With seemingly millions of options to choose from in the world of walleye fishing gear nowadays, it can be overwhelming to choose the best walleye rod and reel setup. You may have a hard time deciding between a spinning or casting setup, rod length or action, reel size or gear ratio. In this article, we’re going to highlight some great walleye fishing setups that’ll get you started and on the path to success.
Jigging setups can vary dramatically depending on the jigging technique and bait size. For casting jigs 3/8oz and less a St. Croix Legend Elite 7'0 ML with a fast tip (ES70MLF) is a perfect walleye fishing setup. The longer rod allows for more jig movement with less arm motion and further casting distance. A longer, light-action rod also absorbs a walleye’s headshakes more effectively allowing them to stay pinned all the way to the boat. When casting heavier walleye fishing rigs and jigs (1/2 oz and up) and rip baits (Rapala Jigging Raps, Moonshine Shiver Minnows) the St. Croix Legend Elite in a 7’0 Medium Fast action is ideal (ES70MF). This rod has excellent sensitivity with a little more backbone for ripping those jigs, while still being soft enough to keep fish pinned. When vertical jigging, choose a little shorter rod like a St. Croix Legend Tournamnet Walleye Spinning Rod in a 6’3 Medium Light or Medium depending on jig weight, (LWS63MLXF) or (LWS63MXF). These rods still have an excellent backbone, but the shorter length makes vertical jigging significantly easier. A 3000-size Shimano Vanford spinning reel is a great matchup for any of those rods, although a 2000 or 2500 can sometimes be preferable for the shorter jigging rods because a long cast isn’t necessary. 10lb Power Pro Super Slick main line to a 6 - 10lb Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon leader allows you the sensitivity, strength, and visibility you need in a mainline while providing the invisibility and strength you need in a leader.
Walleye rod and reel setups for trolling are a whole different ball game. The walleye fishing essentials for trolling are extremely different than those for casting. For trolling planer boards, a 7’0 or 8’6 St. Croix Eyecon Walleye Trolling Rod (ET70MM, ET86MM) is ideal. Although long rods can assist with absorbing a fish’s headshakes and help increase hookup ratios when running baits far behind the boat, they can be somewhat of a pain in a smaller boat, especially when netting fish. A Daiwa Sealine SGG-3B Line counter Reel 27 size pairs great with these rods. A line counter on your reel is crucial because without it it’s very difficult to know how far back your bait is, which determines what depth your bait is running at. The ideal line for this walleye rig is Berkley Trilene XL 14lb as it has the same diameter as 10lb Berkley Trilene XT with just a little more strength and more stretch. Line diameter is very important because it determines your bait’s running depth and helps improve the bait’s action. The thinner the line, the deeper your bait will dive and the more action it will have. As far as lead core goes, there’s no need to overcomplicate things. The same walleye fishing setups used for running boards will work just fine. Reel size may need to be increased if you decide to run more than 5 colors of lead core. An Okuma Magda pro DXT Line Counter Reel in a size 30 or 45 will work perfectly. Leadcore comes in many brands, colors, and sizes and there is a time and place for each. Sufix 832 Advanced Lead Core Line in 18lb sinks at a rate of about 7ft per color (color change is every 10yds), allowing deep water to be reached without an excessive amount of line out. On the other hand, 18lb Tuf-Line Microlead lead Core sinks about 5ft per color. This can be beneficial when fishing for pressured fish that are more likely to strike a bait at a greater distance from the boat. Lead core is very visible to fish, so having a long fluorocarbon leader is an essential part of this type of walleye fishing setup. 50ft of 12-17lb Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon line is perfect.
The next time you’re looking for a new walleye rod and reel setup remember these tips and your day on the water will be an unforgettable one!