My favorite fishing gear for targeting smallmouth bass, musky, pike, walleye, trout, and other game species.

 

All my favorite gear:

  • Lures (including color and size)
  • Rods / reels
  • Line and other tackle
  • Videography / editing
  • And more!
 
 
 

Top Must have Upper Peninsula Smallmouth, Largemouth, Pike, Musky, and Walleye Lures

Fish can be very finicky - what do they want?  Take out the guesswork and try these lures as I have already done the guesswork and experimentation and know that fish will hit them.

I've caught smallies, largies, pike, musky, and even walleye on these lures.  These are by far my favorite lures to fish with in the UP.  I always have one, two, or three of these in my emergency tacklebox when I leave home.  You never know when you are going to need to stop and fish!


The SPRO BBZ-1 Size 30 rat is my favorite lure to fish rivers in the UP.  It's a topwater lure that dives to about 1 foot of depth when given a steady retrieve.  I've caught huge smallies, largies, pike, musky, and even walleye with this lure.  My favorite locations to toss it are in shallow rivers with a bit of current.  This lure is great - however don't be turned off by the larger size 40 and try different colors as well.  I've caught nice fish on the morning dawn rat, brown rat and chrome rat in size 30 and 40.

This lure holds my current personal best walleye 23-26 inches, as well as multiple 20 inch smallies, and some nice 36+ inch musky.

 Big small on a BBZ-1 30 size Morning Dawn

Big small on a BBZ-1 30 size Morning Dawn


The Heddon Zara Puppy is a great topwater lure for a variety of species of gamefish.  It is an old lure that still rocks the walk-the-dog style retrieve that entices big topwater bites.  This is my favorite economical lure of the UP.  This lure has caught smallies, pike, musky and even some smaller species will hit it.  The trick to fishing the lure is fishing it with a lighter line - if you use a leader of metal or heavy fluorocarbon it will entirely kill the action.  IF you are fishing water with lots of pike and musky it would be a better bet to size up to a larger Super Spook Jr. so you can get away with using a heavier leader to avoid bite offs and keep the good action.

This lure holds my current second personal best musky 39 inch and a variety of 20 inch smallmouth bass.


The Heddon Feather Dressed Super Spook Jr. and Heddon Super Spook Jr. are another great topwater lure option.  This lure is slightly larger than the Zara puppy and will produce more noise and commotion to bring deeper fish to the surface.  Sometimes more size is the key to getting the fish to hit.  The great aspect of this lure is that you can use a heavier leader and still retain the good action of the lure.  My favorite colors are Redhead, Bone, and the Foxxy colors.  

This lure holds my current personal best smallmouth 20.5" and largemouth 19".


The Yamamoto Senko or Yum Dinger 3 inch - 4inch - and 5 inch in any color (my favorite is Watermelon green with flakes).  This is my go-to bait when other lures are not working.  Sometimes topwater just won't work.  When topwater fails I throw this bait rigged weightless, wacky, or with a small splitshot.  In the rivers I prefer a small splitshot about 12-18inches above the worm and on lakes I ALWAYS throw it wacky style.

I throw these baits with the Owner Wacky hooks.  They do good work on all kinds of bass.  They are not weedless, but you can rig it weedless by leaving the hook embedded in the worm.  To retain your worms on the hook I suggest using small O-rings or mini-zipties to cinch the worm in the middle to keep it attached to the hook.

Largemouth and smallmouth cannot resist this bait - drift it or let it sink.  They will come to it. 

Rarely I've even had MUSKY hit this worm wacky rigged.  


 Big musky on a Size 4 Mepps Agila Silver Blade with Brown hair trailer

Big musky on a Size 4 Mepps Agila Silver Blade with Brown hair trailer

The Size 3-4-5  Mepps Agila Dressed Spinner is fantastic.  This is my go-to bait when I want to fish fast.  This lure has caught me more big pike, musky, and smallies than any of my other lures combined..  I've caught big pike casting and trolling this lure, as well as smallies, and musky.  I love fishing this lure in current of any kind.  My favorite colors are the Silver Blade with a Brown hair skirt.

I've caught 36-39 inch pike on this lure, 36+ inch musky, and 20 inch smallmouth.

 

The Mepps Musky Killer is a larger version of the Mepps Agila and a GREAT Musky / Pike lure that can be retrieved at a rapid pace.  This lure is great in current and is a fun river musky lure.  You won't be catching smallmouth on this lure - but the muskies will definitely hit this.  Make sure you have a metal leader / heavy fluorocarbon leader when fishing this type of lure as when the musky bites you want to be able to avoid any bite through on your line.


The Whopper Plopper is great!  My very first day using this lure I caught 2 musky and a 20inch smallmouth.  This is a great lure for river fishing.  Musky, Smallies, and pike nail this lure.  This might be my all time favorite lure - for ease of use, price, topwater blowup potential, and fish catching ability.  Great lure.  Get at least 3 - one to lose in a tree, one to lose to a big musky, and the last to keep slinging all day.

I love the size 90 the most - however, the size 75, 110, and 130 will all catch fish.  Some days I will throw the size 90 in Sooner color all day and never rig another lure.  Sooner color is amazing - as well as the bone coloration.  However, any color will catch you fish.

 


 

Other Fishing Essentials

Below you will find the other fishing gear that I use constantly.


Pflueger Spinning Rod and Reel Combo in both Ultralight and Medium action.  Fishing with this combo is awesome.  I use the ultralight version for trout and panfish and I use the medium action version for smallmouth, pike, walleye, and river musky.  Definitely high quality rods, reels, and line for an affordable price.  I toss on 6 LB test if I am targeting trout with the ultralight version.  If I am targeting fish with the medium action rod I use 20-30 LB braid with a leader of fluorocarbon in front of it.  Check below for the exact line.


Power Pro 20/25/30 LB Braided fishing line with Vicious Fishing 17 Lb Fluorocarbon leader is great for your line and then leader material.  If you are fishing for smallies, largies, or walleye and want to avoid the random pike biteoffs and still catch fish you should try this leader out.  In two years of fishing I've only had one straight bite through on this line and that was a nice sized muskie.  Really great to avoid losing lures to 18 inch pike.

If you are even more concerned about bite offs and you want to upgrade your leader material I would suggest the Rio Fluoroflex tippet.  I use this leader material in the 20 LB and 40 LB size.  It is a bit stiffer, but I have not had a fish bite through this leader yet.  I know it is marketed towards fly angers, but it works great for spin-fishermen.  


 

All other Assorted Gear

Below you will find the other items and gear that I use nearly daily over the spring, summer, and fall months fishing and exploring.

 


GoPro Hero5 Black and also GoPro Hero3+ Silver are my two go to recording items.  99% of my footage comes from these two cameras.  I like having two to get different angles, but you can get away with one of them and use only a headmount for pretty cheap.  The Black Pro Basic Common Outdoor Sport's Kit has a bunch of great GoPro accessories that I use frequently.

 

Any of the newer GoPro products will be great - they can all do 1080p video in 60 frames or higher allowing for super smooth slow motion shots and great overall quality.  If you have money to spend - I'd look into the GoPro Hero 6.


AmazonBasics Carrying Case!  This case rocks!  If you own a GoPro, you need this case - it is inexpensive, but quite good in the quality department.  I've taken my case to Africa, Mexico, and into the deep woods and back without any issues.


To get good audio on the GoPro Hero 5 you will need this case to hold this mic for best results.  The Rode VideoMicro is great matched with the Luxebell C400 Alum. case.  The GoPro Hero 5 has a tendency to pick up a lot of wind noise and this mic eliminates 99% of that issue.  If you plan on using your video for Youtube, Vimeo, or Facebook I would suggest using this mic setup.


This is the gear I use to rig my GoPro and audio Mic setup behind me for that over-the-shoulder view.  The Painter pole extends the camera and all it needs is the adapter to mount your GoPro mount to the painter pole.  It works very well.