Top five lures for every tackle box
From the deep runs of the Yellowstone near Big Timber to the shallow alpine lakes of the Tobacco Roots, southwest Montana is one of the most fruitful angling areas around. However, with all that water and all those different species of fish, the common spin-fisherman could very well end up with a tackle box the size of a trailer, bursting with numerous doo-dads, thing-a-ma-jigs, and buggy-looking creations. Therein lies the rub. A lot of lures and flies don’t catch fish—they catch the hard-earned money of fishermen.
However, it’s possible to fish the Big Sky Country in its entirety with only five lures. Yep—just five. These tried-and-true staples are the best of the best and have been proven by professional and novice anglers for years.
#5 Marabou Jig
This lure is as simple as they come and is available in more sizes, colors, and configurations than you can shake a rod at. Tip it with a bit of night crawler, some salmon eggs, a maggot, it doesn’t matter—bait will add a bit of scent to the enticing action of the feathers. Jigs can be trolled, jigged, swung, stripped, or suspended beneath a bobber. Very small/micro jigs are great for use on a fly rod as well.
#4 Thomas Colorado Minnow Spoon
If you can’t catch fish—especially trout—on one of these, then they can’t be caught. Fish this spoon in lakes while trolling very slowly from a boat, canoe, or float tube. When in rivers, target deep holes and vary the retrieve speed with quick rod-tip jerks for realistic action. The nickel and gold combo is the most productive color in this lure, and it is best fished on bright days.
#3 Rapala CountDown
A lure that replicates the look, color, and swimming motion of almost any baitfish? Duh! I like the #1—the smallest size—in the rainbow trout pattern. Just match the pattern to the most prolific forage fish in any given water. Adjust depth and “swimming” speed by varying your retrieve. Rapalas work great in lakes and big rivers.
#2 Panther Martin Teardrop Spinner
This classic in-line spinner has put a lot of fish in fryin’ pans over the years. Due to the lead teardrop body, these lures are great for casting distance and getting deep. Vary depth by varying retrieve speed, and entice strikes by using a sporadic stop-and-start technique.
#1 Mepps Aglia Spinner
Simply legendary and available in every color imaginable, #2 in gold is a never-fail bet. Absolutely killer when fished with a river current, retrieve fast enough to get the blade spinning, and hold on!
Fishing with these lures is a surefire way to catch a limit. However, because they are oftentimes so effective, they can also catch fish you may otherwise want to release. With the exception of the jig, all of the above come with a standard treble hook. Treble hooks are almost impossible to remove from any deeply hooked fish without causing death. To ease hook removal and ensure good fishing for the future, simply snip off two of the prongs from the factory hook, and pinch the remaining barb. To add a bit of flash and “blood” trail, remove the factory hook altogether, and replace it with a red Gamakatsu trailing or egg hook and small split ring. Good luck and happy fishing.
Kurt Dehmer owns Durty Kurty’s Guide Service in Bozeman.
- O/B Store