Depending on with whom you speak, walleye just might be the most fished fish in North America. With a healthy distribution covering much of the continent, walleye are plentiful and they are great eating fish as well. We see many anglers travel for the opportunity to target these big-eyed creatures. At Wilderness North, we have walleye in every system and you can fish them deep, shallow, in rivers and in creeks depending on the time of year. We have trophy fisheries as well where you have a legitimate shot at locking horns with fish in the 30 plus inch range. So when travelling to a remote fly in adventure destination, what is the optimum gear set up to bring?
Rods – Depending on the style of fishing you like to do, rod selection for walleye is key. Many times, they are light biters, and even the most experienced anglers questioning “what that a hit?” For casting to walleye, a 6-7 foot medium-light or medium rod with a fast action tip will help you detect the fish. For jigging, consider a shorter rod, say 6 feet medium light to medium and again, a fast or extra fast action tip. If you like to troll for walleye, beef up your rod a bit to a medium to medium heavy and increase the length to 7-10 feet. This helps get the lures away from the boat. Action for a trolling rod should be moderate to help with the fight.
Line – this might be just as important a factor when targeting walleye as your choice of rod. For casting to walleye, you can either choose 100 percent fluorocarbon or braid with a fluorocarbon leader. 10-20 lb braid with an 8-12 lb leader for casting lures. If you choose fluorocarbon, 8-12 lbs will suffice. Braid offers zero stretch and is super sensitive while fluorocarbon will stretch a little, but not nearly as much as monofilament.
When jigging for walleye, line diameter is key. The smaller you can go the better you’ll fare, keeping in mind lighter line generally will result in a longer fight with big fish and you will have increased chances of loosing walleye the lighter you go. Keep spools of 4-10 lb fluorocarbon on hand. If you like the sensitivity of braid, 10 lb with a fluorocarbon leader with tests reflective of the fish’s mood is a great bet. This system also works for live bait fishing for walleye.
Trolling – as with all styles of fishing walleye, sensitivity is key. For trolling walleye, 10-12 lb fluorocarbon is recommended. It has the abrasion resistance to stand up as well as the vanish factor in the water.
What about reels? The most important factor with respect to choosing a reel for walleye fishing is the drag. When fishing light lines, 4-10 lb test range, a solid smooth drag system will be the difference between landing that trophy and snapping it off. You don’t want to be in the situation where your rod is acting as your only flex in fighting a big fish, a solid smooth drag will give you the opportunity to effectively play the fish properly.
Choosing the proper gear to target walleye is of vital importance when heading out on an adventure vacation, it pays to plan ahead and have a little variety if your rod and reel setups with respect to technique. Bring extra spools of different types of line to be able to adjust to the conditions presented for both weather and for what those golden walleye are telling you!