Ryan’s Tackle Box

Ryan has put together some of his favourite lure choices so that every guest traveling to Big Hook can get to know the fish on a first name basis. As weight is a consideration on a fly-in trip, and our fish are eager biters to say the least, one certainly doesn’t need to come with duffle bags full of tackle. But if you’re looking for that special “wonder-bait” to round out your collection, read through his selections below. Click on highlighted text for the manufacturer’s product information.

*Also note, per the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), LIVE BAIT FISH and FROZEN SMELT are PROHIBITED in waters at Big Hook Wilderness Camps. This is to protect the area from invasive species. Night crawlers are allowed for live bait.

Below are pictures of a couple fish caught, photoed and released on tackle that is discussed in this article.

Walleye Lures

Walleye are one of the most popular species targeted by anglers in North America. Big Hook Wilderness Camps offers some of the most prolific walleye fishing NW Ontario. As a fly-in outfitter located 185 miles from the nearest road, our lakes receive minimal pressure from anglers. Pair that with a catch and released policy where all walleye over 18″ are returned to the water and you presented with an amazing fishery. Listed below are several bait suggestions that are effective in Big Hook Wilderness Camps bodies of water.

Jig Heads

Jigs (see photo left)

Sensitive to daylight and affected by the smallest of weather patterns, walleye have built a reputation of being a finicky species. Jigs are the most effective lures to combat picky walleye. Optimal weights are 1/4 oz to 1/2 oz. The weight varies on the depth and technique you are fishing. Early summer when water temperatures are cool, lighter jigs (1/4 oz) in shallower water are more effective. Whereas, later summer the heavier jigs (3/8 oz or 1/2 oz) are able to reach the bottom.

Popular jig head colors are: white, black, flouro orange, yellow, and flouro pink.

Northland Tackle has a great selection of jig heads. Specifically, I like the GUM-Ball and Eye-Ball jig heads. Jigheads are easily found at every tackle store. A key accessory to purchase with new jigheads is the eye hole buster.

Berkley Gulp

Plastic Tails

Pair your jig with a plastic tail. In my opinion, the tail color is more important than the jig head. There are millions of plastic tails to choose from. My favorites are Berkley Gulp 3″ flouro orange and pumpkinseed(see pic left).

Another productive plastic tail is manufactured by Mister Twister. The 4″ Twister Tail in white, yellow, black, brown and pink are tough to beat.


These lures are great for trolling or casting. Problem is, there are thousands to choose from. Don’t get overwhelmed purchasing 50 different types. Fishing with crank baits can be broken down to which time of year you are fishing. Early or late summer. Early summer utilizes slower trolling or casting of shallower diving baits, where 3-8 ft deep is the optimal range. Whereas, deeper diving baits can be retrieved quicker around the 12-17 ft range. Color patterns of various baits hold effective throughout the year.

Fat Rap Hero

For shallower baits I like:

  • Rapala Silver Fat Rap
  • Yozuri Crystal Minnow blue/silver and flouro orange/silver; is a great lure to cast in rapids.
  • Reef Runner Little Ripper (see pic left)perch, pink, fire tiger or bare naked are excellent colors.

Shallow Shad Rap Hero

My favorite deeper running crank baits are:

  • Rapala Shad Rap SR07(Pictured left) hot tiger, blue silver, or firetiger. Runs about 12-15′, best trolled slowly.
  • Rapala Original F18 (firetiger, silver), more of a mid depth runner at around 7-10 ft. Also very good for pike.
  • Cotton Cordell Wally Diver (blue/silver, green, orange juice), works best later in the summer late July/August.
  • Reef Runner 600 series (bare naked, pearl ghost, flame, hot tamale), erratic action that bounces well over rocks with minimal snagging.
  • Rattle Trap(most colors), very versatile bait that can be jigged, trolled or cast.
  • Hot N Tot (Blue Silver, orange) another lure with lots of action and is best trolled when water temperatures warm.

Little Joe Rig

Other Rigs

There are various other walleye fishing technique’s that include utilizing spinning baits or live bait such as night crawlers.

  • Little Joe Rigs.(Pic left) With added weight like a spilt shot or in line trolling lead these rigs can slowly bounce over the bottom or trolled for suspended walleye. Tip the rig with a night crawler or Berkley Gulp.
  • Finally, a simple cork and worm never fails! A relaxing rig to fish with, just toss and wait for the bobber to bounce. Generally, set the bait to about one foot off the bottom.

Northern Pike Lures

In my opinion, northern have a greater array of baits to choose from. Bait presentations vary from skirting a top water bait over the surface to burning a buck tail through the weeds to retrieving a crank bait over a rock pile. We will first look at lures on the surface and work our way deeper.

Joe Bucher Shallow Raider

Top Water

Top water action for pike is the most exciting way to fish. The sudden explosion on the surface sends even the toughest fisherman’s heart racing. This technique is generally performed when water temperatures have warmed and fish have become more active. July and August are peak topwater months. Low light conditions and calm water provide optimal chances for trophy pike while top water fishing. Several of my favorite top water lures are as follows:

  • Buchertail Top Raider (any color), is a noisy and unfortunately expensive lure that really produces. Check Gander Mountain or Fleet Farm for best prices.
  • Buzz Bait(any color, see photo left), medium retrieve over weed beds is most effective. Add a white twister tail for extra action.
  • Zara Spook (all colors), probably the most popular “walk the dog” lure ever.

Johnson Silver Minnow


These three spoons are a must in my tackle box. Spoons are simple lures to fish, just steady cast and retrieve or even trolled along a weed bed. No matter what the condition, spoons are effective hassle free lures.

  • Johnson Silver Minnow(silver 3/4 oz or larger)Pictured left, is deadly through the weeds and even more lethal with a twister tail attached to the hook.
  • The Doctor Spoon (chrome, hammered blue/silver) has produced many large pike.
  • Len Thompson Five of Diamonds is an all time classic. Don’t forget this one!

Mepps Agila


There are endless color combinations that I could list here. These baits are most effective cast and retrieved through weed beds and along mud flats.

  • Mepps Agila, the classic #5 copper blade is tough to beat.
  • Musky Killer, another great product from Mepps. There is something about the bucktail on this lure that attracts trophy pike.
  • SKII, a deadly 8# Colorado bladed bucktail that is produced by Skimmer Tackle. The Killertail bucktail (see pic left) is also well worth the money.
  • Blue Fox Vibrax 5/8 oz yellow skirt. Don’t let this little guy fool you, pike love it!

Bull Dawg Soft Lure Fishing Soft Bait Zabder Freshwater Curly Shad Bulldog Pike Lures Coarse Leurre.jpg Q90.jpg

Soft Plastics

The plus side to plastic baits are natural life like action. The down side is they are easily destroyed by toothy pike and their price tags. These following lures have probably boated more trophy pike for me than any other baits over the past 3 years.

  • Bull Dawg (all colors) regular size or spring size are most effective. This heavy bait requires a stout rod and heavy line to cast. Crimp the barbs on this lure cause pike inhale it!
  • Delong Killer Eel (see pic) This slashing bait takes some time to learn. Works best in the spring and can slash through heavy weed cover in later summer as well. This bait dives at most 5 ft and drives pike wild, black and fire tiger orange are best colors.
  • Hard Nose Swim Shad all colors are great options. This weedless lure is great in heavy foliage. Straight cast and retrieve works best.

Bomber Long A Active


Once again I could list dozens of crank bait lures here. In an effort to save space and weight in your tackle box, these three have been most effective over the years.

  • Bomber Long A Magnum (see pic left) is my favorite crank bait. Very versatile; can be trolled, cast, or even worked as a top water lure. Gold and silver are top colors.
  • Suick one of the most famous jerk/slash/crank baits of all time. Most colors are effective, however my favorites are black and perch colored. These lures can be purchased at just about any tackle store. Make sure to crimp the barbs on this lure as the 9 hooks can be dangerous!
  • Rattle Trap not only is this lure great for walleye but pike find it irresistible as well. This lure is similar to Rapala’s version, but can be purchased in larger sizes. Can be worked in every fishing environment.

Perch Lures

This popular species is common in the waters around the Opasquia Provincial Park. Focusing on using smaller spinning baits and live nightcrawlers produces best results. I have found perch fishing peaks with weed growth, as this species loves to hide in the foliage. Depending on the water temperature, July through August have historically been the optimal angling months for perch.

Beetle Spin

Burnt, Favourable and Southwest are our most popular outpost lakes for perch. Perch are most commonly found were foliage exists. Search out your favorite weed bed and cast these following lures into the thickest patches.

  • Beetle Spins (white and yellow) Pictured left is a great little lure to attract this tasty species.
  • Panther Martin (silver, copper) spinner #1 or #2 are a great size.
  • Finally, a float with a small #2 hook and worm never fails!

Hopefully these tackle suggestions make your next fishing trip to Big Hook Camps a productive one. Remember to practice catch and release. Big Hook Wilderness Camps has a NO TROPHY take out policy. This means all Northern over 27″ must be released and all walleye over 18″ must be released. This insures Big Hook’s fishery will continue as one of the top in Canada. Good luck on the water everyone!

Big Hook Wilderness Camps