RODS, REELS & LINE FOR WALLEYE FISHING
Your choice of rods, reels and line for walleyes depends on your fishing technique. Anglers who regularly use several techniques during a day of fishing often carry three or four rod-and-reel outfits, each set up with different lures or live-bait rigs.
The following recommendations will help you choose the rods, reels and line best suited to your style of fishing.
RODS. For casting and trolling with lures and livebait rigs weighing from 1/4 to /8 ounce, select a 6-foot, medium-power, fast-action spinning rod. This rod is the best choice for generalpurpose walleye fishing.
For casting small jigs, and other lures and rigs weighing from 1/16 to 3/8 ounce, select a 6- to 6-1/2 foot, light-power, fast-action spinning rod. This rod flexes easily on the backcast, so it works well for propelling light lures and baits.
Casting and trolling with large deep-diving crankbaits and live-bait rigs weighing more than 1/2 ounce is easiest with a 6- to 6-1/2-foot, medium-power, fastaction bait-casting rod. Because this rod has more backbone than most spinning rods, it is better suited to heavier lures and rigs.
If you fish mainly with live bait, a 6-1/2- to 7-1/2-foot, light-power, medium-action spinning rod is a better choice than a short, stiffer rod.
Walleyes are notoriously soft biters. As a result, sensitivity should be a major consideration in choosing a walleye rod. Notice that most of the recommended rods have a fast action; slower-action rods are not as sensitive. Most serious walleye fishermen prefer graphite rods because they transmit vibrations better than fiberglass rods.
Other features that improve a rod's ability to transmit vibrations include a blank that extends all the way through the rod handle; one-piece construction; and lightweight, single-foot guides. Ferrules and double-foot guides add weight and tend to restrict the rod's action.
REELS. For good sensitivity and casting performance, your reel must balance with your rod. Check the lure- and line-weight recommendations on both your rod and reel to make sure that they match. For example, if you attempt to use a reel intended for 12to 20-pound line with a rod designed for 4- to 8pound line, the outfit will be butt-heavy. Too much weight on the butt end makes casting difficult because it interferes with your wrist snap. And the weight dampens the sensation from a subtle bite.
When selecting a spinning reel, look for the following features:
- A front-mounted drag.
- A skirted spool of adequate size.
- A bail with strong spring tension. If the bail does not close all the way, the line will ride on the bail itself rather than on the roller. When you attempt to set the hook, the bail will open enough to let line come off the spool. Some of the best spinning reels have a spring on each end of the bail.
- A free-turning bail roller. The roller must turn when the line passes over it. If it does not, heat and abrasion will damage the line and may wear a groove in the roller.
- Interchangeable spools. These spools snap into the reel, enabling you to quickly change to a different weight or type of line, or to replace a half empty spool with a full one.
In selecting a bait-casting reel, the most important feature is backlash resistance. Good bait-casting reels have some type of magnetic or centrifugal brake system to keep backlashing to a minimum. A high gear ratio is not a requirement for walleye fishing because fast retrieves are seldom needed. A gear ratio of 4:1 is usually adequate. Some bait-casting reels also come with interchangeable line spools.
Although most experienced walleye fishermen frown on spin-casting gear, it remains a favorite among many anglers. If you purchase a spin-cast reel, make sure it has a smooth drag and a reliable line-pickup mechanism. Unless the line is taut, the mechanism on a cheap spin-cast reel often fails to pick up the line when you turn the handle.
LINE. Walleyes can be very line shy, especially in clear water. To keep line visibility to a minimum, use clear monofilament or mono tinted to match the color of the water. In low-clarity water, line color generally makes little difference.
Regardless of water clarity, it pays to use the lightest, limpest, lowest-diameter line that suits the conditions. Line with these characteristics flows off the spool more easily than heavier, stiffer or thicker line. As a result, you can cast farther and feed line more easily when a walleye runs with your bait. And wobbling lures can move more freely.
Unless you are fishing in heavy cover, you will seldom need monofilament heavier than 8-pound test. When fishing in rocks, brush or dense weeds, you may have to sacrifice limpness for stiffer, more abrasion-resistant line.