Trolling Crankbaits for Walleyes

On the Great Lakes, you can troll crankbaits just about anytime. On smaller waters, I troll cranks whenever walleyes are scattered on a flat, breakline or along the edge of cover. If you can get them to hit a crank, you can almost bet that they’ll be bigger fish, on average, than you’d catch using other presentations.

Total Solutions Technique

When I’m on the Great Lakes, I use sonar to scout out areas for fish, baitfish, cover and subtle structure. On inland waters, 90 percent of the walleyes relate to breaklines, humps, weedlines and standing timber, so I that’s what I look for and that’s where I fish.

Trolling speeds range from 1.1 to 1.2 mph early in the season to 2.8 mph later in the year. The warmer the water, the faster you can troll. Experiment with trolling speed to see what the fish prefer. Speed changes trigger strikes, too, so I pump the rods and play with the throttle a little—speeding up and slowing down.

Total Solutions Equipment

Berkley’s 8½-foot Tactix TXC861MH is an ideal rod for trolling crankbaits, whether you’re long-lining or pulling planer boards. The medium-action graphite blank with carbon fiber orientation is strong, yet sensitive and forgiving (a huge plus with boards). Pair it with a line-counting reel like Abu Garcia’s 6500LC and you’ve got a great trolling combo.

Line choice depends on how the fish are hitting the lure, and I can just about tell on the first fish of the day. If it’s barely lip-hooked on the back treble, I’ll use line with a little bit of stretch, like 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene XT or Trilene MAXX. Green is a good color choice in monofilament. The stretch helps the walleyes suck in the lure on the strike. If they’re crushing the bait, superline like 10/4 or 8/3 FireLine Crystal gets the nod. Actually, on inland lakes where I’m fishing around weeds or anything that could foul the lure, I like FireLine because it tells me if my baits are working properly.

Berkley® Tactix™ Rod

Abu Garcia® Ambassadeur® Line Counter Reel

Berkley® Trilene XT®

Berkley® Trilene® Maxx™ 330 Yd. Filler Spools

Berkley® FireLine Crystal™