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Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

 

With age I’m becoming more of a minimalist. Less is more, or at least less is easier and usually just as effective. When it comes to fishing tackle, minimalism means that where I once carried the equivalent of a hockey bag’s worth of gear for just one afternoon on the water, I now take only a couple of those flat, plastic boxes with all the dividers for a full week’s fly-in trip. And despite the significant downsizing of my tackle box, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

What I’ve learned over time is that I typically use only a handful of lures no matter how broad the selection at my disposal. I have my favourites, the ones I’ve gained confidence in over the years, and I rely on them time and time again. In fact, I would suggest that if I was limited to just 10 different lures (allowing me some latitude for several sizes of each), I’d feel completely comfortable fishing most of western Canada’s freshwater species. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10:

1. Len Thompson Five of Diamonds

If there’s a more quintessential western lure, I can’t imagine what it would be. Alberta-made, some might even suggest you need no other. I won’t go that far, but I will say that the yellow/red version of this spoon has repeatedly proven itself to me and countless other pike, walleye, perch, lake trout and stream trout anglers. They can be cast, trolled or even jigged, and in sizes ranging from 1/7-ounce up to 1 1/8-ounce, can be easily matched to virtually any fish or water body.

Len Thompson Five of Diamonds

2. Mepps Aglia

Spinners are a highly underrated class of lure. There’s something about the combination of flash and noise they produce that compels fish to strike, and for my money the best of the lot is the Mepps Aglia. Most often fished in flowing water, when they’re cast down and across, allowed to swing through the current on a tight line and then retrieved slowly back, they are deadly on stream trout. In larger rivers, goldeye, saugers and walleye can all be fooled by the subtle dance of the Aglia. In lakes they have proven to be extremely effective on pike when cast along the edge of submerged vegetation. They are available in a myriad of sizes and colours, allowing you to match them to the water and species you’re fishing.

Mepps Aglia - Stream Trout

3. Heddon Zara Spook

There’s no better time to chase pike than shortly after the spawn, when the big hens can be found in relatively shallow water. Top-water lures offer the most exhilarating fishing opportunities – there’s nothing quite as exciting, or nerve-wracking, as seeing the wake of a broad-shouldered northern as it closes in on a surface plug. And the best of them is Heddon’s Zara Spook. Cast and retrieved in the traditional “walk the dog” presentation, the Zara Spook leads to some of the most vicious, boiling strikes imaginable. Just be sure not to leave your heart medicine at home.

4. Swedish Pimple

When you live in a province where winter can last up to six months, you’d best be prepared to fish the hard water if you want to maximize your time afield. It’s tough to beat the productivity of jigging spoons whether you’re seeking walleye, perch, pike or whitefish, and the long-proven favourite among prairie anglers is the Swedish Pimple. Available in four sizes and a variety of colours, the Swedish Pimple is deadly when tipped with a maggot or a piece of frozen minnow.

5. Rapala Husky Jerk

Some call them plugs, others call them crankbaits, but by any name Rapala’s family of hollow-bodied lures needs no introduction. My favourite among the group is the Husky Jerk, a rattling, suspending lure that can be cast or trolled. This minnow-shaped crankbait comes in four sizes and eight colour combinations, though if I had to settle on just one for an all-around pike and walleye bait, I’d choose the size 12 in firetiger colouring. Perfectly contoured to move effectively through the water at any speed, this lure’s neutral buoyancy means it will suspend during any pause in your retrieve. It’s best suited to water depths of less than 14-feet; when you have to get down a little more, try the Down Deep Husky Jerk.

6. Cotton Cordell Super Spot

I have a Super Spot in my box that has been attacked by so many walleye and pike over the years that 80% of the chrome has been stripped away. A versatile plug, the Super Spot can be jigged vertically (in open water or through the ice, with or without bait), trolled, or cast and retrieved. When casting, allow it to sink to the depth you’re targeting, then retrieve with either a steady or jigged motion. Cotton Cordell was among the pioneers in rattling baits, and the multiple beads in the Super Spot have proven to produce among the most alluring vibrations of any of the rattling lures on the market. Three sizes and numerous colours are available.

7. Jig

Jigs come in any number of styles these days and remain as perhaps the single most popular lure. They’re most often “jigged” as the name implies, but can also be trolled, cast and retrieved, or suspended under floats, usually sweetened with live bait or soft-bodied tails. Available in a wide assortment of colours and sizes depending upon the water depth and species you’re targeting, jigs are as versatile as they are popular.

Jig - Slo Poke

8. Berkley Power Grub

For my money the most productive soft body jig accompaniment is Berkley’s Power Grub. The Power Grub is designed in the renowned “twister” tail style, and is available in 2”, 3” and 4” sizes. When perch, walleye, bass or sauger are on the menu, it’s tough to beat the effectiveness of these scent-impregnated baits, especially where you can’t use natural bait. Whether jigged vertically, cast and retrieved, or slowly trolled, the Power Grub is a proven fish catcher. It is available in a number of colours, with yellow, chartreuse and white my personal favourites.

Berkley Power Grub

9. Worden’s Flatfish

I caught my first walleye many years ago on a trolled Flatfish, and since then have come to rely on these uniquely-shaped plugs in a number of fishing situations. Most effective when cast and retrieved, or trolled at slow speeds, the Flatfish and its one-of-a-kind swimming style have few peers as a trout lure. In the smallest sizes (1”) it’s deadly on pond rainbows and brookies, while in the largest size (6”) the T-60 model is a mainstay in the tackle box of any serious lake trout fisherman. There is a vast array of colours available, with rainbow and frog my favourites in the smaller sizes, and chrome or orange my preference in the larger lures.

Worden’s Flatfish

10. Rapala Shad Rap

When fish want a “shad” style crankbait (deeper and fatter) instead of a “minnow” style (longer and thinner), I always turn first to Rapala’s Shad Rap. A balsa wood lure with a reputation for running true at all speeds, the Shad Rap can be cast and twitched, retrieved steadily, or trolled. Available in several variations, there’s a Shad Rap to meet virtually every angling situation. I use the Deep Runner 3 ½” model in silver or blue as my “go to” walleye plug, and I’ve even had success casting it from shore along rivers, particularly as an evening or night bait. Don’t be shy about fishing the Shad Rap when lake trout or northerns are on your hit list, either.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Fly Selection for Beginners

(2) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(3) New Waters

(4) Big Bad Burbot

(5) Looking Back

(6) Out of Africa

(7) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(8) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(9) The Browns of Autumn

(10) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(11) Walleye Town

(12) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(13) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(14) Going With The Flow

(15) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(16) Swinging The Fences

(17) A View From The Aerie

(18) Dixieland Delight

(19) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(20) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(21) Montana's Cool Missouri

(22) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(23) Toothy Critters

(24) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(25) Top Ten Flies

(26) Northern Exposure

(27) Home Water Lessons

(28) Chicken Of The Sea

(29) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(30) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(31) Keep It Up!

(32) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(33) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(34) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(35) Hawg Holes

(36) Saltwater Salmon

(37) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(38) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(39) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(40) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(41) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(42) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(43) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(44) Fall Walleye

(45) Wet Flies

(46) Versatility the Key to Success

(47) Grayling of the Boreal

(48) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(49) Size Matters

(50) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(51) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(52) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(53) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(54) The Point Of It All

(55) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(56) Fall Fly Fishing

(57) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(58) Big River, Big Fish

(59) Bottom Bonanza

(60) Fishing Small Flies

(61) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(62) Four Seasons of the Bow

(63) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(64) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(65) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(66) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

(67) Edge Walleye

(68) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(69) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(70) Four Corners – Four Waters

(71) Chasing Pothole Trout

(72) Springtime Stoneflies

(73) The Torrents of Spring

(74) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(75) Bust Them With Bait

(76) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(77) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(78) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(79) Terrestrials

(80) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(81) Rocky Mountain High

(82) Reading the clues

(83) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(84) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(85) Fly Fishing 101

(86) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(87) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(88) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(89) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(90) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(91) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(92) Trust Your Electronics

(93) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(94) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(95) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(96) Walleye can be Humbling

(97) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(98) Winter Flyfishing

(99) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(100) Hot Fall Pike Action

(101) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(102) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(103) Frequently Asked Questions

(104) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(105) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(106) Deep Water Perch

(107) Post Spawn Brookies

(108) A Fisher's Life

(109) The River's Last Stand

(110) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(111) Coho on the Coast

(112) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(113) Summer in the Mountains

(114) Peak Walleye Season

(115) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(116) Last Ice Rainbows

(117) The Burbot Event

(118) Tackle Matching

(119) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(120) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(121) The Lure of Brook Trout

(122) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(123) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(124) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(125) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(126) The Vesatile Plug

(127) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(128) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(129) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(130) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(131) Daily Fish Migrations

(132) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(133) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(134) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(135) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(136) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(137) The Fun in Ultra Light

(138) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(139) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(140) Never Stop Learning

(141) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(142) Jigging through the Ice

(143) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(144) Rainbows on Ice

(145) The Season of Ice Begins

(146) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(147) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(148) Facts On Cats

(149) West Coast Adventure

(150) June Walleye Frenzy

(151) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(152) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(153) "Northern Exposure"

(154) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(155) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(156) Man Overboard