What is the Best Bait for Ice Fishing Walleye?

Ice fishing for walleye can be challenging but rewarding when you can get all the components together and land a good size walleye. After locating the fish, one of the main aspects of success is the bait for walleye fishing. 

Minnows remain the most popular live bait when ice fishing for walleye. They can be used either alive or dead and with lures or without. Leeches and night crawlers are also effective wintertime walleye bait. 

We will look at some bait and lures used when walleye fishing, how to effectively use them, and help you catch your next big fish. 


Minnows are the most common bait used when fishing for walleye. They can also be used as live bait or rigged as dead minnows. We will look at both methods and techniques to present the minnows below.

Live Minnows

Live minnows are best utilized when baited properly. The most effective method is to run your hook through its mouth and out the front of its upper jaw. This will keep the minnow alive and active for a longer period while in the water.

Minnows can be baited by running the hook through their body under their dorsal fin. The minnows may not survive as long when baited this way. They can then be cast out or dropped in your ice hole and left alone, allowing the fish’s movement to attract the walleye. With this method, you can set up multiple rods and cover a larger area. 

Dead Minnows

Living minnows may be proven to catch more walleye, dead minnows can also be effective in attracting walleye. They can be used in the same method as the live minnow, cast out, and allowed to lay on the bottom. This method can be used when the fish are refusing the live bait in areas that have been frequently fished. 

Dead minnows can also be used with a jig head, moved through the water to replicate a live fish. They should be hooked through their head in the same or similar manner as a live minnow and jigged up and down or side to side to give the dead minnow movement underwater to attract the walleye. 

Other Live Bait

Leeches and nightcrawlers are also effective wintertime bait for walleye when ice fishing. When hooking leeches, stay to the end of their body, giving them room to move underwater and attract the fish.

Lures for Walleye

Three main lures are used when fishing for walleye: jigs, spoons, and jigging swimbaits. 


There are many different variations of jigs available. They come in multiple colors, styles, shapes, and weights. The most popular jig for walleye fishing is a ball head jig. It is a large round ball near the eyelet of the hook. It can be fished with or without live bait. You can add a rubber tail to the jig to attract the walleye.   


Spoons are oblong and will catch water, causing them to wiggle and wobble when moved. They come in various sizes, shapes, and colors and can have rattlers. Larger sizes and brighter color spoons are best seen by walleye in murky water or on cloudy days. 

The more natural-looking quiet spoons are preferred in clear water and on sunny days. They may be used along with living bait to attract the fish to bite on your hooks.  

Jigging Swimbaits

Jigging swimbaits are a recent addition to ice fishing for walleye. They entice the walleye with lateral movement when brought up and circle when let fall back down. They may be effective in heavily fished areas that haven’t seen these lures in action before. 


Minnows are still the most popular bait for walleye fishing. Leeches and nightcrawlers are other popular live bait used in ice fishing. Lures are another popular choice and are available in a wide variety. They can be used alone or enhanced with live bait to attract the walleye.