Across Lindy Land, lively leeches and minnows are great walleye baits early in the open-water season. But as the water temperature rises and aquatic insect hatches occur more frequently, nightcrawlers become increasingly more effective options. 

Veteran guide Jon Thelen reports the change is already underway on a number of Midwestern waters.  “I was shooting footage for Lindy’s Fish Ed television and online programming last week in central Minnesota, and what had been a very strong leech bite was switching over to crawlers,” he said.

“Bug hatches and warmer water trigger the change,” he added. “A nightcrawler also gives walleyes a bigger meal, which is important as the fish begin to feed more aggressively.”

Walleyes may be found deep or shallow right now, depending on the lake or river system you’re fishing. Wherever you find them, Thelen says trolling a crawler is hard to beat for covering water and eliciting strikes from active fish.

“The fish are ready to chase, so you can cruise around with a little bit more speed than you could earlier in the season,” he said.

During his filming trip, Thelen leaned on Lindy’s Lil’ Guy hybrid rig to put crawlers in the strike zone.

“The Lil’ Guy gives you a combination of crankbait, spinner and Lindy Rig attractions all in one package,” he explained. “Plus you can fish it at a wide variety of speeds, from a crawl up to 2.5 mph or faster, so you can tailor your speed to the walleyes’ mood at the moment.”

Thelen noteed the Lil’ Guy is now available in two sizes — 1 and 2 inches — allowing anglers to fine-tune size as well. “The smaller version is a killer on summer crappies, too,” he said. “But that’s a story for another day.”