Some tipping jigs for walleyes

It’s no secret that jigs catch more walleyes every year than any other type of lure across Sunset Country.
Jigs come in a variety of styles, sizes, and colours, and they can be used in all depths of water–making them the perfect choice in most situations on our lakes and rivers.
Since walleyes usually are found near the bottom, jigs do a great job of getting into their face and staying there.
But the angler’s choice of what they tip their jig with, whether it’s live bait or an artificial soft plastic bait, often determines whether a walleye will bite or not. So let’s dive into what to tip your jigs with to catch more fish this season.
When we think about live bait, we have options. Minnows, leeches, and night crawlers all catch walleyes but there are situations where I like to choose one type of bait over the others.
When the water is colder or I’m fishing in deep water, I like to use minnows. They are slightly more subtle, which I think appeals to walleye in cold water. And in deeper water, they will not twist your line as much as a leech or crawler will, which tend to spiral more when they fall.
I like leeches in the heat of the summer. Walleye seem to get a little bit lazier and a big leech wiggling in front of them can trigger bites when nothing else will.
Leeches also seem to select for bigger fish on many days.
Night crawlers are my favourite bait to use in June, especially once the mayflies start hatching. When mayflies hatch, the bite can get tough because walleyes are so focused on only eating mayfly larvae.
Half of a night crawler on an orange jig will catch fish better than anything else when this hatch is going on.
I usually use a 1/8th-oz. jig in most situations. Try it in a few weeks when these bugs start showing up and I guarantee you’ll get a few extra bites.
While we all know live bait catches walleyes under nearly all conditions, there are situations that call for the use of soft plastics. Artificial baits today are much better than they were even a decade ago thanks to more realistic colours and fish-attracting scents.
In some waters that do not allow the use of live bait, we may be forced to use plastics (or in remote locations where transporting live bait may not be possible). They do catch plenty of fish so if you don’t have access to the use of live bait, you can tip your jigs with soft plastics and still catch fish.
When it comes to choosing a plastic bait, I like smaller, straight-tailed baits without a lot of action. My favourite is the Northland Impulse Smelt Minnow in the three-inch size.
Smelt and pearl white are natural colours that always seem to work well for me.
One thing to keep in mind when using artificial baits is that you can jig these baits more aggressively than you can with live bait, which you will tear off the hook if you jig them too hard.
I like to call it snap-jigging when I use soft plastics. I will pitch the bait away from the boat if I am fishing in shallower water, let it hit the bottom, and then jig the bait back to the boat in short, quick hops.
If I am fishing vertically in deeper water, I’ll just jig the bait in short, quick hops after letting it crash into the bottom.
This aggressive jigging is the triggering factor for soft plastics. If you just hang them under the boat like you would with live bait, and allow walleyes to inspect them, you will not get nearly as many strikes as you would jigging it aggressively.
Finally, soft baits work well when fishing around weeds because they can be ripped through them, which can be a triggering factor on some days.
Good luck jigging up some walleyes out there this summer!