Walleye are one of America’s most popular game fish, but also one that is fairly sensitive, as it is known for super delicate bites. That’s why choosing the right line and the right pound test can make all the difference between failure and success when fishing for eyes.
When spinning or jigging for walleye, your best choice of line is a 12-25lb braid. For trolling and slip bobber rigs, using a 6-14lb monofilament mainline is recommended.
Keep reading this article to get more valuable tips and tackle recommendations that will improve your walleye fishing.
What Type of Line Is Best for Walleye?
The type of line you should be using for your walleye fishing depends entirely on your intended fishing method. Braid is definitely best for lures and jigs, while mono is superior for trolling and fishing with live bait on a slip bobber rig.
In order to understand this slight, but highly crucial difference, you must know the lines’ individual features. It may not seem very important, but using the wrong line can potentially cost you a lot of fish!
So let’s take a closer look at both braid and mono and find out when you should use one or the other.
When Should You Use Braid?
Braid is, by far, the best choice of mainline when it comes to lures and jigs, there’s really no debating that!
When I was younger, I avoided using braid and I think many of you out there do the same. It’s totally different from mono and it definitely takes some time to get used to. But trust me, once you’ve used braid for a while and caught a few fish with it, you’ll never want to go back!
Braid does not stretch at all, which means that it has the ability to give you an unbelievably fine-tuned bite detection and lure feeling. This is especially advantageous for walleye, as they can be super-sensitive and finicky.
Additionally, modern braided lines have really high abrasion resistance and a phenomenal strength, which comes in more than handy in snaggy and weedy areas.
When Should You Use Mono?
For trolling and live bait rigs on the slip bobber, a monofilament mainline is definitely the way to go!
Unlike braid, mono does stretch, which is exactly the feature you need when trolling, or when fishing with live baits for eyes.
For one thing, a mono mainline will give your live baitfish or trolled crankbaits a much more natural presentation as it tends to “work” much more with your bait.
For another thing, the extra flexibility you get with mono is far more forgiving than braid when it comes to quick, aggressive strikes or slashes, giving you a better chance of setting the hook.
The third advantage of mono is that it will slide through your slip bobber so much quicker and smoother than braid does. I use slip bobber rigs a lot and really appreciate this fact, as it allows my bait to get to the intended fishing depth as quickly as possible.
Best Lines for Walleye Fishing
Top Pick (Braid): KastKing Super Power Silky8
The Kast King SuperPower is undoubtedly one of America’s most popular braided mainlines! It offers all the features of a top-quality line at a super affordable price.
This braid is made for jigging walleye and won’t let you down when it comes to sensitivity and bite detection. It works really great for all other lure types as well!
Additionally, it has an unbelievable line strength. I know anglers who fish with this braid an entire season and never have a single break-off! And those guys fish over some pretty sharp stones and mussels.
Here are some more cons of this awesome line:
- Extremely low memory
- Very easy and smooth casting
- Great for longer distances
- Impressivly small diameter to pound test ratio
- Great hooksetting ability
And here’s the one con about the Kast King SuperPower:
- The line’s color can fade after a while. This doesn’t impact your fishing at all, but it can leave stains on your fingers when handling the line. Though, this is really only a mild annoyance, I find.
Top Pick (Mono): Berkley Trilene XT Monofilament
When it comes to monofilament line, Berkley’s got you covered! Their Trilene XT is a classic mono mainline that is used by thousands and thousands of predator anglers all over the world.
This mono line is the perfect pick for trolling and slip bobber rigs in both shallow and deep water.
When trolling for walleye, you’ll want a line that offers just the right amount of stretch; enough so that it can turn a careful bite into a hook-up, and not too much so that your trolled crankbaits or live bait can keep its natural movement and action.
I’ve also found that mono is the best option when fishing with lively baitfish, as it naturally is a little stiffer than braid and hence does not allow the baitfish to get tangled, both when casting out and in the water.
It also glides through slip bobbers extremely smoothly and will get your bait down to the right depth in no time at all.
Here are a few more pros of the Berkley Trilene XT:
- Ultra strong line
- Surprisingly high abrasion resistance (can be fished over heavy cover and sharp snags)
- Easy to tie and great knot strength
- Impacable bait and lure presentation
- Awesome durability
Only one con for this mono line:
- Hard to spool onto the reel, as it doesn’t always perfectly align itself. This is however easily fixed by putting the spool into warm water prior to spooling it onto your reel!
Runner-Up (Braid): Power Pro Spectra
The Power Pro Spectra is a well-known braid that is trusted and fished by many walleye anglers in North America. It’s another great choice that can improve your jigging and spinning for eyes considerably.
The Power Pro is best suited for shallower water and shorter casting distances. I use the Power Pro for my own jigging and drop-shotting and can tell you that it is an absolute dream in such locations!
It has a phenomenal sensitivity to it that will allow you to detect even the most careful of bites. So, even on days when the walleye are careful and picky, fishing with the Power Pro can still make you reach that bag limit.
Here are some other pros of the Power Pro Spectra:
- Awesome abrasion resistance
- High strength to diameter ratio
- Well priced
- Stealthy dark-green color
- Not great for longer distances
- Not up to really sharp features (zebra mussels)
If you’re flipping or jigging for shallow water walleye, then this is definitely the right braid for you!
Runner-Up (Mono): KastKing World’s Premium Monofilament
The KastKing World’s Premium Monofilament is yet another really solid mono mainline for walleye fishing and a good budget pick that you can trust!
It has surprisingly low memory, for being a monofilament line, which makes it a really good trolling alternative if you’re on a somewhat tight budget.
Another great plus of the KastKing is its transparency and invisibility underwater. It almost acts like a fluorocarbon line!
Here are some more pros of the KastKing World’s Premium Mono:
- Very abrasion resistant for mono
- Low absorbtion (less limpness and faster retrieval)
- Very affordable
- Not as durable as the Berkley Trilene XT, which means that you will have to respool more often
- Not the best knot strength
All in all, a good pick for beginners or anglers with a limited budget.
What Pound Test Should You Use for Walleye?
Now that you know when to use braid or mono, it’s time to talk line strength!
The pound test doesn’t depend all that much on the fish’s size, as walleye don’t grow to real monster sizes. Instead, it’s the features of the water that matter most here.
In open and deep water without any snags, you can and should use a lower pound test, while shallower water that is weedy or snaggy will demand a stronger line.
For mono, you can fish anything between 6 and 14lb. A 6 to 8lb test will manage most walleye in open water, but if you’re a beginner who doesn’t have much experience with big and angry eyes, you can up that strength to 10lb without worry!
Make sure to stick to a 12 to 14lb test when fishing near snags.
When using braid, you can choose a line strength between 12 and 25lb. I know, 25lb sounds pretty think, but don’t forget that braid is considerably thinner than mono!
And if you’re jigging close to really heavy vegetation or those dreaded zebra mussels, you want to make sure your line (and leader) is up for the job.
For snag-free waters, a 12-15lb braid will do the job any day of the week!
Are Walleye Line Sensitive?
Especially in clear water conditions, walleye can indeed be fairly line-shy and avoid your tackle if it is all too visible. The same holds true for heavily fished waters. Here, the walleye seem to have learned to avoid lines that are very visible underwater.
This doesn’t mean that you should use super thin lines, though! It merely implies that you have to adapt your tackle to the conditions at hand.
If you are fishing in very clear water and/or under clear skies with a lot of direct sunlight shining onto the water surface, go as thin as possible, but don’t sacrifice too much line strength.
What’s it worth hooking up to a bunch of clear water eyes if you lose them all, right?
Instead, choose line colors that go well with the water you’re targeting (blue, green, transparent, etc).
If your mainline is pretty much invisible underwater, using a thicker diameter suddenly doesn’t matter anymore and you’ll be sure to land even the biggest of walleye!
The same goes for your leader, which brings us to the article’s final section.
Should You Use a Leader for Walleye Fishing?
Generally, it’s never a bad idea to use a leader when fishing for walleye. The best material for eyes is undoubtedly fluorocarbon, mainly due to its incredible invisibility underwater.
There are other aspects of fluoro leaders that make them, by far, the best choice for walleye fishing. If you want to read up on them, make sure to also check out this article on the best fluorocarbon leaders for walleye.
- Walleye Fishing in Clear Water (What Lures and Colors Work Best?)
- Do You Need a Steel Leader for Walleye?
- Best Fishing Line for Northern Pike (Braid and Mono)
Featured image courtesy of Ron Phillipe