The walleye is known for his flesh rather than his fighting ability. But we still respect it as a sports fish. A good-eyed jigging rod needs to be strong enough to handle big fish with the hooks firmly set, but sensitive enough to find subtle takes. We are four Alaska pollack fishermen. I gave him four rods and found out which one helped him get the most fillets on the flyer.
The four Walleye jigging rods tested by readers
Our readers tested four popular jigging rods for toughness, power, balance, weight, and most importantly sensitivity.
Fenwick Elite Tech Walleye
“Well balanced, lightweight, but very strong.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Specs – 6’6″ length, medium-light power, 18 to 5/8oz lure weight.
The Lowdown: The Fenwick Elite Tech Walleye draws admiration from all. Our test team felt the rod was well made and sensitive enough to find subtle takes. Testers highlighted its hookset ability. Hill called it “well balanced, light but very strong”. Very sensitive from tip to bottom. Reiser said that while “fishing a heavy rod for eight to ten hours” is a hassle, this rod is “fun to use.” Cicinelli’s only complaint was that the rod proved “a little too weak for vertical jigging.” Suitable for drift jigging using live bait. ”
Hits: “You can feel the lightest tap.” –Hill
Misses: “The highest price of all four rods.” –Cicinelli
St. Croix Eyecon Walleye Series
“The ultimate rod handle for all-day fishing.”
★ ★ ★ ★
Specs – Length: 6’3″ • Power: medium • Lure weight: 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 oz.
The Lowdown: Testers gave this split-grip fast tip rod very high marks for sensitivity and fish-fighting ability, but its innovative grip dropped it to the top spot. St. Croix left the graphite shaft exposed from the reel seat to improve sensitivity and reduce weight. I really liked my two testers. Not two. It “feels kind of fragile,” Hill said, not feeling comfortable in his hands. Sill disagreed, calling it “the ultimate rod grip for all-day fishing.” Cicinelli said that St. He thought the Croix Eyecon Walleye series was the best vertical jigger in the group and said he loved the reel seat design.
Hits: “Extra-fast action.” –Cicinelli
Misses: “Still on the pricey side.” –Reiser
Bass Pro Shops Walleye Angler Signature Series
Schill liked the rod’s hooksetting ability with enough sensitivity “to feel that twitch.”
★ ★ ★ ★
Specs – Length: 6′ • Power: medium-light • Lure weight: 1⁄16 to 1⁄2 oz.
The Lowdown: Not a top performer, but the price of the Bass Pro Shops Walleye Angler Signature Series provided solid value. “It’s not as sturdy as the others, but it’s pretty sturdy,” Cicinelli said. He disliked the ratcheting mechanism on the reel seat as he felt it “may not grip the reel over time”.Riser found it to be “innovative”. Hill said the rod had a lot of “backbone to handle the fish”, but felt the tip could have been more sensitive. Schill liked the rod’s hook-setting ability, which was sensitive enough to “feel that twitch.”
Hits: “Good sensitivity.” –Reiser
Misses: “A little heavy.” –Hill
Shimano Clarus CSS66M2B
“Well built and durable.”
★ ★ ★
Specs – Length: 6’6″ • Power: medium • Lure weight: 3⁄16 to 5⁄8 oz.
The Lowdown: The only two-piece rod, the Shimano Claras CSS66M2B, was rated for portability by two testers. However, there were various opinions about whether it was suitable for jigging walleye. The two found the rod to work fine. The two thought it was “too heavy” to deal with the easy-to-bite walleye. “The action was a bit too slow and sluggish,” Chichinelli said. He said the rod was “well made and durable”. He felt the rod was a bit stiff, but Schill said it helped the fish land quickly, making the rod structure more versatile and increasing its overall value.
Hits: “Rugged.” –Schill
Misses: “Poor balance.” –Hill
New Expert Way to Land More Walleye
Learn their secrets or leave empty coolers and plenty of frustration this season.
1. Be bold in the cold
After the cold front ends the bite, most anglers move to lighter tackle and slower presentations. Not Perry Goode. He takes a bold approach, using larger lures and erratic retrieves to induce reaction strikes. “I like to rip jigging spoons,” says Goode. Pick a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce model and throw it over the edge of a weedy bush, tree, or rocky structure. Wait for it to flap to the bottom, then pull the tip of the rod to point the spoon at the boat. Submerge and repeat. If that action doesn’t trigger the fish to belay, Goode tries the same presentation, she uses a 1/8 to ¼ ounce jig and a 3-inch shiner.
2. Use the planner board
According to Tommy Skarlis, using a planing board to induce a zander bite has been “the greatest advance in tournament fishing in the last decade.” But he admits that if you miss these strikes, it’s all in vain. Dragging the caterpillar harness under the board, Skarlis launches more subtle bitter stuff by adding a dash indicator for the Offshore Tattle Tale Flag ($ 22; 800-237-
; cabelas.com). increase. The flag indicates a slight change in the planer’s action. Short-hit Zander often pinches bait under the last hook of a standard harness, so Scarlis attaches a # 10 lightweight wire treble hook to the end of the crawler to catch the sneaky bait thief increase.
3. Add a slider rig
Ted Takasaki adds slider rigs to his trolling setup to increase the number of connections while looking for stray fish hanging out in open water: these are basically slideboards and boats. A dropper attaches to the main towline via a sliding latch approximately in the middle between them. In legitimate locations, sliders can be used to cover a wider body of water and try different foods to determine exactly what Alaska pollack wants on a particular day. Takasaki uses a dropper line (usually he’s 20 pounds), which is heavier than the main line, to avoid tangles. The key tactic, he says, is to use spinners and crankbaits at varying depths (more weight, longer line) until they start hitting.
4. Try the roach rig
The Roach Rig is a classic setup for slow trolling and drifting live bait along a promising bottom structure. They typically feature an 8 lb test main line and hook link, and a 3/4 oz sinker. But when the bite gets tougher, Mike Goffron tweaks that old standby to give it a more natural presentation. First, he uses his 6-pound mono his mainline, 3/8-ounce sinker, and Loosens things up with a 4- to 8-foot, 4-pound hook link. Then clamp directly over the marked fish and view the rig vertically. “You can feel the minnows becoming more active when you have your finger on the leash,” says Goffron. “The walleye behaves this way because it’s right above its tail.” Then open the shackle and let the bait swim freely. Panicked flight attracts walleye hits.
5. Crank up the crawler
Crawler harnesses are no longer just for bottom fishing. If walleye floats high on the water column (multiple lines are legal), Paul Melin combines this traditional favorite with a deep diving crankbait. This gives him more control over the depth of the presentation. On the other hand, the dive action of the crankbait releases the bait and contributes to the movement of the spinner. How to upgrade: The 3-way swivel reaches the end of the main line. Tie a 1.5m leader to the top ring and connect the caterpillar strap to the quick-release clevis. Tie a 10-foot hook link to the remaining ring and attach a carabiner and crankbait. You can easily change the bait with the carabiner and clevis. Switch often until you start nailing the fish.
6. Cast a jerkbait
When bass pros complained of catching a lot of walleye in his home waters in western Wisconsin, Nick Johnson copied their tactics. He started getting floating jerk baits on shallow structures and found that aggressive post-spawn walleyes were just as fast to hit injured baitfish. Toss your Berkley Frenzy, Rapala Husky Jerk, or Lucky Craft Pointer SP onto shorelines, rock piles, and underwater weeds in 2-6 feet of water to imitate Johnson. Point the tip of the rod toward the surface of the water. Snapback 3-4 times sharply while curling slowly to create an erratic rolling action. Stop for a few seconds and continue catching. Get ready for the walleye to attack at rest.