This is a good thread on how to get started. I just bought a 1650 Lund Rebel, and will be upgrading the bow mount to a 55 Terrova Ipilot as soon as the boat is delivered. Ill be using 2 batteries in parallel. Im not too knowledgable with fish finders, so Im looking for tips on what matters most for trolling, and/or what model to buy that would actual help find/catch fish.
Lots of good fish finders, I'd go with what is affordable. Being able to adjust a setting or two is important to me, for example I will manually adjust the ping speed to its highest reading so when I scout for walleye I can run at a fairly fast speed... covering more water quickly to find the fish.
I have several line counters rod/reels I used for salmon/lake trout. Will those work or need to downsize the rod?
They will work just fine for trolling, yes they are a little heavy but many guys use them.
Im not experienced on any big water, only traverse bay as the largest. Ill be sticking mostly to smaller inland waters. What tendencies to walleyes have on inland lakes? Are they usually found on deeper flats, or on the deep side of drops/edges?
It really depends on the type of lake / season (spring, summer, fall...) / age of lake / depth / baitfish types. For example if the inland lake has pelagic baitfish you will have at least some of the walleye suspended and after them, oftentimes the bigger overall walleyes themselves.
Ive caught some at night in the shallows at night a few different places by accident, but mostly all sand bottoms. At night does it matter if its sand bottom shallow vs rock/gravel?
You can catch lots of walleye over sandy bottoms at night if their food source is present- for example shiners near a creek or river mouth, shoreline weeds, etc.
What about prime smallmouth rocky areas in 10-20 FOW? Do those produce walleye at night, or go shallower?
They will produce walleyes and other predators, expect a mixed bag. There needs to be a reason for the predators to be there, it isn't just because its a rocky bottom. If water temps / clarity / have baitfish in the rocky areas the predators are on them.
As for lures, Im just going to start trolling with small boards and simple lures suggested here. All I know is to keep it slightly higher than any fish Im marking, and keep at it until speed, lures, or location start to produce fish. Am I on the right track? I feel like a total rookie here for walleye. I need some open water to start practicing.
You are on the right track... I feel it is important to add something though. A lot of guys that want to get into walleye fishing start off, like you, on smaller inland lakes. That style of lake can be the most difficult for the beginner... a lot of these lakes actually have poor populations of fish. Because they are small, the fish react ten times as severely to environmental stimuli which can make them very tough to catch... changes in barometric pressure, lighting, poor structure and food supply... on and on. To highly experienced walleye fishermen these types of lakes are fun because of the challenge they present... but in your case I would highly recommend finding a lake with a good population of legal sized walleye, that have a good supply of food and anglers that are routinely successful.
Im mostly a bass fisherman, with NO trolling experince other than a few salmon/lakers on dipsys/downriggers.
In the spring, near shore weeds and rock piles that hold bass will also hold walleye, pike and muskie. Tailor your presentation to the walleye, but its a blast to catch them all.
Ask questions any time, there are a lot of very experienced walleye fishermen here on the Beast.