Canadian Fishing Trip Preparation: Tackle and Gear for your Fishing Vacation


After many trips north of the border, I have refined my Canadian fishing trip preparation with a tackle and gear list. Allow me to share it with you. The items I recommend are basically the proper fishing gear for Canadian fly-in trips or locations where you will use a camp boat. If towing a boat, the list would be much longer.

Essential tackle for fishing Canada:

  • Passport. You won’t get across the border without it.
  • Drift Sock. Usually, outfitter boats are 14- to 16-feet long, so a smaller, easily packed sock is all you need.
  • Electronics unit. Take the one that shows everything you need to know. Most batteries last many days in warmer months. If you can’t charge batteries, turn the unit off when you don’t absolutely need it.
  • Rods. Limiting the number is the toughest chore for me, but necessary. Take your perfect jigging rod, which you can also use to cast small crankbaits. A medium-heavy spinning rod 7 or 7 1/2-feet long works for twitch baits, jigging, bigger cranks, live-bait rigging or surface lures. If giant pike and muskies are present, take a muskie/pike casting rod and a few Mepps, Suicks, big Rapalas, large deep-diving Yo-Zuri cranks and Northland Bionic spinnerbaits. Pack a few large spoons, too.
  • My favorite Husky Jerks always go to Canada with me. I bring an X-Rap or two just in case.
  • Mandatory: Jigging Raps, Vexan Crystal Reapers, Shiver Minnows, Custom Jigs Rotating Power Minnows, Northland Puppet Minnows and Lunkerhunt straight-up glide baits.
  • An extra spool filled with line for each reel. Take an extra reel. Pack a 300-yard spool of the line you’ll use most.
  • Plastics. For 1/8- and 1/4-ounce jigs, the 3-, 4- and 5-inch plastics from so many companies catch all the smallies, walleyes and even pike you could ever hope for. Northland Slurpies, Custom Jigs & Spins Ringworms, Gulp, PowerBait, Lunkerhunt Bentos or your other favorites will be just what the doctor ordered. Ringworms, paddle tails and grub tails are all good.

Check on the use of live bait. If live bait increases your confidence level (and it’s legal where you’re going), fine. But, I haven’t taken or used bait in Canada for decades. Remember, if you plan to bring live bait, you’ll also have to include ways to keep the bait alive and wriggling in your tackle and gear.

Essential Lures to catch fish in Canada:

  • A selection of crankbaits. Bagley, Rapala, Bay Rat and Yo-Zuri are my favorites. Select some that run shallow for early in the year or when waves crash shorelines, islands, points or reefs. Take some lures that can run down to 20 feet.
  • Bottom bouncers with spinner harnesses and 6-inch plastic worms.
  • Topwater lures.  
  • Wire leaders (pre-made), or tie your own with Tyger wire or Cortland Critter wire. I always use wire, because pike like to eat whatever I throw. I tie direct to jigs, but create my own 15-pound crankbait leaders with a swivel on one end and a snap on the other.

Make sure spinnerbaits have a closed-loop line tie. The bass-style spinnerbaits with an “R” bend don’t work well with wire leaders.

Check hook restrictions. Some regions require single hooks, not trebles. Many areas and entire provinces specify barbless hooks on the lures on the end of your rod. Crimp down barbs with a needle-nose pliers. Make sure all your tackle and gear is in top condition before heading out.

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Essential gear for Canadian Fishing Trip

  • Miscellaneous items: Pliers, hook remover, mouth-spreader, hook sharpener, filet knife, jack knife, camera, measuring tape, foldable net, sunscreen, polaroid sunglasses, rain gear, hand-held GPS and extra batteries, compass, watch, case of water, turtle-neck, Under Armour long john tops and bottoms, hoodie, wind pants, flannel shirt.
  • Plastic trays for packing gear and tackle. Tape trays with duct tape for safe travel.
  • An extra pair of reading glasses. I need them so I recommend extras.

Keep it underweight and keep in touch!

You would be amazed how all this gear can be condensed into the weight requirements for a fly-in. It’s easy to lug around, too. Take photos of everything and share your amazing adventure with everybody!

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