation. Depending on your preferences, you can choose a live bait like minnows, nightcrawlers, or leeches, or opt for artificial lures.

When and Where to Use It

The bottom bouncer rig shines when you know that walleye are lurking near the bottom. It’s most commonly employed during the summer months, but don’t hesitate to use it in spring or fall when conditions are right. The only situation where it might not be the best choice is when walleye are suspended higher in the water column.

When trolling, maintain a slow and steady pace to ensure consistent contact with the bottom. This strategy allows you to cover a substantial area in search of hungry walleye. The beauty of the bottom bouncer rig is its versatility – it pairs equally well with live bait presentations or artificial lures.

Surprisingly, you can also cast a bottom bouncer rig from shore. In this scenario, retrieve it slowly to maintain frequent bottom contact.

Weight Selection Wisdom

The weight of your bottom bouncer is a crucial factor in your success. As a rule of thumb, opt for 1 oz of weight for every 10 feet of water depth. For instance, in 25 feet of water, select a 3 oz bottom bouncer weight to ensure your rig sinks to the target depth.

Some bottom bouncers offer adjustable weights, which prove convenient when you’re fishing at various depths throughout the day

Lindy Rig for Walleye

The Lindy Rig is a testament to the beauty of simplicity in walleye fishing. In this section, we’ll take a deep dive into this highly effective rig, offering step-by-step instructions for its assembly, insights into bait choices, and a comparative analysis with the Bottom Bouncer Rig.

At its core, the Lindy Rig is remarkably straightforward. Unlike the Bottom Bouncer Rig, it lacks the L-shaped wire frame, making it an ideal choice for anglers who prefer a streamlined setup.

Rig Assembly

  1. Sliding Weight: Start by threading your main line through a sliding sinker. To prevent the sinker from sliding onto the leader, place a plastic bead between them.
  2. Barrel Swivel: Tie your main line to a barrel swivel using a palomar or double uni knot.
  3. Leader: Attach a 2 to 5 foot leader to your hook, worm harness, or lure. Then tie the end of the leader to the second eye of the swivel.

Bait Recommendations

The Lindy Rig is highly versatile when it comes to bait choices. You can opt for live bait like minnows, nightcrawlers, leeches, or even artificial lures, depending on your preferences and the walleye’s feeding habits.

Comparative Analysis

While both the Lindy Rig and Bottom Bouncer Rig are used to target walleye near the bottom, they each have their pros and cons.

Lindy Rig Pros
  • Presents bait closer to the bottom than a Bottom Bouncer.
  • Less prone to snags, thanks to the absence of a wire frame.
  • Allows walleye to pull line without feeling the weight of the sinker.
Lindy Rig Cons
  • Bait presented extremely close to the bottom, which can be a disadvantage in some situations.
  • Can be prone to snagging if used in areas with dense underwater structures.

Drop Shot Rig for Walleye

The Drop Shot Rig, a technique originally favored by bass anglers, has proven its versatility by making its mark in walleye fishing. In this section, we’ll explore how this rig can be effectively adapted for walleye, providing comprehensive instructions, bait recommendations, and insights into its ideal applications.

An Unexpected Walleye Winner

The Drop Shot Rig may not be the first choice that comes to mind when targeting walleye, but its adaptability has made it a surprising ally. This rig allows you to present bait in a way that entices walleye to strike, even when other methods fall short.

Rig Assembly

  1. Octopus Hook. Begin by tying your main line to a single octopus hook using a palomar knot. Ensure that the tag end is long enough to provide 2 to 3 feet of line between the hook and the weight.
  2. Drop Shot Weight. Thread the tag end of your line through the eye of the hook a second time, causing it to stick out perpendicular to the line. Then, tie the tag end to the drop shot weight. The length of the line between the weight and the hook determines how far above the bottom your bait will be presented.

Bait Choices

The Drop Shot Rig offers versatility in bait selection. Consider using various soft plastic lures, choosing the one that best mimics the walleye’s preferred prey. Experimentation is key to finding the most enticing option for the day.

Ideal Applications

This rig shines when targeting walleye that are holding close to the bottom. It’s a versatile choice throughout the open water season, making it suitable for various conditions. However, if your fish finder indicates that walleye are suspended, other tactics may yield better results.

Techniques for Success

For optimal results, vertical fishing from a boat is the preferred method for using the Drop Shot Rig. Use your fish finder to locate walleye-rich structures, and then lower your weight until it makes contact with the bottom. Subtle movements of your walleye jigging rod tip will impart action to the soft plastic lure without lifting the weight from the bottom.

Crawler Harness for Walleye

The Crawler Harness is a walleye angler’s secret weapon, thanks to its distinct design and proven effectiveness. In this section, we’ll delve deep into the world of crawler harnesses, uncovering their unique advantages, ideal applications, and how they can be combined with other rigs for walleye success.

Harnessing the Walleye’s Attention

The Crawler Harness is not your typical rig; it’s a specialized setup designed to stretch out a nightcrawler optimally at both ends. This unique design underwater is what sets it apart and makes it an irresistible temptation for walleye.

Components and Assembly

  1. Dual Hooks. The Crawler Harness features two hooks strategically positioned to secure a nightcrawler effectively. These hooks work together to create a natural, enticing presentation that walleye find irresistible.
  2. Spinner Blade. Attached to the front of the harness is a colorful spinner blade. This blade serves a dual purpose: it generates vibrations and flashes of color underwater, attracting walleye from a distance, and it adds an element of visual intrigue that can trigger strikes.

When and Where to Shine

The Crawler Harness is a summer delight, aligning perfectly with the natural availability of nightcrawlers as a food source for walleye during this season. Therefore, it’s best deployed from late spring through early fall.

Combining Forces with Other Rigs

While the Crawler Harness is a star on its own, it can also shine brightly in combination with other rigs. Most commonly, anglers pair it with a Bottom Bouncer, but it can also complement a Lindy Rig or a 3-Way Rig.

Assembly and Presentation

When attaching a Crawler Harness to another rig, like a Bottom Bouncer, the key is to allow the nightcrawler to work its magic naturally. The harness presents the crawler in a way that’s hard for walleye to resist.

Slip Bobber Rig for Walleye

The Slip Bobber Rig is a versatile and precision-focused tool in the walleye angler’s arsenal. In this section, we’ll dive deep into the world of slip bobber rigs, dissecting their components, providing step-by-step setup instructions, revealing their ideal applications, and offering visual aids for clarity.

Deconstructing the Slip Bobber Rig

Understanding the slip bobber rig starts with knowing its core components:

  1. Slip Bobber. The heart of this rig, the slip bobber, slides freely on your main line. It’s adjustable, allowing you to control the depth at which your bait is presented.
  2. Rubber Stop. Above the slip bobber, a rubber stop is placed on the main line. This stop determines how deep your bait will be presented, offering precision in targeting specific depths.
  3. Bead. Often, a bead is added between the rubber stop and the slip bobber to prevent the bobber from colliding with the stop. This small addition ensures smooth movement and prevents line damage.

Tying and Setting Up

Setting up a slip bobber rig is straightforward but requires precision. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Thread the main line through the rubber stop and add a bead.
  2. Slide the slip bobber onto the line.
  3. Add a sliding bullet weight (or a large split shot) below the slip bobber.
  4. Tie the line to a barrel swivel using a palomar or double uni knot.
  5. Attach a 2 to 3-foot leader to the swivel.
  6. Tie your chosen hook to the end of the leader.

A Precision Tool for Specific Scenarios

The slip bobber rig shines in scenarios where precision and control are paramount:

Shallow Water Fishing. It excels when walleye are feeding close to shore in relatively shallow water during spring or autumn.

Casting. Whether you’re on a boat or shore, the slip bobber rig is equally effective, making it a versatile choice.

Current Fishing. If there’s a current, casting the rig upstream and allowing it to drift downstream is an effective technique. This setup allows you to cover more ground while maintaining control

Ned Rig for Walleye

Ned Rig emerges as a quiet yet highly effective choice. In this section, we’ll delve into the nuances of the Ned rig, its unassuming simplicity, and how it lures walleye with its distinctive underwater action.

Demystifying the Ned Rig

At its core, the Ned rig is minimalistic and straightforward:

Mushroom Jig Head: The rig starts with a 1/16 to 1/4 oz mushroom-shaped jig head.

Short Soft Plastic Lure: A short chunk of soft plastic lure, typically a 2-inch-long thick plastic worm, is threaded onto the hook.

What sets the Ned rig apart is its design, where the buoyant plastic tail points upwards during retrieval. This creates a unique action underwater that can entice fish when other lures fall short.

Tying and Setting Up

While the Ned rig is incredibly simple, proper setup is crucial for success. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Tie your main line to the mushroom jig head.

Thread the chosen soft plastic lure onto the hook.

When and Where to Deploy the Ned Rig

The Ned rig is a superb option for targeting walleye in specific scenarios:

Shallow Water Walleye. If you’re hunting for shallow water walleye, especially near the shoreline, the Ned rig can be your secret weapon.

Weed Bed Edges. Fishing along the edges of weed beds can yield great results with the Ned rig. Its action can lure walleye hiding within the vegetation.

Shore Fishing. Whether you’re casting from shore or a boat, the Ned rig is versatile enough to excel in both situations.

Three-Way-Rig for Walleye

Enter the world of the Three-Way Rig, a versatile and hybrid approach that marries elements of both bottom bouncing and Lindy rigging. In this section, we’ll dive into the intricacies of this unique rig, explore its construction, and reveal when and where it becomes the ultimate weapon in your walleye fishing arsenal.

Decoding the Three-Way Rig

The Three-Way Rig earns its name from its distinctive setup:

  1. Three-Way Swivel. At the heart of this rig lies a three-way swivel, serving as the central connection point.
  2. Leaders. Two leaders extend from the swivel. One, typically 2 to 3 feet long, connects to a sinker, while the other, longer at 3 to 7 feet, holds your hook or lure.

This configuration provides a critical advantage: it allows you to present your bait well above the bottom, making it a top choice when walleye are actively cruising a few feet above the lakebed.

Tying and Adjusting the Three-Way Rig

Creating the perfect Three-Way Rig involves a few key steps:

  1. Begin by tying your main line to the three-way swivel.
  2. Attach the shorter leader to the sinker, ensuring it’s about 2 to 3 feet long.
  3. Connect the longer leader to your hook, crawler harness, or lure.

It’s important to note that the leader connected to the sinker should have a lower lb test. This design ensures that if it snags on the bottom, you’ll only lose the sinker, not your entire rig.

When and Where to Unleash the Three-Way Rig

The Three-Way Rig shines in specific walleye fishing scenarios:

Trolling for Suspended Walleye. When you’re trolling and notice walleye suspending several feet above the bottom, the Three-Way Rig’s adjustable leader lengths make it a top choice.

Depth Control. The length of the leader attached to the sinker determines the depth at which your bait is presented, giving you precise control over your presentation.

Versatility in Trolling. Whether you prefer live bait or artificial lures, the Three-Way Rig adapts to your choice, making it incredibly versatile for trolling.

Selecting the Best Rig for Your Walleye Fishing Adventure

As we’ve explored various walleye rigs, you might be wondering which one is the perfect fit for your upcoming fishing trip. Let’s sum up the strengths and weaknesses of each rig type, helping you make an informed decision based on your fishing location, bait preference, and tactics.

RigBottom Bouncer RigLindy RigDrop Shot RigCrawler HarnessSlip Bobber RigNed RigThree-Way Rig
Strength #1Ideal for trolling.Effective for bottom fishing.Adapted from bass fishing, works well for walleye.Optimally presents nightcrawlers.Excellent for float fishing.Simple yet effective.Combines elements of bottom bouncing and Lindy rigging.
Strength #2Keeps bait close to the bottom.Simplicity in design.Versatile in presenting soft plastic lures.Features a spinner blade for attraction.Allows precise depth control.Unique action underwater.Provides precise depth control.
Strength #3Versatile for various bait types.Allows fish to pull line without feeling weight.Effective for vertical fishing.Can be used with other rigs.Suitable for both shore and boat fishing.Suitable for shallow water walleye.Versatile for trolling with various baits.
Weakness #1Can snag on bottom structures.Prone to snags on bottom. Limited to soft plastic bait.Effective only during summer. Not ideal for presenting bait close to the bottom.Limited to specific soft plastic lures. Sinkers can snag on bottom structures.

The ideal rig for your walleye adventure depends on three main factors:

  1. Location. Consider whether you’re fishing in deep or shallow water, a lake or river. Each rig has its own depth capabilities.
  2. Bait Preference. Think about the type of bait you want to use, whether it’s nightcrawlers, minnows, leeches, soft plastics, or other options.
  3. Tactics. Are you trolling, casting from shore, or vertically jigging? Your chosen tactics play a crucial role in rig selection.

Tips for Successful Fishing

Knowledge is your best ally. Beyond choosing the right rig, there are essential tips and tactics that can make the difference between a mediocre outing and a memorable walleye catch. Let’s dive into the wisdom of seasoned anglers and explore some valuable insights on how to a catch walleye like a pro.

Adapt to Changing Conditions

One of the first lessons every walleye angler learns is that conditions can shift rapidly on the water. Whether it’s weather, water temperature, or the walleye’s feeding patterns, being adaptable is key. Experienced anglers know the importance of monitoring conditions and adjusting their approach accordingly.

Patience and Persistence Pay Off

Walleye are notorious for their cautious nature. They often inspect bait before striking, and sometimes, they’ll play hard to get. This is where patience comes into play. It’s not uncommon for anglers to wait for that telltale tug on the line, and it’s the patient ones who are rewarded.

Persistence is another vital trait. Walleye fishing may require you to try different rigs, baits, and depths. You might experience slow periods where it feels like the fish have disappeared. Don’t be discouraged. Stick with it, and you might just stumble upon a walleye hotspot.

Learn from the Experts

Experienced anglers have their own stories of triumph and defeat on the water. Listening to these tales can be both entertaining and educational. Pay attention to their insights and strategies. They often share their favorite rigs, go-to baits, and the secrets of their success. Learning from those who have spent years honing their craft can fast-track your walleye fishing journey.

Stay Informed

Stay up-to-date with the latest in walleye fishing. Joining fishing forums, subscribing to fishing magazines, or following blogs can provide you with valuable information. From new rigging techniques to hotspots for walleye, the fishing community is a wellspring of knowledge.

Be Mindful of Regulations

Responsible angling is essential to preserve the walleye population for future generations. Familiarize yourself with fishing regulations in your area, including size and bag limits. Practicing catch-and-release when necessary helps maintain a healthy walleye population.

Stay Safe on the Water

Safety should always be a top priority. Ensure your boat is in good condition, wear life jackets, and let someone know your fishing plans. Keep an eye on changing weather conditions and be prepared for unexpected challenges on the water.

Final Remarks

As you embark on your walleye fishing journey, don’t be afraid to experiment with different rigs. Each outing is a learning opportunity, and the thrill of discovery is part of what makes this pursuit so exhilarating.

Remember, walleye fishing isn’t just about catching fish; it’s about connecting with nature, honing your skills, and preserving these incredible creatures for generations to come.

So, cast your line with confidence, adapt to the conditions, and cherish every moment on the water. Walleye fishing is an ever-evolving adventure, and your next catch could be your most memorable one yet.