I like to bundle my gear as much as I can, especially when there are some things, like lures, that are great at catching more than one fish species. By combining lures that are equally effective at catching walleye as they are at catching perch into one tackle box, I can switch tactics on the water, and quickly target perch should the walleyes not be in the mood to bite, and vice versa, without carrying multiple tackle boxes.
If you’ve thought about consolidating your hard-water tackle box but don’t know where to start, consider these 10 jigs and lures that are great at catching perch as they are at catching walleye. A few are classics that continue to produce time and time again, and the rest will likely become classics in the years to come.
Rapala Jigging Rap
This timeless lure should be grandfathered into any ice fishing lures list. While the larger #5, #7 and #9 sizes work great for walleyes and other large fish, the smaller #2 and #3 work amazingly well for perch. When the walleye bite gets tough for me, I downsize to the small sizes for perch, though I recommend modifying it with a larger treble hook versus the one that comes from the factory. A larger hook seems to improve the number of hookups and decrease the number of lost fish. Another good trick is to place a small split ring on the attachment point to make changing hooks easier, create a little more action on a tipped treble, and give fish less leverage to throw the hook.
Rapala Slab Rap
The key to being a good hard-water ice fisherman is not actually catching fish, but catching high caliber fish. Though I realize when a school of perch moves in and gets fired up, hooking into the keepers and not the throwbacks is often easier said than done. The Slab Rap has a much less aggressive swimming motion than its cousin the Jigging Rap. This plastic bait’s subtle action is similar to other lures that are made out of balsa, and because the movement is so appealing to fish, you can use it bait free and the smaller fish seem to let it be. There are two pint-sized models available, a 1 ½-inch 1/8 ounce and 2-inch ¼ ounce, and either works exceptionally well for catching keeper-sized walleyes and perch.
Silver Streak Rattle Streak Spoon
The Rattle Streak is one of my go-to baits for Great Lakes walleye and perch, whether I’m fishing on open or hard-water. This jig has flatter sides than many other similar lures, and while sizes are available up to ¾ ounce, the smaller ¼ and 3/8 ounce models seem to be much more effective, especially if water depth and current allow you to see it on your electronics. The custom rattle draws fish in when jigged aggressively, but don’t be afraid to slow down at times and simply fish it without any movement at all. Tip the hook with a minnow head when fish are size sensitive, or three full minnows if you’re having trouble drawing fish in. Aside from the enticing action caused by the thin, flat sides, it’s available in dozens of eye-catching glow, UV and plated finishes.
Clam Drop XL and XXL
Tungsten has changed the way ice angler’s fish for panfish. It’s denser than lead, so you can use small lures when fish are finicky and have enough weight to quickly get back down into a school of biting fish. That’s one reason I like the Clam XL and XXL. These jigs hang on the line at a 45-degree angle, and have hooks that are much larger than anything else in the same class. This allows you to use larger live bait or plastics and still have enough hook gap to get a solid hookup. This lure is widely popular among panfish and perch anglers, but it’s a sleeper for even the pickiest hard-water walleyes. It’s available in numerous sizes, shapes and finishes to match almost any scenario you come across.
Reef Runner Cicada
The Reef Runner Cicada is a unique lure with a curved design and a willow-bladed body. It’s available in sizes up to ¾ ounce, but the smaller 1/8 and ¼ ounce versions seem to consistently be the best performers for hard-water perch and walleye, and the 1/16-ounce size is so small that it only features one hook. You can tip the lure with everything from maggots to shiners, but don’t overload it because it can drastically change the action. Like most Reef Runner products, Cicadas are available in a wide range of finishes like Green Glow and Antifreeze, and also come plated with prism tape.