In the aftermath of the massive Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship cheating scandal, the species has garnered more attention on a national scale than perhaps at any point in the past decade.
The situation is not ideal, but the aftermath has led to countless anglers questioning what they can do (and buy) to become better walleye anglers.
Spoiler alert: it isn’t copious amount of lead weights or fillets…
Instead of focusing on the scandals, however, let’s shift to the positive and review some of the popular rods, reels, lures, and tackle that folks are using to (legally) land walleye on Lake Erie and beyond.
Keep in mind that this article is not necessarily an endorsement of any of these products, nor is it a “best of” lift. Instead, we are hoping to provide beginners and intermediate walleye enthusiasts a look at some of the most popular walleye fishing rods, reels, and lures on the market for 2023.
Walleye Fishing Rods
If you strap a thousand anglers to a lie detector and ask if they prefer spinning rods to casting rods, you’re likely to find some interesting results.
For many folks, the ease of a good spinning rig is worth the potential time and technique sacrifices left on the table.
When it comes to purchasing a quality spinning rod, St. Croix remains an industry leader across most freshwater species. Without surprise, walleye is no different.
The Triumph and Eyecon are two of St. Croix’s best walleye spinning rods.
- St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod
- St. Croix Eyecon Spinning Rod
Some folks prefer a good casting rig for walleye, however. In that sense, it is no different than bass, catfish, etc.
If you are going to be tossing lures consistently, both 13 Fishing and Denali have good options for walleye casting rods.
Like muskie (and other predator fish), trolling is a popular option when fishing for walleye.
Some rods are designed specifically with trolling in mind, then. If you will be dragging your walleye lures at a steady speed (rather than casting-and-retrieving repeatedly), some higher-powered brands like St. Croix, Daiwa, and even Okuma have some solid options:
- St. Croix Eyecon Walleye Trolling Rod
- Okuma Classic Pro GLT Trolling Rod
- Denali Myriad Walleye Trolling Rod
- Daiwa Great Lakes Trolling Rod
Walleye Fishing Reels
It might go without saying, but you will want to pair your walleye spinning reel with the appropriate spinning rod.
If you need a primer on how to tell the difference, check out this article comparing spinning and costing rods and reels.
Shimano and Pflueger have some solid choices for walleye spinning reels. Lew’s Mach Crush is also a popular option.
- Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel
- Shimano Stradic FL Spinning Reel
- Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel
- Lew’s Mach Crush Spinning Reel
- Pflueger Patriarch Spinning Reel
- Shimano Tekota A Levelwind Reel
- Shimano Curado K Low-Profile Casting Reel
- Daiwa Sealine SG-3B Line Counter Reel
- Daiwa Tatula SV TW70 Low-Profile Casting Reel
Walleye Lures and Baits
As is the case with many species, hard-body lures are all the range. They are fairly inexpensive, look cool in the water, and are often available in a wide variety of colors.
When it comes to hard baits for walleye, popular names like Rapala and Berkley certainly have a presence. You can also find quality products from Smithwick, Freedom Tackle, Walleye Nation Creations, and Megabass.
Even if you might not recognize all the brands below, it never hurts to diversify your tackle box. Sure, we can continue throwing the same lures folks have been using for two generations – they continue selling for good reason – but you might just find a new favorite.
- Bandit Lures Walleye Deep Crankbait
- Megabass Vision Oneten Jr. Jerkbait
- Walleye Nation Creations Boogie Shad Crankbait
- Shimano World Minnow 115SP Suspending Jerkbait
- Smithwick Perfect 10 Rogue
- Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk
- Berkley Flicker Shad Crankbait
- Freedom Tackle Ultra Diver
- Walleye Nation Creations LIL Reaper Crankbait Shad
Many anglers actually prefer the presentation and finesse of soft baits to the hard-body action of the lures featured above.
Some of this inevitably comes down to personal preference, but it is good to have options.
Just as the crankbaits vs. swimbaits debate rages in the world of bass fishing, many walleye anglers have their go-to lures in both styles. Some of the most popular soft baits for walleye fishing are:
- Storm Largo Shad Soft Swimbait
- Megabass Dark Sleeper
- SPRO Wave Tail Grubs
- 6th Sense Divine Swimbait
- Northland Fishing Tackle Mimic Minnow
- Savage Gear Duratech Dragontail Soft Bait
If you prefer jigging for walleye, there are plenty of options available.
Popular brands like Rapala (VMC), Lindy, SPRO, and many others have jigs that are popular for catching walleye across the northern U.S. Likewise, names like Northland and Captain Hook provide popular walleye jigs as well.
Here are some of the top walleye jigs currently on the market.
- Captain Hook’s Killer Jigs
- Lindy Fuzz-E Grub
- Venom High Dollar Stinger Bucktail Jig
- VMC Hover Jigs
- Northland Deep-Vee Bucktail Jig
- SPRO Bucktail Jig
Walleye Spinners: The Erie Dearie
Every now and then, a sub-category is essentially defined by a single lure. In the case of spinners for walleye, the renowned Erie Dearie is the absolute go-to for many anglers.
The Erie Dearie comes in two primary models:
- Erie Dearie Original Spinner
- Erie Dearie Elite Series Spinner