Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Boundary Waters Fishing Gear List by Piragis Northwoods Company

Boundary Waters Fishing Gear List

We get asked all the time what our choices for fishing trips in the Boundary Waters are. While what goes in a guy's or gal's tackle box can be very personal and lures are highly prized for sentimental and experiential reasons… there are tried and true options that have advantages over others.

There are a "big three" of fish species in the Boundary Waters, four if you include Lake Trout, although they are not as prevalent. Walleye, Northern Pike and Smallmouth Bass can be found throughout the Boundary Waters (BWCA). Panfish such as Black Crappie and Bluegill are common as well. We'll focus on the "big three" for the purpose of this discussion. Please note: All of the items discussed can be purchased in our retail store at the first stoplight in Ely, Minnesota before your trip begins. At Piragis, we don't run out, we keep these staples in stock, in the best color and size combinations.

The first thing you need is a good Medium 2 piece spinning rod and one for back-up. If you want to go with a slightly heavier action on the back-up rod, that is fine. Extra line, pre-spooled is a good idea. The best choice for the BWCA is 8 pound test. We advise you take something 6 to 10 lb. test, nothing lighter unless your passion is ultra-light fishing and then you'll have to adjust a great many of the lure choices that follow accordingly.  We carry an excellent and quite affordable break down pack rod and a case made right here in Ely that fits each piece and rolls up to protect it in your pack. That little detail can allow you to have a rod in your pack without hardly noticing it.

Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike like surface lures. Frog baits, Mouse baits and floating Rapalas always top these lists. Old standards such as Lucky 13, Tiny Torpedo, Bass-Oreno and the newer Pop-R baits all pull Smallies out of their hiding places. Smallmouth Bass like the durable plastic baits such as Zulus and Zooms and others that mimic dying minnows. These are best rigged simply with a large "worm" hook and retrieved like a wounded minnow would swim.

Crank Baits come in various combinations of diving depth. Rapala has shallow and deep runners, ranging from baits that run three to nine feet deep. These are all good and work while you cast or troll for dinner as you paddle through paradise. Shad Raps, Rattletraps and lures like Crawfish Baits and the Wally Diver are fantastic choices to attract Walleyes. It is a good idea to have a combination of all of these to choose from. Tiny alternatives like countdowns and large and jointed Rapalas give you some great options during the heat of Summer.

We stock and carry non-lead jig heads in 1/8 oz and 1/4 oz in a variety of highly visible colors. These work great with live bait (minnows, leaches, night crawlers) as well as Gulp artificial versions of those three. Jigs work well with Twister Tails in bright colors and black as well. Those combinations are some favorites of Walleyes in the Northwoods.

Daredevle Spoons in silver, gold and the old standby, red and white are hard to beat when you want to troll deeper with some flash. Fish just respond to them and always have, especially big fish.

Mepps Spinners in just about any size seem to attract fish on days when nothing else will work. That being said, they were always my Dad's favorite lure and he used them almost exclusively. Mepps with bucktails for trailers bring big pike in too!

There's a handful of terminal tackle and tools that you should have in your tackle box or pack. That brings to mind what you are going to carry all of this stuff in. Flat Plano boxes work well and fit in stowaway packs under the canoe seat or hang from the thwarts. Some soft tackle carriers fit in portage packs easily. Taking your fully outfitted (and often large) favorite tackle box isn't recommended.

Terminal tackle needs include: non-lead sinkers, slip bobbers and stops, plain shaft or octopus hooks (sizes 6 and 4), leaders (stainless or black metal), snaps and swivels.

Extra line is good to have as we've already noted. A good pair of needle nose pliers, a stringer, a net (collapsible) and a sharpened filet knife round out your list of necessary Tools.

As a postscript I always take along a favorite lure for walleye fishing off the campsite. This is a killer lure, that is really just a hook, spinner and float. Made by JB LURES it is the little known, but highly effective WINKUM Spin-N-Float. Just tie on a swivel and snap to the end of your line, put a heavier split shot for weight before the swivel, slip the loop on this rig onto your snap and rig a minnow, leech, worm, gulp artificial bait or twisty tail on the #4 octopus hook and you are ready for action. Upon casting it out, the weight sinks, the float raises your bait up off the ground and the spinner flashes around like a one-eyed wounded bait fish. You'll have time to feel your line being taken and see the end of your rod being yanked down before you set the hook!

NOTE ON COLORS and PRESENTATION Popular color combinations are chartreuse, pink, clown, perch and firetiger along with blue and silver shad. Black is a surprisingly effective color for jigs and plastics as well. As always, the most natural presentation you can rig will always bring the best results. Simple knots on a plain hook with a worm and a split shot a foot or two up will produce fish without being fancy when you fish off of the bottom. Tie your artificial baits on to "swim" naturally and retrieve them as such and you will do better. Look for sunken trees, rocks and structure when fishing for bass and weed beds for pike. Walleyes like points and structure transitions on the lake bottoms most.

Lure Lock'r. Keep those hooks from snagging and keep your favorite lure ready to go on your rod without tangling.  Don't leave home without them!  Lure Lock'rs Here.

RODS and REELS. We sell a great and affordable (less than $35 for rod and reel) combination from Okuma called the Finchaser Combo here at Piragis in Ely. If you want to leave your expensive rod at home because you don't want to chance a snap in the wilderness with portages, trees and snags, you can't do much better than these rods and they'll be a step (way up) for the kids or company to use when you get home.

Why Non-Lead? Common Loons gobble up lead jigs, sinkers and split shot and as a result die from lead poisoning. We are committed to keeping our State Birds happy and healthy.

Fishing with Kids: Read this Blog Post specifically written about fishing with kids 

Tim Stouffer

One of our Canoe Trip Clients submitted this photo of a Boundary Waters Northern Pike


rwskis said...

One piece of gear I consider essential is the fish grip you have in your catalog. Especially with catch and release considerations, not to mention safety of the fisherman, you will really come to appreciate this tool.
I think with Quetico's strict size limits this tool does more to make safely releasing fish feasible than their barbless hook rule.i

Unknown said...

My preference for fishing line is PowerPro Moss Green in the 15 lb test. I also use a 6" steel leader with snap swivel to ensure rocks and northern do not cut the line and lose the expensive lures. My favorite all time lure is the Rapala Jointed Shad-Rap in FireTiger pattern JSR-5 size. This year, however, the walleye, perch, and natural patterns outfished the firetiger type patterns in both my June and August trips. I also like Lindy rigs with a Gulp leech...I have never used live bait because of the hassle...and that usually works well. I have started tying my own using PowerPro line in 10 lb test (2 lb diameter) as the mono on store bought rigs is frequently cut by the teeth on big northerns. I also do not go without my fishfinder to tell me depth and find bottom structure. Purchase a $100 unit from Humminbird, Garmin, or most manufacturers and it will work fine. Power it with an 8 AA battery pack from Radio Shack with a 9-volt wire connector (also from radio shack) and wire that directly to the power feed for the fish finder. I have used one set of 8 AA battery's for 3 week long trips to the BWCAW in a year so power will not be an issue (I have a Humminbird PiranahaMax but can't speak for power consumption for others). Another essential piece of gear is a Rod is a must for trolling while paddling!

ITday said...

Thanks for sharing. Love your article!