Our Most Important Walleye Rods
By: Mark Romanack
Daiwa's RG series of rods are affordable, but they also come in the right action for vertical jigging in rivers with heavy jigs. The RG591MHXS and the RG601MHXS are just what the doctor ordered for river jigging. The Daiwa GL761TMF is the ideal rod for pulling planer boards.
Having fished walleye professionally most of my adult life, I’ve developed some pretty serious opinions on what makes a rod ideal for walleye fishing. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to such things. Here’s my two cents when it comes to picking out rods ideal for the various walleye presentations.
PLANER BOARD RODS
When it comes to rods for pulling in-line planer boards, I like them short and also telescopic. Many rods labeled as “planer board” models these days are 9’-6” or even 10’-6” long! Unless you own a 30 foot walleye boat, I wonder how guys store rods that long when on the water.
The perfect rod for in-line planer boards is 7’-6” long and telescopes down to 6’-6”. The rod needs a fast tip and plenty of backbone to handle the weight of both the planer board and large fish. The Daiwa Great Lakes GL76TMF is that rod. We have caught countless walleye on these rods and also use them for lead core fishing to target salmon, lake trout, browns and more.
The theory that longer rods do a better job of fighting fish is “urban legend” in my opinion. Long rods are just cumbersome to use and more prone to breaking.
BOTTOM BOUNCER RODS
The bottom bouncer is one of the most important tools in the walleye angler’s tackle box. Ironically, very few manufacturers see fit to market rods specifically for this iconic presentation.
The ideal bottom bouncer rod features a soft tip and slow action, but enough backbone to handle bottom bouncer sizes up to 3 or even 4 ounces. To function properly, a bottom bouncer rod must support the rig skipping along and ticking the bottom every few feet, yet have enough give that when a walleye strikes, the rod will telegraph the strike without applying too much pressure and alerting the fish.
This is a very delicate balance and few rods have what it takes to be a good bottom bouncer rod. I’ve been using the Daiwa North Coast BC862MFB a rod designed for steelhead back-trolling as a bottom bouncer rod for some time now. While this rod is longer than I would prefer, the action is perfect for “snaring” walleye on bottom bouncer and spinner rigs.
These days jig pitching has taken on a new meaning. When I refer to jig pitching, I’m talking about throwing jigs that range in size from 1/8 to 3/8 ounce in size. For this job it’s tough to beat the Daiwa Kage KAGE701MLXS, the finest walleye rod that Daiwa has ever produced in my humble opinion. These ultra light and sensitive rods are perfect for long days throwing jigs when matched up to the Kage 2500 series spinning reels.
SWIMBAITS AND GLIDE BAITS
Throwing swimbaits (jig and paddle-tail) and glide baits such as the Moonshine Shiver Minnow requires a rod with a little more backbone than a jig pitching rod. I use the Daiwa KAGE701MXS a one piece medium rod that does an exceptional job of working swimbaits up to one ounce in size and also all the popular glide baits out there.
Jake and Mark Romanack of Fishing 411 TV represent a lot of years of walleye fishing experience. When it comes to rods ideally suited to the various walleye fishing presentations, you just can't beat the quality and availability of Daiwa. Every major dealer in the nation stocks Daiwa products, something you just can't say about other brands.
Fishing floats for walleye is a classic and timeless presentation that requires a little longer rod capable of making the most of every cast. The Daiwa KAGE761MLXS is ideal for float fishing applications. This light and sensitive rod is best when matched up to an equally light Kage 2500 series spinning reel.
VERTICAL JIGGING RIVERS
Vertical jigging in rivers is a highly debated topic among walleye anglers. Because the jigs used are often much larger than for other walleye applications, a shorter and stiffer rod is required to master the vertical jigging presentation.
Daiwa produces three rods I would rate as excellent choices for vertical jigging including the RG591MHXS, RG601MHXS and also the KAGE661MHXS. All three of these rods are stout enough to fish a one ounce jig. The RG series retail for around $100.00 each and the Kage series rods retail for $200.00 each.
For vertical jigging I run Kage 2000 series reels to keep the rod and reel combo as light as possible.
FLAT LINE TROLLING
The art of flat lining is seemingly a forgotten skill, but every walleye angler should own at least a couple rods suitable for pulling stickbaits. Not only is this presentation deadly for finding early season fish, when the sun sets long lining stickbaits can be one of the best ways to put fish in the boat.
Because this rod will be in your hand constantly, I recommend going with a TATULA701MFB baitcasting rod and a Tatula 150 series baitcasting reel. This set up is light, but plenty powerful enough to whip any walleye.
SUMMING IT UP
The rods outlined here represent the fundamentals a serious angler will need to target walleye. Because quality rods these days are expensive, the best approach is to accumulate the necessary gear over time. Money spent on quality gear is money well spent.