Back to basics: Putting everything together

The number one reason to go fishing is because it’s fun. So, let’s prep our gear and get to it.

We’ll start by talking about putting line on our reels. My combos are already spooled, but it won’t last forever. The way to add line is to thread the line through the guides. Then tie it around the spool. Make sure you flip the bail back first. A simple overhand knot will hold it in place. 

Next, check the direction your spool is turning, clockwise or counterclockwise. Make sure the line comes off the spool in the opposite direction. Fill your spool while you’re holding the line near the first guide to put a little tension on it. Fill the spool to within 1/8-inch of the top. Do not overfill your spool. That’ll cause an explosion when you cast. 

Now it’s time to put our hook or lure on the end of the line. Run the line through the eye of the hook. (That’s the loop or hole that’s away from the point.) Then tie it on with an improved clinch knot. It’s easy to tie and reliable. I use it all the time fishing professionally. There are dozens of videos on the internet that’ll show you how to tie it. 

Add your bobber by opening the eyelet with a push of your finger. They all work a little differently so give the one you’re using a couple of tries. Once it’s on the line you can adjust the length to whatever you want. That’ll control how deep your bait will be in the water. I usually think 10 to 20 inches.    

This puts you in a position to add your bait to the hook if you’re not using a lure. The wacky style is almost always good. Another way is to Texas rig your bait. A third way that’s really effective is to thread the bait on the shank of the hook with the bend and the hook exposed. 

Once again, I have many videos on and on YouTube that will show you how to do this. Watch them because sometimes it’s easier to do something after you watch someone else do it.

If you are using a lure just tie it on with the same improved clinch knot.  

You can add a sinker if you want to add a little weight to everything. I recommend split-shot sinkers for beginners. All you have to do is lay the line in the slot and squeeze the lead tight around it. They’re cheap and available in almost any tackle shop.

The only other thing you need to do is adjust the drag on your reel. You do that with the knob on the front or on the back. What it does is let a fish pull line off your reel without breaking anything. Setting it can be tough if you’re new to the sport. I would say that it’s better if it’s a little loose. You’ll lose fewer fish that way.

Now comes the fun part — practicing your casting. With a spinning reel make sure the bail is facing down. That’s the correct way to do it.  Hold the rod and reel in your dominant hand and grab the line with your index finger. As soon as that happens flip your bail open with your other hand.

Make your cast by releasing your line as soon as your bait or lure starts its forward movement. This takes practice. You’ll get the basics quick enough so don’t get discouraged if it seems tough at first. Close the bail as soon as everything hits the water. Do this with your hand, not with the handle. That’ll help avoid line twist. 

You do basically the same thing with a spincast reel except that there’s no bail to mess with. Push the button on the back of the reel, make your cast and then release the button as soon as you get forward movement on whatever is on the end of your line. 

That’s pretty much all there is to prepping your gear. It’s time to pick a spot to fish. We’ll talk about that next time.