With the ice fishing season upon us, Wired2fish’s Nick Dumke shares his top 6 favorite ice fishing lures for walleyes and when he uses each. Dumke presents each from most to least aggressive, which is how he fishes these baits when arriving at a new body of water. As he explains, this approach maximizes efficiency by first allowing you to capitalize on the most aggressive fish. Dumke’s commentary is matched with underwater video of each presentation to clearly show what each looks like and how they perform from a walleye’s vantage point.
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Dumke’s top 6 walleye lures for ice fishing:
Lipless crankbait (most aggressive)
A rattling lipless crankbait gives off the most sound and vibration of any lure from the list. Lipless crankbaits come in various sizes and colors and are also offered in non-rattling varieties. Their bigger profile, coupled with flash, sound, and vibration, often triggers a bigger class of walleyes on many lakes but is often too aggressive for neutral to negative fish. Walleyes are also prone to get conditioned to the lure quickly on pressured lakes.
Gliding or swimming jigs such as the Rapala Jigging Rap are perhaps the most versatile and effective walleye jigs on the market thanks to their ability to be fished aggressively with a wide-sweeping action or subtly with a gentle lift and fall and hop in place. Unlike the lipless crankbait, getting bites on this bait is common when dealing with tough bites through downsizing and fishing it more gently, especially with a minnow head off the belly treble shoot. Gliding jigs are available in various colors and sizes and are a must-have for any ice fishing box.
Spoons are simple pieces of metal formed into different shapes to achieve unique profiles and actions. They all emit some flash and vibration that replicate baitfish or some other form of life. Rattle spoons add a rattle chamber for making noise, much like the rattling lipless crankbaits. Sound can be a powerful mechanism for drawing walleyes to your location, which is particularly useful when ice fishing when mobility is limited. But like rattling lipless crankbaits, the sound can sometimes be a drawback, which leads Dumke down the list to flutter spoons.
As the name implies, flutter spoons are designed to flutter either on the upstroke, fall, or both. Their seductive fluttering action produces flash and vibration with great visual appeal to walleyes without emitting too much sound. These lures are great for aggressive and finicky walleyes and can be catered to each by changing how actively you work the bait.
These sound and flutter-free spoons still provide walleyes a realistic profile that, similar to a do-nothing Ned rig, triggers finicky walleyes when nothing else will. Tip the treble hook with a minnow head to add scent and visual attraction.
Many times, a lively minnow rigged on a hook and sinker outproduces anything else. A set line, be it a minnow on a drop shot, dead stick, or suspended below a float, gives walleyes the real meal deal. Many states allow ice anglers to fish two lines, and a live minnow makes for an excellent second line when paired with a jigging setup. A more active jigging presentation often brings walleyes to your locations while the minnow seals the deal.
Check out more ice fishing tips here!