4 Lipless Crankbait Tips for Ice Fishing Walleyes

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Match the hatch has never been truer than in ice fishing for walleyes, where walleyes and yellow perch exhibit an ironclad predator-prey relationship. As famed fishing guide Tony Roach explains, you need to match your lipless crankbaits both in size and color to young of the year perch to consistently catch walleyes on legendary fisheries such as Minnesota’s Lake Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, Winnibigoshish, and Lake of the woods.

While conventional rattling lipless crankbaits produce their share of walleyes, Roach explains why he often favors the more subtle Rapala Slab Rap. Here are Roach’s 4 tips for choosing tackle and equipment when fishing lipless crankbaits through the ice.

  1. Match lipless crankbait size and color to the primary forage. He stresses that the size match is often more important than color, so consider stocking up on a range of sizes in your confidence bait before going nuts on colors.
  2. Consider fishing silent lipless crankbaits (no rattles) with a slow fall rate. This is particularly effective in shallow water, where walleyes tend to be spookier. A slower fall rate gives walleyes more time to react to the bait in the strike zone. This can make a difference for sluggish walleyes in icy water.
  3. Use a longer rod with a strong backbone. A longer rod is a much more efficient tool for “hole hopping” outside. Length, coupled with a solid backbone, assist in working the bait and delivering solid hooksets.
  4. Use a low stretch monofilament line. While braid has benefits, it’s also prone to freezing up in sub-zero temperatures. Monofilament, on the other hand, is resistant to freezing. Roach prefers a low stretch monofilament, which in conjunction with a longer rod, helps drive hooks home in deep water and tames scrappy walleyes.


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