As temperatures at your favorite fishing spot start to increase, it’s not uncommon for most anglers to make the switch from jigging for walleye, to trolling for them. While jigging can be a very effective way to land big walleye during the spawning month, it’s much easier to find large trophies and bigger groups of suspended fish when you are trolling a variety of rigs and planer boards throughout the summer months.
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What Speed Should You Troll For Walleye? Key Concepts
The best trolling speed for walleye planer boards will depend on a few factors. This can include whether or not you are fishing deeper water, the cover or debris at the bottom, the style of rig or lure you are using, and whether or not you are dealing with aggressive fish.
In most cases, trolling for larger suspended walleye will find your boat in the 2 to 3 mph range. However, for those really large walleyes it’s not bad to push the speeds to 3.5 mph. The higher speed you troll at, the lesser chance you will hook small walleyes as they will be unable to keep the same speeds to catch your lure or bait.
In addition to selecting the right speed for walleye trolling, there are other concepts to keep in mind as well such as:
- Locating the Fish. Before you spend hours trolling crankbaits through the water, it’s important to be sure you know where the fish are hiding. Use a fish finder to locate small schools of bait fish that walleye might target, or pinpoint certain underwater terrain where walleye might like to hide.
- Cover More Water. When trolling for walleyes, it’s important to spread out your fishing spot as much as possible. Instead of staying in one small area, take advantage of a much larger area to lure in that next big trophy and catch the bigger walleyes in the lake.
- Move in an S Pattern. Going in a straight line is fine, but following natural contours of the bottom of the lake is even better to catch walleye. If you can’t follow the contours exactly, slowly move your boat in an S pattern. This will help you cover more ground in less time to find where fish are biting.
Trolling Speeds for Walleye By Season
Spring Walleye Trolling Speed
During the spring, when the water temperature is still in the low 40’s Fahrenheit, you will want to keep your boat trolling speed for walleyes under 1 mph. Speeds of around 0.7 to 0.8 mph are a very good choice as fish are still lethargic and reluctant to spend a lot of energy chasing your bait or lure.
While these low boat speeds may not seem worth it, they can still be very useful for luring larger and less active walleyes out of cover. Your planer boards will still be moving through the water, albeit slowly, and this “fleeing” motion will trigger the feeding response needed for catching walleye.
Summer Walleye Trolling Speed
As the water temperatures warm up and bigger fish become fully active in both deep and shallow water, their hunger will also increase. During this time they will aggressively chase and strike any bait or lure they can get close to.
Throughout the early summer, you can heavily increase your boat trolling speeds up to 2.5 mph. This should be done gradually over the weeks or months from cold spring fishing. At these speeds, large walleye will be the fish most likely to catch up to your bait.
It’s not uncommon for some very large and highly active walleye to be able to catch your bait at speeds of 3.5 mph, though most anglers will stay in the 2.2 to 2.5 mph range. The only caveat here is if you are fishing with large live bait rigs. In this case, it will be best to keep your speeds around 1.2 mph as anything too much faster has the potential to tear the bait off the hook leaving you with a useless walleye fishing rig.
Fall Walleye Trolling Speed
Early fall trolling speeds should be similar to the speeds you used throughout the summer months, with 2.2 mph being the norm. However as the season continues to cool the water temperatures down, your lure trolling speed will have to drop as well.
Mid-fall and late fall speeds should range from 1.3 to 1.5 mph. As water temperatures drop into the 40’s Fahrenheit, you should be trolling at no more than 1.0 mph. During this time, fish will be slowing down and preparing for their winter lethargy so they won’t be as willing to burn calories chasing your lures.
Walleye Trolling Speed for Different Lure Types
Probably one of the more common lure types to use when trolling for walleye, crankbaits can be extremely effective for catching aggressive walleye. Most anglers will use the Rapala or Salmo crankbaits regardless of the type of water they are fishing for walleye in.
Getting success when using crankbaits will require you to use a fish finder in order to determine the best depth around your boat. Crankbaits can work in a range of different depths, but for small bill crankbaits and shallow diver crankbaits you will want to keep them at depths of less than 8 feet. For deep running crankbaits, you can go to at least 15 feet or more to reach those big walleye holding in deeper cover.
When trolling for walleye with crankbaits, a slow speed of 1.3 to 1.5 mph is a good starting point. If you’re noticing fish to be very aggressive and fast, and are pulling in a lot of smaller walleye, you can increase the speed to 2 mph in order to single out the larger fish with crankbaits.
Spinners & Spoons
Both spinner rigs and trolling spoons are very versatile when it comes to the depth they can be fished at. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see anglers using spinners and spoons for the much deeper water ranging from 30 to 50 feet or more.
These lures are great for extremely fast trolling open water++, and it’s not unusual to see them successfully catch fish that are actively feeding when being moved at speeds of up to 3.5 mph. These lures are not meant to be moved slowly, so anything less than about 2 mph will not get the results you are hoping for.
If you’re just starting out and getting a feel for the water and the lure, you can start with a speed of around 2.0 to 2.5 mph and ramp it up to 3.5 mph if the fish are showing eagerness to strike and a willingness to give chase.
Trolling with a crawler harness will need a bit more finesse than previous methods. Since these harnesses are somewhat larger and more delicate when it comes to keeping your live nightcrawlers on the hook, a trolling speed of 0.5 to 1.5 mph is the sweet spot for getting more bites.
Many anglers will use a crawler harness when trying to pinpoint the location of active fish. This rig is a great way to cover large amounts of water while also delivering a massive meal right down to the water column where walleye commonly suspend.
While crawler harnesses need to be moved much slower than other lures, they can be very versatile when it comes to water depth. You’ll be able to haul in big walleye whether you fish this harness in 8 feet of water or 40 feet water depth.
Final Thoughts on the Best Trolling Speed for Walleye
Walleyes are active and aggressive throughout the summer months along weed edges and heavy cover of various water depths, and make an extremely enjoyable fish to land when trolling. They don’t hesitate to take a wide range of crankbait or lures from almost any rig you choose to toss in the water as long as it gets within their strike zone.
Trolling speeds can vary from 0.5 to 3.5 mph depending on the season and type of bait you are using. One of the biggest benefits to faster trolling speed is that you reduce the amount of smaller fish you catch. At higher speeds, only the larger fish can keep up with your moving bait.
If you’re targeting big walleye and want to land that next world record fish, try to increase your trolling speeds slowly until you find the sweet spot where fish will still strike without exerting too much energy. You can increase your speed slowly by about 0.1 or 0.2 mph by using the speed control on your trolling motor.
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The magic speed for walleye is somewhere between 1.8 to 3.5 miles per hour, about the pace of a fast walk or slow jog. The best trolling speed varies widely based on lure type and water temperature. Rod placement is another important aspect of trolling that a lot of anglers neglect.How fast should you go when trolling for walleye? ›
As a general rule of thumb, many anglers prefer to troll for walleye at a speed of around 1.5 to 2.5 miles per hour. However, this can vary depending on the conditions. If the water is colder, you may want to troll at a slower speed, closer to 1 mile per hour.How deep do you troll for walleye? ›
"Walleyes can be in 15 to 35 feet of water," he says. "Don't just put your lines out and start trolling. Spend time looking for pods of baitfish on sonar. The bait is typically suspended, and active walleyes typically make upward forays to feed on them.How fast do you troll for walleye with crawler harnesses? ›
Savvy walleye anglers fish these rigs by trolling just fast enough to get the blade rotating on the harness. A trolling speed of 1.2 to 1.5 MPH is about perfect for structure trolling with Hammer Time Walleye Spinners.Is 3 mph too fast for trolling? ›
The best trolling speed depends on several factors including the type of fish, water conditions and lure choice. In general, trolling speeds between 1.5 and 2.5 mph, as measured by GPS, are a good starting place for most species like walleye, trout and salmon.What lb line is best for walleye trolling? ›
For most walleye trolling applications 10 to 14 pound test monofilament line is the ideal choice. Lines of this pound test rating are more than strong enough to handle even big walleye, yet thin enough to enable crankbaits and other popular trolling lures to reach substantial depths.What is the secret to catching walleye? ›
A great way to catch walleyes is drift fishing with live bait. Use a combination of the wind and your electric trolling motor to get the correct speed. If you drift too fast, your bait will lift too high and out of the fish's feeding range.What is the best bait for trolling for walleye? ›
Trolling crankbaits is a preferred method for catching walleyes across the country. Crankbaits are undoubtedly one of the best lures for walleye on the planet and can be trolled in many different ways. You can use diving baits and fish them off monofilament.What are some tricks to catching walleye? ›
Trolling spoons are important lures for catching suspending walleye oriented around open-water baitfish on the Great Lakes and other water bodies. Spinners tipped with scented soft-baits are also important trolling baits for walleye. Jigging hard baits are also some of the best lures for catching walleye.Do bigger walleye stay in deeper water? ›
Colby also says that larger female walleyes quickly vacate spawning areas in search of a deep-water refuge. They head for deeper regions, especially if soft-rayed forage like ciscoes and smelt are available. It isn't that they just quit feeding. Younger, smaller walleyes, both male and female, often forage on perch.
There are three most popular rigs when targeting walleye, which are spinner Worm Harnes, and slip bobber rig, and jig rigs. Each has its purpose and place, allowing an anger, to cover almost any water.How far do you have to troll lures behind a boat? ›
Proper distance for most boats will be anywhere from 20 feet to 150 feet behind your boat. Whether you have inboard diesel or outboard gas engines, your power dictates the distance you troll your baits and lures.Should I use a leader when trolling for walleye? ›
For walleye per se, you do not need to use a steel leader at all, as they won't be able to bite through your mainline. However, if the water you are fishing in contains pike or muskies, you can use a 10-15lb fluorocarbon leader instead of steel, in order to prevent bite-offs.What is the best trolling speed? ›
Typical trolling speeds vary from 2.4 to four kph (1.5 to 2.5 mph) for trout, and 1.9 to 2.9 kph (1.2 to 1.8 mph) for kokanee. However, when trolling plugs or bucktail lures, you can speed up to as much as 5.6 kph (3.5 mph).What is the ideal trolling speed? ›
In general, trolling speeds between 1.5 and 2.5 mph, as measured by GPS, are a good starting place for most species like walleye, trout and salmon.How fast to troll for walleye in 50 degree water? ›
The trick is to use a precise trolling speed between 1.2 to 2 mph; slow speeds are matched to cold water and faster speeds are used when water temperatures rise above 60 degrees or when pulling stick baits.How fast should you troll a boat? ›
Baits and lures are typically trolled at speeds up to 9 knots (17 km/h), though speeds up to 15 knots (28 km/h) can be used, particularly when boats are travelling to different fishing areas.How long does it take a walleye to get to 15 inches? ›
The males reach maturity in two or three years, when they are 12 to 13.5 inches long; females mature in four to five years, at lengths of 15 to 17 inches (Fig. 2). On average, walleyes live to be about seven years old, but older specimens have been caught.