When it comes to crankbaits suitable for catching walleye, most of the love goes to a handful of noteworthy baits. The fact that these baits work is testament enough to explain why anglers rely on them day in and day out to catch walleye.
My short list of “must have” walleye crankbaits includes the iconic Reef Runner 800 series, Bandit 5/8 Walleye, Rapala Deep Husky Jerk 12, Smithwick Perfect 10 and the Rapala Husky Jerk 14. Each one of these lures have taken countless walleye for the Fishing 411 crew and a host of other avid walleye trollers in the Great Lakes region.
For as good as these baits are most days, there are some days when a little different wiggle and look is in order. The following is a list of crankbaits that on occasion have proven their worth or baits that appear to be the next big thing in walleye trolling.
STORM DEEP JR. THUNDERSTICK
The Deep-Jr., ThunderStick was produced by Storm Lures prior to the company selling out to Rapala. Those original Deep Jr’s. are getting a little tough to come by these days, but for those who are fortunate enough to own a few, this is a bait that frequently out produces the best of the best. At Fishing 411 we have found these baits to excel when fished in late spring through summer time frame. Something about the size and wobble of these baits is lights out to walleye.
BRAD’S LIP STIX
Very similar to the Deep Jr., the LipStix has that ideal size and action for targeting walleye in water temperatures ranging from about 50 degrees to 75 degrees.
The LipStix is readily available and also comes painted in a ton of excellent and hard to find colors for trolling up Great Lakes walleye.
YAKIMA MAG LIP 3.5
Almost everyone who owns a few Mag Lip 3.5 baits has nothing but good things to say about these wide wobbling plugs. Designed with trout, salmon and steelhead in mind, the Mag Lip is also deadly on walleye when fished in the right conditions.
Last May Jake and I put the smack down on Lake Erie walleye using the Mag Lip 3.5 in some of the more gaudy colors such as Mad Man, Glitter Watermelon, Metallic Perch and Mad Clown. In the late spring when Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay start to warm up, plankton blooms turn the water a beautiful shad of green.
Water stained green with plankton is literally the perfect environment for walleye who are always on the hunt for food. High action cranks like the Mag Lip create a lot of water displacement and they feature loud rattles that help walleye zero in on these baits. Our experience fishing the Mag Lip for walleye suggests that faster trolling speeds in the 2.0 to 2.5 range tend to produce best.
YO ZURI FRESHWATER CRYSTAL MINNOW
Anyone who has held a Yo-Zuri bait in their hands will attest that these Japanese made lures are second to none in quality. The Crystal Minnow has the right shape, action and color selections to target walleye effectively, but until recently these baits were only available with heavy duty saltwater hardware.
The Freshwater Crystal Minnow series features those same great profiles, actions and colors, but with hooks far more suitable for targeting walleye. The Freshwater Crystal Minnow is ideal for fishing in combination with Snap Weights or these baits can be used flat line trolling when targeting walleye after dark.
The Phantom Boogey is new and comes in 7, 9, 11 and 13 size. All of these new baits have been tested by Precision Trolling Data and the Dive Curves will soon be added to the Android and iPhone apps. These lures are too new to have a fish catching reputation, but based on the action these lures deliver and the profile and color options, it’s hard to image this new series of crankbaits not catching on.
Similar to the Berkley Flicker Minnow, the new Livingston Lures FM 111 is looking at a bright future as a walleye trolling bait. Our team first spotted these lures at the ICAST convention in Orlando, Florida last July. We had them in the water by fall doing Precision Trolling Data testing and quickly came to the conclusion these baits will find favor with walleye anglers.
WALLEYE NATION CREATION SHAKY SHAD
With a name like Walleye Nation Creations it’s hard not to take a second look at the new Shaky Shad series. Available in both a No. 5 and a No. 7 size, the Shaky Shad has a tight action, premium wide-bend short shank treble hooks and comes is a host of natural finishes and also Great Lakes color patterns.
WRAPPING IT UP
All of these crankbaits are poised to make a splash on the walleye trolling scene. Some of these baits are new and others have been around for a while, but none of them have become household names as of yet. Speaking as a troller who is addicted to crankbaits, these are some of the baits I think have what it takes to survive the test of time.