It swims, hops, wiggles, sinks, snaps, and twitches to attract fish. A jig does about everything except jump tall buildings and fly. A vertical presentation is only one of your choices to catch walleyes-I have many vertical jigging tips for catching walleye. Vertical jigging is a technique where the boat is stationary or moving slowly. Boat control is very important for this method because you must move slowly to stay vertical. Always watch others jig as there are many variations of each presentation. Practice and use what works for you, but always try to match the jig action of the angler who is catching the most fish. Just like you change colors if your buddy is catching them on red. I have found that I cannot imitate everybody’s jigging action no matter how hard I try. Some days you look like the magician and some days you look like a clown.
Below is a list of some of my vertical jigging tips for catching walleye.
Lift and drop
Combinations of the above
Lift and drop is the most common presentation. You lift the jig a few inches or a few feet and drop the jig to the bottom. Walleyes often pick up the jig as it drops and you will feel the walleye as you lift the jig. When you drop the jig, you can keep slight tension on the line by dropping your rod tip as the jig falls. This way you can see the bite by watching the line as if the jig does not seem to reach the bottom it is in a walleyes mouth. This will also slow down the drop. Walleyes prefer both fast and slow drops.
The jig can be suspended off the bottom and held motionless or twitched. Your bite can often be more aggressive with this method. Jigs can be left on the bottom and dragged as you move slowly. When dragging a jig try to add other actions episodically to entice a bite or just wait for a walleye to pick it up.
Vertical snap jigging is very similar to the action used when using a jigging spoon. It I s also like lift and drop only the speed of the lift is much faster. The jig still drops freely. You will get your most aggressive bites with this presentation.
I recommend trying each method while fishing as the success of each presentation will vary from day to day and am not easily predicable. If you haven’t tried some of these presentations, the only way to gain confidence is to catch fish with them. So, practice them when the fish are biting even if it means you might catch less fish that day. I define this as short term pain for long term success.
I prefer high-vis line like Berkley Sensation (color) because it is easier to see your bites if you watch the line.
Jig choices are dependent on what you add to the jig. I prefer a short shank jig for leeches and minnows and a long shank for worms and artificial bait. I have a new choice this year as Northland Tackle has released an extra long shank jig which I will use with artificial bait. This will place the tip of the hook closer to the tail of artificial bait and should work like a stinger hook.
Example 1: Northland Fireball (short shank) and Berkley Gulp leech
Example 2: Northland Gumball (regular shank) and Berkley Power Minnow and Northland Shiner jig (extra long shank) with Berkley Gulp Minnow
Choosing jig size is dependent on the depth of the water and diameter of the line. Thin line has less drag in the water so it allows the jig to stay vertical as the boat moves. Heavier jigs also help you stay vertical. I prefer the lightest jig that I can stay vertical because the walleye can inhale a lighter jig easier. An exception to this rule is when walleyes want a larger presentation. Always remember with walleyes is that there will be exceptions to the rules!
I have two more tips that are important. Practice your jig action in a swimming pool because you can see the actions you apply to the jig. When using somebody’s pool, use artificial bait instead of live bait. If it gets off the hook you might not be invited back when you ask to tune your crankbaits in the future!
Go fishing, the clock is ticking