Wish List

There's no denying that every angler has spent a fair amount on their arsenal of gear—but there are a few things you just can't afford to skimp out on.

When it comes to shopping for fishing gear, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. This can happen when you walk into an outdoors store as easily as it can when you start scrolling through an online shop. There are products out there for everything you can imagine, but some catch the angler more than they help you catch fish or enjoy the experience. 

As someone who has grown up in Sunset Country and fished since I was a little kid, there are a few items that you have with you if you are visiting or live in this area, ones you won’t regret spending some money on.  

A Decent Fishing Rod & Reel 

As a fishing guide for many years I have seen people bring it all when they come to visit northwestern Ontario. One thing that amazes me is that folks come on this dream fishing trip and bring either the 40-year-old rod and reel combo that their grandfather gave them or the $29.99 Walmart special.

You certainly don’t need to spend huge money on a good outfit, but you can get really good rods and reels in the $100 range that will impress your guide and help you put more fish in the boat.  

Spending just a tad more on a quality rod and reel will make your experience much better. Photo: Jeff Gustafson

The advantages to a newer outfit are that you will have much better feel of your lure and you will be able to cast much easier–both of which are going to help you catch more fish and enjoy your experience more, because you won’t be fighting with your equipment.  

Fresh Line

Fresh fishing line should be a given as well. It further amazes me when folks show up and have three-year-old fishing line on their reels that is coiled and weak. When you hook that fish of a lifetime–and we have a lot of them—you’re going to lose it. If nothing else, please put new line on your reels! You’ll be glad you did.

You don't want memory-filled crumbling line on your rod when your personal best hits. Photo: Jeff Gustafson

Quality Raingear

We don’t get a ton of rain throughout the summer, but we do experience some good storms from time to time. As beautiful as the weather is in the summer, our weather can change rapidly. So, having quality outerwear is important and, like anything else, you absolutely get what you pay for.  

Leave the poncho or rain-suit-in-a-pouch at home and bring some good stuff. That way you can stay out on the water in all conditions while being comfortable and happy. Sometimes the fish bite best on those nasty days when you’re least expecting it!  

Need another reason to buy effective rain gear? What about pre-storm eating-machine muskies? Photo: Jeff Gustafson

Gore-Tex products are the best, but they can get expensive. If you can afford them, they are the way to go; otherwise just get the best stuff that you can swing.


Like the other gear that I mentioned above, leave the budget sunglasses at home and get a quality pair for your trip. Sunglasses are important because they protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun and I would question how well a $30 pair does that.  

Being able to see in the water is important especially if you are fishing for pike, muskie, or bass, where being able to see objects in the water and even fish following is a big deal. Polarized sunglasses make it possible to see in the water much better than the naked eye can.  

Nothing quite makes the heart leap like watching one of these water-wolves follow you in. Don't miss it, buy polarized! Photo: Tracey Chartrand

A quality pair of sunglasses is also going to be comfortable to wear all day while you’re on the water and will help make sure you enjoy all of the adventures on your trip. 


It goes without saying but pliers are a must in any angler’s arsenal. They aren’t a fun or exciting piece of gear to search for, but they can make or break your day on the water.

In Sunset Country, you will inevitably end up catching a fish with teeth and pliers will help you get those hooks out safely for yourself, and quickly for the fish if it’s to be released. 

You'll want a pair of long nosed pliers when one of these hogs hit. Photo: Jeff Gustafson

Pliers can also be used for rigging drop shots and other set-ups, cutting line, pinching barbs, boat repairs—you name it. They are your most versatile tool on the boat, so make sure you get a decent, reliable set. 

Don’t be Stingy on yourself 

Your fishing trip could be the trip of a lifetime—don’t let your gear dull your experience. Equipment, unlike the weather, is something that you can control—so get geared up with some good stuff or you’ll wish you’d left it at home and used the guides gear!

About Jeff Gustafson

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. His outgoing, genuine, friendly attitude makes him a natural outdoor writer, fishing and hunting guide." You'll see him fishing the Bass Master Tournament Circuit where he's has had a lot of success against the best bass anglers on the planet. Jeff also fishes many bass tournaments in Ontario's Sunset Country, his home base. 

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