The walleye, sometimes referred to as the yellow pike, is a freshwater fish that can be widely found in both North America and Canada. As every avid fisherman knows, the way you catch one type of fish isn't necessarily the way you'll be able to catch a different type of fish.
And if you are a walleye fisherman, you already know that fishing for walleye isn't exactly like fishing for other types of fish. One of the best things you can do for yourself while fishing for walleye is to choose the right rod. However, picking the best walleye rod will largely depend on which method you plan on using while fishing.
Depending on which bodies of water and environments you're planning on fishing, you'll need to use different methods to attract the most fish.
Each of these three different methods will require you to set up your rod and lure differently, and that, in turn, will influence the type of rod you need. Mainly, this difference comes in the rod's sensitivity. For instance, if you plan on jigging, you'll need a rod with extremely high sensitivity. Whereas if you're planning on trolling, your rod won't need to be nearly as sensitive. Fishing via spinning falls somewhere in between the two other methods in rod sensitivity.
Other than maybe trolling, jigging is probably the most-used method for fishing for walleye, and the rod is very important. The best walleye jigging rods are those that have extreme sensitivity, particularly at the tip. This sensitivity allows you to keep close attention on what is happening below the water simply by feeling it.
Being able to feel even the smallest and most minuscule movements through your rod is imperative to setting the hook properly and catching the fish. Usually, the best of these are rods with fast action and medium power. Using low-stretch line is also recommended. These items are ones with the most sensitivity and will allow you to follow what is going on with your jig at all times.
Here are three of the best:
This particular rod from the Fenwicks company is great for jigging because it provides the ultimate balance of both action and power. Furthermore, despite the tip being incredibly sensitive, the rod itself is sturdy and durable, meaning you don't have to constantly feel like you're going to snap it in half every time you cast.
This rod is perfect for jigging, but it can also be used as a spinning rod, as long as you're spinning gently. This allows you to double your investment, as it works for two different types of walleye fishing, eliminating the need for you to purchase two different rods.
The rod's blanks come in a wide variety of actions and powers, and the blanks are made entirely of solid graphite. Depending on the specific model, your rod might be suited to dedicated jigging, while others can be used for rigging as well. This rod is a particular favorite of ours because of a feature Fenwicks calls a "hidden reel seat."
Basically, this means the seat is flush with the shape and curves of the rod's handle. This keeps you from feeling the seat threads like you do in most other fishing rods. Vertical jig fishing is especially prone to making the fisherman feel the threads and seats on the rod; however, with the hidden seat, this isn't the case.
Fenwicks does this a lot - adding small, thoughtful, innovative little features like the hidden reel seat to set their rods apart from the rods of other companies. That's why their rods stand out so much.
If you're looking for a top-of-the-line jigging rod that simply can't be touched, G.Loomis has a NRX series that's simply unbeatable.
However, it also costs about $500.
If you're looking for a jigging rod that is still really good but not quite as pricey, G.Loomis has another rod - the E6X range - that is almost as good, and the price is much better. The sensitivity is great, and the quality and performance are quite good too.
The E6X's construction is slim, made of multi-taper graphite for the blanks. The thinness of the blank accounts for the excellent feedback and intense sensitivity. The handle is made of cork, but that doesn't dampen the sensation.
This new series of rods from G. Loomis - the NRX Jig and Worm casting rods - are excellent for walleye fishing. They are specifically designed for fishermen who like to go jigging for walleye.
The rods are extremely light, some of the lightest rods on the market today. Despite their lightness, the rods are incredibly strong and durable, as well. Additionally, though, they are unbelievably sensitive, not just at the tip but throughout the entirety of the rod.
The design of the rod includes Fuji Titanium SIC stripper guides, incredibly light and strong recoil guides and a split-grip handle made of durable cork. The series has rods of multiple lengths, with the shortest being 6'8" and the longest reaching a length of 7'5". Whichever length you choose, the strength and the sensitivity of the rod are both excellent.
The thing people who've purchased these rods so far are saying they like best is that this series of G. Loomis rods has the perfect balance of power and control. They also like that the rods are so versatile. They're easy enough to use that beginners can use them effectively, but they're such great rods, pro-fishermen are using them in tournaments all over the United States.
Although most fishermen prefer to troll or jig when fishing for walleye, spinning can be a very effective and entertaining way of walleye fishing. A lot of people overlook it, but it's actually a great method. With spinning rods, you want medium to fast action at the tip while maintaining power at the light to medium range.
A lot of people compare spinning to the more popular bait-casting; however, with a spinning rod, your cast goes a far greater distance while using light lures. When using a bait-casting rod, you often have to keep your lures at a certain weight, otherwise the cast will fall flat instead of soaring like you want it to do.
If you're using heavy lures, such as large spinners or crank baits, to do your fishing, then a bait-casting rod will work fine. However, if you want to fish in shallow or mid-level waters with minnow bait, which is generally much lighter, you're going to need a rod that specializes in spinning.
If you do prefer fishing with heavier bait, you can still use a spinning rod, but you'll want to choose a heavier one instead. These heavier set-ups can sometimes even be used for trolling, as well. Jigging rods, on the other hand, can never be used for trolling; they are simply too light.
However, if you like to switch between trolling and spinning, a heavier spinning rod might just be the dual rod you need to save you some money in the long run and keep you from having to buy extra rods.
There are a lot of great spinning rods out there, but our three favorites are the St. Croix Eyecon (which is also used for jigging), the Okuma Dead Eye and the Fenwicks Eagle.
As we've already mentioned, the Eyecon is a great rod for both jigging and spinning. This has to do, in large part, with the construction of the rod. It's made from St. Croix's SC graphite blanks, a durable and comfortable cork handle, aluminum oxide ring inserts and Kigan guides.
The rods can be purchased in three different lengths. The shortest is 6'6" long, and the longest is a foot longer at 7'6". There is a mid-range one coming in at a solid seven feet.
The different power levels and action speeds have already been discussed above, so we don't want to beat a dead horse and list them again. Make sure you choose the correct speed and power for your particular needs.
The Okuma is made specifically and exclusively for walleye fishermen. Everything about its construction is built to catch walleye.
It's a great mixture of both sensitivity and sturdiness thanks to the IM-8 graphite. There are both moderate to fast and fast actions available, as well as various power levels of light/medium and medium.
There are various lengths of Okuma rods, with the shortest being six feet and the longest reaching lengths of seven feet, six inches. These various lengths also lead to a variety of line weights, but the general weights are somewhere between four and ten pound weights if you purchase a fast action model and six to 12 pounds if you purchase the moderate to fast models.
If you purchase the lighter rod models, which are more sensitive than the heavier models, you can also use them as jig rods.
As has already been established, Fenwicks has some great rods for walleye fishing. Their range of Eagle products is evidence of this. The Eagle is an amazing spinning rod, unmatched by most.
Fenwicks was one of the first companies to begin creating rods made of graphite blanks, and over the years, they've made advancements and adjustments to the process until their methods are almost perfect, meaning they sell the best graphite rods on the market.
The Eagle rods, especially, are perfectly balanced and have great casting range. The sensitivity of the tip is also quite exceptional. In addition to a reel seat, each rod, no matter the size, also comes equipped with top-of-the-line guides. All of this comes at an entirely reasonable price, especially for such high-quality rods.
The Eagle comes in some of the shortest and longest walleye rods available on the market today. The shortest rods are only 5'6" long, and the longest rods reach eight feet. The best rods for spinning, though, usually fall in the seven-foot range. This will allow you better sensitivity and better control of the rod and its functions.
Trolling is the final type of walleye fishing. It tends to take place on larger bodies of water with deeper depths. Trolling usually requires the use of either deep-diving minnow lures or crank baits. Trolling also requires the fisherman to use either a down-rigger, a Plano board or a weight on the line to help him troll the deepest depths.
These tools are heavy, and with the addition of the heavy baits and lures, they put a ton of strain on your pole. They can bend your rod, and since trolling keeps the bait in the water longer than other types of walleye fishing, your rod might stay bent for longer periods of time, which could completely damage a rod that isn't strong enough to bear the weight.
Shallow water trolling is different, of course. You won't need to use such heavy equipment, and your rod won't suffer as much. Shallow water trolling is more about the speed of your boat getting your lure where you want it to be.
If your trolling is taking your bait into the shallows only - ten feet or less - you'll be fine with a medium power rod that isn't quite as heavy. In this case, you might not even need a rod specifically built for trolling. However, if you plan on doing any deep-water trolling at all, you'll have to buy a dedicated trolling rod.
If you've done any sort of fishing at all, you've likely heard of the Ugly Stik brand of fishing rods. Despite the name, though, there is nothing ugly about these rods; in fact, they're excellent trolling rods.
Trolling rods are much longer than any other rods on the list because they have to be. They have to balance out the weight needed for adequate deep water trolling. The Ugly Stiks come in at eight and half feet long. There are both medium and medium to heavy versions, and each is perfectly adequate for trolling.
The rods are made with single-piece guides of stainless steel. This means there are no guide inserts because there's no need for them. This rod works great with any heavy lure or bait, and the added weight to help them reach deep water won't damage rods of this size.
These rods are built especially for trolling, and there are several different models from which to choose: the dipsy diver, the wireline, the lead core, the Planer board and the trolling model.
The rods have blanks constructed from a mixture of both graphite and fiber glass, with an outer layer of graphite and the inner layers being a double-layer of T-glass. This unique construction allows for a perfect mixture of both sensitivity (the outside graphite layers) and extreme durability from the inside layers.
Each specific model does have some small differences in its construction, but the basics are the same. The guides are different on some, while the butts and handles are different on others. They come in various lengths, as well.
These rods have an interesting, unique telescopic construction and are between six and seven feet long. They are medium to heavy power, and they work best with ten to 20 pound line weight.
The Daiwa rods work best when trolling with copper wire or lead core. Lead line, though, is tough on your line guides; however, Daiwa has offset this problem by using strong aluminum oxide for its guides, making them pretty much impervious to damage.
Both the 8'6" model and the 7'10" model are great options for trolling, with the former having 11 guides and the latter having ten.
The best jigging rods are rods with extreme sensitivity, much more sensitive than either the spinning rods or the trolling rods. There are various rod lengths, of course, but the sweet spot seems to be in the 6'6" range, although some avid fisherman have been known to go as long as seven feet with their jigging rods.
These rods have only light to medium power, but the action on them is very fast and the sensitivity is unmatched. Jigging rods also use lighter tackle, which further enhances the rod's sensitivity. This is especially noticeable when you're vertical jigging and use a very small jig head. You get total rod sensitivity with particular emphasis at the rod's tip.
As mentioned above, when it comes to sensitivity, the spinning rods are going to fall about midway between the super-sensitive jig rod and the heavy, only mildly-sensitive trolling rods.
While still having light to medium power, the action on a spinning rod isn't going to be quite as fast as that of the lighter rods more suited to jigging. Some of them can still be considered fast-action rods, but others are more on the medium scale.
Because spinning rods are a little heavier than jigging rods, you have a little more variety in the types of lures you can use. Spinning rods work well with everything from the featherlight Rapala's to heavy lures like spinners or crankbait. Which lure you choose will depend heavily on the type of area in which you are fishing.
The key is to not go with a rod that is too light for spinning. Your rod should be light to medium, but if you go with something ultralight, it's going to be much more suited to jigging instead.
The best walleye trolling rods are going to be quite a bit heavier than your jigging and spinning rods; this is by necessity. Trolling puts a lot of extra pressure on your equipment. This is always true of trolling, but it's especially true if you're using equipment like lead core line or planer boards so you can fish in deep waters.
Trolling rods are generally longer than the other two types. They also have mid-level action and medium to heavy power. Any heavy rod could work for trolling in a pinch, but you will always get the best results by using a rod specifically designed for trolling.
This is a very basic overview of the three types of rods normally used for walleye fishing; however, even within each specific category, there are still different specifications to check out on rods before you buy them. No two jigging rods are exactly alike. The same goes for trolling and spinning rods.
The great thing about spinning and trolling walleye poles is that they are generally not too expensive. Reels are another story; they can get very pricey, but the rods are reasonably priced. This gives you more money to spend on buying a variety of different rods for your different needs.
Jigging poles, though, are another story. In the case of jigging for walleye, your rod is actually going to be more important than your reel. As long as your reel isn't so heavy that it overbalances your lightweight rod, any reel will do. This means jigging poles can be a little more expensive than the other types, but the price for these still isn't terrible.