Five Ways to Catch Finicky Walleye

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/1/2006 | Sports
If you are a freshwater fisherman you more than likely target catching walleye once in a while. Often, walleyes are a tricky fish to catch because they are short strikers - that is they hit the bait without getting hooked. Even though the walleye will sometimes short strike the bait, they are usually making an honest attempt to eat it, it's just that the fisherman does not hook the fish.

So, to hook more fish you have to understand how this short striking process occurs and then adjust for it. What the walleye will do unlike a bass or a pike or a muskie is come up to the bait and flare their gills, inhaling the bait and the surrounding water. If the process of inhaling the water is interrupted, you get a short strike with no fish to bring in because the fish will have missed inhaling the bait and getting hooked.

The interruption of the flow of water when the walleye is trying to eat your bait is due to resistance in your line and bait combination. So, if the resistance of that combination is reduced, you should be able to get the bait to flow into the mouth of the walleye, thereby catching more fish.

To reduce line and bait resistance follow these five tactics:

1. Use lighter line than you normally would. Using 4 to 6 pound test line with a thinner diameter reduces line resistance which lets the walleye suck in your bait more easily.

2. Use a bottom bouncer rig with your live bait. A bottom bouncer is an L-shaped wire with a weight on one end and a place for your 3 to 5 foot leader on the other end. When you retrieve or troll the rig, the weight will bounce along the bottom of the lake. When the weight hits the bottom, this causes your line to have more slack, which lets the walleye inhale your bait easier.

3. Instead of using a straight retrieve, pump your crank bait as you retrieve it. Finicky walleyes will more than likely not go for a fast or straight retrieve if they are not feeding aggressively. So, put a stop and go motion on your bait as you retrieve it by using a pumping action. Doing this will give you the slack in the line you will need to allow the fish to inhale the bait. Another thing that can help you here is to up the size of the bait. Larger bait is easier for the fish to inhale.

4. Drift or troll your presentation with the waves if the water is choppy. Trolling or drifting with the waves gives you that slack in the line that is so important when trying to hook finicky fish.

5. Do not use a long stroke when retrieving your bait. If you pull your rod too hard or for too long as you retrieve the bait, you could pull the bait right out of the fish's mouth. Use a shorter, less aggressive pull on your rod during the retrieve instead.

All in all, these techniques should help you catch more walleye if they are not feeding aggressively. Trying variations of these techniques may help you catch more fish too.