Vertical Jigging Steep Breaks Through the Ice

Dancing jigging spoons on steep breaks is a great way to catch walleyes all winter. It works for fish in neutral to aggressive moods, and can also trigger reaction strikes from negative walleyes. Jigging spoons produce an amazing amount of fish-attracting action and flash. This is critical in the winter because trolling and casting aren’t an option—you have to make the walleyes come to you. I prefer relatively light, thin, lures in the 3/16-ounce class, which fall more slowly and produce a better flutter than heavier spoons.

Total Solutions Technique

Walleyes use steep breaks as stairways between shallow feeding flats and deeper water. Before you set foot on the ice, carefully study the contours on a good hydrographic map, looking for abrupt depth changes of at least five to 15 feet or more. Watch for irregularities in the breakline such as points or inside turns, which funnel fish movement into a small area. Drill holes at various depths from top to bottom on the break, and use your sonar to look for fish moving along it. Bottom-huggers can be hard to spot on a drop-off, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see any fish.

Tip the spoon with skull-hooked minnow head and drop it to bottom. I use an aggressive lift-drop presentation to bring fish into the sonar cone, then adjust jig strokes according to how the walleye reacts. When a fish is close, I tend to keep the spoon moving upward; the only exception is sometimes over sand or silt, you can let the spoon flutter to bottom and the walleyes will swoop down and pick it up.

Total Solutions Equipment

For sensitivity, balance and all-around performance, I use a 28-inch, medium-light graphite jigging stick—the Berkley Lighting Rod Spinning Ice Rod LRIS28ML-R, paired with an Abu Garcia Cardinal stx spinning reel. The strong, thin, easy handling characteristics of 2-pound-test Berkley FireLine Crystal Micro Ice make it a must-have for this situation. It telegraphs what’s happening at the business end of the line and stays supple, even in the coldest winter weather.

Berkley® Lightning Rod® Spinning Ice Rod

Berkley® FireLine Crystal™ Micro Ice®