For those anglers who spend a lot of time chasing walleye in the winter months, it’s the jigging spoon that does the heavy lifting. Ironically, during the rest of the year the jigging spoon gets little love from walleye enthusiasts. Thankfully, in the winter months this oversight is more than made up for.
For winter walleye jigging, it’s the jigging spoon that does the heavy lifting.
The jigging spoon is so effective on winter walleye, nearly every tackle manufacturer has a walleye spoon or two in their catalogs. Having a wide variety of spoons to choose from is a good thing, but based on my results ice fishing for walleye across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Ontario the baits that work day in and day out represent a rather short list.
This is one example when being on the “short list” is a good thing because these are the baits that produce in a wide variety of fisheries.
BAY DE NOC DO JIGGER
Heading my list of iconic jigging spoons is the Bay de Noc Do Jigger. Available in three sizes including the 1DJ, 3DJ and 5DJ, I find that the 1/3 ounce 3DJ is the perfect size for walleye jigging in most conditions. Offered in three dozen different factory colors, a number of paint shops are also creating a wealth of “custom” colors for this iconic walleye jigging lure.
The unique diamond shape and slight cup to the Do Jigger cause this spoon to flutter down a little slower than other jigging spoons. The slow drop is what seems to get the job done day in and day out for walleye.
Most of the time when I’m using the Do Jigger I bait the treble hook with a small shiner minnow and then pinch the minnow in half just behind the head.
NORTHLAND TACKLE BUCK-SHOT RATTLE JIG
Second in line on my personal favorites list for jigging spoons is the Northland Tackle Buck-Shot Rattle Jig. For walleye fishing I lean heavily on the 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8 ounce models.
This slab style spoon sinks quickly and can be fished in deeper water without having to downsize to lighter lines. The distinctive rattle chamber also does an excellent job of calling in fish. Of course Northland Tackle is famous for their impeccable lure finishes and in my opinion all 12 factory finishes of the Buck-Shot Rattle Jig are fish catchers.
VMC TINGLER SPOON
The VMC Tingler Spoon is a “flutter spoon” that comes in three sizes including the 1/16, 1/8 and 3/16 sizes. For walleye the 1/8 and 3/16 sizes work especially well early in the winter when walleye are often found in water less than 15 feet deep. The slow wobbling drop of the Tingler Spoon catches walleye in natural lakes, impoundments and the Great Lakes.
Flutter style spoons like this VMC Tingler Spoon and the Bay de Noc Do Jigger are high on the list of jigging spoons that work day in and day out in the ice belt.
The Tingler Spoon is produced in a dozen color patterns. My favorites include the Glo Red Shiner, Gold Shiner and Glo Chartreuse Shiner patterns.
In my opinion all jigging spoons work best when tipped with a minnow head or a whole small minnow. To keep the bait in place on the hook, take a small twister tail and cut the body into cross section wedges about 1/16 of an inch thick. After baiting the treble hook, slip a wedge of this soft plastic over the hook point to act as a washer. This simple trick keeps bait on the hook when you need it.
I also use fishing scent on all my jigging spoons. A practice I call Matching the Hatch works best for me. I use Pro Cure Super Gel which is a natural scent product made from real baitfish. When fishing in natural lakes I use Trophy Walleye which is a mixture of different and common minnow species. For Great Lakes jigging, I use smelt, gizzard shad or emerald shiner depending on what specie is most prevalent. For impoundments I like gizzard shad formula.
Jigging spoons and winter walleye go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s hard for me to imagine targeting walleye in the winter months without hitting the ice with a good selection of my favorite spoons.