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Walleye Fishing in Clear Water (With Lure and Color Tips)

Walleye Fishing in Clear Water (With Lure and Color Tips)

Targeting clear water walleye can be a real challenge as the high visibility often implies careful and finicky fish. But catching walleye in clear water conditions can be a relatively easy task if you know how, where, when, and with what you have to fish. 

Walleye fishing in clear water works best in poorer light conditions and close to underwater structures. Purple, silver, chrome, or white crankbaits, spinner rigs, and jigs are your top picks for this kind of fishing. 

If you want more helpful tips that will improve your clear water fishing skills and catch you more walleye, all you have to do is keep reading! 

How to Fish for Walleye in Clear Water?

z happy angler on his boat holding a nice walleye that he has caught on a trolled spinner rig
(courtesy of Bridger Shoemaker)

It’s no secret that walleye spook relatively easily in clear water conditions. Their keen eyesight allows them to carefully inspect their surroundings and any tackle that’s coming their way. 

That’s why fishing your lures faster rather than slower is essential for clear water walleye!

A somewhat faster-than-usual trolling speed when fishing with crankbaits or spinner rigs is an excellent way to ensure that the fish won’t have too much time to check out your lure. 

Instead, they’ll often choose a more reflex-based hit rather than letting the prey get away. Always use that fact to your advantage! 

If you prefer jigging for walleye, try speed jigging for them, especially over heavy weed. 

Not only will you avoid getting snagged in the weed, but the fast and enticing movements of the jig will also produce a ton of bites! 

Always remember not to give the walleye too much time to inspect your lure! They’ll hit most baits pretty fast coming out of that cover, but only if they can’t figure out what’s in front of them!

Now, let’s take a closer look at the preferred depths and features of clear water walleye.

Where to Fish for Clear Water Walleye?

a Canadian angler on his boat holding a clear water walleye caught near a weed bed
(courtesy of Andre Charron)

As I mentioned above, heavy weeds are a classic hideout for clear water walleye, and you should always hit those areas first when trying to locate the fish. 

If you manage to locate weed beds in slightly deeper water of between 10 to 15 feet, you’re very likely to hit the bullseye! 

The combination of the somewhat darker water and the heavy vegetation offers the walleye the perfect cover. Additionally, weedy areas attract a lot of forage as well. 

Troll your cranks or spinner rigs, or speed jig just on top of those weeds, and you should be able to get bites!

If there’s no vegetation in your water, try to locate other features and structures that could provide shadows and cover for the walleye. 

These can include the following:

  • drop-offs
  • rock piles
  • boulders
  • docks

Basically, anything that casts a shadow and provides cover for the fish. Find those areas, stick to the shadows, and you’ll find the walleye! They just love hanging out there in clear water conditions!

When to Fish for Walleye in Clear Water?

Timing is perhaps the most critical factor when it comes to targeting walleye in clear water! If you fish in low light conditions, meaning early mornings and late afternoons or evenings, you can significantly increase your chances of catching fish!

That’s because the absence of bright daylight usually means less finicky and spooked walleye.

The lower light conditions are yet another provider of cover in clear water, which is something you should always keep in mind when fishing for walleye in such water conditions. And so are certain weather conditions!

Here’s how Strike&Catch’s own walleye expert Andre Charron puts it:

The best tip I can give anyone is to fish in low-light conditions. Rain, clouds, wind, early mornings, late evenings; combine any two or more of those factors, and you will probably be looking at a good walleye bite in clear water!

What Are the Best Colors for Walleye in Clear Water?

I conducted an online survey asking 200 walleye anglers for their favorite lure colors in clear water. More than 50% said that the color purple performs best in such conditions.

Here is the complete result:

Lure ColorVotes
Purple53%
Silver/Chrome37%
White10%

These three colors are pretty natural and subtle ones, which makes perfect sense in this regard!

Clearwater walleye can see both well and far, and hence, what they’ll see most often is their prey.

In most water bodies, walleye prey on fish like smaller perch, suckers, shiners, or shad. And what colors do these prey fish mostly have? Well, either white, silver, red, violet, blue, brown, or black. Bingo!

In other words, these natural and dark colors perfectly match the hatch of most walleye waters.

Success will be imminent if you choose lures that are as natural and close to the real deal as possible!

When fishing in for walleye in clear water, always remember to match the hatch!

What Are the Best Lures for Walleye Fishing in Clear Water?

an image of a walleye under the surface caught on a trolled crankbait
Clear Water Walleye caught on a crankbait (courtesy of Justin Neu)

Crankbaits

You’ll want to fish fast-moving crankbaits that can be trolled at a higher speed. 

The more, faster, and out-of-control they move, the better when fishing for clear water walleye! 

Remember, you do not want the fish to be able to take a good look at your lure. Instead, you want the fish to hit your crank as soon as it spots it!

A fast and wildly moving crankbait can both irritate the fish as well as awaken its predatory instinct in a blink of an eye (literally!), which is precisely the effect you’re looking for here. 

Crankbait lures suitable for clear water walleye fishing include the Strike King Lucky Shad and the classic Rapala Shad Rap. Both of these lures come in very catchy natural colors and can be found on Amazon if you want to check them out more closely. 

Spinner Rigs

Trolling spinner rigs tipped with a minnow, leech, or nightcrawler is an excellent technique for clear water walleye pods located very close to the bottom. 

This method is especially effective when the fish spook easily and crankbaits trolled closer to the boat do not produce any bites. 

If you put on a heavier bottom bouncer of 1.5-2oz, you can troll your spinner rig further away from the boat without sacrificing any lure action. 

This gives the walleye time to regroup, should they spook away from your boat, which is often the case when fishing in shallower areas. 

The combination of natural blade colors and live baits is often deadly for finicky clear water walleye. So make sure you try it out next time you’re on the water!

Amazon’s got a set of colorado blades in natural colors that are just perfect for clear water walleye spinner rigs! Make sure also to take a look at these bottom bouncers, should you need a couple! 

Jigs

a predator angler on his boat holding a really big clear water walleye caught on a jig
(courtesy of Jay Kinchy)

Last but not least, we’ve got to talk about jigs. As mentioned above, speed jigging is often a very effective method when targeting walleye in or close to heavy weeds. 

Try to hit the pockets and the edges of weed beds in deeper water and fish your jig just above the weed in shallower water, and you’ll most likely find the walleye! 

Adjust your jigging speed and rod movements so that your jig just barely touches the weed tops, or lake bottom, ever so slightly! It is that speedy action that makes this method so compelling and irresistible to the fish! 

But even when fishing open and deeper water, speed jigging for clear water walleye is a highly effective method. 

You don’t have to care much about speed or movement here, as there is no risk of getting snagged. Just experiment with speed and rod movement until you get those bites! 

One of the best jigs for speed fishing in the weeds is Northland’s Whistler Jig. It’s got a small propeller blade that effectively prevents the jig from getting snagged in the weed. 

You can also tip it with a small minnow or a nightcrawler. A genuinely deadly lure in clear water conditions! Take a closer look at the Whistler jig on Amazon here

For speed jigging in open water, your best pick would be an Acme Hyper-Glide Minnow. This little lure has unprecedented jigging action and is perfect for speed jigging! 

The faster you jig it, the more life-like it’ll move up and down the bottom! A natural killer for walleye in clear water conditions! You can check out the Acme Hyper-Glide on Amazon here.

Clear Water or Muddy Water: Which Is Better for Walleye?

If I could choose, I’d always go for a slightly stained water body over a totally clear one, simply because walleye are so careful and shy in high-visibility conditions.

Of course, it’s not very often that you can choose between one or the other, which is why you have to adapt your techniques so that you are ready for both scenarios!

The fact is that many walleye lakes in the US and Canada are pretty clear throughout most of the year, which is why I decided to write this article.

I sincerely hope that you’ll find it helpful and that it will help you catch more clear water fish!

And it’s not like catching muddy water walleye is a walk in the park anyway!

Speaking of which, I actually wrote a related article on the very subject of walleye fishing in muddy water that you can check out as well! It’s got plenty of helpful tips and lure recommendations in it as well.

Tight lines!

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Featured image courtesy of Logan Peterson

Walleye Fishing in Muddy Water (With Lure and Color Tips)
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