Reeling in Success: A Guide on How to Fish for Northern Pike and Walleye

How to Fish for Northern Pike and Walleye: A Complete Guide

Fishing is a popular outdoor activity enjoyed by millions of people around the world. If you’re looking to embark on an exciting fishing adventure, targeting northern pike and walleye can provide an exhilarating experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about catching these prized freshwater fish species.

The Basics: Understanding Northern Pike and Walleye

Prior to hitting the water, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of both northern pike and walleye. These two species possess unique traits that set them apart:

Northern Pike:

  • Known for their aggressive nature, northern pike are formidable predators.
  • They have long bodies with greenish or yellowish coloration.
  • Northern pike thrive in various habitats such as lakes, rivers, and weed beds.
  • Their sharp teeth make them skilled hunters able to ambush prey with precision.


  • Walleyes are known for their distinctive large eyes which provide excellent low-light vision capabilities.
  • Ambush predators themselves, they tend to inhabit rocky areas or structures like submerged logs or drop-offs in lakes and rivers.
  • Their golden-brown coloration helps blend into their surroundings effectively when hunting prey during dusk or dawn periods.

Gearing Up: Essential Equipment for Pursuing Northern Pike And Walleye

To maximize your chances of success while fishing for northern pike and walleye, it’s crucial to equip yourself with the right gear. Here are some essential items to include in your fishing arsenal:

Fishing Rods and Reels:

  • For northern pike, a medium-heavy or heavy spinning rod paired with a sturdy reel is recommended.
  • Walleye, on the other hand, typically require lighter tackle such as light to medium-light spinning rods for optimal sensitivity.

Fishing Line:

Selecting an appropriate fishing line is vital. For northern pike, opt for a braided line with strong tensile strength to handle their aggressive strikes and sharp teeth. When targeting walleye, consider using fluorocarbon lines that provide better invisibility in clear water conditions.

Terminal Tackle:

    Hooks: Use larger-sized hooks (around size 1/0 to 3/0) when pursuing northern pike while smaller sizes (around size #2 or #4) work well for walleye.
    Sinkers/Swivels: Add split shot sinkers or barrel swivels between your mainline and leader to ensure proper bait presentation.
    Jigs/Jigheads: Jigs are versatile lures effective for both species. Choose jigheads with varying weights based on depth and current conditions.

Tactics and Techniques: Catching Northern Pike And Walleye

Catching these elusive fish requires employing specific strategies tailored to each species’ behavior. Here are some proven tactics you can implement on your next fishing trip:

Catching Northern Pike:

  1. Lure Selection:

    For northern pike, opt for large-sized lures such as spoons, spinnerbaits, or swimbaits. Their predatory instincts are triggered by these flashy and noisy offerings.

  2. Location:

    Fish in weedy areas, near drop-offs, or around submerged structures where northern pike often lurk while waiting to ambush their prey.

  3. Presentation Techniques:

    Experiment with different retrieval speeds and patterns to mimic wounded prey. Additionally, jerking the lure erratically can trigger their aggressive strikes.

Catching Walleye:

  1. Bait Selection:

    Jigs tipped with live bait like minnows or nightcrawlers are highly effective in enticing walleye. Soft plastic baits resembling worms or minnows can also yield excellent results.

  2. Fishing Depth:

    Walleyes tend to stay close to the bottom during daylight hours. Therefore, try jigging at various depths until you find the right zone where they are actively feeding.

    Presentation Techniques:

      Trolling: Using a trolling motor allows you to cover more water efficiently and increases your chances of locating active fish.

    Jigging:Jigging involves imparting subtle movements on your line by gently lifting and dropping your rod tip rhythmically. This technique entices wary walleye into striking when other methods fail.