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Tackle Matching Walleye Gear

At Fishing 411 we believe that little things make a big difference in fishing success. It’s the refinements associated with fishing that often separate the average fisherman from those who are consistently successful.

The author believes firmly in tackle matching his rods and reels to enjoy the best balance and function from his gear.

Tackle matching is one of those refinements I have been preaching for decades. When trolling and even for jigging and casting applications, I strongly feel that anglers who equip themselves with balanced and matching rods and reels are going to be consistently more successful. This is precisely why many manufacturers of rods and reels create tackle series that are designed to make it easier for anglers to match up the right rods and reels for specific fishing presentations.


A good place to start this discussion is with line counter style trolling reels. Most anglers acknowledge that line counter reels are important for many trolling applications, but very few anglers own and use matching sets of trolling reels and rods. Instead, the average angler buys these items as he or she can afford them or as they go on sale.

The result ends up being boats equipped with all sorts of reel and rod brands, sizes and models. Let’s talk about tackle matching reels first and then move on to discussing why tackle matching rods is also important.

The Daiwa Lexa LC 300 is the author’s favorite line counter reel for trolling walleye with in-line boards.

To get the accuracy required in duplicating trolling leads again and again requires using the same size and brand of line counter reel and loading those reels with exactly the same diameter and amount of fishing line. This kind of tackle matching makes it possible to catch a fish on one set up with a particular lead length and lure and then duplicate that successful catch with any other rod and reel on hand.

Tackle matching trolling rods is also important. Mixing rod lengths and actions makes it tougher to detect subtle strikes and can also lead to other annoying problems such as lines getting crossed during turns or when fishing with in-line boards.

Unfortunately no single trolling rod will work well for all trolling applications. For downrigger trolling, I prefer a medium or medium light action rods about seven feet to seven feet, six inches in length.

For trolling in-line boards I prefer a medium action telescopic style rod from seven foot, six inches in length to about eight foot, six inches long. The beauty of telescopic rods is they fit nicely in the rod locker of modest sized fishing boats.

For fishing diving planers, I recommend a nine or 10 foot medium/heavy action rod. Because divers pull so hard the rods used must be stout and a little more heavy in action than other trolling rods.


Rod and reel set ups suitable for bottom bouncer fishing are a little different than those commonly used for other trolling practices. I like a medium or medium/light action trigger stick about eight foot, six inches in length to nine foot long. This rod must also feature a rather slow parabolic action.

The reason a bottom bouncer rod needs a slow action is because it’s the rod that will telegraph the strikes. A fast action rod puts too much pressure on the fish when it bites, causing the fish to realize something is wrong and drop the bait before getting hooked solidly. A parabolic action on a bottom bouncer rod makes it easy to detect strikes using the rod tip as an indicator and still have time to get the rod in hand for the hook set before the fish drops the bait.

The reel used on a bottom bouncer rod can be either a bait casting model or a line counter model. For the beginner, the line counter reels make it easier to insure the proper lead lengths are used when fishing bottom bouncers on both sides of the boat. Because bottom bouncing doesn’t require a lot of line, a small to medium low profile reel is ideal for this style of fishing.


Tackle matching is especially important when vertical jigging. This goes double for those anglers who routinely vertical jig by using a rod in each hand. If the rod length, action and reel style do not match, vertical jigging will feel cumbersome. Matching up rod action, length, reel types, sizes and even line type and size makes a huge difference in creating jigging rods that are balanced and uniform in the hand.

A new generation of walleye angler who spends a lot of time casting swimbaits, glide baits and lipless crankbaits has emerged on the walleye scene. Longer spinning rods such as the Daiwa RG 7’-6” Medium action model are ideal for this style of walleye pitching.

Because jigging is a reactionary style of fishing, the best rods and reels are lightweight and responsive. I prefer a rod in the six foot, six inch to about six foot long range with a medium or medium/heavy action. The stiffer action is required to help telegraph light strikes especially when fishing with larger jig sizes.

The ideal reels for vertical jigging rods should be on the small and lightweight side. I prefer a 2000 or 2500 series spinning reel made from a carbon composite frame. Carbon reels are lighter than aluminum frame reels making them more comfortable to use for long days of vertical jigging.


More and more anglers these days are discovering the benefits of pitching swim baits, glide baits and lipless cranks to structure loving walleye. Casting for walleye requires a somewhat longer rod than is generally used for vertical jigging so that long and accurate casts can be made. A little longer rod also does a better job of picking up slack line on the hook set.

For pitching to walleye I prefer a rod that is seven feet long to about seven feet, six inches in length. A medium action is a good all around choice for pitching. The reason a little heavier action rod is needed is because a lot of glide baits and swim baits are too heavy to comfortably fish with a medium/light or light action rod.

The reel used for pitching should be a little larger than those used for vertical jigging. The reason is that more line capacity is required to make long casts. I’d recommend using a 3000 series spinning reel for pitching applications.


Trolling Line Counter Reels, Daiwa Lexa LC 100 and 300 series.

Downrigger Reels, Daiwa Lexa 400 and Saltist 20 series.

Diver Reels, Daiwa Saltist LC 30 Series Line Counter Reels.

Bottom Bouncer Reels, Daiwa Lexa LC 100 Line Counter Reels.

In-Line Board Trolling Rods, Daiwa Great Lakes Series 7’-6” Telescopic.

Downrigger Trolling Rods, Daiwa 7’ Medium Action Great Lakes Series.

Diver Trolling Rods, Daiwa 9’ Great Lakes Diver Rods.

Bottom Bouncer Rods, Daiwa 8’-6” Medium Action North Coast Conventional Rods.

Vertical Jigging Rods, 6’-6” Medium/Heavy Action Daiwa Aird Spinning Rods

Vertical Jigging Reels, Daiwa 2000 Series Ballistic LT Spinning Reels

Walleye Pitching Rods, Daiwa 7’-6” RG Walleye Series Spinning Rod.

Walleye Pitching Reels, Daiwa 3000 Series RG-AB Series Reels.

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