John Schips

Tackle Box Essentials – Coast to Coast Fishing Gear

The bare essentials for a small tackle box!

Author: John Schips –


As a recreational angler who has loved the sport of fishing since a young age, I have been fortunate to live in many different parts Canada, from Nova Scotia to BC. This has provided me with the opportunity to fish for different species in many different settings. However, as someone who moves around a lot, I don’t like to have tons of gear, which has forced me to carefully consider the versatility of my small tackle box. Therefore, I would like to share my thoughts on the essential tackle box items for the Canadian angler. Whether you’re fishing the Capilano River for salmon in Vancouver, or hitting the lakes in Nova Scotia to try your luck with the trout or smallmouth bass, here are my selections for the most essential gear in your tackle box for any given day and location. 

Fishing Essentials -

Crankbait (shad or chartreuse) 

Crankbaits are well known to be an extremely versatile lure that attracts a huge variety of species. They can be cast fairly long distances with fast retrieval rates, allowing you to cover lots of water in a relatively short amount of time. These are excellent when fishing in unfamiliar waters, especially if it’s a big body of water. The diving depth will be primarily determined by the length of the lip (longer=deeper), whereas the action/wobble can be affected by the width of the lip (wider lip = wider wobble).  

Spinnerbait (Indiana blades or tandem, size 3-5) 

Similar to cranks, spinners are extremely versatile and can cover lots of water, so they come with some of the same advantages. Spinners are extra handy if you need to add some flash and vibration to your lure for added attraction. They can cover a large range of the water column and are extra effective when bumped off logs, stumps, rocks, or other objects. 

Jighead (white or black)

I like to have some jigs on hand in case I home in on an area with some really heavy cover that requires working in a tight space in order to avoid snags. With some addition of bait and simple flicks of the rod tip, as well as some patience, jigs provide ultra enticing action for the fish at any depth. Many also come with snag guards, providing further help with retrieval through the cover. 

Powerbait/Plastic Bait (green/black, pumpkin, white, black)

Lots of people like the actual jars of Powerbait, but I prefer the scented plastic worms, usually in a green/black combo, but I’ve had a lot of success with black, white, and pumpkin as well. I’ve used these on their own with a small weight and smooth retrieval, and have also combined them with jigs and spinners for some extra-enticing action. They’re usually pretty cheap, so you can keep lots of different sizes and styles in the tackle box. 

Spoons (‘Dardevyl’ or Chartreuse) 

Spoons are a timeless classic that will work in many different situations. With lots of different sizes and color schemes to choose from, you can cater your selection to the local conditions. My go-to is the red and white scheme found on Dardevyl and similar spoons, but I usually keep a chartreuse spoon, or even just a plain gold or silver as well. Size will depend on species, but if I’m unsure I’ll get something in a small-medium size. 

Line (mono, braid, and fluoro)

Spare line of what you already have on the spool can come in handy, but I find it just as helpful to carry a few different types of line with me. Usually I carry a light mono, a medium-weight braid, and enough fluoro to fashion a leader if I need it. Again, it takes up very little space in the tackle box, but introduces another level of versatility into your game. 

Knife or Pliers (anodized) 

If you’re going to choose one, consider your surroundings carefully. In most cases, I would opt for a nice pair of fishing pliers with good line cutters, as I usually don’t keep my catch for cooking and otherwise would only use the knife for cutting line. However, if I were to be in the back country, especially if it’s somewhere I’ve never been, I would place a greater emphasis on having a knife, just in case anything happens and you need to cut material other than line. If you can, try to bring both. 

Hooks and Weights 

You can never have too many of these in your tackle box. They take up minimal space and you never know where you may end up fishing. If you’re feeling a little more aggressive going after the big one and have been losing lots of lures or hooks, then the last thing you want to be worried about is having enough gear. Make sure to store some larger hooks too, as you never know when you may want to try some live bait as well.

Safety Essentials -

Throughout this article I focused on packing light while still having what you need to reel one in. However, when it comes to safety, the small amount of time and money that it costs to be well equipped is well worth it for the peace of mind, and if anything bad were to happen, it could make a huge difference in your life, not just your day. With that, here are a few of the main safety items I like to keep in my tackle box at all times. 

Water and a Non-Perishable Food Item

Food and water are the true essentials. My tackle box isn’t big, but in this case, a little bit can go a long way. A bottle of water and a little bit of food can help you get through the day or night if you end up getting lost, so try and bring a little more than you plan on consuming during your day of fishing. 

Flashlight and Fire

A flashlight is essential at night and potentially for gaining attention. Fire is essential if you need to stay warm, cook some grub (maybe a fish you caught!), or sterilize a piece of equipment. Lighters are the handiest, but should be periodically tested. If you bring matches, store them in a ziplock bag to keep them dry. 

New Addition - Emergency Blanket

It may sound cumbersome, but you can get tiny packages of emergency blankets from your local sporting goods store at a really low cost. The packages are about the size of a wallet and contain a really thin, but large, aluminized polyester blanket that is extremely effective for insulating body heat.  Chances are you will never need to use it, but for the cost and size, there’s really no reason not to bring one. 

  • A cheap emergency blanket is small enough for a tackle box!


At the end of the day, what you keep you in your tackle box will be based on your typical fishing patterns and personal preferences. The gear I outlined above may not work for everyone, but as someone who moves around a lot and often doesn’t know where they will be fishing next, I have found this to be a versatile, but minimalistic, approach that has worked for me. Good luck this season! 


John Schips -
Author Bio: John Schips, the primary contributor for, is a fishing and hiking enthusiast who loves to explore Canada. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, John has also lived in Alberta for 7 years, and now currently resides in British Columbia. 



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