Most anglers don’t associate walleye with fly fishing. But over the years I’ve caught a lot of walleye while fly fishing our northern rivers and lakes.
As the waters we fish at Wilderness North are part of the Hudson/James Bay drainage, there is almost always some kind of current involved even when fishing a lake. Both Makokibatan and Miminiska Lakes would be examples of this. In some places on these waters there is substantial current near pinch points along the main channels. These currents are like conveyor belts for feeding walleye, bringing lots of baitfish and other morsels right to them. Subsequently a streamer fly swung on a sink-tip line can be just as effective as spinning gear. In fact the streamers I have designed, like the Green-Butt Monkey, Wounded Cheezie, and SS Minnow, rival live bait for effectiveness. The reason they work so well is because of the way the rabbit-strip tails undulate in the current.
Basically I fly fish for walleye using the same tactics I employ for brook trout. I find an area with some nice current adjacent to a pool or back eddy where fish can lay in wait for bait fish delivered by the main current. I cast my sink-tip line across the current and allow the line and streamer to sink as it is being swept down and across. While the current is sweeping the fly downstream, I impart action to the streamer by twitching the rod tip. You might say it’s all in the wrist.
That rabbit-strip streamer pulsates and darts in the current with every twitch. If there is a hungry walleye within a few yards of that streamer it will be on that fly like a kid on cotton candy. Once the walleye nails the streamer set the hook hard and hold on. Walleye in current fight valiantly and rival a good-sized brook trout. So next time your fly fishing a stretch of walleye-water with current, try the fly rod. You’ll be happy you did.