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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Tackle preferences

Q. I’m going on a fly-in fishing trip this summer and am trying to figure out what I should bring for tackle. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Gearing up will depend on the species of fish you’re targeting. Walleyes, northern pike and lake trout — usually in that order — are the big three for fly-in anglers and all have different lure preferences.

For walleyes, you can’t go wrong with a good selection of jigs and soft plastic tails. And you especially can’t go wrong with yellow- and gold-colored jigs and tails. Most of the Canadian fly-in lakes I’ve fished have tannin-stained water that’s the color of root beer, and for whatever reason, the fish seem to find yellow and gold especially attractive. The fish generally aren’t overly deep, so one-fourth to three-eighth ounce jigs should fit the bill in most situations. Other bright colors such as orange, chartreuse and white also are good bets. Bring lots — I’d recommend at least two dozen — because you’ll lose plenty to rocks and toothy northern pike.

Soft plastic baits such as the Slug-Go work well for pike and can be cast through weeds without picking up too much greenery. Mepps makes a “Piker Kit” that has a selection of spinnerbaits and spoons that are proven producers, and I especially like the “Syclops” spoon that’s part of the kit. I’ve done well for both pike and walleyes casting the Syclops in the weeds. Topwater baits such as the Moss Boss also are a blast if the fish are in the right mood.

Quality wire leaders with a cross-lock clip that will withstand dozens of pike encounters are must-have equipment.

Lake trout seek out deep, cold water as summer progresses. I prefer jigging over trolling, so I’d stock up on 1-ounce bucktail jigs (Bemidji-based Kenkatch Tackle Co. has a great selection) and similar size Buzz Bombs, which can be fished vertically in deep water. Before the fish head too deep, Doctor Spoons, Little Cleo spoons, Daredevles (especially the Five of Diamonds pattern) and large-lipped crankbaits such as the Rapala Deep Tail Dancer work well for trolling.

And of course, old standbys such as the No. 5 or No. 7 Shad Rap should be part of any fishing arsenal for all species. Enjoy!

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Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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