Hard baits come in many shapes and sizes. Crankbaits and spinner baits are the most predominant hard bait. These baits are durable and produce action that is quite appealing to walleye no matter what their state of mind.
Hard baits can be used for casting and trolling. They need motion in order to work at their top potential. These types of lures can be used in both shallow and deep waters with equal success. Really, though, hard baits stand out when used for reaching deep suspended walleye.
As great as hard baits are, they do poise some challenges. While they work when used around structure or weed beds, their design makes them more likely to get snagged. Quality hard baits are not cheap so losing one in the weeds can really set you back in the lure department.
Even though hard baits have the look and moves of real forage fish, they still lack the feel. This isn’t a big problem when walleye are in the mood to strike aggressively. More discerning walleye will spit out hard bait as soon as they feel its unyielding body.
If this is the case with the walleye waters you are fishing, soft baits may be the better option. Soft baits come in many shapes and sizes. This bait is made by pouring heated plastic into molds.
The end product is soft bait that can take a variety of shapes like baitfish, worms or even insects. Soft plastics can be tainted with scents and tend to hold their aroma far longer than hard baits. Some soft bait even goes as far as replicating crescent rings on worms and scales on minnows.
Walleye respond well to the feel of soft bait. Since this bait squishes in the mouth, walleye are not as quick to expel it. This gives you a little more time to set the hook properly. This can really make a difference when fishing larger walleye that have been around the lake a couple of times.
Soft baits work well around weeds, structures and other dense areas. The hook is often buried in the body in areas that minimize snagging. Soft baits also hold up well when clunked and dragged against obstacles.
Swimbaits are the most common soft bait that may grace the aisles at your local fishing store. These baits can be used anywhere that a jig can be used. They are excellent for casting or vertical jigging.
Swimbaits come in two main varieties. The first can be attached to any jig in your tackle box. The second type has the jig molded directly into the body.
Although the first type offers more versatility in equipment it needs to be rigged properly in order to work. The second type is ready to use out of the box. The biggest limiting factor on soft baits in general is depth. Soft baits just do better when used to catch shallow dwelling walleye.
Selecting baits can be a difficult decision. The choices are endless and you never know how exactly walleye will respond. Knowing which baits work best in which conditions will help you narrow down you choices. Sometimes you need to know when to go soft or hard with your walleye bait.