Brian Brosdahl’s 4 Great Live-Bait Tactics to Catch Walleye (video)

News & Tips: Brian Brosdahl’s 4 Great Live-Bait Tactics to Catch Walleye (video)...

According to multi-species Minnesota fishing guide, Brian “Bro” Brosdahl ( a live minnow on a jig, a float set-up, or a bait rig will catch walleye when nothing else will. Traditional tactics? You betcha. But, where things get interesting in Brosdahl’s boat is the way he uses cutting-edge boat positioning, marine electronics such as GPS, and sonar technology to make these three traditional presentations even more deadly. Here’s a rundown of four of his favorite walleye-catching tactics. 

1 Jog a Fishing Jig

minn kota ulterra troll motor
Minn Kota Ulterra Bow Mount Bluetooth Trolling Motor

Here’s the scenario. Walleye are stacked on the windward side of a point. They’re fickle and need coaxing. Success becomes a balancing act between precise boat control and accurate jigging. Back in the day, this could be a challenge. Not anymore thanks to the Spot-Lock feature on his Minn Kota Ulterra bow mount trolling motor. A push of a button and Bro’s Ranger is locked on top of the point’s shelf courtesy of the GPS electric anchor feature. Then, after vertically jigging and pitching the immediate area, Brosdahl repositions his boat 10 to 20 feet using the Spot-Lock Jog feature.

“With the new jog feature, instead of having to take spot lock off, you hit jog and jog your way down the whole food shelf while pitching,” Brosdahl said. “Now you can fish a whole wind-ward side of a point more efficiently and spend less time fussing over boat position.”

1 arrow pointExtra Tip: Brosdahl prefers a long-shank jig for double-hooking a minnow over 2.5 inches, but in snaggy terrain he prefers lip-hooking a minnow on a short-shank jig, like Northland’s Fire-Ball Jig. “A short shank will get half the snags of a long shank,” Brosdahl said.


1 arrow pointTip Video: Watch Brosdahl double-hook a minnow here.


2. Use a Float

Fishing a slip float to slide a jig through prime walleye habitat is another strategy of the ace fishing guide. A float distances the bait from the boat, a wise play when stalking fussy walleye in shallow or clear water. The bobber also delivers a slower presentation.

st croix spinning rod
St. Croix Legend Elite Spinning Rod

“When you pitch a jig in and you bring it back, you get to the boat faster than if you have that same weight jig under a bobber,” said Brosdahl, who favours a St. Croix 6’10” Legend Elite spinning rod when casting cork.

A float’s slower approach can be just the ticket to tease bites from fickle post-spawners or cranky summertime ‘eyes after a cold front. Equally important is drifting the bobber over walleye-occupied territory.

1 arrow pointExtra Tip: “If I pull up to a point, I’m not casting on the point, I’m casting along the breakline and retrieving it at that depth. That’s how you use a bobber…. Identify what depth the fish are using [and] to not have wasted space in a cast,” Brosdahl said.


3. Try Slip-Dragging

Brosdahl also slip-drags a fishing float to maximize the time his jig’s in the strike zone. Slip-dragging is when an angler uses the wind to push a float and jig through prime walleye water. Ditto when a bobber is slowly pulled behind the boat using the trolling motor.

slip bouncer2
Northland Fishing Tackle Rock Runner Slip Bounce

Slip-dragging’s a versatile tactic. Brosdahl uses it to catch walleye relating to a bar, inside turn, beside weed point, food shelf off a hump or island, a clam bed or flat on a river, and bottom covered with short grass.

1 arrow pointExtra Tip: Brosdahl attaches a clip-on a fish finder to the jig to quickly find bottom. Then sets the bobber stop so the jig hovers right in a walleye’s strike zone just off bottom.


4. Rig a Big One

Big minnows catch big walleye. While jigs and floats work for small to medium minnows, Brosdahl uses a bait rig for 4 to 8 inch minnows. The rig’s deadly in clear water and during tough conditions.

Brosdahl rigs with 10-pound braid. Sliding on the string is a Northland Rock Runner Slip Bouncer and a bead. The braid is then tied to a swivel connected to 6 to 8 feet of 8- or 10-pound monofilament and a size 2 octopus hook for a big minnow.

humminbird fishfinder
Humminbird Helix 10 G2N GPS Fishfinder and Chartplotter

Again Brosdahl relies on his electric trolling motor to position the presentation with precision. Options abound, but common practices include setting the trolling motor to follow a contour displayed on his Humminbird Helix 10 G2N GPS Fishfinder and Chartplotter or trace an iTrack. Once in position, the rig’s lowered to bottom.

“You feel that little Rock Runner touch, then you bring it up,” Brosdahl said. “It’s okay if the sinker’s a foot or two feet off the bottom, ‘cause your bait is in prime real estate.”

1 arrow pointExtra Tip: When he feels a fish, Brosdahl opens the bail and feeds line. His preferred approach is giving a fish 10 seconds with the bait, then executing a light-pull test with the bail open. This teases walleye and prompts them to take the entire minnow.

Watch Brosdahl double-hook a minnow here.

Try Brosdahl’s four live-bait strategies and you can bet on putting more walleye in the boat this season.