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How to Troll for Walleye: The Best Trolling Techniques and Locations

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Trolling is a fishing technique that uses a lure to entice fish into biting. There are many different trolling techniques, but the most popular technique is jerk baiting.

A jerkbait is a type of crankbait that can be fished quickly or slowly. This causes it to move in an erratic motion that is irresistible to fish. There are a variety of crankbaits that mimic the profiles of forage fish, such as walleye.

The most important component in trolling is knowing where to troll since different locations attract different kinds of fish. In order to find the best locations, one can use a map or simply look at what kind of vegetation they have in their lake. For example, a good location would be near sunken trees covered with weeds. This is an ideal spot because when walleye come onto land, they want to find food, and any vegetation will attract small baitfish.

When trolling for walleye, it is best to use jerkbaits or spoons with 3-D eyes because both lures cause less than other types of lures. Here, we will discuss some of the best trolling techniques and their applications to fishing for walleye.

How to Set Up a Walleye Trolling Rod Set-Up?

To catch walleye, your main trolling setup is your rod and reel. You will need to attach a lure of choice (crankbait, spinnerbait, or jerkbait) on the end of the line and tie on a leader of approximately 6 feet (which you will attach to your fishing rod). The leader is an important part of your set-up, as it ensures that the lure is at a safe distance from you and your boat.

The choice of trolling rod and reel should be determined by how many lines you will troll with and how many lines you want to let out. We recommend using a medium action 7-9 foot trolling rod and reel combined with a 6-15lb monofilament or braid test line for speed trolling. This combination enables you to feel even the slightest bite while maintaining control over your fishing line. You can then use this information to decide how hard to strike for the greatest results.

What are the Walleye Trolling Lures?

There are several Walleye trolling lures such as Crankbait, Spinnerbait, Plastic Bait, and Jerkbait. We will go over them below:


Crankbait lures look like small fish with a single treble hook at the end. The splashy darting motions they make across the water surface are how they lure their prey into striking range.

These types of lures work best with speed trolling techniques because you can keep them running straight behind your boat while it travels forward at a steady rate. We recommend using slow-moving crankbaits with speeds up to 6-8 knots.


Spinnerbait lures are also designed to mimic small fish. Still, instead of darting across the surface of the water, these lures spin around their horizontal axis at different speeds, depending on how slowly or quickly you choose to retrieve them. They are typically between 4-5 inches long and come equipped with treble hooks on either end.

The more you reel it in, the more sound it makes – this noise is how walleye find spinnerbaits interesting! It is advised that when trolling for walleye with a spinnerbait, you never let it sink below 20ft so that they can see your lure swimming towards them. In addition, you should be trolling at a speed of a minimum of 4 knots.

Plastic Bait

This is a plastic fish-shaped lure with a single treble hook on end. They mimic walleye’s natural prey, as they are hard to spot underwater and have been known to catch their attention from long distances.

These lures work best with jerkbait trolling techniques because you can keep them running straight behind your boat while it travels erratically. We recommend using slow-moving plastic lures with speeds up to 6 knots.


Jerkbait lures are also designed to mimic small fish, but unlike crankbaits and spinnerbaits, jerkbaits have a horizontal tail that sends up a big spray of water as it darts back and forth under the surface.

It has been reported that this action is how walleye find these lures interesting – they see them as little fish fluttering around on the surface, trying to escape from underneath their noses!

Jerkbait trolling techniques work well with speed trolling because you can keep your plastic lure safely from your boat while still moving at a fairly high rate of knots. We recommend using slow-moving jerkbaits with speeds up to 5 knots.

What is the Walleye Trolling Speed?

The speed you troll at depends on the lures you use. Slow-moving crankbaits and spinnerbaits work best with slow trolling speeds of 2-3 knots, as they need to be able to maintain a steady course behind your boat so walleye can see them.

Jerkbait lures are faster moving and look more natural when trolling at 3-5 knots – this is because you want your plastic interest to mimic a small fish that is panicked and fluttering over the surface of the water trying to escape from danger.

What are the Best Trolling Locations for Walleye?

As mentioned earlier, walleye are strong-willed fish that are not easily caught. Therefore, you will need to find their feeding grounds before you can begin trying your luck at them!

When trolling for walleye, it is advised that you look for areas where they can be found – these include drop-offs, channels between shallow waters and deep waters, weed beds, and rock reefs.

Trolling Spots to Try:

Crab Island

This area has a distinctive channel running through its center, where there is an underwater ridgeline covered in weeds.

Although there are other types of fish living here, walleye come here frequently, so you should too!

The “Walleye Capital” – Lake Mille Lacs

The largest lake in Minnesota and also has a high population of walleye.

You can find walleye all along the shoreline, but they are most often located where there are drop-off points that have water flowing across them.

Pelican Lake

This is one of the best walleye trolling hotspots on Earth! There is an abundance of food here for these fish to feed upon, so it’s no wonder why they come here in droves during various times of the year.

If you are new to catching walleye, then Pelican Lake should be your number one priority.

Detroit River

This place gets a bad reputation in the summer months, but walleye find their way here to begin spawning in the fall—the walleye feed on a large population of alewives that also calls this place home. You can catch up to 8-10 walleye per hour during the peak season!

Green Bay

This area is noted for being rich in nutrients and minerals from which fish feed. In fact, Green bay has been labeled as one of the best walleye fishing spots by many avid fishers!

Unfortunately, various types of fish live around the shoreline here, making it difficult to target each species specifically. Nevertheless, you should be able to catch a healthy population of these tasty fish if you troll around the shallower depths.

Lake St. Clair

This is a great place to troll for walleye during the summer months because of the warmer waters. There are also many different types of fish living here, so if you find one species, you can assume many more!

The walleye feed heavily off a large population of alewife that lives in these waters year-round.

Presque Isle Bay

This area is located near Lake Erie and contains a variety of fish, for example, steelhead trout, salmon, and walleye.

The water conditions here change all year round, from cold winters to hot summers making it an ideal location to visit at any time!

How to Troll a Walleye in a Lake?

To fish for walleye in a lake, you will need to select the proper equipment and lures to use. Generally, slow-moving, large crankbaits and spinnerbaits are best used in lakes. This is because the fishes here tend to be less active and harder to catch than those living in rivers or streams. You can begin trolling by placing one rod in the holder, turning the boat on, and starting your journey across the water.

You can then begin your trolling patterns by dropping one lure near the lake’s bottom and luring it back towards you. The best idea is to use a crankbait for this, as walleye love them! After doing so for about ten seconds or so, stop and allow the bait to sink towards the bottom of the water – if you think your line was not long enough, then simply do it again!

Rod number two should be placed in its holder with another crankbait ready, but don’t drop it just yet. Once rod number one has sunk to around 5-10 feet deep above where you believe walleye to be located, drop that into the water and begin cranking again. Continue in a circular motion, and you should be able to get a lot of walleye!

The good idea is to use a third rod, but this time with a spinnerbait attached. This will help if walleye in the area are too deep for your crankbaits to reach. Fish around, and when you see fishes jumping, then try to cast close by. If they eat the bait, then congratulations – you just caught yourself some dinner! Ensure you practice proper fishing etiquette and release any fishes that are not big enough or suitable for eating, so these resources do not get depleted.

How to Troll for Walleye in a River?

A river is an excellent location to fish for walleye because there is a lot of fishes traffic constantly moving. However, this means you need to be more careful when setting your lines up as the chance of snagging with another boat or underwater logs/debris is much higher than in lakes.

Generally speaking, walleye are active predators that feed on smaller fishes species living nearby. When trolling for walleye in rivers, it’s best to use larger crankbait, spinnerbaits, and leeches which imitate these prey species better than smaller lures would. If you’re trolling at night or in poor visibility, try switching over to smaller line weights, lighter lures, and faster retrieves so you can still remain stealthy.

What is Walleye Trolling Gear?

When trolling for walleye, there are a few different types of gear you can utilize.

Planer boards are excellent for releasing your fishes once you seize it as it lets the line trail behind your boat at a distance so other boats will not become tangled up and so you don’t need to stop moving. A typical planer board set-up would be:

Planer Boards

Attached about 4 feet down from the lure/hook, you should fit one planer board on each side of your boat; adjust this depending on the speed you’re traveling at to maintain the desired depth.

Two or more fishing rods with lures/bait already set onto them, then these are placed into holders ready for trolling. Multiple planer boards with catches attached.

Trolling Motor

Trolling motors are used to help control the boat and maintain a direction, and you can use it to reevaluate around if something bites your fishes or releases your catches without needing to stop.

Be sure that when using multiple planer boards for your trolling motor, that they are placed away from each other and set at different depths so as not to tangle up your lines. If you’re trolling in areas where there might be snags such as logs, then try countering these by placing more planer boards lower down, so they don’t get caught underwater and instead let the line trail behind your boat.

Rod Tip

When trolling for your fishes, try to keep the tip of your rod as still as possible; this will mean you won’t be catching many by setting the hook too early and us.

The general rule of thumb is to wait until you feel a ‘thump’ or ‘bump’ from whatever it is that’s nibbling on your fishes before setting the hook.

Spinner Rigs

These are set up almost the same as a typical lure/bait set-up but include an additional spinner blade attached to the line.

These can caught many different fish species, especially walleye, so they’re effective to use when trolling for a catch.

What is Trolling Crankbaits?

Crankbaits are usually the first lure people think of when trolling for walleye, so they’re typically easier to get than spinnerbaits or leeches. The best time to fish is during mid-day when walleye are expected to be most active.

The key thing with trolling crankbaits is that you need to vary your speed and direction by moving the boat back and forth slowly, then gradually increasing your speed until you seize something, then stay at that same speed after catching it.

What are Several Rods that Can be Used to Troll?

Long rods: These are typically used to get bigger fish or more fish, and they have the best chance of breaking the line if something bigger bites down on your seized fishes. If you’re trolling with a partner, using longer rods helps as one person can steer the boat while other drops the fishes into the catch well below deck.

Short rods: These shorter rods are ideal for smaller fish since they are in shallow water. In addition, these are attached well below deck so that it can be released without needing to stop your boat, making it easier to get lots of fish at once.

Final Thoughts on How to Troll for Walleye

Trolling for walleye can be very useful and effective as it will help you get more fish than other methods such as casting or jigging; whether you’re just starting or experienced, there are still things that you will learn.

We hope that this article helped you learn how to fish for walleye!