Lipless cranks aren’t just primary swimming lures for walleye, they also work well to bring them in, at which point the fish might be better triggered with other options. I commonly fished the Rippin’ Rap last season in conjunction with a deadstick set nearby. It’s a tactic little different than how I’ve long fished, using either spoons or a Jigging Rap as my primary triggering and attracting lure, also in conjunction with dead sets. Primary dead options include either rods set on buckets with the line tightlined to a minnow anchored in reverse on a light leadhead jig; or the same livebait-and-lure-and-rod option used in conjunction with a HT Rigger setup.
I spend a lot of time on the water, under every weather condition, with folks whose fishing skills vary from novice to veteran. It’s the perfect opportunity to experiment. I’m convinced that swimming lures like the Jigging Rapala and Nils Master Jigging Shad are in many situations as good as standard presentations like jigs, rigs, and crankbaits. When walleyes are concentrated in water deeper than about 10 to 12 feet, swimming lures often are the best presentation choice.
Horizontal presentations often remain the best choices when walleyes are scattered across a large flat. Swimming lures shine when walleyes are clustered like grapes ready to be picked. Grouped walleyes usually relate to breaks—a pile of boulders, a portion of drop-off edge, a dent in a weededge, a specific water temperature or light-penetration zone. It doesn’t matter why the fish are concentrated, only that you’ve found them relating to a well defined chunk of aquatic turf.
In Rivers & More
Swimming lures are outstanding river tools. Because of their size, weight, and profile (overall bulk), they drop quickly to the bottom where current is minimized and where walleyes spend most of their time. Size, weight, and profile also help maintain a perpendicular presentation—less need to open the bail and let out more line to stay in contact with the bottom, so the bait doesn’t drift downstream and snag. That means you spend more time fishing and catching and less time rigging.