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Some Assembly Required for the Family Fishing Trip
If you're looking for a simple and inexpensive way to get the kids outside, active and trying something new, fishing could be the perfect option. But you have to do a little homework before you hit the water—those poles won't string themselves.
When it comes time for you to string your and your family's fishing poles, here's what you need to do:
1. Assemble Your Pole
Most basic rods detach at one or two spots, and these joints are called ferrules. Bring the ferrules together at a 45-degree angle, then push and twist until the guides (those little metal loops along the rod) are aligned.
Next, attach your reel to the rod by hooking the reel foot (the flat metal base) into the reel seat, located in the middle of the handle.
2. Attach the Line
Open the bail (that little wire arm on your reel that lifts up and down—up is open) before loading your line.
Tie your line onto the center of the spool (called the "arbor") using an arbor knot, which is based on a noose knot. Do this by looping the line's free end, or tag, around the arbor and tying a loose knot around the standing line. Then tie another loose knot on the tag end, and hold the tag end on either side of the knots and pull tight until the knots come together snugly.
Close the bail on your the reel.
3. Load Line Onto the Spool
Place your line spool on the floor, label up, and apply light pressure to the line as you begin turning the handle to load line onto the spool. Continue filling the spool until the line is about about one-eighths of an inch from the rim.
4. String the Rod
When you're ready to string the fishing rod, open the bail again to allow the line to unravel from the spool. Feed the tag toward the first guide closest to the handle, and pass the line through each of the guides toward the tip top of the rod. Missing a guide is a typical rookie move, so keep an eye out.
After pulling the line through the final guide at the tip of the rod, leave three or four feet of line extending down from the end.
5. Attach Your Hook and Bait
You have a few options for tying your hook to your knot, but the most popular is the clinch knot.
Pass the line through the eye of the hook and wrap the tag end around the standing line five times. Bring the tag end back and pass it through the first loop you created, just above the hook of the eye, and then through the big loop. Pull slowly to secure the knot and clip the tag end. Done.
Attach your bait of choice to the hook, and you're ready to start casting.
Fishing With Kids
If your kids aren't used to fishing, consider how to approach the activity. Would your kids prefer that you live release the fish? If so, be mindful of the fish's "slime layer" once they're caught—it helps protect them from infection, so if you want to live release them, do what you can to avoid rubbing it off.
Also, make sure to pack a first aid kit, in case of any seasickness (if you plan on going offshore) or hook-related mishaps. Aspirin, antiseptic wipes, Band-Aids, and wrist bands or medicine for nausea relief could come in handy, as could plenty of extra snacks and water.
Finally, bring the camera. You never know what you or the kids might catch—it could be worth a framed photo.