By Mike Frisch

Fisherman holding a walleye caught on a Northland Fishing Tackle jig.

When it comes to walleye fishing, there are lots and lots of jig styles, colors, and shapes available. Some folks might think, “well a jig is a jig.” However, choosing the right jig for a fishing situation can be as important as a mechanic choosing the right wrench or other equipment for fixing a car!

Here are this “fishing mechanics’” thoughts on selecting the right fishing tool for the job.

When walleyes during the early season are the target, I often favor small- to medium-sized minnows as walleyes during this time often prefer a smaller offering. For that reason, the always popular Fire-Ball Jig with its wide-gap, short-shank hook has been the gold standard for lots of early-season walleye anglers.

Northland Fishing Tackle Fire Ball Jig in the mouth of a walleye.

The Fire-Ball’s short-shank hook keeps the minnow up close to the jig-head which makes for a compact presentation that finicky, cold water walleyes often prefer. The short hook shank also facilitates more hooked fish because the minnow is close to the fish-attracting, colored jig head. Finally, the wide gap hook allows for more positive hooksets as well.

While the traditional Fire-Ball works in lots of situations, when casting and pitching to shallow walleyes, I prefer the Stand-Up version. This jig has the same hook, but in a sleek, stand-up style head that allows live bait to stand up and be seen by walleyes cruising the shallows!

Fire-Balls put lots of walleyes in boats every year. Another jig that has been around a long time is the Whistler Jig. This jig features a propeller blade that adds flash and vibration and can be fished with live bait or soft baits. This underwater commotion the prop blade produces can be downright deadly in stained or muddy water, calling in fish that might not even see other jigs. To make it even more appealing, the Whistler is now offered in a variety of UV-enhanced colors.


Angler holding up a big walleye caught while walleye fishing with a jig.

Whether you fish dirty or clear water, deep or shallow, or somewhere in between, choosing the right jig for that situation will help you put more walleyes in the boat. The suggestions just offered are this fishing mechanic’s suggestions to help you do just that!

As always, good luck on the water, and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!

Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co-host of the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit or follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more “fishy” stuff.

photo – Mike Frisch used a 1/4-ounce Current Cutter Jig on a recent trip to the Rainy River to catch this big walleye!

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