10 lures you can’t afford to not have in your tackle box

The key to catching fish is not have your tackle box full of the latest and greatest lures; it is making sure you have the best “go to” lures in your tackle box. These “go to” lures are not the ones you saw on latest week’s sponsored fishing show or being thrown by your favorite pro-angler during his last appearance. These are the lures pros and amateurs alike go to when they want to make sure the creel gets filled, especially when the cameras ( and the sponsors) are not watching.

I have always been an avid angler. Since the time I could pick up a rod & reel there were few things I enjoyed as much as spending time on the water catching fish. But it wasn’t until I was in the service that I became a fishing fanatic. It was during this time that I found myself literally living on the water. Day and night I was living for the next opportunity to sink a line.

As I traveled I found myself fishing in new places and for new species, many of which I had never dreamed of getting a chance to land. From tarpon and peacock bass to trophy trout and bass my fishing adventures soon sounded like a year’s subscription to Outdoor Life. But I faced one problem. My limited storage space, and income, prevented me from having a tackle box for every species. Unlike the pros sponsored by tackle companies I have limited resources and needed to find those tried and true lures that would work anywhere for any species. I needed one tackle box I could use anywhere I found myself.


The following list is my solution to the problem. I always made sure to have these 10 lures available so that no matter where I landed and what might be biting I was prepared. Over the years I have had the ability to increase my tackle selection and have now moved beyond 10 lures, but these favorites still have a reserved spot in any box I own.

  1. Acme Little Cleo – this is by far one of my favorites. Not only is it easy to fish, it also catches fish every time I tie it on. While many companies make excellent spoons, which is also one of the oldest designs available, the extra deep cup of the Little Cleo sets it apart from the others. It is available in a wide variety of colors and sizes but I prefer the silver & blue model, with size determined by species I am targeting.
  2. Curley Tailed Grub – many anglers see this as too simple for advanced anglers. I disagree. It is the simple nature of the curley tailed grub which makes it equally enticing to trout, bass, walleye and more. Jigged, bounced through the rapids or tipped with a little meat and the curely tail will do just one thing good – catch fish.
  3. Heddon Zara Spook – I first discovered the benefits of the Spook when targeting NYC striped bass during the full moon high tide. Nothing pulled the big boys to the surface like the splash , splash, splash as it side walked across the water. Like many others I soon discovered it was equally affective against just about anything that swam- if they could hear or see it they would try to eat it.
  4. Rapala Original – The Rapala Original Floating Minnow is a legend among anglers and for good reason. Season after season this simple floating lure has proven its value time after time. Because it imitates a wounded, dying bait fish it is what every game fish is looking for – an easy meal.  With a unique action and variety of sizes the Rapala Original has earned a spot in every tackle box, including yours.
  5. Twister’s Sassy Shad – shad is a favorite bait fish and on the menu of every game fish where ever they are found. This makes any shad lure invaluable but why go with an imitation when you can simply use the original? When it comes to shad swim baits it is the round tipped tail that sets the Sassy Shad apart and this is also what makes it better than those that tried to copy its design. While I prefer the red/white design there is no bad Sassy Shad.
  6. Red Devil Dardevle – this was my first lure, the one my dad would tie on and toss out for me to retrieve before I could even cast a line myself. It was this nostalgia which gave it the original spot in my tackle box, but it was its ability to produce against almost anything I presented it to that gave it a permanent spot. For the best action I connect it by way of a small snap swivel which allows for a fuller range of unrestricted motion.
  7. Mepps Aglia – this Mepps original is another favorite with trout anglers and is why it has filled many spring creels. But the Aglia is equally successful against spring walleye, summer bass and Canadian Pike and should be a go to offering on any water, during any season.
  8. Slug-Go – chances are if you’ve ever fished for bass you’ve tied on a Slug-go, personally I find the watermelon rind one of the best means of pulling big bucketmouthes out of the lily pads. But did you know the darting, circling and slow dropping action makes it an excellent choice when targeting walleyes, big trout and even striped bass? With a simple twitch, twitch, pause method you will open the door to a whole host of trophies.
  9. Rat-L-Trap – this is another favorite with bass anglers, but I found out how successful it could be when fishing for barracuda. A pink and silver Rat-L-Trap was the reason my first trip for these toothy torpedoes was also the trip of a life time. This was also when I learned it could be used for more than bass and I have never been without one since.
  10. Kast Master – like the Dardevele, the Kast Master was one of my first lures. When I learned to cast but didn’t have the strength to toss the lures very far my dad tied one on and it helped me get a little farther and a little deeper. Once I could reach the fish I also learned it did more than sail farther than most lures, it also out fished them. Like the Little Cleo I find that the silver & blue combination is best.

So, there you have it- my favorite lures. Sure, there are experts who will offer additional “go to” lures but there are none which will disagree with the value of each and every one of those I have suggested.

Good luck, good fishing!

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