beginner

Back to basics: Basic fishing gear

Photo by Abu Garcia.

Fishing is easy. You don’t have to be young, in great physical shape or rich to get involved. It’s a sport for the outdoors that can be enjoyed by everyone. The trick here is to stay basic. 

You’ll need a rod, a reel and some line to get started. Modern technology has helped us out with this. Years ago you had to spend real money to get good tackle. That is not the case anymore. Inexpensive tackle works fine for most beginning anglers. 

You can buy a pretty good basic open-face spinning or closed-face (spincast) reel and rod combination for anywhere between $20 and $50. When you go to buy it’s important that you get a rod that has a medium or a light action. They’re easier to cast and easier to set the hook. And, smaller fish feel big on them. 

I have two combos that fit the bill perfectly. My Abu Garcia closed-face outfit comes with a 5-foot, 6-inch medium action rod. The reel is already spooled with quality 6-pound-test line. My Abu Garcia open face combo comes with a 6-foot medium action rod, and the reel is spooled with 8-pound-test line. The closed-face combo is $40. The open-face combo is $45. There are ton of others out there, though, that will do a good job.

If you buy line by the spool, make sure it’s monofilament. It’s inexpensive and will perform better for inexperienced anglers. I like Berkley Trilene XL or Berkley Sensation. My favorite strengths are 6- and 8-pound test. They’re easy to work with but still strong enough to handle a decent size fish. 

For anglers just starting out I’m a big believer is using bobbers. You can see it when a fish bites. There are lots of shapes and colors. My favorite is a teardrop shaped one with a small weight on the bottom. 

Once you have that taken care of you’ll need hooks. Every manufacturer on the planet sells them in packs of different sizes. I recommend round bend Aberdeen baitholder models. Get the smaller sizes for starters.

You can use live bait if you want, but it isn’t necessary. Modern artificial baits are just as good as the real thing. Berkley makes a series of them called Gulp! This stuff will catch anything, and it comes in jars that’ll keep it fresh. It’s offered in an endless number of shapes and sizes. One thing: It does stink.

You can fish with lures too. Just keep it simple. Grubs and small Rapala minnows have caught everything that swims at some time. In-line spinners are also universal baits.

Everything else you’ll need you probably have lying around the house. Start with pliers and scissors. Then get a good hat and a pair of polarized sunglasses. You can get the ones I wear for about $15. Rain gear is nice. If you’re on a budget, use a big trash bag. Make sure you use sunscreen. If you’re in a boat of any kind, wear a life vest. And it’s not wrong to wear one even if you’re fishing from the bank. Kids move quick, you know.     

Most everything can be carried in a small tacklebox. They’re made in every style imaginable and from every material imaginable. I like the soft-sided ones, but they’ll all get the job done. Buy an inexpensive one until you have enough experience to know what suits you and your style of fishing. 

The only other thing you should have — always — is a basic first aid kit. It’ll come in handy for hook issues and small cuts. 

OK, if you have what we’ve covered in this piece, you are on your way to go fishing. Next time we’ll put everything together.