Tackle Box Top 20 - Wilderness North

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Tackle Box Top 20

I recently had a question put to me that I’d never considered. That question was this: If you could only keep 20 items in your tackle box, what would they be, and why. Now I’ve been asked in the past to pick the one lure I’d rely on if that’s all I could have.  That’s actually an easier decision then coming up with 20 fishing items. (And, for the record, my one lure choice would be a bucktail jig.)

So, without further ado, here are my picks for the 20 must have items in a tackle box, and the reason why:
1. Rapala Husky Jerk – This is a lure that can catch nearly any type of predator fish, in all sorts of conditions. It works casting and trolling. The classic silver side with black back is my favourite.
2. Mepps Aglia #3 – A deadly brook trout catcher and also very good for walleye and pike. The silver blade is the classic trout spinner colour but a gold blade is good as well.
3.   Rapala Skitter Prop – a very noisy, splashy exciting lure that can make pike, bass and even walleye go ballistic on the surface. The frog pattern is my favourite, as croakers often get slurped off the top by predator fish.
4.  Jig and twister – Obvious and totally necessary. The lead head jig and rubber bodied twister is likely the lure more walleye have been caught on than anything else.  A yellow, pink or orange jig head with a white, black or yellow twister will do the job.
5. Two ounce Bottom bouncer sinker and “Little Joe” spinner – I’ve caught  a lot of giant walleye trolling a spinner rig with a rubber scented worm. The bottom bouncer is nearly snag proof and keeps the spinner rig near bottom. Deadly on bottom hugging marble eye.
6. Eppinger red and white Daredevle – The original, classic, traditional pike spoon. It’s still as deadly on pike now as it was in the 50s. A must have and you should have a few sizes. Catches walleye and trout as well.
7. Needle nose pliers –  Boring, but entirely useful for removing hooks from fish, squeezing split shot and cutting line.  Also good for squeezing down barbs on hooks.
8. Rapala Shad Rap –  It was originally advertised as “Not a lure, but a responsibility.” Nothing has changed. Great trolled or cast, the shad rap has tight wiggle that is pure deadly. Tough to beat the #7 perch shad rap for walleye.
9. Steel leader – If you fish for pike or muskie, you need a steel leader. The leader should be quality as well, with a good snap. Multi strand wire is fine for most pike.  For larger pike, and muskie, a heavy, single wire leader is the best answer.
10. Jaw spreader – Another semi boring fishing tool, but having a pike bite down on your fingers even once, will convince you jaw spreaders are the bees knees. They are easier on the fish as well,  allowing for quick removal of lures.
11. Safety pin spinner bait – Although most popular as a largemouth bass bait, these aggressive, nearly weedless spinners are great for pike and even shallow walleye. Work them close to the surface over weedbeds for pike, or deeper, near drop offs, for walleye.
12. Hopkins Jigging spoon – The half ounce Hopkins spoon is a super simple lure. But it’s a superb vertical jigging lure for lake trout, brook trout  and walleye.  Silver is the best choice, with a little strip with red flash tape.
13. Cotton Glove – Handling fish is a tricky affair, and bare hands are not always the best choice. But a wet cotton glove allows easily handling, protects the slime layer of the fish  and helps to avoid getting spined. Just makes sure it’s not dried out.
14. Split shot – Weighting lures like a spinner or crankbait with a split shot or two will get the lure down a bit deeper. Also helpful when fishing with a hook a hook under a float.
15. Slip float – For suspending anything from a small jig to rubber worm to even a spoon, a slip float is the way to go. You can adjust the length of leader under the float so that you are close to the bottom, in the centre of the column, or up high. Slip floats are also great for fishing rivers. Have a few sizes, including small medium and large.
16. Johnsons Silver Minnow –  When pike are hunkered down in the heavy cabbage weeds, the only way to get at them is with a weedless spoon. The Johnson’s Silver Minnow does the job and does it well.
17. Mepps Musky Killer – An ounce and a half of bucktail, spinner, beads and hook, this lure is the bomb for giant pike in shallow water.
18. Bucktail Jig – One of the oldest, most classic jigs, these thing catch everything from brook trout, to walleye and pike. The bucktail jig can be one solid colour, like white, or multi-coloured, similar to a streamer fly.  Especially great for brook trout.
19. Williams Spoon –  So deadly when trolled deep for lake trout, but the silver Williams also catches big pike that are homing in on cisco or whitefish.
20.  Plastic jerk shad – A 4 inch plastic minnow can be used as a light , subsurface gliding bait, or on a jig. The plastic minnow will catch walleye, pike and even lake trout.

That’s my 20 must haves as of today. Ask me tomorrow, and it might be a little different.


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