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Early Spring Fishing Lures that are Perfect for Walleye

If you’ve been itching to get out on the water for an early-season walleye catch, you’ll want to make sure you have the right set of lures.

fisherman holding a walleye caught in spring

Springtime brings chilly waters, swift currents, and spawning females, so a fishing lure built to withstand low temperatures and strong bites is a must. 

The start of spring is an excellent time to take the boat out on the water, but the early walleye season brings finicky weather.

Any angler worth their salt will tell you that you’ll need a variety of lures to handle the changes in weather. But in a sea of wood, resin, glass, and metal, how do you know which are the best for catching walleye?

walleye fishing rod

Fortunately, if you’re not quite sure where to begin, you’ve come to the right place to find the best lures for spring walleye.

Keep reading to find out which lures are worth sinking your money into this season.

Top 9 Walleye Lures for this Spring

  1. Rapala Jigging Rap
  2. Rapala Husky Jerk
  3. Bandit Walleye Deep
  4. Rapala Shad Rap
  5. Cotton Cordell Wally Diver Lure
  6. Johnson ThinFisher Bait
  7. Reef Runner 800
  8. Smithwick Deep Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue
  9. Reef Runner Ripstick

Rapala Jigging Rap

Rapala is an established fishing equipment brand that offers a wide variety of lures for all types of fishing.

Rapala Jigging Rap

The Jigging Rap is a zinc-wight lure that comes in several colors and five sizes, so you won’t have any problem finding one that suits your potential catch. 

The Jigging Rap is designed for ice fishing, making it perfect for those early spring frigid water temps and fast currents.

This lure mimics minnows perfectly, which are a favorite of spawning walleye females. It combines a steady, well-balanced suspension with a circular motion ideal for drawing large fish toward your line. 

This lure’s circular action is thanks to the rear-angled tailfin. It does really well when you’re trolling in open water. However, you can also use it casting in shallower waters as a bottom-bouncer to draw out bottom-dwelling fish.  

Rapala Husky Jerk

Another Rapala classic, the Husky Jerk, offers great balance and quality suspension in four natural color choices. With three treble hooks and an appearance similar to common baitfish, this suspending jerk bait is a useful lure to have in your tackle box. 

Rapala Husky Jerk

The best thing about the Husky Jerk is its suspension. When you cast it out, it stays right where you put it, which is where many other lures tend to fall short.

Instead, it hovers in the chilly springtime waters at the same level as spawning female walleye, using metallic and glass colors to draw the fish in. 

The Husky Jerk has a good rattle that helps catch fish’s attention in murky waters where the lure isn’t quite visible.

It’s also an excellent choice for trolling in open water. Still, its suspension lends itself well to casting, especially in shallow rivers and ponds. 

Bandit Walleye Deep

The Bandit Walleye Deep should definitely be in your tackle box if you’re heading out to fish in cold, murky waters for a spring walleye catch. Its loud rattle is precisely what you’ll need in the 

fast-moving currents that tend to kick up a lot of underwater muck. Nearby walleye will be drawn to the rattle, even if they can’t see the lure.

The Bandit also has great wobble action at higher speeds, making it a good option if you’re trolling for bigger fish.

It comes in 20 colors with an appearance that mimics smelt and other baitfish that are favorites of spring walleye. 

It has a 12-foot depth max for long casting, but you can go a bit deeper when trolling. When walleye are at medium depths for spawning, a 12-foot cast is exactly what you’d need.

What’s best is that it’s built well, with solid materials and chip-proof paint, so it’ll hold up to repeated abuse by hungry fish year after year.

Rapala Shad Rap

Rapala’s Shad Rap is a lightweight crankbait lure with a natural baitfish look. It’s been commonplace in angler’s tackle boxes for nearly 40 years, a favorite among those trolling for walleye everywhere. 

Rapala Shad Rap

The Shad Rap’s balsa wood construction has just enough wobble to be attractive to lurking fish. However, despite its popularity, this lure isn’t perfect for all occasions.

That’s because the balsa wood’s natural buoyancy makes it best for slow currents or still waters. Heavy currents will kick it around too much to attract nearby fish. 

This lure comes in ten color choices. Its action mimics the motions of a wounded minnow, which is what you want with slow-moving springtime catches.

However, if you’re looking for a lure that’s great in strong currents and has excellent suspension, you may want to try out one of the other options on this list. 

Cotton Cordell Wally Diver Lure

The Wally Diver is one of Cotton Cordell’s most popular crankbait lures, and for a good reason.

Cotton Cordell Wally Diver Lure

It comes in 18 vibrant colors and three sizes, giving you a lot of options for catching spring walleye. It also has a lifelike minnow appearance, making it visually attractive to nearby fish.

This lure is great for trolling in open water. It has a steady suspension and good wobble, so it mimics baitfish in motion and its appearance.

With a 20-foot depth max, it’s also a good casting lure in shallow or deeper lakes and ponds. This is a versatile lure that’ll be a great tool in your tackle box.  

One of Cotton Cordell’s hallmarks is its lures’ sturdy construction. All materials are built to hold up to rough and rocky bottoms, hard currents, and snapping jaws.

As a result, this bright little lure will hold up for years, bringing in a solid walleye catch every spring.

Johnson ThinFisher Bait

Johnson’s ThinFisher is a vertical jigging lure that’s an excellent choice for cold water fishing.

It comes in 8 colors and 4 sizes and has black nickel hooks that change out with a snap. This lure will do the trick if you want to draw walleye toward your line.

The ThinFisher lure has an effective wobble and rattle, making it ideal for attracting fish. You’ll also see a decent vibrating action on its three retrieve speeds.

The main downside is that the factory hooks are a bit small. Fortunately, the hooks are easy to change. So, if you go for the ThinFisher, consider swapping out the hooks for something a bit larger. 

What’s nice about the ThinFisher is that it’s designed for more than just cold temperatures. It works great throughout the year, including summer.

And if you’re up for something other than walleye, it’ll give you good returns on bass, salmon, and other freshwater fish. It’s a versatile lure that’ll be right at home in any angler’s arsenal.

Reef Runner 800

The Reef Runner 800 has been a top seller for more than two decades, and for a good reason.

Reef Runner 800

This award-winning lure offers more than 40 color options to choose from. It’s another reliable option for the changing water conditions you’ll encounter on springtime trips.

This drop-style tail bait has a 12-foot casting depth and a trolling depth of 28 feet. It offers a solid rattle with an erratic swimming action that’s great at imitating minnows and other baitfish.

In addition, it provides an excellent kicking and darting movement that’s surprisingly lifelike and perfect for luring fish to your line.

The Reef Runner offers sturdy construction with a chip-proof finish that’ll hold up to the most brutal bites and strongest fish.

They’re best for springtime trolling at slow speeds, but you’ll still have good luck if you’d prefer to cast.

Smithwick Deep Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue

The Smithwick Deep Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue is a classic lure that’s been a popular choice among anglers for ages.

Smithwick Deep Suspending Rattlin' Rogue

It offers 11 color choices, each of which comes with an extra loud rattle that’ll do an excellent job in murky waters. It’s an excellent lure for frigid waters where walleye like to hang out in early spring. 

The Rattlin’ Rogue’s baitfish movements combined with smooth action are ideal for drawing out reluctant fish. It also has decent suspension, which will be ideal for bringing out a slow-moving catch.

You generally won’t get more than a 15-foot dive depth from this one. However, in early spring, when your main catch is spawning females, 15 feet will be plenty deep. 

It also does a great job of remaining suspended on retrieval, bettering your chances of a catch.

The other thing that’s nice about this lure is its versatility. If the walleye aren’t biting, you can still use the Rattlin’ Rogue to catch bass, striper, and all the other tasty fish in the lake.

Reef Runner Ripstick

Last on the list is the Reef Runner Ripstick. This lure is an award-winning jerkbait that comes in three colors and three sizes, each with a long-lasting chip-proof finish. 

Reef Runner Ripstick

The Ripstick is a solid lure for casting and trolling. Its action’s a bit more subtle than other lures.

However, it still maintains a slight wobble that’s attractive to walleye and other freshwater fish. It has a great suspension on casting and trolling that gets even better with the right hook.

Its erratic minnow-like action is perfect for cold, murky waters. It has a maximum dive depth of 12 feet, but you shouldn’t need more than that for early-season trips to draw in a few big walleye. 

Final Thoughts

Every freshwater angler looks forward to a good spring walleye catch each year. The cold waters bring out the spawning females, giving you the perfect opportunity to bring home a decent batch of fish. 

However, the best way to catch the most fish is with the right lure. Each of the lures on this list has action, suspension, and dive depths that are perfect for catching walleye in early spring.

Although having one of these lures will bring you luck, your best bet is to keep a stash of a few on hand. As any good angler knows, fish are finicky, so what works one day might not work the next.

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