What’s in your tackle box?

By Dave Duwe - June 1, 2010
No, it shouldn't include a credit card; keep that in your wallet. This question came up recently when a regular customer of mine, we'll call him Al, asked me why everyone has so much tackle, and I use so very little. He thought it would be a good idea for an article, so here goes. During the course of this article, I will certainly be mentioning some products that are made by companies that sponsor me, but I will also be mentioning plenty of products and companies that don't sponsor me. This is not meant to be an advertisement; it's really about having the right tools for the job with you.

Like 100% of the fishermen out there, 90% of the items in my tackle box are never used. In fact 50% of that 90% has never been taken out of its packaging. So, what is in the box? My number one fishing presentation is a split shot rig, which consists of one round split shot and a single hook. The reason you need the tackle box is because the size of the split shot and the hook will vary depending on the conditions you are fishing, such as depth and weed cover. The hook I use is a #12 Kahle or a painted #6 Snell hook. I use the painted hook for walleyes and the Kahle for just about everything else. For the split shot, I prefer the plain round shot. The tendency for most people is to buy removable split shots with wings, but those wings catch up on the weeds so they are not worth it for me.

Along the same lines as the split shot is another favorite of mine, the lindy rig. For this you need to stock some Lindy walking sinkers. Again the sinker size is dependent on the fishing conditions. Lindy rig fishing is more of a vertical presentation than the typical cast and retrieve.

The next must have in the box are lead head jigs. They come in the various colors of the rainbow, but for me the size is more important than the color. I use 1/32 oz for crappies and panfish and then larger sizes; 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8 oz etc for walleye fishing on the rivers. The jig size is determined by the thickness of the weeds or the current of the river.

The last must have for live bait presentations is bobbers. I use Thill Balsa bobbers rather than the hard plastics. I prefer them because there is less resistance for the fish to pull them down.

My #1 artificial lure has to be the spinnerbait. If I had only one choice, it would be a white ½ oz with a single Colorado blade. This bait can catch Northern Pike, Largemouth bass and an occasional walleye. The spinner bait is able to fish water from 2 to 20 ft deep. The retrieve will dictate the depth. The slower the retrieve, the deeper the bait will go. Whatever your retrieve method, the spinnerbait is versatile and you can't fish it wrong. The biggest problem is getting bit off by a pike.

There are so many options for Crankbaits that it's tough to know what to buy. As a rule, the best color for any lake is chrome/blue or chrome/black in any bait. The must haves here are Rat-l-trap, Rapala Husky jerk baits, and Bandit crankbaits 400 or 300 series are a must. I like smaller crankbaits. With a smaller bait, any fish that swims in the lake will bite, with a large bait, you've eliminated a lot of strikes. As with most baits, crankbaits included, confidence is the key. Most of the time, the bait you have the most confidence in will remain on your pole a lot longer than an experiment.

Another mandatory bait in the box is a Mepps #5 with a squirrel tail. It also can catch just about anything that swims and it is as easy to fish as a spinnerbait. It uses a simple cast and retrieve, the only variation is the speed of the retrieve.

For Largemouth bass fishing, nothing can beat a plastic worm. The best colors for me have always been black or grape. You can use Berkley Power Bait or Yum Ribbon worms. Of course, with plastic worms you need a 2/0 worm hook. The best method to fish the worms is the Texas rig. The bullet weight required are 1/8 oz or 1/4 oz, it will work for just about any application.

Musky fishermen can get by with only two lures. A black bucktail with an orange blade or a surface bait in a black color, the Topper Stopper is my bait of choice.

Obviously, I haven't mentioned the other odds and ends that find their way into the tackle box, but we do need and use, the ruler, needle nosed pliers, weight scale, etc. But as for the baits themselves, we could likely get by with much smaller tackle boxes than we choose to have. But really, how fun is that?

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .