The best fishing tackle in 2020 has been tested in a wide variety of fisheries using multiple techniques. Whether you are twitching jigs for steelhead or trolling squid for silver salmon, our Editors’ Choice Awards for best fishing tackle for Alaska have you covered.
We tested tackle best suited to Alaska including spinners, spoons, hooks, swivels, flashers, herring, jigs, and more to compile a list of the best fishing tackle for Alaska to up your catch rate.
These are our picks for best fishing tackle of 2020.
|Eagle Claw Trokar Bead Hook TK30
This has been a great addition to our bead-fishing game this fall, and is now our go-to hook for presenting beads to rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, grayling and steelhead. It’s incredibly sharp, stout and made from medium wire so the hook penetrates but doesn’t deform. We like the short shank and wide gap that definitely helped us stick and land more fish, and there’s enough room on the shank to snell the hook, which we prefer when bead fishing. It’s available in four sizes—we most often used size 6 and 8—and we plan on testing size 2 on steelhead this spring.
|Eagle Claw Trokar Pro-V Octopus Hook TK2VR
We can’t say enough good things about this hook! Surgically sharpened for immediate penetration, strong and resilient so that the hook remains sharp and in shape after landing countless salmon, and designed to hook and hold. The hook point is offset from the shaft, making it easier for the point to penetrate. The shape of the hook provides optimal hook gap, again to allow for a higher bite-to-hookup ratio, and the octopus shape greatly reduces the frequency of the hook being thrown. It comes in two colors—fresh red and platinum chrome—and many sizes ranging from 1 to 9/0.
|Mepps Aglia Bait Series
The Mepps Aglia spinner has accounted for many fish landed by anglers in Alaska, easily putting it among the best fishing tackle in 2020. This new permutation adds a tail for additional movement and attraction. Blades feature uniquely airbrushed patterns and tails are two-tone and designed to mimic natural food sources. Anglers have the option to get the lure with or without the tail, and in both single- and treble-hook options. Six sizes and twelve colors make up the product line. In 2019, we had good success catching silvers on this lure.
|Silver Horde #15 Micro Squid
We added these to a variety of spoons and spinners, as well as trolled them on their own, and they proved very effective in drawing strikes from Chinook and coho. We like the hot-pink model, and there are many great color choices including those in Ultra-Violet and Double Glow.
|Silver Horde Coho Killer, Herring Aide Pattern
The Coho Killer has been one of our go-to trolling lures for coho and kings for a long time. The action and shape of the lure really cause these species to attack. On a recent day spent trolling in lower Cook Inlet, the coho and Chinook were plum full of needlefish and you could really see firsthand how the Coho Killer closely resembled the size and shape of this common baitfish. No wonder it worked so well that day, as well as on another productive day on the west side of Kodiak trolling for feeder kings. The new Herring Aide pattern makes this lure even more effective. Salmon rarely throw the hook when they bite this spoon, and they are efficient and highly effective. Our usual plan is to start by trolling Coho Killers on half the boat and hoochies on the other half, all on downriggers, to see which the salmon want more.
|Luhr Jensen Cut Bait Head
This product was designed to allow an angler to insert a strip of baitfish like herring, pin it in the lure, and then troll the lure while achieving the correct rolling motion that indicates a wounded baitfish. We like them. They come in multiple colors and two per pack. They sport holographic, 3D eyes, which we think adds to the lure’s attraction. It’s generally our belief that lures and flies with eyes are often effective.
|Blue Fox Vibrax Chaser
Combining the proven fish-catching capabilities of the iconic Vibrax with a realistic soft bait is sure to make predatory fish in Alaska’s freshwater take notice. The lure is available in six styles and two sizes. We used it in 2019 to land silver salmon on the Tsiu River.
|Dardevle Spoons by Eppinger
New colors were introduced to the iconic Dardevle lineup last year and we put a few of them to work hauling coho salmon out of several rivers. We especially like the Pearl Clown and Chartreuse Black models, and primarily cast the ¾-ounce model. We have caught many types of fish on Eppinger lures over the years and these new colors deserve a spot in your spoon box.
|Salamander Sinkers Gram Series Double Loop Sinker
We used this sinker to drift beads and flesh flies to trout and char in 2019. We like how it doesn’t snag in between rocks as easily as split shot. We used it primarily on spinning gear. Testers also reported using them on fly gear, and said they were effective, especially in places calling for shorter casts. We used the 4- and 5-gram models in flowing water and intend to try the smaller sizes during the next stillwater opportunity.
|Hot Spot 5.5 Apex Trolling Lure
We tested the 5.5-inch Apex in pattern 559G—Herring Aide, Glow-in-the-Dark—and it was awesome. Combining the fish-catching properties of the Apex with this pattern yielded piles of salmon; we trolled it on downriggers at 2-3 knots. We’ve used the Apex in various sizes to catch rainbow trout, lake trout, coho salmon and king salmon, and it’s one of our favorites in the trolling tackle arsenal and definitely belongs in the list of best fishing tackle for Alaska. This deadly lure comes rigged and ready to fish.
|Sampo Black Ball-Bearing Swivel with Corkscrew Snap
We used the size four in 2019 when tossing hardware to salmon, trout and char. They worked flawlessly. Our tester really likes the corkscrew snap. It’s fast and easy to change spinners, and the design adds strength to the snap, which is critical when 15 pounds of coho is pinned to your spinner. Our tester stated that for anglers who struggle to open traditional snaps, then they should definitely add this swivel to their tackle arsenal.
|Aqua Flies Ultra Eyes
Aqua Flies Ultra Eyes are the best solution we’ve found for putting eyes on prawn, shrimp or squid fly patterns. They’re hand-made at the Aqua Flies factory and the quality is high. They come 12 to a package and are available in six different colors.
|Mustad Inkvader Octopus Jig
The Inkvader is a very realistic looking octopus imitation that can be rigged in a horizontal orientation or vertically. It can even squirt non-toxic ink from tablets which can be inserted into the head cavity. Each kit comes with 10 ink tablets. It comes in three sizes, in 10 different weight configurations and nine colors. It comes pre-rigged with Mustad UltraPoint Duratin Assist hooks. We used a 4-ounce model and on the very first drop caught a nice ling. It is a great lure for lings, halibut and rockfish.
|Aqua Flies Ultra Rig Kit, Round Eye – 33mm & 27mm
Jerry French designed the Ultra Rig Kit as an improvement to using plain superlines or wire for trailing-hook-style flies. Wire tends to kink, and when that happens, that fly is done. Superlines are too soft, and allow the hook to fall below the fly, or if hitched, to become fouled. The Ultra Rig uses a section of silicone tubing to fix the hook in just the right place. The tubing is really flexible, yet it protects the superline within and the hook can be oriented point up, point down, or to either side. The hooks that come with the kit are Aqua Talon octopus-style hooks which are very sharp, very strong and have a very small barb that is super easy to pinch down. George Krumm used the Ultra Rig Kit to tie flies for fall rainbow swinging on the Naknek. Most of the fish he caught this year were taken on flies tied with the Ultra Rig Kit, including a pair of huge ’bows, one measuring 31.5 inches and the other taping 32.5 inches. Tying with the Ultra Rig Kit requires some preparation. However, the resulting flies are pretty much bullet proof, and the hook stays oriented correctly. If the hook twists out of alignment while playing a fish, it’s a simple, two-second task to reorient it. This prevents a lot of downtime.
|BnR Holey Worms
Holey Worms are made in 3.5” and 5” lengths and are most often associated with fishing for steelhead. They have a hole down the center of the worm, making rigging the worm straight an easy task. They can be rigged by threading onto a leader with an octopus hook, or onto a jig head such as BnR’s WormKeeper Jigs. They come in a variety of anadromous fish-catching colors. Fished on a jig head, they are effective for silvers and pinks when fished under a bobber, or when twitched.
|P-Line Hi Speed Rolling Treble Swivels
These swivels spin well and are available in a wide range of sizes to accommodate trolling situations targeting a variety of species from salmon and trout in the Great Land to blue water pelagic species. They are made from black anodized brass. To keep your tackle box up to date with the best fishing tackle for Alaska, we suggest keeping a stock of sizes 5, 7 and 10, useful when trolling for salmon, especially when using flashers.
|Panther Martin WillowStrike Regular Spinner
The WillowStrike Regular features a willow blade mounted through the blade on the shaft, producing a spinner with a fast spinning action that also spins well in slow currents and shallow water. The lure creates a sonic vibration that causes predatory fish, like salmon, to strike. It is available in several colors and multiple sizes, and features either gold- or silver-plated blades that maximize the spinner’s flash. We fished it a number of ways: on the drift with just enough retrieve to keep the blade moving, on the swing with a little faster blade rotation as the spinner comes tight, and at full-speed blade rotation on the retrieve. All three techniques yielded coho on this fishy lure last fall.
|Kodiak Custom Socko Loco Sockeye Fly Rigs
These rigs are ready to fish right out of the package, and we used them successfully to land sockeye on the Kenai River in 2019, putting these rigs among the best fishing tackle for Alaska. The rig comes with a three-way swivel, with one end attached to a duo-lock snap, and the other to a 5.5-foot, 30-pound-test leader attached to a fly. Simply tie the swivel onto your mainline and attach a weight to the snap and you are ready to floss. The rig is available in several fly colors.
|Fish Field Dynasty Jigs Mini
We used these lures to vertically jig for rockfish in 2019 and landed many nice black rockfish on the lure. We used the 1-ounce size and swapped out the factory treble for a 3/0 Eagle Claw Trokar Pro-V Octopus Hook. There are many good fish-catching patterns and we like the glow-in-the-dark variety, especially when fishing deep.