What Pound Test Line for Walleye Ice Fishing?

What pound test line for walleye ice fishing? This is another one of those questions that attract a very useful answer. 

Whenever you start talking about test weights (line class) there’s a litany of variables that need to be addressed.

Alternatively, you can use whatever mono you spooled up with years ago, and can’t recall exactly what breaking strain it is.

There’s a tendency to overthink things where breaking strain is concerned, but there is also a tendency to seriously overcompensate with cable-like winch rope, or underdo it with cotton-like thread.

There’s a balance to be achieved, and fortunately, it has some pretty broad parameters. 

You’re also ice fishing. So along with the standard considerations, there’s also a couple of ice-specific considerations.

Let’s have a closer look at a selecting line class for ice-bound walleye fishing.

How to Choose the Right Pound Test Line to Fit with Your Lure Size

How to Choose the Right Pound Test Line to Fit with Your Lure Size

There are two ways to look at this. Firstly, the old rule of thumb is to fish lures with as light a fishing line as you dare.

The benefit of using a light fishing line is that it encourages the lure to work at peak. A lighter line promotes an excellent lure action.

The second way of thinking about it is to select a line as heavy as possible that will still allow the lure to produce the action it was designed to produce.

Most of you will guess the circumstances that will see you choose one over the other. 

If you’re chasing a larger class of fish, you’ll likely go for the heavier line for security.

If you’re chasing panfish or a smaller class of fish, the lighter line will encourage better lure action, and you won’t have to worry about bust-ups as you are targeting smaller fish.

While that’s it in a nutshell, it’s actually a little more nuanced. The lure type and the conditions/geography/weather will also have an impact.

Also Read: Walleye Ice Fishing Tips

Lure Type When Walleye Ice Fishing

For example, if you’re working a heavier spoon or metal slice, a heavier fishing line has less of an impact on its action.

These less complex lures work on light reflection as a primary fish attractor, the jigging action required to get it working isn’t so reliant on the fishing line.

This brings us to an interesting point. When you’re fishing down a hole, you’re jigging. 

The line strength you use to work a crank, hard plastic minnow, or lightweight soft plastic isn’t necessarily required.

If you’re jigging whatever lure down a hole, your line class will be determined in part by the weight of your lure. 

Keeping in mind that you will have a fair bit of scope with line class selection for all but the lightest jigs.

Lightweight jig heads and lightweight vibes will suffer under heavier lines – vibes in particular. 

With the lightest lures, you don’t want a line any stronger than 12 pounds. Stick to lines 6 to 8 pounds, only going to 12 if you’re feeling the need for a little back-up.

If you’re hunting bigger Walleye or the biggest of walleye, then things might change a little, your lure size and weight for one, and also your line class.

However, a 34 inch Walleye, a rare specimen indeed, weighs around 17 pounds. 

So there’s still no need to spool up with winch rope. A good angler will be able to handle such a fish on a 10 to 20-pound line.

A good rule to keep in mind is that very supple mono will serve you better as you increase the line class.

See Also: Best Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combos

How to Choose the Right Walleye Line Weight

How to Choose the Right Walleye Line Weight

Again, don’t overthink it. You have a pretty broad range here. At its biggest bookends, all line types considered, you have between 2 and 20 pounds from which to choose.

I don’t think I’ll ever use 2-pound line. This is a genuine sports angler’s line. It requires great fishing skills, and refined fishing reels to avoid bust-ups.

For my money this is all about the sport, I don’t feel there is any benefit of using 2 pounds over 6-pound line. 

And I’d never recommend 2-pound line to your average angler if they were actually wanting to catch a fish.

People often ask about a good standard line where you don’t have to worry about changing spools, re-spooling, fishing too light or too heavy. 

A great standard regardless of the lure you’re using is 8-pound mono

If somebody said they can take one line test weight and type only to fish the ice for walleye, I’d say go with 8-pound mono. 

This will work with all of your lures, give you enough backup should a larger walleye take your jig, and will allow your lightest of lures to work at peak.

My exception to this is conditions and targets. 

If you’re chasing monster walleye in horrendous weather through jagged ice with plenty of snags underneath, I could go as high as 20. 

This is an exception though, and only ever when specifically targeting trophy fish.

What is the Best Ice Fishing Line for Walleye?

What is the Best Ice Fishing Line for Walleye

Many times this debate flares up and is debated under the guise of science, but in the end, it is a matter of anecdote and experience.

Use the line that you can afford, and that you like to use. It really is as simple as that. 

Before modern materials, we were using all sorts of string and chord very successfully to pull walleye through the ice.

Now we have 3 basic line types from which to choose. 

You can spool up with mono, fluoros, or braid, and I’ve not heard any definitive argument that one catches more fish over the other.

Some anglers will swear by mono, others like fluoro, while there are plenty who have never used anything but braid since its rise to dominance in recent decades.

My personal preference is mono. It’s cheap, easy, proven, and highly effective. And importantly, there is no compelling argument against these three features.

There is a persuasive argument that the sensitivity, sinking properties, and abrasion resistance of fluoro make it a better choice. 

However, I stand by my observation that nobody has proven to have caught more ice-bound walleye with fluoro over mono.

Again, it’s a personal preference. 

I like the stretch of mono. It’s a little more forgiving when a larger fish strikes small treble hooks. In the frigid conditions, I’m more inclined to strike a little aggressively.

I don’t know why, it’s just me. But that’s the whole point about line being such a subjective thing.

When in doubt, spool up with a decent 8-pound mono and happy days. 

Let the pros and boffins argue out the nuance. Stick to the most basic of principles as outlined above, and you can’t go wrong.

Also Read: Top Ice Fishing Flashers Reviewed

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 6lb Test Good for walleye?

6 pound test is a fine standard for walleye and the average experienced angler. A supple line with good abrasion resistance will make for an excellent 6-pound line.

However, I’m more inclined to up the class a little for beginners and the less experienced angler. 
A line class of 9 to 12 pound is more forgiving for those less skilled on the strike.

An inexperienced angler can hone their skills without the disappointment of dropping fish due to bust-ups.

Should I use a Leader for Walleye Ice Fishing?

A leader is by no means essential, but I can make a heck of a difference should you hook up a big walleye. 

Having said that, I will frequently tie lures directly to my mainline.

However, If you’ve managed to wrestle an 8-pound walleye up to the hole with your 6-pound line, you will appreciate the strength of your leader to pull it from the hole.

It also offers a little bit more protection from the abrasive bits around the hole’s edges.  

If you’re fishing particularly light, I would recommend a leader slightly stronger (thicker) than your mainline.

The Wrap on Line Class selection for Walleye

The Wrap on Line Class selection for Walleye

I continually find myself repeating, “don’t overthink it.” If you want the sport and excellent lure action when walleye ice fishing, then fish 2 to 6 pounds.

For the average angler jigging a selection of lures, fish 6 to 9 pounds.

If you’re a beginner, and not so confident, there’s a lot to be said for the added assurance a 12-pound line provides.

If you’re having trouble deciding on a line type, choose based on what you prefer in terms of feel. For me, it’s mono. 

But if the reel I want to fish is spooled with fluoro, I certainly won’t change it.

If you’re yet to decide what works for you in terms of line class and line type, the best thing you can do, and I recommend it, is to test them all out. 

We learn via experimentation, so don’t be shy to try out lines you’ve not used before.

See Also:

How To Find and Locate Walleye Ice Fishing

Barometric Pressure And Ice Fishing

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Sean Ward

Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.


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