Crankbaits are undeniably deadly weapons for walleye fishing, and many factors merit careful consideration when selecting the best of the best. For the purposes of this piece, we’ll focus on deep-bodied, lipped baits (as opposed to slender minnowbaits, a story we’ll save for another day). Such designs excel at imitating shad, bluegills, and other stout-profiled prey, but also trigger strikes from ’eyes focused on perch, bullheads, and more svelte baitfish.
While literally dozens of cranks are worthy of scrutiny for the Top 10 list, we wanted to include baits that shine in a variety of applications, so you can match top picks for various presentations.
Along with these recommendations, keep in mind In-Fisherman’s golden rule of crankbait selection as you choose baits for your own personal walleye fishing adventures. Focus on key characteristics, in order of importance. First, get the depth right or everything else is moot. Next, in order, the bait must work at the right speed and retrieve (or trolling) cadence, offer the right action, and exhibit the proper profile and color-pattern combination.
- A versatile utility player, the Hornet can be idled along slow and steady, for a subtle shaking action, or fast-tracked for wild, erratic thumping. Either way, the bait’s near-bulletproof, high-density foam body stands up to plenty of hard hits from hungry ’eyes. Of the four sizes, the 1¾-inch #4 is a favorite. The floating option is great for trolling—whether pounding bottom in three feet of water on a short lead behind a planer board, or when you need to dredge the depths across a summer mudflat. The sinking version, meanwhile, is perfect for snap-pause casting cadences, and for counting down to deep structure. salmofishing.com