Crankbait Factors for Spring Walleye
By Lance Valentine
Other than jigs, crankbaits probably catch more springtime walleye than any other lure. Crankbaits are the perfect mixture of action, size, shape and color to trigger the often picky walleye in the cold waters of spring. But, what should you look for in a crankbait for spring fishing? Let’s look at a few things to think about when picking a crankbait this spring.
1) Action – remember, most spring fishing is for walleye that are neutral to negative in mood, especially in early spring. Focus on lures with a subtle roll to those with a subdued “Wiggle”. Lures that would be classified as “minnow” or “shad” baits are perfect for spring casting or trolling.
2) Bill Shape/Size – Lure action is determined mostly by the shape and size of the lures’ bill. Small, short bills create a slow roll that works best at slower speeds. Longer, larger bills create more of a roll with a slight side to side “wiggle” that may be better on some days, especially when walleye get active. Here is something very important-do NOT worry about the depth you need to get your lure to when picking a bill shape. Figure out the best action for the day, THEN figure out how to get a bait with that action to the best depth. Sometimes a medium or deep diving lure with a large bill will work better on a short lead to run shallow than a lure with a small bill that is designed to run shallow will because of the action. On the other hand, sometimes a shallow running lure with a subtle action may work better gotten down to the fish with weight, than a lure designed to run to the desired depth will. In cold water, PICK THE ACTION FIRST, THEN WORRY ABOUT DEPTH CONTROL!
3) Sound – Rattles, especially low frequency (low number of big BBs) are a definite plus in the cold water of spring, especially if the water is stained or dirty
4) Color – Most spring fish are feeding “up” when hitting a crankbait, so focus on the belly color. Four colors are my favorite; Purple, red, orange, and pink
5) Size – remember, most baitfish in the walleye world spawn in late spring, so the bait left in the lake is big. Focus on crankbaits that are 4-8” in length for spring fishing. If you are fishing where smelt are a primary food source, be sure you have LOTS of lures in the 6-9” range in the water.
6) Jointed Cranks – don’t forget jointed crankbaits!! Jointed crankbaits can be the difference in a tough bite by allowing an angler to move the bait through the water slowly but have increased action from the jointed tail section.
There you go…some things to consider when picking a crankbait for walleye this spring. Spring walleye are easy targets for crankbaits, whether cast or trolled, and will catch you more fish this spring.