In our last article (Part 1 of this Series) we covered what we consider the Necessities and Accessories for walleye anglers in the categories of lines and lures. This time around we’d like to cover rods and reels. Now’s the time of year most of us are sorting through our tackle and equipment, figuring out what new gear we’re going to want to add to the arsenal for the upcoming season. That makes it a perfect time to analyze our Necessities and Accessories, and make our wish lists accordingly.
Building your walleye rod and reel arsenal is all about having the right tools for the tactics you fish the most. When it comes to walleye fishing, the Necessities will be rod and reel combos for jigging, rigging, bottom bouncer fishing and trolling. A good walleye angler needs to learn and become adept at these tactics in order to be versatile enough to fish walleyes on any body of water at different times of the year.
The first Necessity rod is a good jigging stick. A 6 foot, medium to medium light action spinning rod will handle most jigging techniques from vertical jigging, pitching jigs or jig trolling. A rod built from at least IM-8 graphite will give you good sensitivity at a reasonable cost. Team that up with a light spinning reel with features including instant anti-reverse and a smooth drag, like the Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier PQX1500 , and you’ve got a good set-up to get you started. For live bait rigging, the same combo will work, but a rod with a little added length can often be an advantage when rigging for getting a good hookset with more line out, and for fighting bigger fish on light line. A 6’6″ to 7’ length IM-8 rod works well here.
Bottom Bouncer fishing has become a mainstay tactic for walleyes on many bodies of water throughout the country. Whether you’re pulling spinners, or rigging plain snells in deep water, bouncer fishing is a key presentation option that all walleye anglers need to be rigged for. That’s why another Necessity rod we’d suggest is a 6’6″ to 7’ medium action baitcasting rod like the Walleye Angler Signature Series Bottom Bouncer Rod model WX66BBT or WX70BBT. Paired with a good baitcasting reel like the Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier PQX10HB, you won’t have to break the bank to have the tools needed to bounce up a bunch of walleyes.
More and more, trolling is becoming the “go-to” tactic for many walleye fishermen. The rods you choose should be designed for trolling … 7’6″ to 8’6″ long, with “forgiving” tip sections and strong backbone like the ones found in the Walleye Angler Signature Series. The secret to being a good troller is being able to repeat successful trolling patterns and a big key to that is using line counter reels like the Bass Pro Shops Gold Cup Line Counters. That way when you find a particular length of line out on a specific lure is catching the most fish, you can easily duplicate it with another rod. Those are what we’d consider the Necessities for walleye rods and reels. Accessorizing the jigging and rigging combos would be a matter of upgrading to high-modulus graphite rods like the Walleye Angler Signature Series HM-85 models WX60MLJSH and WX70MSH. These rods offer greater sensitivity and lighter weight for superior performance.
When it comes to Accessorizing your bottom bouncer rod arsenal, it’s more a case of adding gear than upgrading it. Consider supplementing your bouncer fishing with a “Deadstick” style rod. Deadsticks are rods designed to fish bouncers from a rod holder instead of being hand-held. These rods tend to be long which allow you to get the rig a little further from the boat. They also tend to be fairly limber, which allows the fish to take the bait without feeling much resistance from the rod. It’s amazing how often we see the Deadstick get bit more often than the hand-held rod, especially when fishing crawlers or big minnows on straight snells. The Deadstick just gives you an easy way to fish more lines in the water, where fishing multiple lines is legal.
As far as Accessorizing your trolling rod collection, here too it’s a matter of simply adding more combos to the mix. For trolling, it really becomes an advantage to have all your set-ups be identical. In other words, if you’re going to have six trolling combos, they should all be the same rod and reel combos. That way, it makes it much easier to duplicate successful trolling patterns.
As you become a more versatile walleye angler, there will be other Accessory combos you’ll want to add to your tool set. For instance, you may want to add a couple long spinning rods for slip bobber fishing, or add a couple trolling combos designated for lead core line use. The more tactics and techniques you learn for walleye fishing, the more you’ll learn it helps to have rod and reel combos designated for specific uses. This is one of the main reasons we like boats with tons of rod storage … because we tend to carry a lot of different combos!
Whether you’re building on your Necessities, or looking for Accessories to improve on the gear you already have, just remember it’s all about being well equipped when it comes time to hit the water again this next season in search of walleyes.