Walleyes are incredible hunting machines, designed to run down prey in a variety of conditions from total darkness to broad daylight. They rely on senses including taste, smell, hearing, touch and vision, along with their highly developed lateral line system.

Each of these senses is noteworthy, but a walleye’s eyes are arguably one of its most amazing attributes.

Many anglers realize walleyes possess incredible night vision. In fact, among freshwater gamefish, only their close cousin the sauger sees better once darkness falls. Such high-powered night vision gives walleyes an advantage over baitfish, which explains why fishing at night, or during times of rapidly declining light levels, can be so productive.

Walleyes owe their low-light sight to a few slick anatomical features. First, a large eye lets the pupil gather light in a big way—even picking up the slightest rays of starlight on a moonless night.

To further boost clarity, a reflective layer of crystals on the retina called tapetum lucidum concentrates incoming light. As a bonus, the walleye’s eye also contains a fistful of light-sensitive rod cells, which help the fish distinguish shades of gray and see even when sunlight isn’t an option.

Of course, walleyes can also see just fine during the day. While low light conditions may spark hot bites, many trophy walleyes have been taken in shallow water under full sun.

The walleye’s eye also contains light-sensitive cone cells, which help detect color during the day. While the jury is still out on exactly how colorful a walleye’s world may be, studies indicate they should best be able to see yellow, orange and red, with green a close fourth.

Certainly, a walleye doesn’t need to see to catch a meal. But whenever it can see, careful experimentation with visual cues such as lure shape, color and flash can mean more fish in the boat.