Joel Nelson breaks down the when, where and why of different walleye lures you can be using right now. Here’s the Q&A session:

When do you bust out the Jigging Raps for walleye?

Jigging Raps, being a vertical presentation and the fact that they’re so heavy, work really well deep. If I have deep water and the walleyes are off the bottom and they look aggressive, I can count on those fish to be visual eaters, on the prowl, ready to hunt. That’s a Jigging Rap situation all day.

When do you like to cast crankbaits?

I don’t tend to cast crankbaits unless I know I’ve had consistent 10-15 mph wind out of the same direction for a period of time to really get those shallow fish going. I love fishing shallow. Shallow fish are eating, they’re up there for a reason, and crankbaits are the perfect bait to catch them. Put the wind at your back and start hucking at the shoreline. That’s the key situation I’m looking for to fish crankbaits.

When do you troll crankbaits?

Trolling is a great strategy for finding fish, first and foremost. I troll crankbaits quite often when fish are scattered. Large structural elements, long runs of contiguous contour depth levels – that’s where trolling comes into play for me.

What about jigs?

Of all the walleye lures, I think of a jig as a precision-based extraction method. It’s something where I’m seeing fish tightly balled on a structural element. I feel that if I can get right over top of those fish, drop right back by the transducer, I have a good chance of catching those fish. So, I’m looking for pods of fish on smaller structural elements before I break out the jigs.

When do you use livebait rigs?

I like pulling on rig fish where I have pods of fish that are moving a little bit. It’s not a tiny structural element, maybe it’s something a little bit larger and fish are still podded up in groups, but they are a little more distributed. I feel with rigging, you can cover a little more ground because you’re going maybe 0.5 mph, so you could call it a moderate-to-slow tactic, whereas with jigging, you’re focused right on top of those single pods of fish.

When do you like to use blades?

Pulling spinners is awesome when you have all kinds of stuff in the water column. I’m seeing bugs, I’m seeing bait, I’m seeing walleyes, and everything’s kind of mishmashed in throughout the bottom two feet of the water column. The cool part about pulling spinner rigs is you can cover some ground, but you can also slow down a little bit and pull on little, tight specific groups of fish. I call that more of a moderate speed tactic. Somewhere in-between rigging and trolling crankbaits, that I can still cover a little bit more ground, yet not be focused on an individual spot situation.

When do you prefer plastics?

I’m a big fan of plastics. I’ll use plastics whenever I can get away with it. In the early part of the season, livebait has been preferential, in my experience. Once you hit higher water temperatures, plastics are the ultimate weapon. They’re awesome because you can fish your baits a little more aggressively and that promotes the ultimate action on plastics. For me, plastics are all about when the water temperatures reach a certain degree range, and for the rest of the summer, plastics are usually my first try. If they don’t work, then I’ll go to livebait.

That’s the rundown on walleye lures from Joel Nelson!