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Walleye Rigs 101: Best Walleye Rigs To Use Guide (2022)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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If you’re looking to do some walleye fishing then knowing about all the top walleye fishing rigs and how to tie them is a must.

The best walleye rigs have been developed by fantic walleye anglers since the 60’s and they provide you with all the tactics to catch walleye no matter how these finicky fish are behaving.

I used to try fishing walleye in my own style, since I hadn’t bothered to look into how seasoned walleye anglers were doing it. Wow, was that a mistake! As soon as I started using tried and tested walleye rigs my catch rate went off the charts.

Join me as we dive into the most popular walleye techniques and rigs so you can learn them, use them, and be a more successful walleye angler than ever.

Top Walleye Fishing Rigs

Walleye on Wood Surface
Walleye on Wood Surface

Before we look at each top walleye rig in detail, you should know that what is to come might be a little confusing if you’re a novice angler.

But, don’t worry, all these popular rigs are quite easy to tie and each one has a time and place where it will work best.

For example, there will be a better rig for when the walleye are in deeper water, if they are sitting high in the water column, or say if you want to fish a live bait or troll.

Here are the top walleye rigs we are going to cover:

  • Spinner/Nightcrawler Rig
  • Lindy Rig & Bottom Bouncer Rig
  • Slip Bobber Rig
  • 3 Way Rig
  • Drop Shot Rig

How To Tie Walleye Rigs

Below we’ll go into how to tie each walleye rig, when to use them, and how to use them too. I would advise starting off by tying and testing one of two of the walleye rigs you think will work best on your local waters and then slowly working your way into using the other walleye rigs.

Things You’ll Need For Rigging

You’ll need to have these items ready to build the rigs below with a few minor additions/removals which will be detailed in each rig.

  • Fast action spinning rod and spinning reel connected
  • Main line pulled off the reel, threaded through all the guides of the Fast action spinning rod
  • Snap swivel
  • Plastic or glass beads
  • Sinker of choice – bottom bouncers and sliding sinker in this case
  • Fluorocarbon or mono leader fishing line material
  • Hook of choice – J hook in this case
  • Scissors
  • Know the improved clinch or palomar knot and the perfection loop knot

Lindy Rig & Bottom Bouncer Rig

You might be wondering why I have put two rigs together in this section and it’s because they are exactly the same rigs except each one uses a different type of weight.

The lindy rig uses a normal sliding sinker while the bottom bouncer uses bottom bouncer sinkers which are a weight with a long piece of wire on the bottom to stop it getting snagged.

How To Tie The Lindy Rig & Bottom Bouncer Rig

To tie either of these rigs, start by:

  • Adding either a sliding or bottom bouncer sinker to your main line
  • Then add a bead in front of it
  • Secure the fishing line to the snap swivel using either an improved clinch or palomar knot
  • Cut a piece of 3-6 foot leader
  • Tie the hook on
  • Tie a perfection loop at the other end of the leader
  • Clip the loop created into the snap swivel
  • Trim every tag end
  • Add bait and go fishing

How & When To Use The Bottom Bouncer Or Lindy Rig

Walleye Trolling
Walleye Trolling

You can use either of these rigs when shore fishing, drifting, or trolling. They will ensure your bait stays close to the bottom and you should only use them to target walleye when they too are feeding off the bottom.

You can fish this with dead orb live bait, soft plastics, a jig head, or anything else you like so it’s super versatile. Using a floating jig head will have your offering sitting high up which can be very effective.

Which One Is Best?

The main difference between these two rigs is the sinkers used. The lindy has the sinker right on the bottom which holds your bait down there too but it can easily get snagged.

Whereas bottom bouncers have a long piece of wire stopping them getting snagged and also holding your bait slightly off the bottom. I would always recommend the bottom bouncer as it means you’ll lose less gear and have more time for fishing.

Walleye Spinner Rig

Walleye spinner rigs, often referred to as the nightcrawler rig, are one of the most effective walleye rigs out there.

The rig utilizes two hooks that stretch out nightcrawlers to their full length which is far more tempting to a hungry walleye, plus there is the addition of a spinner blade at the front (hence the name spinner rigs) which attracts walleye through flashes and vibrations.

How to make a walleye spinner rig?

To make walleye spinner rigs you will need to have bought a nightcrawler worm harness and have a snap swivel and bottom bouncer weight ready to go. Then you simply

  • Slide on the bottom bouncer to your main line
  • Tie on the snap swivel
  • Tie a 3-6 ft piece of fluorocarbon leader to the worm harness
  • Add a perfection loop knot to the end of the leader and slip it onto the snap swivel
  • Trim every tag end
  • Add bait and go fishing

Here’s a video of a nightcrawler harness…

How to hook a nightcrawler on a harness

How & When To Use Spinner Rigs

Walleye fishing isn’t as easy as putting any of these rigs down and catching a fish as they are rather particular and smart. The spinner rig will only work during the summer months and this is when nightcrawlers are in abundance and hungry walleye are feeding on them.

This rig is most effective when trolling slowly as the bottom bouncer will keep it down at the deepest point without it getting snagged while the harness sits off the bottom. This is where walleye like to feed in the summer and by trolling you will cover a lot of ground.

You can use this rig with a range of different live bait options including leeches, worms, and of course, nightcrawlers. This isn’t a good rig for live minnows though as the two hooks stop minnows swimming properly.

Slow Death Rig

The Slow Death Rig is an adaptation of the spinner and bottom bouncer rig and it’s one of the best walleye rigs to use when using worms, nightcrawlers, or leeches as bait.

The difference with this rig is that you use a special hook called a slow death hook that has a bent hook shank. The long shank allows you to rig the worm in a way that it stays on the hook while you’re walleye fishing but leaves the tail loose allowing it to wiggle and attract more fish.

How To Tie A Slow Death Rig

The slow death rig requires you to build the bottom bouncer rig, as detailed above, and then to tie on a slow death hook instead of a normal J hook. The key thing to get right with this walleye rigging technique is to put the bait on properly. To do this:

  • Pierce the tip of the bait (worm/leech/nightcrawler)
  • Slowly slide the bait around the hook shank without coming out of the bait
  • Keep sliding the hook through the bait until the bait is has covered or is close to the hook knot or lead barb
  • Poke the hook out of the bait so it’s ready to hook a walleye
  • Trim the rest of the bait off leaving 1-2 inches behind the hook
  • Trim every tag end and go fishing

The tail section left will attract the walleye but if you don’t trim it off, you’ll end up with the walleye eating the tail and not the part of the bait with the hook in it.

How & When To Use Slow Death Rigs

Lake Fishing Summer
Lake Fishing Summer

This rig should be used in the same way and at the same time as a nightcrawler rig – in the summer when the fish are feeding on this type of bait and by trolling to cover lots of ground.

Slip Bobber Rig

The slip bobber rig is one of the most effective walleye fishing rigs to catch walleye all season from late spring to the end of fall, as it allows you to place your bait at any depth you desire.

It works by using a slip float and a moveable, castable stopper on the main line which lets you adjust the depth you want your bait to sit at.

How To Tie A Slip Bobber Rig

To tie a slip bobber you’ll need a slip float, stopper, and a sliding bullet weight or split shot as well as the other usual bits of gear mentioned at the beginning. Here is how to tie it:

  • Slide a bead onto the line, then add the float
  • Put the sliding sinker or split shot below the float and tie on your swivel
  • Add you leader with hook to the swivel
  • Place your stopper above the bead & float adjust the depth to your desired amount
  • Trim every tag end
  • Add bait and go fishing

How & When To Use Slip Bobber Rigs

As I mentioned, you can use this rig to catch spring, summer, and fall walleye before the season closes in winter. The key to this rig is using it at the right time as you will need the walleye to be looking up to ambush baitfish to be successful

This rig is very versatile and you can use it for shore fishing in shallow water and drifting in the deep, or with finesse tactics too when casting to walleye on the surface.

TIP

If you are fishing in deep water with this rig, you are better off finding fish with a depth sounder first rather than trying to cover lots of ground. Once you find walleye, adjust the depth to just above them and you should hook a fish very quickly.

3 Way Rig

The 3 way rig is essentially a version of the bottom bouncer and lindy rig and it differs by using a 3 way barrel swivel which you attach your hook and leader to, and attach your sinker too on its own leader.

This setup allows your bait to sit way off the bottom and you can choose how high off the bottom by lengthening the sinker leader as you please.

Make sure the sinker leader is a smaller pound test than the hook leader. This way if you are snagged, you only lose the sinker.

How To Tie A 3 Way Rig

3 Way Rig For Walleye

To tie a 3 way rig you’ll need a single hook, sinker of choice, and a 3 way swivel. Once you have these simply:

  • Tie the 3 way swivel to your main line
  • Tie your leader and hook to the swivel
  • Tie your leader and sinker to the swivel
  • Your linker leader should be a smaller lb test than the hook leader
  • Trim every tag end
  • Add bait and go fishing

How & When To Use The 3 Way Rig

This is great for targeting walleye at different depths off the bottom as you can adjust the sinkers leader to have you bait higher or lower off the bottom. This can also help you find out which depth the fish are feeding at through experimentation of different depths.

You can use this rig for walleye fishing all season but it’s most effective when they are feeding off the bottom, as the natural presentation is deadly. You can fish by rigging live bait, dead bait, soft plastics, a jig head, or anything else you like.

Drop Shot Rig

Walleye Caught with Drop Shot Rig
Walleye Caught with Drop Shot Rig

The drop shot rig is a little different from the other walleye fishing rigs we have covered as it doesn’t use a swivel or a weight.

It works by tying on weight to the main line and then adding a hook 3-4 feet above it with a palomar. This then allows you to troll soft plastics deep like you were trolling crankbaits but you can also add a jig head and use it for jigging live bait vertically too.

How To Tie A Drop Shot Rig

You’ll need an octopus hook and a drop shot weight for this rig.

  • Tie an octopus hook to your line with a palomar knot
  • Make sure to leave a long tag end of up to 3 – 4 ft when tying the knot
  • Once the knot is tied push the tag through the eye of the hook for the second time
  • This should make tag sit perpendicular to the line
  • Now add your drop shot weight to the end of the tag
  • You can adjust the tag length to dictate how far above the bottom your lure sits

How & When To Use A Drop Shot Rig

You can fish this rig all through the fishing season and all that matters is that the fish are holding close to the bottom.

It’s best to fish this rig from a boat vertically. First, find walleye on your depth sounder, drop the weight to the bottom and then jiggle the lure or live minnows up and down without lifting the weight off the bottom. You should have a walleye eat it in a matter of minutes.

Ned Rig

The Ned Rig is the most simple of all the rigs and it’s also one of the top rigs used in bass. All the end requires is tying on a 1/16 to 1/4 oz mushroom jig head with a soft plastic worm attached to it of about 2 inches in length.

The reason is different from fishing a simple soft plastic and jig combination is that the Ned uses a soft plastic that has a super thick and buoyant tail which holds the tail up in the water. This creates a lure action that can cause fish to attack when nothing else is working.

It can be so effective at catching walleye that bass anglers using it even complain about catching walleye instead of bass.

How To Tie The Ned

  • Tie your 1/16 to 1/4 oz mushroom jig head to your line
  • Add the 2 inch soft plastic
  • Start fishing

How & When To Use A Ned Rig

Walleye Held In Hand
Walleye Held In Hand

To fish the Ned, simply cast the lure out, let it sink to the bottom and work it back with a jerk & pause retrieve. This has the lure rising and falling as it swims back to you which makes it look like an injured fish which the walleye will hoover up in seconds.

You can also experiment with the speed in which you retrieve the lure. By going fast you can access shallower parts of the water, by going slow you will fish deep.

This is a super versatile setup with which you can work lots of different depths, and areas. It’s particularly useful when casting from the shore and working shallow areas of 15 – 30 feet of depth as you can cover a lot of ground and hit every bit of the water column as you go.

Walleye Minnow Rig

A walleye minnow rig is essentially a live bait rig to which you attach a live bait, and in this case, live minnows.

Walleye love to eat live minnows, especially in the Great Lakes, and you can use a lot of the different rigs featured above to fish your minnows correctly. The rigs that will work include:

  • Bottom Bouncer & Lindy Rig
  • 3 Way Rig
  • Drop Shot
  • Slip Bobber Rig

When fishing with live bait it is best to drift or cast from the shore as this allows the minnows to swim naturally.

If you troll then the minnow won’t swim properly and the walleye will notice, but, if the fishing is slow, you can move at around 1-2 knots and still convince a walleye to eat your live bait.

FAQs

How do you set up a walleye trolling rig?

You can create a walleye trolling rig in a number of ways using one of the many rigs above. The top walleye rigs for trolling include:

  • Bottom Bouncer & Lindy
  • 3 Way
  • Spinner
  • Slow Death

Each of these walleye rigs will have your bait fishing close to the bottom and therefore the fish will need to be feeding down there for it to be successful.

What Is The Best Bait For Walleye?

Live Bait
Live Bait

This totally depends on the time of year you are fishing in as walleye will eat whatever is most abundant at any given part of the season.

Worms, leeches, and nightcrawlers, as I mentioned above, are deadly over summer from later in spring to early fall as this is when they are prevalent in the water.

A live minnow is also excellent, especially in the fall when lots of them have hatched but also all season long as walleye hoover up small baitfish anytime.

Artificial lures like crankbaits and plastics can also do the trick. The key to walleye fishing is getting your chosen offering to the depth they are feeding at, via experimentation, a fish finder, or seeing them on the surface or in the shallows.

What Size Jig Head Is Best For Walleye?

There are 3 jig head sizes you will need for walleye which include:

  • 1/8 ounce
  • 1/4 ounce
  • 3/8-ounce

You should use the lighter ones for shallower water and the heavier ones to access the deeper water.

Rigging Up

Thanks very much for reading my article. I do hope you enjoyed it and now fully understand all your walleye rig options, how to tie them and when to use them.

They are all quite similar to tie but by knowing their varied fishing applications, you should be able to catch a walleye no matter whether they are feeding deep, in the shallows, or being particular.

Please share the article with your fishing buddies and check out some of our other articles – we cover everything from the best fish finders to rods, reels, and more.

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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