What Is The Best Trolling Rod for Walleyes?

Walleyes are some of my favorite fish when it comes to cooking. They’re delicious in the fryer, baked, grilled in foil – walleye is just an incredible tasting fish and if you’re sitting down to a meal with a lot of fresh cooked walleye you’re in for a good time. There’s a reason our family does so much walleye fishing – because it fills the freezers with future delicious meals and sets up great fish frys.

While I’ve tried many different ways of fishing for walleye, one of my favorites during a family fishing trip to Lake Erie was when we had a captain who said trolling for walleyes had been killing it. This was intriguing to me – I was familiar with trolling because trolling crankbaits is a great way to get a big pike smashing your lure when you go northern pike fishing, but I had never trolled for walleyes, especially since we were still using worms.

The setup allowed for four rods on a side, and clothesline helped keep the lines from tangling. When a rod bent indicating a solid bite, you snapped the clothespin off, grabbed the rod, and yelled “Fish on!”

We were done fishing by 9:30 a.m. with 36 walleyes for the six of us. Needless to say, I was convinced, and that captain earned a very nice tip.

While not everyone is going to go with trolling for walleyes, this is absolutely a viable method and can lead to some pretty sizable fish. So let’s dive into the main question and find you a great trolling rod that will get the job done and bring in a whole mess of good-sized walleye!

Two anglers holding Lake Erie Walleye
Can’t argue with the results – trolling for walleye can definitely work as my brother and I show from another successful Lake Erie outing here!

Finding the Best Fishing Rods for Trolling Walleyes

And if you really don’t care about the details but just want to get to what your best option is and what you should be looking for, here’s your quick verdict:

Walleye Trolling Rod (Specialized)

Okuma walleye trolling fishing rod

The Okuma Deadeye Telescopic Trolling Rod is our pick for the top walleye trolling fishing rod and is surprisingly inexpensive for a specialty rod.

Choice of Two Fishing Rods

The quick verdict is that for a true walleye trolling fishing rod that is specialized specifically for trolling then you want the Okuma Deadeye Telescopic Trolling Rod that is pictured to the left. If you want a fishing rod that specializes in trolling for walleye, this is your pick.

To the right is pictured the Ugly Stik Elite Fishing Rod which is a fantastic all-purpose walleye fishing rod that isn’t specifically designed for trolling but holds up more than well enough for use when trolling for walleyes.

This is the best option, and the picture links to Amazon (affiliate links) so you can check for up to date pricing.

For the detailed information on why I came to this conclusion, read on!

Walleye Fishing Rod (General Use)

Ugly Stik Fishing Rod

Ugly Stik Elite Fishing Rod – outstanding and inexpensive all-purpose fishing rod great for trolling walleyes, or general freshwater fishing use period.

Those are my top two picks from experience and from the general consensus or majority opinion of the majority of long-time walleye anglers and fishing guides I talked to about the topic.

Generally, most anglers can get away with a good all-purpose rod that is strong enough to handle consistent trolling but if you’re the type who really likes to specialize, then going the other direction can make sense. While there are “premium” trolling rods north of $100, I haven’t seen enough evidence that they are that much better than a moderately priced rod to recommend them over the cheaper but still rock solid quality option.

What To Look for in a Walleye Trolling Rod

There are several things to look for when getting the perfect fishing rod for trolling for walleye, not the least of which is how much you want the fishing rod to be completely specialized versus a general use rod that just also happens to be perfectly built or setup for trolling. The answer to this may have a lot to do with budget and what other types of fishing you intend to do.

I’m going to go over the questions I ask when buying a new fishing rod, and how I’d adjust them to find the best trolling rod for walleyes. Let’s jump in so you know what to look for to end up with the best fishing rod that meets your specific needs.

What Type of Action Does the Fishing Rod Have?

Most of the time I like a fast action rod that is extra sensitive, and goes ballistic when a big fish hits…assuming you manage to keep the line from snapping. That being said, when you’re dragging bait, sinkers (weights), or lures behind you, that is going to create more drag and more pressure. In that case when trolling I generally prefer to use a medium action rod.

This is still more than enough to see sensitive taps or hits, but gives a bit more control and lessens the number of times you’ll set the hook to early on a light tap that looks way more impressive on a fast action rod than a medium action one. Avoiding setting the hook to early will help you to avoid missing setting the hook, and makes it less likely you’ll tangle up the line and bait when there’s an actual hit.

I also think low action rod is too stiff. That might be okay when going for huge hitters like pike, but you’re likely to miss out on a lot of eatable walleye if you go with a rod that doesn’t have the same action.

Look for some level of a medium action rod and you are much more likely to find a fishing rod that can appropriately handle the challenges of trolling while delivering on giving you the ability to pull in fish after fish.

How Well Built Is the Fishing Rod?

As anyone who has fished for any amount of time knows, there is a massive difference between a cheaply made fishing rod and a premium fishing rod. Never cheap out on the quality of the rod. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go all out and buy a premium handmade custom one piece fishing rod (though if you want to, I know a guy, just sayin’), but it’s usually not too hard to see (and feel) how well a rod is built versus the ones that are using the cheapest materials possible and being slapped together on a mass assembly line with no care to quality at all.

This is why certain brands have a great reputation with anglers while others are more or less unheard of. If a fishing rod brand has been putting out top notch rods for quite some time, word of mouth is going to spread. Especially in the outdoor space where you are always going to trust the personal recommendations of multiple other outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy the same hobbies or passions you do.

Just because a name isn’t on this list doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good choice, but if you’re not sure where else to start, here’s a handful of brands that have treated me well and that other anglers I know trust.

Just a short list of brands that tend to have a very high trust rating with most anglers I’ve talked to.

  • Ugly Stik
  • Fenwick
  • KastKing
  • Okuma
  • Shimano
  • Abu Garcia

As always, do your homework before making a choice since there are always times where even a trusted brand may make a model that is either even better than the normal high quality standards, or maybe falls below the normal quality standards that you would expect. There are always outliers but if you weren’t sure where to start in your search for the perfect walleye trolling fishing rod, those brands will point you in the right direction.

What Is the Fishing Rod Made Out of?

There are many materials that good fishing rods are made out of, but the two that are consistently among the best and those are carbon fiber or fiberglass. And most anglers are going to have a preference or a favorite. Some are even going to be extremely passionate about it.

I tend to go with carbon fiber, but not because I have any scientific or outdoor experience reason to be against fiberglass (and to make it perfectly clear, I don’t have anything against a good fiberglass fishing rod) but it goes back to a simple thing: I used carbon fiber rods most of my life so that’s just what I’m familiar with. You don’t change what’s working.

That also means if you’ve been using fiberglass fishing rods all your life and you like the feel, understand how to tell the cheaper ones from the better ones, then don’t feel like you have to switch. Keep looking at the type of fishing rods you are most familiar with until you find the perfect one that meets your specific needs.

For anglers who like to have versatility with their fishing rods it’s worth noting that most walleye anglers don’t like fiberglass for jigging for walleye so if you’re looking for an all-purpose rod the fiberglass options are out and you want carbon fiber.

Do You Want a Custom Trolling Fishing Rod or a General Fishing Rod Good for Trolling?

There are fishing rod and reel combinations that are made specifically with trolling in mind and are optimized for that without any thought to being used for casting, jigging, or other forms of fishing. This is quite different from the other route, which is looking for a good all-around rod, and a truly good all around fishing rod should be able to troll for walleye just fine without any issues or problems at all.

Some anglers swear by trolling rods and think a rod specifically designed with trolling for walleye is the way to go while others I’ve talked to are of the opinion that a good general fishing rod is more than enough when you’re looking to troll for walleye. Or if you fish in the types of lakes our family used to go to up in Canada, you go general and catch both walleye and northern pike while trolling.

It’s a good time.

What you want depends on taste, experience, preference, and of course, budget. Having one fishing rod that is dedicated just to trolling is a bit of a luxury and if you’re on a budget or just starting off than going with a high quality general fishing rod is almost certainly the way to go.

What’s the Length of the Fishing Rod?

The length of a fishing rod can affect sensitivity, control, and various anglers simply have a preference. I tend to like my fishing rods a bit more on the longer side but there are plenty of people who are on the opposite side of this spectrum. Look for a fishing rod around the length of what you’re used to or what you like. There is quite a bit of difference in handling with a smaller rod versus a larger one – and 12 to 18 inches can make a lot of difference in feel when it comes to casting, trolling, or whatever other style of fishing you choose to engage with.

The Best Trolling Rod for Walleye Fishing: The Okuma Deadeye Telescopic Trolling Rod

Built specifically for trolling, Okuma is a brand that is renowned for its extremely high quality fishing rods and this one doesn’t disappoint. With a rock solid reputation for being a reliable trolling rod that brings in plenty of bites, it’s hard not to like what they bring to the table.

This is a telescopic fishing rod which means it can be made extremely compact to pack away when shipping or packing, and when it’s fully set up this is an excellent option that is designed with trolling for walleye in mind. Since it is telescopic, this also means you have versatility to set up multiple fishing rods in one boat when trolling along, changing the lengths of each to make sure the lines don’t tangle as you’re running them.

If you want a great walleye trolling rod, go with the Okuma. It’s a trusted name made from premium parts, their reputation is fantastic, and it’s just a rod that has held up against the test of time in real world fishing scenarios.

Okuma walleye trolling fishing rod
If you’re really set on the best specialized fishing rod for trolling walleye, the Okuma is the way to go.

Best Budget-Friendly All-Purpose Fishing Rod for Trolling Walleye: Ugly Stik Elite Fishing Rod

You don’t necessarily need a trolling rod to fish for walleye, or any other fish using trolling. Trolling was one of my Dad’s favorite methods for fishing in Canada, and we never had specialized trolling rods. We had good fishing rods that were designed for all-around use, and we trolled a lot, and never had a problem with using Ugly Stik Elite.

We used these to troll for both northern pike and walleye, and had great success with both. This is also what many of my friends refer to as their “go to” fallback when they need a new rod and don’t have time to do the research or need to know they’re getting good value. This fishing rod works well, it’s consistently reliable and holds up for years, and it’s fantastic for trolling.

If you have one of these then honestly, you probably don’t need an additional trolling rod…but it never hurts to have a backup fishing rod, right?

Ugly Stik Fishing Rod
An amazing all-around fishing rod that will get the job done when walleye fishing, whether jigging, casting, or trolling!

Get Out On The Water & Catch Those Walleye!

There’s a reason our annual family fishing trip with Dad is to Lake Erie for walleyes fishing. Walleyes taste delicious, are fun to catch, and with their resurgence in Lake Erie over the past decade, you can catch a good mess of them to take home. Six per person per day in that location, and most places where you can go walleye fishing there are plenty of fish so you can take home a cooler full of future deliciousness.

While there are plenty of ways to fish for walleye, if you want to go with trolling you’ll be in good shape if you take one of these two major options. There are other good trolling rods, there are other good fishing rods, but I’m tired of articles with “10 best fishing rods for X.” There often aren’t that many good ones and if they’re are, I can be 99% sure you didn’t test them.

Now you know what the best fishing rods for trolling walleye are, both general use and if you’re looking for a specialized solution to bringing in more fantastic stringers of tasty walleye!

Other Fishing Articles You May Love