How To Choose The Perfect Live Walleye Bait for Beginners

Walleye are notoriously picky biters, and utilizing the appropriate bait at the right moment is one of the most crucial elements to capturing them. So, how to choose the perfect live walleye bait for beginners?

The most excellent bait for walleye is live bait, but the sort you use varies significantly on the year and sometimes even the time of day. Minnows, nightcrawlers, and leeches are the top three types of walleye live bait.

Minnows may be utilized all year efficiently, although they perform best in winter. On the other side, Nightcrawlers and leeches perform best during the warm months and are popular summerly selections. Let’s look at the three most excellent live walleye bait and analyze their performance throughout the year.

The Top Live Walleye Bait Every Season

Let’s take a detail at each season to discover which one is the most fantastic pick at different times of the year:

Live Walleye Bait In Spring

Spring is a season of rapid changes, and it should be divided into early and late spring. As the ice melts in early spring, walleye travel into shallower parts of the lake to breeding sites.

Because they eat vigorously on tiny fish in the early spring, minnows are the best bait to use at this time.

However, nightcrawlers become an excellent alternative once the weather warms up in late spring. This is because they become a natural food supply for walleye at this time of year. Thawing snow elevates lake and river water levels, which flushes night crawlers out of the soil and into the water, where they serve as a tasty diet for hungry fish. The ideal way to utilize them is a whole worm with a hook on either end.

Live Walleye Bait In Summer

Nightcrawlers are still effective at this time of year, but leeches rapidly take over as the preferred bait throughout the summer months. In fact, many fishermen report catching more prize fish on leeches than on any other bait.

However, there may be variances in how well each operates from lake to lake, so it’s always advisable to evaluate them side by side to determine which one is best suited for you.

They are usually more active in warm water; both nightcrawlers and leeches perform better in the warmer months. When a sponge is dropped into cold water, it prefers to wrap up into a tight ball and refuses to budge. However, for a sponge to appeal to hungry walleye, it must actively move about, so summer is the best time to use them. Furthermore, both forms of bait are more difficult to get during the winter season.

Live Walleye Bait In Autumn

Walleye can be found aggressively feeding on schools of tiny fish in shallow portions of the lake during the autumn season, taking advantage of the numerous young fish that have hatched throughout the summer and fattening up for the winter season.

Leeches and nightcrawlers remain successful in early fall, but minnows become the best-performing choice as the water cools more. However, this is a time of year when you can use all three options.

Live Walleye Bait In Winter

Walleye ice fishing is one of the favorite methods of catching them, and hundreds of fishermen eagerly await the ice to thicken enough to fish each year. They maintain their autumn eating habits during the winter, focusing nearly entirely on tiny fish as a food source.

Because of this eating pattern, minnows are the best choice in winter, whereas the other two alternatives barely function. In the winter, walleye disregard nightcrawlers, which is unusual because they make excellent bait for trout ice fishing.

Furthermore, when you’re using a jig to make your presentations, a minnow head might be more successful than a complete one for that time of year.

The Most Effective Walleye Minnow

However, bear in mind that there isn’t always the greatest single minnow for walleye. The best option is to utilize one native to the lake where you wish to fish. When walleye are actively eating, you can get them to attack nearly any type of walleye minnow. However, they are fussy and prefer to disregard unfamiliar ones.

If we’re not sure what sort works effectively in your pond, try asking other fishermen and inspecting the stomach contents of recently caught fish to see what they’re eating.

Sometimes, a simple strategy can give you the most fantastic indication of the top walleye larvae in your area. Also, remember that their preferred meal of fish changes during the year, so you may need to alter it appropriately.

The type of walleye minnow you use is also determined by what is available at the local bait shop. They usually have three or four distinct species and a variety of sizes. In such instances, experiment with many species and sizes to see which one performs best.

While we’re on the size, a little walleye minnow 3-4 inches long seems to perform best in winter when walleyes feed less vigorously. When hunting trophy fish in the summer, you may raise the length to approximately 7-9 inches, which could attract giant fish while rejecting little ones.

Methods For Rigging Live Walleye Bait

Actually, there are three primary ways for rigging live bait for walleye.

The Initial One Is The Slip Bobber Rig

It’s arguably the most popular walleye live bait setup. It is used to hang your hook 1-3 feet above the lake’s bottom. This works well with all three bait alternatives and may be used throughout the year, even ice fishing in the winter.

Slip bobber fishing is a lot of fun because you always get a rush of excitement when you see the floater unexpectedly being pushed below by a curious fish.

The Second One Is The Slip Sinker Rig

On the other hand, Finicky biters may spit out the hook if they sense resistance from the slip bobber. In that scenario, a slip sinker rig may be preferable. This configuration is excellent for allowing apprehensive walleye to consume the bait without experiencing any pushback from your line. It performs well with all three varieties of live bait. For walleye fishing, a Carolina rig is an excellent choice.

To target trophy-sized fish, use a slip sinker rig for fishing a giant minnow on top of an excellent undersea structure. Use a rod to feel what’s happening at the end of your line, and drop the line when you think a fish grabs the bait. Then wait a few seconds before setting the hook.

A slip sinker rig may also be used for slow trolling in waterways, bouncing the bait off the bottom of the lake on the promising structure. Check out our tutorial on utilizing if you’re especially looking for rigs for walleye trolling.

A single hook through the nose or slipped through the back is the best strategy to hook a live fish. Nightcrawlers should be hooked with two hooks at each end, while leeches should be attached near the sucker.

Some Tips For Live Walleye Bait

As well as stick baits, crankbaits and lipless baits by type and color, you must plan ahead about your approach for live bait. You need to have your bobber sliders ready and ready to go. A rigging kit with hooks, small floats, and other items to up your rig game is also necessary.

The Lindy Rigger and Rigger X-Treme were designed just for this mission. Turn on the wind for easy rig selection and inside the X-Treme’s compartments. You can store floats, hooks, swing drives, and more. It is easy to keep everything you need in one place and always ready. When you have equipment ready, you will use it more efficiently! And you’ll spend less time with your terminal handling and more time reeling in the fish.

Preparing for bait is easier than ever. If you are already a bait master, you probably already own an aerated cooler specifically for minnows or leeches. For my simple bait approach, Lindy Bait Tamer in Livewell suits most of my needs. Or a couple of cartons with crawlers and leeches that move really well in the bottom of my lunch cooler.


When you are looking for the best walleye live bait that works all year round, you should choose minnows. While small fish are an absolute top choice during the colder months. During the summer pigeons and at night, leeches can catch more fish and so keep them in your toolbox when you go outdoor water fishing. After you finish reading this article, I hope you have more confidence for your next walleye trip.

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