The Tackle Box Diet - Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

The Tackle Box Diet

“Lose 15lbs or more, in 1 day!”

I recently shared an article titled, “Any Old Mickey Mouse Rig”.  It referenced my fishing buddy Ted who, on a previous fly-in trip with Wilderness North, unveiled a Mickey Mouse rod and proceeded to catch his fair share of walleyes with the toy. While I’ve always taken my fly-in fishing pretty serious, I had to concede that my buddy wasn’t too far off-base in illustrating that it really doesn’t take a lot of specialized equipment to catch fish and have a ton of fun on these fly-in lakes offering a bounty of fish catching opportunities.

A common question that I receive from new members of our group and people interested in trying a fly-in adventure, is “What do I need to take for tackle?”  My answer is usually the same.  All you really need is a couple dozen assorted jig heads, some twister style tails and some miscellaneous plugs.  Then, depending on if you plan to focus more time fishing pike or walleye, you’ll want to tailor your lure selection accordingly.  For example, if you plan to spend more time fishing for pike, plan to pack more plugs.  But if you’re like me and can’t resist the challenge of finding and catching walleye, plan to bring more jigs and plastics.

When I first started my fly-in adventures, my tackle assortment weighed over 25 lbs. and consisted of hundreds of lures in different styles, sizes and colors.  After years of honing down the assortment to just what works well in these waters, these days I take less than 10 lbs.  Occasionally I’ll try a new plug or different style plastic tail, just for the fun of it, but I usually come back to the proven winners producing the most consistent catches.

Our group loves the remote fly-in lakes and we make it an annual event, so most of us dedicate a separate tackle box exclusively for fly-ins.  I’ve been using the same tackle box for several seasons because it represents everything I realistically need to catch fish, it doesn’t weigh a ton, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space in the boat.  I enjoy having leg room, while I’m fishing, and floor space to keep my lunch-cooler and dry-bag for raingear and a camera.

So, whether it’s your “New Year’s Resolution” or you just feel like shedding a few extra pounds this season, try the Tackle Box Diet!  You’ll find it much simpler keeping track of your tackle, easier deciding on what to use, and just as productive using a scaled back tackle assortment.

My current fly-in tackle box:

Below is the tackle list that we use as a guide for our fly-in trips.  Hopefully your group can find it helpful for your next adventure north.  Keep in mind, we spend the majority of our time hunting walleye, so our tackle is tailored more towards that, but if “Gators” are your thing, you’ll want to take fewer walleye related lures and bring a few more casting and trolling plugs.

Fishing Tackle

(For Every Season in Northwest Ontario)

6ft. to 7ft. medium-light action spinning rod and reel filled with 8lb test line

6ft. to 7ft. med-hvy action rod and reel filed with 14 to 25lb test line

1 extra rod and reel in case one breaks (usually spinning because it’s more versatile)

1 rod case (Try to buddy up your rods with another member of your party.)

Tackle Tip:  Wrap your rods in a sheet before putting in the case, to help protect them.

Small water-proof tackle bag or hard side tackle box and small utility box for lures

10 assorted color 1/16oz round head jigs.

15 assorted color 1/8oz round head jigs.

30 assorted color 1/4oz round head jigs.

30 assorted color 3/8oz round head jigs.

Tackle Tip:  Pink, chartreuse and yellow are great colors.

6 assorted 10 packs of 3 to 4-inch soft plastic tails (yellow, white and chartreuse colors work great)

Tackle Tip: Mr. Twister Exude or Berkley Power Grub twister style tails are hard to beat in Canada.

4 Size #3 or #4 Bucktail spinners (Mepps Black Fury in the yellow dots is a favorite.)

4 Spinnerbaits (1/2oz in chartreuse/white, firetiger and white work fine)

6 Casting spoons (3/4 – 1oz Daredevils, Little Cleo, Johnson Silver Minnows are tops)

   Tackle Tips: Chrome, red/white and yellow-5-of-diamonds are good spoon colors.

   Add a white or yellow twister tail to your Silver Minnow hook for more strikes.

2 top-water lures (4-1/2” Heddon Zara Spooks work great)

2 deep-diving crank baits (SR9 Shad Raps and DHJ12 Husky Jerks are my favorites)

4 minnow-imitating baits (F13 floating or J13 Jointed Rapala’s should cover it.)

Tackle Tip: For all these style baits, black/silver, gold, blue, and fire tiger are all proven winning colours

Use a steel leader whenever casting or trolling your buck-tails, spinner baits, crankbaits and spoons!

5 twelve-inch wire leaders

10 – Duo Lock snaps

If planning to us live bait, add:

20 assorted size split shot and Lindy style sinkers

20 assorted size hooks

20 stinger hooks (If you plan to use walleye sucker minnows)

10 small ball bearing swivels

2   lighted slip bobbers (Thill makes a 4-1/2 inch Nite Brite brand that works well)

5   bobber stops and beads

10 assorted size and color floating jigs

Don’t forget to pack these important items:

Needle-nose pliers

Jaw spreaders

Wire cutters (just in case you get a hook in your hand)


Fishing towel

Hook hone


Bug repellant

Extra spool of line

Waterproof matches

Small flashlight or head lamp

Filet Knife

Note: Add 10 Mustad Slow Death hooks and 6 1-1/2 Bottom Bouncers if you like to troll crawlers for walleye!  You can cover water quickly to find active fish and this presentation works great in NW Ontario!


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