Packing tackle for a wilderness fishing trip is much different than packing for a day trip on a lake or river minutes from your home.
If you are flying in to your final destination you must pack in a way that protects your gear. You must also keep weight in mind as some float plane operators limit the amount of luggage you can bring.
On the flip side, if you don’t bring what you need you simply are going to have to go without for the length of your trip and that can destroy your trip.
After hundreds of wilderness trips over the years, I have honed my tackle selection to cover not just the basics, but just about any need that may arise.
Let’s start with rods. For typical Quebec species such as walleye, northern pike and lake trout, I like fast-action rods that run 6.5 to 7 feet in length. Good two-piece outfits are available, but I prefer one-piece rods (despite the packaging challenges).
I pack them in a hard-plastic rod tube that’s padded on the inside with bubble wrap.
I typically package two spinning rods and two bait casting outfits.
Line choice depends on location. If I am fishing a river or jigging deep water for species, I bring two of the reels loaded with a superline like Berkley Nanofil or FireLine in 10- or 12-pound test. Neither of these lines stretch so they are very sensitive and offer great hooksets in deep water. They also cast well, allowing you to cover water easily, even from shore.
The other rods are strung with monofilament.
Lure selection typically includes four types of lures:
- Leadhead jigs. I always bring several jigs in various weights (1/8 ounce to 1 ounce or more) and hook sizes as they are incredible versatile and effective. The can be used with live bait or with soft plastics.
- Soft Plastics—swimming grubs, worms, shad bodies and other shapes all catch fish, weigh virtually and comes in a ton of different colors so you can find the best options for the fish that day.
- Crankbaits—Hard baits like Flicker Shads are dynamite on species like walleye, as are minnow baits and other crankbait styles. When fishing is good, I turn from cranks to baits with single hooks (jigs and spoons) to ensure fish can be safely released, but I still bring a small collection of cranks for those days the fish want ‘em.
- Spoons—Spoons can be a great choice some days but don’t commit to them exclusively when fishing is slow. I like to bring a variety of baits in classic colors like gold and 5-of-Diamonds
Other gear to bring include jaw spreaders for pike, quality pliers for removing hooks and other tasks, wire or fluoro leaders, spare line, fillet knife, sunscreen and Chap Stick.