Walleyes use four primary senses to find food: sight, sound, smell, and vibration signals received via their lateral line. When it comes to selecting the best artificial lure, it only makes sense to use a lure that sends a signal to as many of these food-finding senses as possible. It's why crankbaits are top producers when fished from shore.
Crankbaits are designed to look and swim like baitfish, well enough to fool fish into thinking the plastic or wood bait is food. Cranks also wobble, flash, and vibrate -- this not only attracts fish visually, but the sound, vibration and water displaced by baits as they're retrieved also sends key signals to fish.
Select a specific lure model according to conditions. Extremely shallow water (less than 3 feet deep), or fishing above cover like weed tops, likely requires floating-diving minnow-imitators that run a foot or two deep -- even on a long cast. Classics like the Rapala Floating Minnow, the Rapala Long-Casting Minnow and other minnowbaits and suspending baits are top choices in the shallows.
Long, thin, minnow-suspending models, such as the Smithwick Suspending Rogue, Rapala Husky Jerk, and Storm Suspending ThunderStick, are great choices for shorecasting, because suspenders are heavier than floater-divers and therefore cast farther. At rest, a suspending lure hangs level, neither rising nor sinking, the perfect trigger to convince a following walleye to strike. Neutrally buoyant baits can be worked extremely slowly and kept right in a walleye's face.
Deep-diving or countdown (sinking) crankbaits work well from piers or along shorelines that quickly drop into deep water. Cotton Cordell Walleye Divers, Rapala ShadRaps, the Rapala Deep Husky, and the CC Grappler Shad are among proven producers. Neutrally buoyant deep-diving minnow-imitators, like the Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk or a Smithwick Deep Suspending Rattlin' Rogue, allow you to occasionally pause and let the bait rest motionless to tempt fish into striking. Rapala Countdowns are a good choice for working fish along sloping shorelines, and the heavily weighted baits cast better into the wind.
A long 7- to 8-foot medium-heavy spinning rod, teamed with a large spinning reel spooled to the brim with 8- to 10-pound mono, is a top combo for launching crankbaits a long way. Crankbaits can be retrieved fast, slow, steadily, or erratically, which -- depending on the day -- can be the key to triggering more strikes. In most instances, however, a slow, subtle retrieve interspersed with occasional pauses generally does the trick.
The ample supply of crankbait designs makes it fairly easy to select the proper bait to work the spots you're fishing from shore -- whether in the shallows over weeds, in current below dams, or along a drop-off close to shore. Cranks are easy to cast and retrieve, plus effective and fun to use -- four primary factors when it comes to enjoying the simplicity of shore angling.
SHAKE THAT BODY, BABY!
Wobble and flash are two primary characteristics that make crankbaits so effective. Although many crankbaits work great right out of the package, modifying them slightly can enhance the bait's side-to-side wobble and the amount of flash and vibration they produce. From the crankbait-modification tips file of In-Fisherman's Editor In Chief Doug Stange, here's a quick and easy way to make a Rapala Husky Jerk or Long-Casting Minnow a better shorecasting bait.
Use needle-nose pliers to slightly collapse the line-tie on the lure. Next, reposition the pliers to bend the line-tie downward toward the lip of the bait. The bait should continue to track true but will now have a slower, wider, and more exaggerated wobble.