How to Jig for Walleye Ice fishing? [Beginners Guide]

How to Jig for Walleye Ice fishing

Ice fishing can be very challenging, and a little bit dangerous, but if you do it right, the experience can be very satisfying.

One of the most popular species to catch is Walleye, and anglers often choose jigging as their preferred method.

To successfully catch a walleye under ice you have to choose the proper jig, its color and size, and find the best time to present it. What jig to choose depends on the walleye size, depth you are fishing in, and some other factors.

Here I am going to explain how to jig for walleye ice fishing, but besides the proper jigging technique, you have to know where to find walleyes under ice, and how to drill the holes.

Some anglers use live bait on jigs, most frequently minnows, and if the local rules and regulations allow it, you can try this method too.

Make sure to follow all the safety precautions on ice, and to carry all the essential ice fishing equipment.



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What is the Best Ice Fishing Jig for Walleye?

There are a lot of options to choose from, and some are better than others (one of my favorites is Jigging Rap).

Of course, it is good to have a few options to change if necessary, but in my opinion, you should have a couple of quality made jigs, instead of a tackle box full of ineffective ones.

The following three are the best options when it comes to ice fishing for walleyes.


Walleyes will often bite lures that are presented horizontally.

I’m not sure is there a reason for that besides looking very natural, but a lot of anglers will tell you that these jigs are very effective.

When it comes to the jigging motion, you can be quite aggressive with those, and due to their position and hydrodynamic properties, a slack on your line will allow the bait to actually make circles.

This motion is very attractive for walleyes. It mimics the real fish that has an injury, and walleyes will see it as an easy prey. The only downside is hooking a walleye, as it can be a bit tricky. Make sure that the hooks are always sharp.

These are one of those lures that work well in many different situations.


Another great option are jigging spoons for walleye.

There are a lot of models on the market, however, you should choose it in accordance with the water. I will mention the color in the next chapter, however, when it comes to spoons, you have to consider its size too. Many anglers will focus on lure weight, but the spoon size is also important.

The larger the lure, the better visibility, at least in murky waters. Also, low stretch lines are a great asset, because they are highly sensitive and enable great hooksets.

Metal spoons work excellent, especially those that are slightly bended, for less active fish. Their flattering and wiggling motion will attract even the laziest fish. So, if you notice that walleyes are unusually inactive, try using spoons.

Avoid gold color when it comes to spoons when fishing during sunrise and sunset.


And the third option is jigging swimbaits. Same as with the previously mentioned jigs, many models are available on the market.

Swim jigs actually have a pointed nose and a line tie that is vertical, which enables easy motion up the water column, due to the weight that is towards the bottom part of the jig.

This is the most versatile off all the lures, because anglers can choose among jigworms, weighted soft plastics, or even a lead head. But the one that works the best is the one that mimics real baitfish like minnows.

With a proper motion, this lure will make erratic movement, and they work the best in very clear waters.

Try presenting them over underwater structures for the best effect.

How to Jig for Walleye Ice fishing - Jigging Spoons and Swimbaits

What Color Jig is Best for Walleye Ice Fishing?

When thinking about how to jig for walleye ice fishing and how to make the most of it, you will have to think about the lure color.

Some general rules apply here, which means that high visible and bright colors should be used in murky waters, to increase the lure visibility. That, with the jigging motion and vibrations that the lures produce, will be enough to attract a hungry walleye. Bright colors are also excellent for heavy snow cover.

Also, when the water is murky, your presentations can be a bit more aggressive because the lure is less visible, so you are relying on motion to attract fish a bit more.

When you are fishing in clear water, you can use more natural and less bright colors, otherwise, it could look too suspicious to walleyes. When I say natural, I mean choose the ones that resemble real minnows.

When using metal spoons, you can go with silver ones, because their reflection, together with fluttering, will attract fish. They don’t have to be extremely bright due to the fact that they reflect light. Unfortunately, the reflections won`t work that well in murky waters, and that is the reason why spoons should be used in clear waters only.

What Size Jig is Best for Walleye Ice Fishing?

When trying to decide what size jig for walleye ice fishing is the best, you should think about the water depth too. Heavier ones are more suitable for deeper water.

Anglers use various weights, from 1/5 ounces to 3/8 ounces. Sometimes, anglers can use even lighter ones, like 1/8 or 1/16 ounces, but those are for special situations only.

Heavier ones are great for depths over 20 ft. If used in shallow water, their movement will not be optimal. The same goes for light ones on greater depths, because they will not sink as well and you will not get the proper feedback from the lure.

Heavier ones cycle faster, and can be used for very active fish. Unfortunately, you will have to try a few options to see which one works best in your location.

Some models are produced in different weights as well as the size. So, anglers can choose the lure length as well as the weigh. Most often, the length goes from 1 to 3 inches. Larger ones are suitable for larger fish and greater depths.

If you are a beginner, ice fishing in some regular conditions, on depths up to 20 feet, use medium size jigs, about 1/5 or 1/4 ounces.

How to Jig for Walleye Ice fishing - Best Size and Color

What is the Best Time to Jig for Walleye Ice Fishing?

Same as many other fish species, walleyes have activity periods through out the day. This greatly affects your fishing success.

Dusk and dawn are great times, because walleyes are going to feed actively and due to some natural light, you will have a decent visibility too. This time is also excellent for beginners to try ice fishing.

During the day, walleyes won’t be very active. But, during night, it is a different story.

Walleyes tend to feed when its completely dark, so you can fish for them the whole night. However, this may be a bit dangerous for those who do not have previous ice fishing experience.

Glowing jigs and rattle spoons are an excellent choice for that. At night, you can make a bit more erratic motion to present your bait more efficiently. Vibrations can travel far away, and walleye can sense your lure before it sees it.

Can you Put Minnows [Live Bait] on a Jig for Walleye Ice Fishing?

Using live bait has many advantages.

First of all, the predatory fish feed on it on a daily basis, and won’t be reluctant to bite. Secondly, no matter how good the artificial lure is made, it will never make the same motion or look exactly like the real fish.

Of course, there is a downside too, and that is that hooking live fish can be tricky for beginners. And, in some locations, using live bait is against the law.

Using live minnows for ice fishing is done by many anglers ...

If using a jig and a live minnow, the best way is to hook it through the back and to lower it near the bottom. Your movement has to be much calmer and not so erratic as it would be when using artificial lures.

The goal is not to lose a minnow and not to kill it very fast. Also, live minnow will try to swim away and it will make necessary motion to attract walleyes. The downside is that it may fall off the hook.

Some anglers don’t like to use live ones, and when ice fishing, they choose the frozen minnows. They can be hooked through the lip, very deep to make it very firm. Unlike with live ones, you don’t have to be very gentle. Jigging motion will wiggle the dead minnow and attract walleyes.

Use larger minnows and heavier weights for active and large fish. Downsize if the walleyes are less active.

Some of you may ask why not hooking live minnows through the lip?

There are two reasons for that. First one is that if you hook it too deep to make it strong, you will kill it. If hooked near the lip, it will be unstable and fall off. Another reason is that vertical position if live fish is not very natural looking. This is one of the reasons why previously mentioned horizonal jigs sometimes work better than the other options.

How to Jig for Walleye Ice Fishing? [Short Tips and Dangers]

I already briefly mentioned some basics, but here I am going to list you a few more tips, together with important safety precautions.


• When using spoons, rhythm is the key. Make erratic movement, then slow down. There is no need to constantly move it at a high pace.
Use maps to find structural depth transitions.
Drill multiple holes in a zig-zag pattern. Drill a few over the shallower part, a few on the transition, and a few in deeper.
• When using spoons, jig them 1-3 ft off the bottom.
Use live minnows during low-oxygen, mid-winter conditions.
• When presenting your jigs, start gently and slowly make progress to more aggressive presentations.
• If there is no action, switch holes. If that doesn’t work, change the lure, and downsize a bit.
Use an ice fishing fish finder, if you have one or learn how to find fish.


• Use proper ice fishing equipment, especially the clothes (float suit).
• Be careful if using tents and indoor heaters.
• Always mark the holes to prevent falling through, especially if you are fishing in a crowded area.
Use maps if you are fishing in the wilderness.
Never go alone, or if you have to, inform a friend about your intentions.


Catching a walleye under ice can be fun and adventurous, but it can also be a nightmare if you are using the wrong lures.

It is important to choose the right color, to match the water clarity, and to know what lures work better in murky/clear water.

Even beginners can be successful if they follow these tips on how to jig for walleye ice fishing.

And make sure to drill holes over structures, where walleyes spend a lot of time!

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