It was Memphis-hot, but Wes Shepherd and I were in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. A heat wave had drifted from the Southwest into Canada. We didn’t pay it any mind, being too busy fishing pristine lakes. Though we had both loved fishing from birth, we had gone different ways in our fishing techniques. And it showed here.
The two of us were floating the shoreline in a canoe. Wes was in the bow, throwing a small rubber grub lure, sort of jigging it off the bottom as we moved along the shore. I, on the other hand, was throwing floating top water plugs, such as a Heddon frog.
Wes was catching almost exclusively walleye, while I was catching exclusively smallmouth bass — from the same boat. See, what type of lure you cast matters as much as what type of water into which you are casting.
I learned a lot that day about spin fishing. Consider what lures you will use next outing. Below is a suggested list for a spin fishing base kit that has worked for me on streams, rivers and backcountry lakes throughout the U.S.
As far as specific spin fishing lures to take, always take into account individual stream regulations — but this is a base list of lures from which to work. The first choice is a 1/8th ounce gold Panther Martin spinner, with orange trim. Gold seems to work everywhere a lure will work.
You can see the gold spinner run through the water and consequently see the strike. That’s half the fun. I would have at least 3 of these at all times, even on a day trip. Panther Martin spinners are superior because of design. The blade is mounted directly on the spinner shaft, forcing a spin no matter the speed of the current or your retrieve, whereas the blades of other spinners are hooked to metal that is hooked to the shaft. Contemplate making one of your Panther Martins a ¼ ounce lure. This way you can cast farther and bigger lures, catch bigger fish (but not always more fish). The smaller lure, 1/16 ounce, can be prohibitively small, especially when it comes to distance casting. They are preferred only on the smallest of trout streams.
Secondly, I would have a gold Mepps Agila, dressed with a brown “squirrel tail,” which disguises the hook and gives added action. It is tried and true, outlasting trendy lures.
I always take three plugs. The first is a floater/diver Rebel Crawfish. I recommend the Teeny Wee Crawfish and the Wee Crawfish for most waters. Speaking of twos, what about two different fish, two different sizes, on one Rebel Crawfish?
My pal Kent Roller and I were on West Virginia’s Greenbrier River when he threw a crawdad into a midstream hole. He got a strike right away and to his surprise he pulled up a smallmouth bass and a rock bass, each latched onto their own treble hook on the crawdad. I have had my own “double-doubles” as well.
When it comes to trout I have better luck with the smaller size crawfish. As with all lures I am a fan of realistic colors. Go with red/brown or green/brown. This can be used for trout, panfish and bass. The Rebel Crawfish can be operated as a topwater lure, and for deeper action. If you aren’t having luck, try reeling at different speeds, and bang off rocks to recreate the erratic movements of a crawfish. Sometimes, an ultra-slow retrieve will bring in the fish when nothing else is working.
The second plug would be a gold floating Rapala, 3 1/8 inches, with two treble hooks. This can be effectively used as topwater bait in lakes and in still water on streams, and can also bring out some big fish from larger stream pools. It can also draw in trout and smaller bass in moving water. The third and final plug in the arsenal would be a Heddon Baby Torpedo with the blade on back.
Specifically, I use the green and white baby bass and the green and yellow bullfrog Heddon. These can be deadly when operated correctly in still water, but are much less effective in moving water. Sometimes, while stream fishing, if I get to a particularly large hole, I will change to a plug from a spinner to see if I can catch the big one. The best multi-use plug from the above is the crawfish.
This aquatic arsenal has evolved over the years. I was once a big fan of Roostertail spinners but found the blades less effective in waters of varying current speeds. If you want more variety in your spinners, vary your colors, including silver-based Panther Martins and Mepps. For faster moving waters, you may also want to include a Panther Martin with a wider, heavier body.
So whether you are on a lake in Ontario, Canada, or the Nolichucky River in Greene County, Tennessee, your choice of lures can alter your fishing experience.