Best Fishing Tackle for
Fishing in Alaska in 2016
Panther Martin Salmonlite Spinner
This lightweight spinner works well cast or trolled. It’s equipped with a hoochie skirt, which we really feel draws more strikes, and both the stock hook and skirt can be replaced when needed due to the inclusion of a split-ring. The UV finish and hammered blades enhance visibility. Eight colors and four sizes are available.
Luhr Jensen Kwikfish
We landed salmon on both the K-14 Metallic Blue and Metallic Green Double Trouble. As usual the Kwikfish keeps kicking out limits of salmon and these new colors proved effective.
Storm UV Bright Wiggle Wart
This timeless hard bait has accounted for many salmon in Alaska. Try any of the four Blazin’ UV models (blue, green, pink and red) for good results when back-trolling to coho salmon and steelhead. It can be fished effectively from 7- to 18 feet.
Yakima Bait Flatfish
The tried-and-true Flatfish has been enticing strikes for over 50 years and is available in more colors and sizes than ever before. One of our favorites this year was the T-50 in Pearl Chartreuse Pink Tiger—known at Yakima Bait as the Cream Puff. Another was the T-55, called Payday. Baits are available in many popular salmon colors and patterns as well as with UV enhancement.
Mack’s Lure Smile Blade Spindrift Trout
It can be difficult to try new terminal gear when facing an Alaska stream teeming with hungry trout, but something about this new offering from Mack’s made us leave old favorites in the tackle box long enough to give it a go—and we never looked back. Offering huge wiggle and flash due to the Smile Blade, this spinner drew fish whether trolling or casting.
Pro-Cure Liquid Egg Cure
We loved the simplicity of this cure and made up batches of cured coho eggs using all three colors: Redd Hot, Orange Glow and Hot Pink. We cut skeins in half, brined them for about six hours, drained, dried and packed them in mason jars. The eggs looked good and caught fish.
Mack’s Lure Double D Dodger, 4.4-inch
Alaska trollers already know that making S-curves or speeding-up/slowing-down with the throttle will entice more strikes, but here’s a dodger that will do it for you. With a patent-pending stop-and-go action, the Double D helped put more fish in the box for us this year than any other dodger—and that’s all the review necessary.
Hevi Beads Flash Beads
These beads have been updated with more flash and they look awesome in the water. Use them for rainbow trout, Arctic char, Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling and any other species that’s feeding on salmon spawn. They are available in orange, red, green, pink, blue, white, purple, brown and yellow, in either 8- or 10mm sizes.
Orange- and Chartreuse-Platinum were added to the color family of Mepps Aglia spinners in 2015. They are good-looking colors that caught fish. Choose from sizes 0 through 5, available in three hook configurations.
OPST Swing Hooks
These hooks have become our go-to hook for Intruders, tube flies, string leeches and virtually any fly that uses a trailer hook. They’ve proven to be incredibly sharp, and they stay sharp longer than all other hooks we’ve used for these kinds of flies. All OPST Swing Hooks come barbless, causing the minimum possible amount of damage and stress to fish and people alike. The slightly upturned eye produces an optimal line-of-pull into the fish and enables proper fly assembly when using shanks, tubes and string leeches. The round bend produces superior hook strength and holding ability. OPST Swing Hook points are offset, exposing a larger purchase area to fish, resulting in more hookups and fewer lost fish. With their upturned points, their short-shanked hooks resemble circle hooks, and as such they tend to produce more hookups in the corner of the mouth than a normal straight-shanked J hook. All in all, OPST Swing Hooks are highly-specialized, fly-fishing-specific, fish-friendly hooks that will penetrate instantly and hold longer.
Silver Horde Coho Killer
This thin-bladed spoon, which mimics candlefish or small herring, is devastating on silver salmon and feeder kings, as we found out when trolling it in 2015. It’s available in a wide variety of colors and in both Double Glow and UV, so no matter the water you are fishing, there is a model available that will catch coho and winter kings. Use a leader of about 48 inches off your flasher so the erratic side-to-side action of the small spoon is not diminished.
Eppinger Red Eye Wiggler
Toss this spoon into a pike or lake trout-infested lake and hold on. Salmon, coho and chum in particular, go nuts for this lure’s wiggle action. The red eyes add realism and profile to the spoon. We liked the 1/2-ounce Pink/White Diamonds model.
Eagle Claw Lazer Trokar TK240 Octopus hook
We used them on trolling rigs, drift rigs and when back-bouncing egg clusters. Surgically sharpened to a triple-sided point, it’s easy to see why these hooks penetrate so easily and deeply. The short shank on these hooks makes it harder for Chinook to come unbuckled.
Blue Fox Classic Vibrax
The classic Alaska fish-killer got more deadly with the addition of new scale patterns and UV Bright tip accents on the blades. We appreciate the range of sizes available and caught kings, silvers and trout on 1/4-, 3/8-, 7/16- and 5/8-ounce models.
Pro-Troll ProChip 11-inch Flasher
All rotating flashers are not created equal. They all sort of look the same, but this particular flasher’s action is a little different due to the kicker fin near the back end. It also has the patented EChip which is designed to put out an electrical signal attractive to fish. While we aren’t able to prove or disprove the chip’s effectiveness, we were able to determine that this flasher definitely rotates differently than other rotating flashers and it out-produced similar flashers for us while trolling for Chinook. Hot colors for us this year were All Chrome and Glow White. We had great success with the flasher with a Brad’s Super Bait behind it.
Brad’s Killer Fishing Gear Super Bait
These lures have been around for a few years, but this is the first year in which contributing editor George Krumm gave them an honest effort. This strange-looking, hollow banana-shaped lure is designed so scents or even chopped up bait can be stuffed into the cavity, providing an enticing scent trail to compliment the erratic, spinning action of the lure. The most popular stuffing for these lures is cheap and readily available—canned tuna in oil. Some people add Pro-Cure scents to the tuna. A well-known guide friend of ours stuffs his with canned cat food (seafood flavors). When properly stuffed, the stuffing won’t come out until you hook a fish, and will emit a heavy scent trail for a long time. This lure works very well 36 inches behind a Pro-Troll ProChip 11-inch flasher. The lure is thin, maximizing the chances of a fish being hooked if it strikes the lure. Silvers and kings are both very susceptible to this lure in saltwater. We’d guess that open-water lake trout would love this lure as well, though we haven’t tried it yet. Every color we tried worked, and we tried about half of them this summer. This lure will work well for winter kings, migrating kings in the springtime and silvers from Ketchikan to Cook Inlet.
Acme Kastmaster 3/4-Ounce
This classic lure still catches piles of fish. We tossed the 3/4-ounce in CHNB (chrome/blue) and CHNG (chrome/green) and their erratic action caused silvers, trout and char to inhale them. Take larger sizes into the salt as the brass lure won’t corrode. We will this summer when we target rockfish in Southeast. The Kastmaster is available in many sizes and colors and in multiple hook configurations.
Kalin’s 10-inch Big’N Grub
We deployed the Red Head, Pearl, Dorado and Root Beer and caught lingcod, rockfish and halibut on them. In our opinion, this is one of the most effective saltwater jigging lures on the planet. We even had silvers trying to eat them on the drop. We fished them on Kalin’s 16- and 20-ounce Big’N Jigs, which feature Mustad 12/0 saltwater hooks.
Yellow Bird Fishing Products Doctor Spoon
The Doctor spoon by Yellow Bird Fishing Products has been a favorite in the Midwest for many years. It’s proven its worth in the Last Frontier as well. Doctor Spoons are available in many finishes and multiple sizes for gamefish of all sizes. Doctor Spoons are unique in that you can attach the hook to either end; this changes the action of the spoon. The Doctor Spoon in 2 ½- and 3 ¾-inch sizes have been one of our secret weapons for big Arctic char and lake trout through the ice for many years. If we had to pick one for each species, it would be the 2 ½-inch spoon in Nickel/Neon Blue for Arctic char, and the 3 ¾-inch spoon in Nickel/Chartreuse for lakers. Doctor Spoons work equally well in trolling and casting/retrieving applications.
Canyon Plastics 3 ¾-inch Original Gitzit Tube
If we had to pick one lure for Arctic char and lake trout fishing in Alaska, it would be a Canyon Plastics 3 ¾-inch Original Gitzit tube. Why this particular tube, you ask? First, the quality and uniformity is second-to-none. Perhaps most importantly, the Canyon Plastics tubes are unscented; if you want to fish Big Lake, scent isn’t allowed. The Original Gitzit is available in over 50 colors; however, we tend to use the various shades of white most of the time. We’ve also been known to use some of Canyon Plastics larger tubes inthe 5- to 7-inch range on occasion for big lakers.
We tested the 8-inch-version Shortbus Flasher in the Sweet Abby and Electric Pole Dancer colors for saltwater fishing for Chinook and coho. These two colors have been quite popular the past couple seasons for good reason—they’re hot! Available in 5.5- and 8-inch overall size, these popular flashers come rigged with quality ball bearing swivels and duo-lock snaps and are ready to fish right out of the package. Shortbus Flashers can be trolled for all types of sport fish in both freshwater and saltwater, including salmon, trout and char. Currently, Shortbus Flashers are available in 17 finishes and two different UV-only tapes.
Gamakatsu Big River Bait Hook
This hook has been designed to increase hook penetration and help anglers land more fish. For 2015, Gamakatsu introduced an open-eye version for salmon anglers to use on spinners, spoons and plugs. We tested it on various plugs and liked how the hook design reduced the frequency of Chinook throwing the plug.
Ahi Live Deception Jig
Using the 5-ounce model in Anchovy and Sardine, we wailed on rockfish and lingcod in the waters near Elfin Cove this summer. Coho salmon also did their best to destroy the metal jig. The finishes on these jigs make them look very lifelike, and combined with their fluttering motion, they are irresistible to bottomfish in Alaska. They are available in seven sizes (1- through 6-ounce and 8-ounce) and in four patterns.
Hot Spot Pro Choice Flashers
We used various models with good success when trolling for silvers near Elfin Cove. Among our favorites was the Original #579 in Lemon Lime, which is a UV enhanced 11-inch flasher with yellow and green vertical stripes.
Silver Horde Maria Mucho Lucir Jig
We used it to catch a variety of rockfish in Southeast in 2015, and we have no doubt that coho will inhale it as well. We’re going to add it to the ice-fishing tackle box and see if it draws strikes when jigging for trout and char.