Jig fishing has always been a go-to tactic for catching early season walleye. Back in the day, you might have rigged some livebait on a simple ball head jig. Today, jig fishing means experimenting with different shapes, profiles and colors of jigs, and tipping them with minnows, crawlers, leeches and various styles of soft plastics. The game has changed and experienced walleye anglers are reaping the benefits. Here’s how Tony Roach looks at this category of baits:
“When it comes to jig fishing, the baits I use are about as diverse as the bodies of water I fish. One of my favorite go-to techniques is pitching a simple swimbait. It’s a dynamite presentation for pitching and ripping in a variety of different conditions, from shallow weeds to deep rocks and everything in between. Cast it out and work it back to the boat by ripping just before the lure hits the bottom. This strategy works incredibly well for early season walleyes lurking in sparse weed cover.”
Everyone knows that livebait gets bit, so why use plastics? The short answer: Efficiency.
If you’re fishing livebait, you’re limited in how your can present the bait. The more you rip, the more likely you’re going to pull the bait off the hook, leaving you with an undesirable presentation. With plastics, you can snap your jig through weeds and fish a lot more aggressively overall. It allows you to cover water more quickly, and you save a bunch of time re-rigging.
However, if you do need to slow down and fish livebait, we recommend using shorter shanked jigs or something with a blade that attracts fish from afar. Simply thread the shiner onto the jig head and work it slowly and methodically back to the boat. Whether you’re fishing rock piles, wind blown points, even dispersed cover where you’re jig fishing a lot slower down near the bottom. That’s when livebait shines, when you need to slow down to catch those early season walleye.