As most anglers are acutely aware, walleye can be among the most finicky of our gamefish, often making it a challenge to find active feeders. Once you do, however, these schooling fish are relatively easy to catch. Unless you have a time-tested location where you’re certain to find walleye, it’s best to first search for them using conventional tackle and techniques. Once you locate them, however, you can do as well with fly gear as you can with a jig and soft-plastic.
I vividly recall an afternoon on a northern Alberta lake when my fishing partner and I anchored on a ledge that dropped from four feet down to 10. Thirty yards away, our friends anchored on the same ledge, fishing jigs tipped with leeches. With our fly gear, we matched them fish for fish; we would cast out 20 or 30 feet, let our flies settle, then retrieve them slowly with a slight jigging action. As often as not, we’d get a strike.
We were able to reach these fish with floating fly lines and standard nine-foot leaders, though if the walleye had been any deeper, we would have had to use sinking or sink-tip lines. We fished Clouser Deep Minnows, a common streamer pattern with lead, barbell-like eyes that help the fly sink quickly. As with most fur or feather streamer patterns, the Clouser’s advantage over conventional metal or wooden lures, which don’t bend or swim naturally, is how it moves seductively through the water.