The Essentials

Thursday, August 19, 2010 , 0 Comments

In case you haven't been outside lately, we are in the dog days of summer. It's hot, really hot. For me that means two things. First, fishing is slow; and secondly, it is at times unbearable to be out for too long in the heat. Therefore I have been fishing much less and have not had much exciting news to publish. So for fun I thought I would write up a brief post on what I consider to be my essential lures. Those which have proven themselves as producers when others fail. So here it is, in no particular order, my top 10 lures. 

1.) Mepps Aglia

The Mepps Aglia, which my family and I refer to as simply a Mepps, was perhaps my first essential lure in becoming an angler. Having gained my love for fishing in Northern Minnesota, the Mepps Aglia is a consistent producer of Northern Pike and always provides action when nothing else is working up north. Size #5 and Musky Killer are great for Northern Pike. Size #3-5 work great on Large and Smallmouth Bass. I use #3 on Wiper, #1-2 for Trout, and #0 seems irresistible to Panfish. 

2.) Spinnerbait 


Semi-weedless, versatile, and available in a variety of styles; Spinnerbaits are essential lures every angler should have a few of and know who to fish correctly. Whether you hop it along the bottom, bounce it off fallen timber, or burn it along the surface; Spinnerbaits are deadly against Bass, Northern Pike, Muskellunge. When choosing one consider the size, color, and blade type. Spinnerbaits commonly employ either Colorado, Indiana, or Willow style blades. The Willow, as pictured above, is a long style blade which is tapered on either end like that of a willow leaf. It creates the least resistance of the three styles and thus will have a deeper retrieve and create less water displacement for a more subtle approach. The Indiana style is also a long blade style, but rounded on each end. It serves as an intermediary between the Willow and Colorado extremes. The Colorado is a large rounded blade which causes the most water disturbance, allowing the lure to ride high in the water and displaces a large amount of water helping to lure in actively feeding fish. 

3.) Original Rapala


The Original Floating Rapala is what launched angling into the frenzy over crankbaits that we find ourselves in today. While much has changed over the years, the Original is still a productive lure. It does not dive deep, nor does it have the tightest action, but this crankbait does imitate a wounded minnow very well. I typically employ it as either a slashbait or in stop and go retrieve and find it to be invaluable when fishing from shore, because it has a large amount of space between the eye and first treble hook and due to the fact that it floats. The Original allows you to fish a crankbait from shore while avoiding snags and hookups. 

4.) Jitterbug


One of the most enjoyable lures to fish. The Jitterbug has an unmistakable sound and action which has allowed itself to become one of the most productive Bass topwater lures of all time. The Jitterbug imitates a wounded baitfish struggling on the surface. If you buy just one, buy it in black and fish in low-light conditions. 

5.) Jig


In some ways the Jig is more terminal tackle than a lure, in that to fish it you need to add something to it rather than throw it in the water as is. Yet this speaks to its adaptability rather than its limitations. Perhaps the most important lure for Walleye anglers. The Jig is often tipped with a worm, leach, or minnow and slowly bounced along the bottom. Bass and Crappie anglers often add a plastic grub, and others simply tip it with bait and suspend it from a float. Regardless of your methodology, buy several different colors and sizes. 

6.) Salmo Hornet


A staple of Walleye fisherman, this relatively new lure from Poland is known for its tight action and quality control. While it can be cast, its light weight makes this somewhat prohibitive, and so it is most often used while trolling. I most often use size #4 and have caught more Walleye with this crankbait than any other. The Salmo Hornet is generally available in a floating variety but a sinking edition is now becoming commonplace for deep water applications. This is my father's favorite lure.

7.) Casting Spoon

The spoon may be one of the most basic artificial lures in modern angling. Typically one side is painted and the other side is plain metallic. The shape and color cause the lure to wobble and flash as it is retrieved through the water. A great multi-species lure, match the size to the target fish. 

8.) Plastic Worm 


My personal favorite for catching bass. Wether you fish it in a Carolina, Texas, or Wacky Rig the plastic worm is one of the most effective tools for landing bass in a variety of conditions. See my rig series for specific rigging tactics and retrieves. Buy many colors and styles, this will be one of the cheapest items in your tackle box. A few of my favorites are the Gary Yamamoto Senko, Berkely Powerworm, and Zoom Trickworm. 

9.) Beetle Spinner


In many ways similar to the Spinnerbait, the Beetlespinner is an adaptation which uses a spinning jig harness, jig, and plastic grub. While you can buy Beetlespinners pre-rigged I prefer to buy the parts seperatly and build my own to suit my personal needs. This allows you to control the weight, size, and grub type. I most often often use small Crappie tubes for my grub and have been very impressed this year with a grub called "The Slab Buster", which comes garlic pre-scented. I would guess I have caught more fish on a Beetle Spinner than on any other lure. 

10.) Rapala Shad Rap


If you own one crankbait, it should be the Rapala Shad Rap, due to its versatility in the models offered and appeal to a multitude of species. The reason for this is its shape: thin enough to pass as a minnow imitation, for nomadic feeders like Stripped Bass and Walleye, yet has an erratic enough action to imitate small gamefish, in order to entice Largemouth and Pike which feed from cover. Size #5-7 seems to be ideal for most purposes. Shallow and deep diving varieties are available as are models with and without rattles.