Spring Walleye Jig Choices
By Lance Valentine
Spring one of my favorite times of year for catching walleye and one of my favorite ways to catch spring walleye is on a jig. Whether I’m vertical jigging in heavy current, tossing jigs to slack river eddies or looking for walleye on shallow structure, a jig is my first choice most days.
Jig shape has a lot to do with how a jig will perform and each jigging condition calls for a very specific jig head design, shape and line tie position. For starters, we can quickly eliminate one jig, the round ball, since it is NEVER the right choice for any jigging application. Use a jig designed for how and where you are fishing, and you will be more successful.
For vertical jigging I like and jig with a pointed nose, line tie on top of the jig and most of the weight on the back and bottom of the jig. This jig design allows the jig to point into the current, eliminating any spinning and the position of the weight in the back and bottom of the jig head forces the jig down in the current and allows the jig to hit the bottom at a nose down angle, keeping the hook off the bottom.
Casting jigs in current has more variables, so I use a few different jig head styles. Remember, by changing the weight AND the shape of the jig head we can modify how fast or slow the jig falls, and the angle that it falls at; both keys to catching more fish. Jigs for casting should have the line tie at or very near the nose of the jig. One of my favorite casting jigs is what we call a “swim jig”. The pointed nose helps cut the current and the wider profile slows the fall rate down. It is one of my favorites when “swimming” a jig just over and along the bottom. Another favorite for casting in current is a “wedge” jig. This simple shape cuts the current well, falls quickly and tends to “dart” on a snapping retrieve.
When fishing lakes or reservoirs with no current, my jig choices again change. A Swim Jig is always tied on when jigging in lakes, for the same reasons it excels in current situations. I also look into my bass fishing gear and add football style jigs to my spring walleye fishing. Football jigs are great on sand or gravel and can be cast and retrieved or slowly pulled along the bottom. The shape of a football jig makes them fairly snag free and a great choice for early season walleye jigging.
Once weed cover pops up or if you are fishing in wood cover, a “weedless” jig is important to have in your tackle box. Snagless jigs have the line tie coming out of the front of the jig to prevent cover or ‘junk” from getting caught in the angle between the line tie and line created when using a jig with a top placed line tie. Weed guards made of plastic or wire are used to deflect cover and weeds.
Colder spring water temps sometimes call for slower presentations like live bait below a slip bobber, and the best way to present a bait is on a jig. The splash of color attracts fish and the weight of the jig helps keep the bobber setting properly. For walleye fishing under a float, a light weight jig (1/64 – 1/8 oz jig) is preferred, but we need a long shank, sturdy hook to land good sized walleye. One of my favorite specialty jigs is the Northland RZ jig, and it is my first choice for a jig under a float. Jig fishing is one of the most fun ways to catch walleye wherever they swim anytime of the year. Picking the right jig shape for the conditions will go a long way to catching more walleye on jigs this season!