11 Things You Need For A Successful Wade Fishing Trip (That All Fit Into A Small Pack)
By: Joseph Simonds on March 11, 2019
Wader Dave is back!
Wade fishing is one of the most effective ways to catch fish and who better to drop some wade fishing knowledge on us than the legendary Wader Dave.
He has over 40 years of wade fishing experience from Texas to Massachusetts, spends 200+ days on the water each year, and for the past 15 years has been taking fellow anglers out on guided wade fishing trips.
Not to mention, Wader Dave is one of our SUPER-Community members.
This article covers all the gear you need when wade fishing to catch redfish, snook, trout, and flounder, so you don’t need to waste money buying extra lures that don’t work, or bring extra supplies out on the water that weighs you down.
Other Salt Strong appearances by Wader Dave:
- Wade Fishing 101: How To Maximize Your Time & Strikes While Wading
- The Ultimate Wade Fishing Pre-Trip Planning Guide
- Wade Fishing Tips: How To Wade Fish For Trout, Redfish, Snook, & Flounder [Podcast]
P.S. don’t forget to comment if you have any questions for Wader Dave.
Tools of the Wade Fisherman’s Trade
by “Wader Dave” Ulgenalp
One of the most attractive features of wade fishing is how simple it can be.
While wading is an incredibly effective method for catching fish, it doesn’t require a large investment in baits, tackle and gear or much space to store it.
A complete arsenal of lures and accessories necessary to catch a season’s worth of trout, reds, snook, flounder or just about any other fish species likely to inhabit inshore waters will fit into a small waist pack, weighs only a few pounds, and costs less than $200.
I start with an H20 Mojave Waste Pack by Outdoor Products that can be purchased at Walmart for $10.
It provides all the storage space I need, is durable and will last at least a couple of seasons if I rinse the zippers with fresh water after each use.
I rarely use both water bottles and leave an open pouch to put my used plastics in rather than throwing them in the water or on the beach.
I fill my waist pack with the following lures for a full day trip when I expect to be targeting multiple species under varying circumstances and conditions:
- 1 walk-the-dog style top water lure like a Heddon Salt Water Super Spook Jr
- 1 popper or chugger style top water lure like a Mirrolure C-Eye Poppa Mullet
- 1 slow sinking, hard twitch bait like a Mirrolure Mirrodine
My favorite colors include:
- red head/white body
- or combinations of these colors
I switch out trebles for comparably sized, single in-line hooks, making sure the front hook point doesn’t go past the eye of the lure and snag the line during the retrieve.
These lures typically range from $6 to $10.
- 2weedless spoons, like the Johnson Silver Minnow in ½ oz and/or ¾ oz
I prefer gold, copper, and silver spoons, and always make sure the hook points are sharp out of the box.
I bend the weed guard at the mid-point and make sure the end of it lines up evenly with the hook point, which will help it shed grass more easily.
These spoons typically range from $3 to $5
- 3 bags of 3” to 4″ soft plastic, shad/swim tail baits like the DOA CAL Shad Tail, Slayer Sinister Swim Tail or Mirrolure Soft Shad
- 3 bags of 4” to 6” soft plastic jerk baits like the Mirrolure Lil John, Mirrolure Provoker or DOA CAL Jerk Bait
I usually carry three colors of each bait type, but not necessarily the same three colors.
- One darker in color or that mimics a crab or other natural bait like New Penny or Golden Bream
- Glow or White
- A bright color like chartreuse, pink or Electric Chicken(chartreuse/pink/green).
An 8 to 10 count bag of most soft plastic baits ranges in price from $4 to $6
Note: Want to take your wade fishing game to a whole new level? Check this out.
Hooks & Jig Heads
- 3 ¼ oz lead head jigs
- 3 1/8 oz lead head jigs
- 3 1/16 oz lead head jigs
Jig heads should be suitable for rigging a variety of plastic swim tail and jerk baits from 3” to 6” in length.
Hook sizes may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer for jigs of similar weight, but I don’t like to use anything larger than a 3/0 or smaller than a 1/0 hook.
I prefer natural (grey) or unpainted jig heads, but red and/or chartreuse colored heads are very popular.
I include a couple of twist on or screw lock jig heads as they will hold softer plastic baits better than a spiked shank head.
I like Bass Assassin Pro Elite, DOA Premium, and Mirrolure Twist-on jig heads as they offer sturdy, sharp hooks and compact heads that cast well.
A three pack of most lead head jigs costs between $4 and $5.
- 3 1/8 oz weighted screw-lock hooks
- 3 1/16 oz weighted screw-lock hooks
- 3 unweighted worm style hooks
Hooks should be suitable for rigging a variety of plastic swim tail and jerk baits from 3” to 6” in length.
Owner Twist Lock and Mustad Power Lock weighted hooks are solid performers and available in a variety of hook sizes.
I prefer a 1/0 or 2/0 hook for smaller shad tail plastics and 2/0 or 3/0 on larger plastic jerkbaits and rig them so they are essentially weedless.
I use Gamakatsu 2/0 offset hooks with my jerk baits rigged “Texas” style.
A three pack of screw-lock weighted hooks will range in price from $7 to $8, and a 4-6 count bag of unweighted worm hooks will range from $4 to $6.
Terminal Tackle Storage
I keep the hooks, jig heads, spoons and lures in a small waterproof plastic box that I place in my waist pack.
The Plano Guide Series Model 3400 can be purchased at Walmart for $5, and is perfect for the job.
To avoid the contents of the box getting rusted, I place anything I use from the box into a plastic bait bag until I get home.
After I’ve rinsed the lure off with fresh water and dried it, I place it back in the waterproof box along with replacements for lures that I may have lost during my trip.
In addition to my waist pack, water proof box, and assortment of lures, I always carry a couple small spools of fluorocarbon leader, pliers, fish grip and hook file.
I prefer small leader spools, as they take up less room in my waist pack and can even be carried in my shirt pocket while I’m fishing.
I usually bring one spool of lighter and one spool of heavier leader to cover the variety of species and conditions I’m likely to encounter.
A 25 to 30-yard spool of leader ranges from $10 to $15.
A pair of sturdy, rust-resistant pliers with side line cutters are a must.
I prefer to holster them in a belt loop style sheath, attached with a reliable lanyard or two feet of nylon cord.
They can be used to pull hooks from the mouths and throats of fish, trim excess line from knots tied while fishing, and handle fish with poisonous fins or barbs.
There are several manufactures that offer a wide variety of pliers at prices that range greatly, but you can buy a reliable pair for between $30 and $40.
I’ve been pleased with the products offered by Danco and their prices are very reasonable, especially if you take advantage of the 20% discount they offer Salt Strong Insiders.
I use a sheath from Boom Fishing bought separately at Amazon for $8.99 that also includes a lanyard.
I prefer sheaths that have a loop on the back to thread either a belt or the strap from my waste pack through it.
Metal or plastic swivel clips will rust quickly and often come loose when getting in and out of a boat or kayak.
The Fish Grip Mini costs between $10 and $15, floats, is very durable, and capable of controlling just about any inshore species I’m likely to catch.
I loop it around the belt of my waist pack.
The last item I carry is a small hook sharpener to sharpen any hooks that may get dulled during a day’s use.
I usually keep it in the small front pocket of my fanny pack along with my spools of fluorocarbon leader.
I’ve used many versions over the years but have stuck on the Dr. Slick 4” Hook File available at Amazon for $12.
While the list I’ve provided is typical of what I bring on any given day, it certainly isn’t meant to be the gospel.
In fact, I set out on most wade fishing trips knowing the conditions I’m likely to face with a specific plan for my targeted species and will adjust my arsenal accordingly.
In the summer when I’m often targeting snook along the beaches or in passes, I will replace a bag or two of plastic tails with a bag of bucktail jigs in various weights and colors.
On early morning trips in search of trout or snook, I will add a few more topwater lures and leave out the Mirrodine.
If I’m targeting reds in shallow water near rocks or oyster beds, I add a couple of weedless spoons, a few more weighted screw-lock hooks and an extra bag of shad tails.
Most importantly, make sure you pack baits and lures you have confidence in, provide yourself with at least a couple of options in case your primary tactics fail to catch fish and remember to keep things simple.
Note: Want to take your wade fishing game to a whole new level? Check this out.
What did you think?
Special thanks to Wader Dave for this awesome article on the essential gear for wade fishing.
Have any questions for Wader Dave about what to use for wade fishing?
Let us know in the comments below!
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