It’s time to stock the tackle box
Discover some of the best baits and lures for fishing in Utah this year.
Ryan is a fisheries biologist whose work focuses on both the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir. He loves to hike, hunt, fish and play in the surrounding hills when he's not at work.
“WHAT DO I NEED?” is a question I frequently hear when I take someone fishing. Today’s tackle choices are almost limitless, especially when you consider all the different lures and their variations in size, weight and color. I think most anglers are overwhelmed by all the choices, and I understand completely — I’m getting to be the same way.
By no means am I a professional angler, but I have had the luxury of fishing a diversity of waters across Utah for a variety of species. My fishing trips have taken me from small alpine lakes in the Uinta Mountains to 140-mile long reservoirs like Lake Powell, and from large rivers like the Green River to small streams you can straddle.
If you are just getting into fishing — or you want to stock your tackle box with some productive fishing gear — you should at least consider the following choices for this upcoming fishing season:
|Manufacturer||Lure Type||Size*||Color*||Target Species|
|1||Berkley||Gulp minnow||4 inch||Shad||Lake trout, bass, walleye|
|2||Berkley||Powerbait grub||2 inch||Chartreuse, Christmas||Crappie, perch, trout|
|3||Gitzit||Micro Tough Guys||¾ inch||Chartreuse||Bluegill, perch, crappie|
|4||Luhr Jensen||Needlefish||1,2||Pearl/red, pearl bikini||Kokanee, trout, lake trout|
|5||Panther Martin||Spinner||¼ oz||Gold||Trout|
|6||Rapala||Xrap||3¼ inch||Silver, rainbow||Bass, trout|
|7||Rapala||Shad rap||2¾ inch||Silver||Walleye, striper, wiper, trout|
|8||Rat-L-Trap||Crankbait||½ oz||Chrome||Bass, striper, wiper|
|9||Rebel||Pop R topwater||¼ oz||Silver, foxy shad||Bass|
|10||Rocky Mnt Tackle||Serpent spoon||2 inch||Tequila sunrise||Kokanee, trout, lake trout|
|11||Wally Diver||Crankbait||¼ oz||Chrome||Walleye, striper, wiper|
|12||Yamamoto||Grub||4 inch||Watermelon||Bass, trout, walleye|
*Size and color should match the target species’ forage, but those listed are my most frequently used.
A lot of these lures will work for other species not identified and also on a variety of waters. For example, I’ve caught catfish while trolling Shad Raps at both Lake Powell and Willard Bay. I’ve also caught lake trout on Xraps at Flaming Gorge while casting towards shore in the spring.
As a biologist and angler, I work with fish several days out of the year, and they never cease to surprise me. Just remember, an angler always seems to fish best with what they have the most confidence in.
What other tackle should you have to make sure you’re ready to rig? To cover most situations, you should also consider including:
- Bait — worms (all species) and Berkley Powerbait (trout)
- Bobbers — foam clip on and casting bubble
- Duolock snaps — not necessary, but good for quickly changing crankbaits
- Fishing guidebook — for current fishing regulations
- Fillet knife
- Fishing line — for all-around use try 6–8 lb test monofilament (clear)
- Hook assortment — size 8-10 for smaller fish, size 1-2 for larger fish like catfish
- Jig heads — you’ll need some 1/8-1/2 oz heads to rig grubs on (earth tones, pink, black)
- Line clippers
- Needle-nose pliers
- Sinker assortment — split shots to add weight and get your bait down
- Stringer for your catch
- Swivels — for attaching spinners and spoons
Well, that’s my “essentials” list — it’s tackle I don’t leave home without and all of which have spots in my tackle bag. To comfortably haul all of this stuff, whether it’s down the launch ramp or along the bank, you should also consider a sizeable gear bag with a shoulder strap.
Don’t forget to make sure you have a valid Utah fishing license and a second-pole permit, if you want to use two fishing poles. You can purchase both of those online at wildlife.utah.gov (where you can also find current fishing reports) or from a local license agent near you.
Most of all, don’t forget to have fun! Fishing is all about enjoying the outdoors with friends and family — catching a bunch of fish is only a bonus. Good luck, and I hope to see you on the water!