Stott’s Fishing Adventures is a “unique” Pacific Northwest Sport Fishing outfitter.
3314 Meadowlark Drive
Lewiston Idaho 83501
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Columbia River Jig Fishing

How to Jig Fish for Columbia River Walleye

How to Jig Fish for Columbia River Walleye


Want our Columbia River walleye jigging tips? Jig fishing on the Columbia River is perhaps the most versatile technique in a walleye anglers tool belt. If you pinned us down to choosing just one technique, it quite possibly would have the word Jig in it. Our fishing guides have over 50 years combined experience chasing walleye from the Great Lakes to the Columbia River. We’ll take you through our jig fishing 101 and identify our pivotal points to catching more walleye on the Columbia River.

Columbia River Jigging with Plastics, Blades and Lures 

Columbia river walleye jig fishing is cool! With every fishing technique, there’s details that comes with success. Jig fishing has its nuances and is super versatile. Serious walleye anglers know that jig fishing isn’t defined as using just plastics. Our guides are open minded and stay in tune with what other walleye experts are using in different parts of the country. We’ve put together a list of our favorite jigging baits that will pique your interest. Blade baits are on the rise and a staple in all our boats. Norisada and Verticle blade baits are 2 of our favorites. Plastics have been around forever. Super Flukes, Northland Mimic Minnow, Storm WildEye Swing Shad, Mister Twister Sassy Shad, Berkley Twitchtail Minnow and PowerBait ringworm are all solid contenders. Jigging lures are quick to make a splash and taking over the great lake regions. These are all superb reactionary bite baits. Rapala Jigging Rap, Moonshine Shiver Minnow, Reef Runner Cicada, Northland Puppet Minnow, Rapala Snap Rap, Berkley Snap Jig. Don’t paint yourself into a corner, keep options open.

Jigging Strokes that work for the Columbia

There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to jig fish. When walleyes are on the bite, there’s lots of different ways to get bit. We do feel the cadence of the stroke plays an important role during tougher conditions. Columbia river walleye can be finicky so we feel using a particular stroke or jigging style can lock you in the zone. We use what we refer to as a snap and pop method. Make sure to keep your stroke in a 2 ft. window and control the fall with your rod tip. Keep the bait from dragging the bottom and think more about a wounded minnow. Keeping the stroke short allows your bait to stay near the bottom and in the strike zone. You can mix it up with some subtle shakes and lifts till you find what the fish want. Jigging strokes are not the only variables you can experiment with when it comes to jigging up more walleye. Follow along with more jig fishing tips for your Columbia river walleye fishing.

Keep constant watch of your line

Here’s another Columbia River walleye tip! Most walleye bites are detected at the bottom of the stroke or just on the lift. Keep your strokes short and control the fall. More times than not, we catch jigging fish on the descent and is the reason we tell anglers to control the fall. Dropping the tip of your rod to fast creates slack line and missed bites. If you do see your line tighten or bump, set the hook. Most of our guides use high vis line that is connected to fluorocarbon leaders so that we can distinguish clients bite easier.

Canadian Spoons work well on suspended walleye

Columbia River – Time is of the essence

Inexperienced jig anglers have the tendency to set the hook too early. This typically happens when a bite is distinguished. We always remind our anglers to be more on the patient side to allow for a good hook set. Our Columbia river walleye are no different than fishing for our smallmouth bass, make sure the line is tight before you set the hook. There are situations when you have to entice the fish and feed it some line. If you find that you are missing fish, experiment with the amount of time between feeling the fish and the hook set. There are times that they’ll actually do the hooking for you, and other days, delayed hook sets are key.

 Vertical or Casting for Columbia River Walleye

Columbia River walleye can school up certain times of the year. When this happens, put your vertical jig hat on. Fishing a jig below the boat on top of schooling walleye raises the fun meter. Here’s another Columbia River walleye tip: When searching for walleye or learning new water, casting to points and ledges is much faster. It really gives us a chance to cover more water, especially when you have multiple anglers in the boat. Most of our guided trips are spent covering areas that we know hold walleye. There are days that fish spread out and we have to do some searching. They really are like ghosts, here today and gone tomorrow.

 Line Angle – Pay attention to your partner

The Columbia River is known for having an uneven bottom that fluctuates from spot to spot. There are tons of structure and drop offs that make for perfect walleye habitat. Line angle and control is important. The jigging stroke is vitally important, and the line angle follows suit. Assuming that all anglers are using the same weight, make sure to replicate the exact angle from the tip to water. This really matters when one of the anglers is catching all the fish. Once again, line control is crucial.

 Mono or Braid – Matter of choice for the Columbia

River fishing in the Pacific northwest is different from your lake fishing. With every bend of the river, conditions change. Some anglers believe that mono is best, and others swear you have to use braid. Our fishing guides have used it all and find both applications have its place. We use fast action rods so having some stretch of the monofilament is not a bad thing. On the other side of the coin, we find hook sets were much more efficient using braid. Each one of our guides has their own preference but the choice is still not so simple. Keep a few rods rigged up with mono and a few with braid. Some days, the fish will let you know. Most of our guides use Power Pro Super Slick when using braid and Suffix Flurocarbon for our mono. Northland Bionic makes a nice monofilament line as well.

Author Mel Stottlemyre Jr. caught this Columbia River walleye on a Vertical Minnow

 Colors and Finishes – Don’t overthink it

I’m convinced, lure manufactures make colors to hook fishermen, not fish. Although, the Columbia has stained water and low visibility which makes my color choices simple. Chartreuse is the most common color used on jigs and lures on the Columbia, period. Pearl white glow colors and bright yellows can be deadly as well. We always try and match the hatch, there’s plenty of bait fish in the Columbia river. Perch, crappie, bass, catfish, shad, smolt, crawdads and fresh-water shrimp are all abundant. We’ve found that keeping sharp hooks and baits in the strike zone are more important than color choice. Think about all the times that your favorite bait lost the color from banging rocks and sharp teeth. It’s amazing how that bait keeps catching fish.

Vertical Minnows are super fishy

Heavy or Light – Match water conditions

The Columbia river has 5 dams and fluctuating water flows that change daily. What that means, heavy river currents and smaller current breaks. As a rule of thumb, we like to use as light of jig as possible. Obviously in faster current, using heavy jigs is a must. Heavier jigs also allow for more vertical fishing and a much slower presentation. We found that on tougher bite days, keeping a more vertical presentation works best, especially when conditions are tougher for boat control. Although heavier jigs allow you to work slower, make sure you are not dragging your bait. Don’t hesitate to experiment and make changes when conditions call for them.

Paddle Tail Jigs are on the rise

Soft Baits – Long or Short Shanks?

One of our favorite and most effective jigs has to be the Kit’s Hair Jig. This particular jig has more of a long shank and perfect for tipping a nightcrawler. The advantage to using a long shank jig is it allows for double hooking and fishing more efficient when fishing brush and structure. We also like to thread our night crawlers up the hook which increases more bites and hook-ups. Short Shank jigs has its place when fishing more rocky structure. The bait will roll more as it moves across the bottom and puts off a lot more flash. Try them both out to find what works best for you.

 Rod Choice – Action vs Length

One of our greatest Columbia River walleye tip might be to fish Gary Loomis Edge Rods .Our guide service is sponsored by Edge which means we get to fish the best. We custom designed our rods to catch big fish. The Columbia river near Tri-Cities has the potential to produce the next world record. We can’t afford to fish rods that have a chance to break down. We also realize that weight plays a major factor and clients don’t like a lodge pole in their hand all day. There are many great options out there for jigging and we feel like we designed the best for our application. Our rods are 6’10, medium light power, fast action and specialized for throwing jigs and blade baits. As a general rule of thumb, match your jigging formula to the optimum rod action. Too stiff or too soft of an action can cost you dearly. Heavy river currents and deep-water presentation are also factors. We took all of this into account before building our rods.

Kits Tackle Hair Jigs are killer on spring walleye

 In Conclusion

The best walleye jigging anglers can make changes on the fly. Adjusting the cadence of the stroke, delivering a more methodical approach is in their thinking. Snapping or popping, heavy or light, vertical fishing or casting are all experimenting variables. Whatever approach you deliver, pay attention to the details of what’s working. With all the techniques options available, jig fishing might top the list for the most effective year-round technique for catching walleye. I’m sure tournament anglers feel the love for jig fishing, and I know our guides do too. What’s really cool, fishing jigs works on walleye all over the world!