Topwater walleye? You bet—if you try these tips and techniques



When fly fishing, cast a popper as far as you can and let it sit for five to 10 seconds; ensure your rod is pointed directly at the fly, and slowly bring in any slack line. Next, make three quick line strips so the popper makes its schloop sound (when done properly, it will sound like an object dropping into the water). Wait another five seconds, and if no strike occurs, make another three strips. Continue doing this until the line is all the way in, then cast again.


Note that it’s important to pause after creating the disturbance, as that best mimics a badly injured baitfish on the surface struggling to survive; it will move in bursts rather than make a constant commotion. From the walleye’s point of view, it seems like an easy meal.

When spin fishing with a popper, the presentation begins exactly the same way: cast out, bring in the slack and wait five seconds. After the pause, hold your rod out to the side and jerk it two or three times to get your schloop, then reel in the slack, wait and repeat. When fishing a disturbance lure, simply cast it out, reel in quickly for three seconds, pause for five seconds, then reel again. Repeat until the lure comes all the way in, then cast again.

Another strategy is to reel continuously at medium speed, but don’t be surprised if you catch more pike than walleye. If you see or hear a fish rise but it misses your bait, twitch the line twice followed by an extra-long pause of 10 seconds. If the fish doesn’t take another swipe at your lure, cast again to either side of the initial rise.


Although these have been my most successful retrieval techniques for walleye, don’t be afraid to mix it up. It’s really all about finding the right disturbance-and-pause cadence that lets the walleye find and attack the perceived easy meal. Sometimes, it just comes down to trial and error. And when you get it right, throwing topwaters for walleye certainly adds a ton of extra excitement to catching dinner.