French River Walleye caught near weeds during a rainy day.

Weed Out the Walleye: Strategies for Fishing in the Salad

“Weed Walleyes” is a term used to describe walleyes that are found in or around vegetation on lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. While walleye are known for their preference for deep water and rocky structures, they are also found in shallow weed beds (salad) throughout the season.

French River Walleye caught near weeds during a rainy day.
Sometimes it’s not just the fish that needs cover. Photo credit: Alex R.

Walleye Fishing in Weeds

Most Walleye anglers using traditional fishing methods, like trolling or deepwater jigging, often overlook fishing in weed beds. Yet, knowing how to walleye fish in weeds is useful, rewarding, and an exciting challenge when popular walleye holes seem crowded!

Walleye patterns will vary depending on the types of vegetation throughout the season. The best walleye weed areas are generally sparse with hard bottom and rock or sand composition mixed in or near these areas. Typically, they will within 5 meters (16 feet) of water in or on the edges of the weeds.

Combined images from Minnesota Wildflowers to display two common types of freshwater weeds Walleye will inhabit in the late spring and some parts of the summer in Ontario.
Two common types of freshwater weeds found in Ontario. Photo credits to:

Water temperatures and the availability of food will also affect their mood to hunt in weed beds. Types of freshwater weeds that attract walleye are cabbage, coontail, eelgrass, milfoil, and lily pads. They provide good cover for Walleye as these types of weeds often grow in dense patches and create a lot of shade for their silvery eyes. This makes it harder for baitfish to see them, along with providing Walleye cover from other sight-based predators, like pike.

When fishing weeds for walleye, adjust your techniques and equipment to suit the season’s conditions. Below are some simple tips for fishing weed beds:

Slip Bobber Rig 

Slip Bobber Rigs are a classic timeless technique baited with either a worm, leech or a minnow. It’s a simple, but effective way to present your bait at different depths above the weed tops or along the weed edges. The natural bait will twitch making it hard for hungry Walleye to ignore. Though, don’t be surprised if Largemouth Bass or Pike would like a bite too! The benefit with this simple presentation is your ability to adjust your bobber to suspend the bait at a desired depth. And it’s a great way for children to experience fishing!

Spinner Harness

Using a Spinner Harness combined with a bullet weight or a bottom bouncer is a great way to cover a larger area quickly. This type of presentation allows you to skim over the tops of sparse weed growth or bounce along the bottom of dense weed beds. It all depends on the size of weights you add! The spinner blade adds flash and vibration mimicking a migrating school that attract Walleye. You can use either artificial or live bait for this presentation.

Jig Trailers

A versatile method, Jig Trailers allows you to precisely target different parts of the weed bed. While it is a simple presentation with a skirted jig with rubber bait as a trailer it also allows a depth of variety. There are many combinations of jig types and rubber baits that affect the ways you retrieve this presentation. You can use different jig heads such as round head, stand-up head, or weedless head depending on density of weeds along with wanting a continuous crank, twitchy, or start-and-stop retrieve.

Crankbaits & Jerkbaits

Shallow running Crankbaits and Jerkbaits not only work for Bass fishing but Walleye too! Using these types of lures allow you to run across weed tops quickly and efficiently. They mimic wounded baitfish, triggering Walleye’s predatory instincts. You can use different retrieve speeds and pauses to entice strikes from wary fish.

Additional Tip About Walleye Rods, Lines & Rods

I already have a detailed article about Walleye Rods, Reels & Lines if you want a more technical answer. However, here is a quick summary for fishing weed beds and edges. Use a braided line with a fluorocarbon leader for better sensitivity and abrasion resistance when fishing in heavy cover. You should pair this with a medium-heavy rod with a fast action and a reel with a smooth drag system. Having the right combination for Walleye fishing allows you a variety of techniques to choose from; along with you being prepared for strong fights and runs with trophy sized French River Walleye.


Man with an orange fishing glove holding a "Weed Walleye".
Fishing Walleye near weed edges.

Fishing for Walleye in the weeds can be challenging, but fun! While this is a simplified guide, you will know how to adapt your tactics and gear with the season. Understanding how to fish more areas will increase your odds of success! Walleyes in the weeds can offer some of the best fishing opportunities in the French River Provincial Park, Ontario Canada.

Article by Joe Barefoot, M.B., Outdoor Writer of Canada and Nationally Published Author & Photographer

For more articles related to walleye fishing visit some of my other articles below:

  1. Spring Opening Walleye Season
  2. How to Catch Summer Walleye
  3. Fishing For Walleye In The French River!
  4. Fall Walleye Fishing on The French River