My favorite fishing gear for targeting Michigan smallmouth, musky, walleye, and pike.

"This is the gear that I use to target chunky smallmouth bass, skittish brook trout, and hulking muskie and northern pike."

All my favorite gear:

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

Top 6 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 6 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!

HW Rat 6.jpg

The SPRO BBZ-1 Morning Dawn 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 holds my current personal best walleye 23-26".

The Heddon Zara Puppy Redhead color is a great topwater lure.  It is an old lure that still rocks the walk-the-dog style retrieve that entices big topwater bites.  This is my second favorite (and much more economical) lure of the UP.  This lure has caught smallies, pike, musky and even some smaller species will hit it.  

This lure holds my current second personal best musky 37-39".

The Heddon Feather Dressed Super Spook Jr. in Bone color is another great topwater.  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 bone color is my favorite color for topwater.

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

The Yamamoto Senko 4" in Watermelon Green anything.  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.

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

The Size 5 (1/2 oz.) Mepps Agila Dressed Silver Blade Spinner is fantastic.  This is my go-to bait when I want to fish fast.  This lure has caught me more big pike than any of my other lures combined..  I've caught big pike casting and trolling this lure, as well as smallies, and musky.

I've caught 36-39" pike on this lure.

The Whopper Plopper size 90 in Sooner is great!  This lure has only been with me only one summer - but it is a definite contender for favorite lure.  My first day using this lure I picked up not one but two muskie in a small UP river.  I have the lure in the Sooner color, but I think any of the colors would work well.  It seems that the majority of the smallmouth that hit this lure are super chunky.


Other Fishing Essentials

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

Pflueger Spinning Rod and Reel Combo 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 4-6lb test if I am targeting trout with the ultralight version.

Power Pro 30LB Braided fishing line with Vicious Fishing 17Lb 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.


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.

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 and back without any issues.

To get good audio on the GoPro Hero5 you will need this case to hold this mic for best results.  The Rode VideoMicro is great matched with the Luxebell C400 Alum. case.

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