NEWB Guide to fishing in Northwest Ontario

The basics most people should know when fishing in Northwest Ontario.

Fishing rods: They can be all different lengths and “weights”. The length of the rod is determined by its purpose, generally speaking 6-7 feet is a good general starting rod. The weight or action (ultralight, light, medium, heavy) indicates the size/weight of the potential fish you want to catch. The heavier the rod the more rigid it is. The lighter it is the more “feeling” you get from the other end. you will never feel a perch bite on a heavy rod, a salmon will snap an ultralight rod like a twig (personal experience). The length an weight of the rod is almost always on the rod near the handle.

Reels: Reels, other than fly and speciality reels) tend to be open face or spinning reels or close faced (spincast). Close faced reels were popular for small children as spinning reels have a little more of a learning curve. Closed face all the line is encased within the reel and as such line capacity is less and tangles/other issues may not be readily apparent. Spinning reels, open face and high line capacity are the most popular reel in existence.

As with rods, reels vary in size and line capacity to match the general size of fish being sought.

Fishing line: Fishing line comes in a variety of colours, poundage, and materials. The two basic line types are mono filament and braided. Mono-filament line has historically been the goto fishing line. It is inexpensive, comes in a variety of colours and weights. The main detraction from mono-filament is that it stretches, which may mean missed fish when hook setting.

Braided line tends to be narrower (higher poundage for same diameter as mono-filament) and has no stretch. There is a learning curve to using braided lines as it doesn’t cut easily (line melter works best), requires a different set of knots for tying hooks on and since it doesn’t stretch a strong hook set will simply yank the hook from the fish.  You will feel everything with braided line on a properly sized rod/reel.

Tackle: All that shiny stuff that goes onto the end of your line. Lures, jigs, spinners, hooks, bobbers. So much to choose from but what do you need? All species can be caught by a simple hook and bobber (although not always the easiest way. So some small to medium bobbers and some hooks of a few varying sizes are a must. This is your basic bait/bobber setup.

Jigs: Jigs are lead cast onto hooks of various sizes and shapes and are used with either bait or plastic “bodies” and bounced along the bottom to entice a fish to bite. Commonly used for walleye, perch, whitefish and even ling, the bigger this fish the bigger the jig. Perch jigs are tiny, Walleye jigs can be much bigger and Ling/Burbot even bigger. Colour in general doesnt matter, however basic colours (white, black, red) as well as some neon bright colours (green, pink, yellow) can round out a kit pretty quick.



Recent Postings

Additional articles on the basics

Wanting to learn to fly fish

I’m off work for 4 weeks and I’m trying to learn to fly fish. I bought a size 5 rod, and have flies. I’m not new to fishing, but have never fly fished before. I was told to try Tamblyn behind LU.

Just curious if anybody is interested in showing me some tricks and some spots around town.

Send me a message if you’re interested

New to TBay - Looking for ice fishing locations

Hi all,

Just moved to Thunder Bay last week. Once everything gets unpacked I hope to get out on the ice. Any suggestions on local lakes, or areas of Superior would be great. Mostly it’ll be just me, but sometimes I’ll have my young son along so suggestions that don’t involve a long drive or a quad/sled would also be appreciated. Thanks.

Great website.


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