Autumn is a great time to target walleye. Generally speaking, fish are active and big ones are prowling and eager to eat. I have many top tactics for this time of year, one of which is casting a 5-inch swimbait.
There are lots of swimbaits on the market. Fall is the time to use a bait with a bulky profile. This applies to both a shad-style lure rigged on a jig head, like a Berkley Flat Back Shad and stout jig head, and an internally weighted swimbait. Another must-have feature in a bait is a broad tail. It's important it puts out plenty of action and vibration that will pique the interest of prowling walleye.
I cast baits between 3/8- to 1-ounces in autumn — lighter for shallow terrain; heavier for deeper structures. Fall swimbait tactics revolve around covering water to contact active fish and using a hefty bait increases casting distance. A heavy bait sinks rapidly on slack line. This action mimics a panicking baitfish. The rapid decent keeps the bait's tail flapping. Both movements trigger bites from walleye.
Tools of the Trade
I prefer using spinning rods when fishing cold water, holding them by the fore-grip to avoid touching metal helps keep fingers toasty. This grip also delivers superior leverage when wrestling trophy walleye. The specific stick I use is a 7'1" G. Loomis GL2 853. This rod sports a good-sized foregrip and its medium-heavy blank is perfect for tossing hefty swimbaits. A 2500-series spinning reel, 30-pound-test superline, and a 15- to 20-pound test 100 percent fluorocarbon leader round out my swimbait combo.
There are few places you can go wrong casting a swimbait for walleye in autumn. Deep, outside weed edges, long rocky points, mid-lake reefs, and island complexes are a few of my favorites. These spots are good any day, but are phenomenal when pounded by waves.
Work it, Baby
Swimbaits catch fish on straight retrieves as well as irregular ones, such as lift-fall-drop or burn-and-kill approaches. Try different methods and let the walleye tell you the best cadence. Occasionally twitching the rod is a great move to stimulate a strike.
Cast swimbaits this fall. They're one of the best ways to boat giant walleye before ice-up.