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Walleye Week: Top 10 Walleye Tools

Walleye Week: Top 10 Walleye Tools

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Walleye fishing has become more challenging, technique-specific, and technologically advanced over the past decade. More fishing pressure, clearer waters due to invasive species, forward-facing sonar, etc., have greatly changed how many anglers are catching walleyes today.

But some things haven’t changed all that much. You still need essential, common-sense equipment for chasing walleyes – for example, tools, bait containers, a quality fillet knife, etc. We’ll cover some of those walleye fishing must-haves in this story.

1. Rod and Reel Lure Covers

Daiwa Lure Wrap

Transporting walleye rods with Jigging Raps, Husky Jerks, crankbaits, and jigs with stinger hooks can create a mess really quick, hooking other rods, clothing, and whatever you have in the back of the truck or your rod lockers. A practical, inexpensive solution is using a lure cover like those made by Daiwa, which are available in four sizes (S, M, L, XL). Not only do they prevent snags and fouled rods & reels, they feature transparent lure windows, too, so you can actually which is your Jigging Rap rod/reel, Shad Rap set-up, etc.

2. Crankbait Snaps & Small Barrel Swivels

VMC Crankbait/Jerkbait Snap

If you’re like most walleye anglers you pull crankbaits, fish bladebaits and Rippin’ Raps, and jig, you’re going to need snaps to attach your cranks and other lures as well as barrel swivels to prevent jig spin—and even build your own Lindy Rigs or rig slip bobber set-ups. For whatever reasons, I never seem to have enough of either of these practical walleye fishing accessories. Best to buy several packs of each or in bulk and store in numerous tackle trays or separate terminal tackle accessory mini-boxes.

3. Polarized Sunglasses

RLVNT Sunglasses

Besides aid they provide in spotting bottom composition, vegetation, and fish in shallower waters, polarized sunglasses also help protect our eyes, which shouldn’t be an oversight (no pun intended). For years I could never hold on to a pair of polarized fishing glasses and always ended up spending an extra $20 at the gas station for cheap sunglasses on the way to the boat launch. There is a cure to that: Pony up and buy an expensive pair of sunglasses like those from Costa del Mar, Bajio, or my favorite, Minnesota-based RLVNT, and you’ll treat them like your cell phone, knowing where they are at all times, keeping them clean, and in a hard case when not in use. Save the cheap sunglasses for ZZ Top and wearing everywhere except on the water. A floating lanyard is also a good idea to make sure they don’t end up in Davy Jones’ Locker. Plus, new glasses – like the Chameleon lens RLVNT models optimized for reading today’s fishing electronics and getting a super sharp, pronounced image of fish and your bait (if you’re using forward-facing sonar)—and they even have lens colors designed for ice fishing brightness, too.

4. Leader material

Daiwa Samurai Fluorocarbon

With all the casting, pitching, and jigging going on in walleye fishing today, leader material is definitely a must-have. Quality, low-diameter, fluorocarbon is best, although mono can work in a pinch. My favorite is Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Hidden Concept in brown/green, which blends into its surroundings and has a low light reflectivity index. A line of choice with west coast and Japanese finesse bass anglers since it came out, it also translates to walleye fishing really well, IMO, and comes in some odd test sizes like 5- and 7-pound test, perfect for finicky walleyes.

5. Scale/Measuring Tape

Ego Fish Scale

How many times have you been in the boat and realized your bump board is in the garage and nobody has a way to ensure fish are in the legal keeper slot? Or, someone catches a big fish and there’s no way to document length, girth, and weight? Happens all the time. This combination scale from EGO Fishing is pretty slick with a measuring tape that bends and even allows girth measurements, so there’s no need to keep a seamstress measuring tape in your box either. Plus, its waterproof.

6. Pliers

Berkley Hemostat

One thing I did long ago was make sure to keep the boat stocked with a pliers for each angler instead of having to pass around one tool. Inexpensive rubber-coated Berkley hemostats work great for boat multiples, with one heavy-duty 11-inch longnose pliers is a good idea, too, should someone catch the errant big pike or musky while fishing walleyes.

7. Braid Scissors

Rapala Precision Braid Scissors

More walleye anglers are using braided superlines for longer casts, improved sensitivity, and getting crankbaits deeper when long-lining. The only problem? It’s a pain to cut—at least my teeth can’t to it. And a lot of scissors out there fail, too. This handy braid cutter from Rapala is a champ—and won’t fall apart like some braid scissors I’ve bought in the past. It also cuts through heavy fluorocarbon with ease and can be used to trim hair jig skirts, you-name-it.

8. Homemade Aerated Minnow Container w/Lithium Battery: Go USB, Ditch D Cells

Norsk 15 amp-hour lithium battery

When fishing with minnows, one of the biggest pains is finding a bucket/live bait container that isn’t too heavy or take up a lot of boat space, keeps the water cool, and works well with today’s aerators. Honestly, after trying lots of different bait containers over the years, I think the best thing to do is buy the size cooler that best suits your boat, a separate aerator and hose, after-market XL 5-inch bubbler donut/water diffuser accessory and save a few metal coffee cans. If you’re like me, you might have an old white Igloo Marine series cooler in the garage (white is best to prevent the container from warming up in the sun). In terms of power, I always hating having to replace size D or C batteries, which never seem to last very long.

I’ve found a Norsk 15Ah Lithium Vexilar ice fishing battery is ideal and has two USB ports on top, so you can run two Norsk USB-powered aerators (replacing their small bubbler ends) and replacing with large Bubblers. Depending on the size of your cooler, you may get by with just one, too. As for the coffee cans, give each angler in your boat a coffee can with 4 to 5 inches of water in it and a half dozen minnows at a time. This prevents dudes, kids, and ladies from stumbling around the boat, all trying to get to the cooler for another minnow.

By the way, I picked up the common-sense coffee-can trick from legendary MN walleye guide, Dick “Griz” Gryzinski, Griz uses a 5-gallon bucket lined with Styrofoam and a homemade foam lid with a Frabill aerator and hose to keep his minnows fresh throughout the day.

9. Trailer Steps

Ezee Boat Trailer Step system

If you’re fishing from a boat, you know that launching and loading can be a chore, having to step onto the trailer from the water’s edge before you ever get to tie up to the dock or beach the rig. Trailer steps are a practical, problem-eliminating accessory that not only make it easier for the boat owner to get everything ready for fishing for the day, but makes it easier for everyone else to enter and exit the boat, too, at any point in the launch and load process. These guys out of Muscatine, Iowa Ezee Step make a great product and can help you design the perfect steps for you, regardless of trailer and boat age or make.

10. Cooler

Igloo Marine Ultra cooler

I’ll come out and say it: I’m not a fan of rotomolded, Yeti-style coolers—unless it’s to be left in the boat at all times. Look at a lot of inshore, saltwater, and Great Lakes guides, and what do they use? Big white coolers from Igloo or Coleman—most times the Marine Series from IGLOO or Coleman, both of which have apparently been redesigned. I’ve got three different sizes of old Igloo Marine Series coolers and they do their job day-in, day-out—and best of all they don’t cost $727 each.

Yes, I have two YETI’s—a size 30 or 40 that I won at an NWTF banquet raffle and a larger 65 with a grippy, SeaDek-coated lid that does make for a solid platform when musky fishing or chasing fish in shallow water. But they’re a pain to move and I’m not convinced they keep anything colder than much cheaper, plain ol’ white marine/boat coolers. Maybe if you’re going on an extended fish/camp trip.

But for day-to-day use, again, I’m a big fan of white insulated, non-rotomolded coolers. When keeping fish, I bleed them out in the livewell on the way back to the launch, then throw them in the cooler that kept our drinks and snacks cold on ice, draining the ‘well to abide by state laws, and keeping fish ready for the makeshift fillet table in my backyard in the drinks cooler on the way home. Works well, but everybody has his/her own system.

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