Catching Canada: The lures
Crankbaits, spinners, soft-plastics and more, for walleye, bass, pike, muskies and trout—our exclusive annual roundup for Canadian anglers is sure to impress.
Best Vibrating Jig
To create this handy hybrid, Canada’s Freedom Tackle Corp teamed up with Z-Man Fishing Products, maker of the Original ChatterBait bladed jig. With the ChatterBait equipped with Freedom’s patented quick-change system, you can now easily swap out your favourite makes, models and sizes of hook, including weedless ones, as well as use a wide variety of trailers. And because the hook swings freely, big fish can’t gain leverage and throw the lure. Brilliant.
Freedom Tackle Corp, (416) 748-7250; www.freedomlures.com
Best hard-plastic finesse bait
Unlike the propellers on most spinbaits that turn the same way, the new Arashi Spinbait features a counter-rotating design with a three-blade prop up front and a two-blader at the back. This unique arrangement creates flash and vibration that fish have never before seen, felt or heard. Plus, the counter-rotating design ensures the bait tracks perfectly straight at the super-slow speeds at which spinbaits excel. Available in 10 colours, this 3 1/8-inch, 1/3-ounce lure is designed to catch highly pressured bass.
Normark Canada, (905) 571-3001; www.storm.fishing
Best topwater lure
A hinged, sausage-like topwater lure that’s really two lures in one, the Link is designed to locate active fish. It takes practice to walk the dog with most topwater lures, but the high-floating Link sashays back and forth on its own when you reel it back to the boat. Available in two models (mimicking fleeing baitfish and a slithering snake), two sizes (4 1/2" and 6.75") and nine colour patterns, the Link promises to drive fish crazy.
Lunkerhunt, (416) 792-0385; www.lunkerhunt.com
Best in-line spinner
The new AC Hybrid series from Mepps combines the classic Aglia blade with the timeless Comet body. The blade is plated with pure silver for maximum reflection, while the solid-brass body is machine lathed, not cheaply stamped, so it retains its shape and balance. The stainless steel, self-lubricating shaft and brass clevis also means the blade rotates smoothly at the slowest possible speed. Trout and salmon anglers are also going to go gaga over the red, orange and chartreuse egg-adorned hooks that complement the four different blade colours.
Brecks Inc., (819) 563-2115; www.mepps.ca
Best new hard-bodied rip jig
A hot trend among walleye anglers has been to fish Rapala’s revered ice lure, the Jigging Rap, during the open-water season, either by casting it out and snapping it back to the boat or by rip-jigging it while trolling a contour. Now Rapala has introduced a shorter, wider and 80 per cent heavier lure designed specifically for the open water. Available in 10 colours and two sizes, the Flat Jig should be a killer in deep water and heavy current when you need to control your lure without letting out too much line. Rapala Canada, (905) 571-3001; www.rapala.ca
Best toothy critter topwater bait
3D SUICIDE DUCK
Even though Savage Gear’s 3D Suicide Duck was deemed Best New Hard Bait at ICAST, I thought it was a bit of a gimmick. Then I saw it in action—I now have no doubt that big toothy critters will crush it. Constructed of tough ABS plastic, with a 3-D-scanned paint job and semi-soft feet, the bait can be made totally weedless by removing the chest hook. And with the spinning back legs creating a bubble trail, the Suicide Duck makes a killer wake bait.
Savage Gear, www.savage-gear.com
Best toothy critter spinner
I love the fish-attracting qualities of marabou, whether it’s on a tiny crappie jig or on mammoth muskie lures such as the J.H. Baits series. Available in a variety of weights and lengths, these lures are handmade in Canada and built on wire coils, not the shaft of the bait itself. That means if one gets badly bent out of shape, you simply slide on a new wire and the bait is as good as the day you bought it. Very smart. J.H.
Baits, (705) 716-6867; www.jonhathaway.wixsite.com/jhbaits
Best fishing hooks
Trapper Tackle is changing the way we look at terminal tackle with its patented, box-shaped hook that’s designed to lock into a fish’s lip, preventing the fish from spitting the hook when it shakes and jumps. The unique design is also ideal for positioning live bait and soft-plastic dressings so they stand out straight. The hooks come in five configurations, including the Dropshot/Live Bait/Finesse Hook, which took home the ICAST Best Terminal Tackle award.
Trapper Tackle, (305) 930-6952; www.trappertackle.com
Best soft-plastic swimbait
Most paddletails sway side to side while the tail kicks, but the Magslowl’s body is designed to stay still while the tail pulsates seductively at the slowest possible retrieve speed. Megabass created this entirely different action by carefully tapering the tail and using softer plastic. The internal magnet that secures the feathered treblehook to the body is smart, too, reducing the profile of the lure, yet adding a lifelike fin. Available in five-, seven- and nine-inch models and six colours, the Magslowl is a winner.
Megabass, (650) 637-1617; www.megabassusa.com
Best new muskie bait
Any time muskie-fishing legend Jon Bondy works on a multi-year project to design a new lure for big toothy critters, I want in on the action. Designed to be cast and trolled, the 7 1/2-inch, 4.4-ounce Bondy Prophet is just such a bait. Featuring a solid body with through-wire construction, 5/0 VMC hooks and a thick, custom-cut aluminum lip, the Prophet is virtually indestructible. Available in 10 fish-catching colours, this crankbait is destined to be a winner.
Bondy Bait Company, (226) 346-1748; www.bondybaitcompany.com