Walleye on the Fly in Algoma

Tips and advice for fishing Ontario's favourite fish species

Updated: By Mark Melnyk

One of Ontario’s most popular game fish to target is the walleye. There is little arguing that statement. Fishing walleye is just reserved for conventional anglers… Right? Wrong! Technology in fly fishing allows anglers to now see great success targeting walleye on the fly – a GREAT success. Several fishing lodges in Algoma now understand that fishing walleye on the fly is a fun and exciting way to target these deep-water fish… But, as fly anglers will learn, there have to be some technique adaptations to effectively target these fish.

Algoma walleye can get quite large – more than 30 inches! So, rod weight is important when fly fishing for these fish. Fish size coupled with the line anglers will be using allows fly fishers to cast to walleye with heavier weighted rods – think 8 weights! Anglers will consider using heavier rods because of one major factor, the line used to fish walleye. Heavy full sinking lines are required to get the fly down to the depths that walleye feed.



Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher

Walleye love to eat baitfish and leeches. These patterns play perfectly into the fly angler’s playbook in catching walleye. Dark/black patterns in woolly bugger, muddler minnows and bunny leeches are excellent choices for these fish. Consider fishing them weightless and adding some floatant to the fly to have it “hover” over the bottom where walleye are. Remember, anglers are utilizing full sinking lines to present these flies, so weights on this type of fly aren’t needed. Retrieving weightless flies in a slow rhythmical fashion can often trigger a strike. When fishing minnow patterns, also consider fishing them weightless with floatant but don’t be afraid to put some speed into the retrieve to incite a reaction bite.  A long cast with variable retrieve speeds will allow anglers to put the pieces together of the walleye puzzle. The trick is, to let the line do its job in getting the fly to the bottom. Count that fly down however many seconds you need to ensure it’s down there.



Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher

When fishing walleye on sinking lines, the leader length doesn’t need to be very long. We tend to cut our 9-foot leaders down to 4 or 5 feet in length. This serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, it allows a fly treated with floatant the proper length of leader to only hover a foot or 2 above the bottom. Secondly, walleye can sometimes be extremely light biters. The shorter leader puts you more directly in feel with the fly, making it easier to detect the most subtle of eats.

Time Of Day


Photo credit: The New Fly Fisher

Walleye have big eyes. These big eyes allow them to see in very low light conditions, perfect for hunting. When the sun is bright, high and unincumbered by clouds, with such big eyes, walleye will tend to go deeper where light doesn’t penetrate as strongly. Early Morning and evenings through full darkness are the best times for fly anglers to target walleye on the fly. They have been known to come very shallow in low light conditions looking for food items.

Algoma Walleye Lodges

Algoma is blessed with great numbers of walleye throughout the entire region. Almost every lodge in Algoma has populations of walleye catchable on the fly.

You can find a complete list at www.algomacountry.com Walleye on the fly! It’s a little bit different, and a heck of a great time!


About Mark Melnyk

Currently, Mark is the host and producer of The New Fly Show. With a passion of fly fishing, the shows goal is to help both novice and veteran fly fishers everywhere by giving them a top-quality fly fishing series that will make them better anglers.

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