Modern anglers are fortunate to have access to an incredible variety of rods, reels, lines, lures and terminal tackle. Unfortunately, this vast selection can make it difficult for novices who are trying to set up a fishing pole. Instead of haphazardly purchasing gear, you must pair the correct components to catch fish consistently.
Rods and Reels
Most beginners should start with a 6- to 7-foot, medium-power, moderate-action spinning rod and reel. This is flexible enough to work for most fishing situations and techniques; no length, action or power is correct for all circumstances. For example, longer rods allow for easier casting, but they are also harder to control. Rods with light power allow you to pitch small lures well, but their flexibility limits your ability to control fish that you do hook. As a general rule, light-power rods and fast action are suitable for targeting bream, crappie or other small species; while heavy-power, slow-action rods are better for largemouth bass, muskies and other big fish. Spinning reels are the best choice for adult beginners, but children will experience fewer tangles by using spin-casting reels.
Monofilament line is suitable for most beginners; you'll have to pay premium prices for fluorocarbon or braided lines. Ensure your lures perform properly by using line that is appropriate for the rod, reel and lure you intend to use. For example, when using a diving crank bait, heavy lines will prevent the lure from reaching its intended depth while light line may cause it to dive too deep. Additionally, consider the strength of the line. You can catch small panfish with 4-pound-test line, but big walleyes or bass may necessitate 12-pound-test line, or thicker. In addition to the size of the fish, consider the cover present. Rocks, vegetation and flooded timber all take a toll on fishing line, so opt for abrasion-resistant lines when fishing in such areas.
Hooks, Bobbers and Sinkers
Beginners and casual anglers will often have more success using live baits than artificial lures. Worms, crickets, minnows, mealworms and wax worms are some of the most effective baits. To use live baits, you will need bait hooks, and bobbers or sinkers, depending on the target species and conditions. Sinkers are useful for fishing for bottom-feeding species, while bobbers keep the bait higher in the water column, where suspended fish can see it. Select a variety of lead weights ranging from one-sixteenth up to 1 ounce in weight to be prepared for most situations. Match your hooks to your bait – use 1/0 to 4/0 hooks to hook large earthworms, and bait No. 8 to No. 10 hooks with crickets or mealworms.
A variety pack of plastic baits in various sizes, shapes and colors, combined with a few different-size jig heads, ranging from one-eighth ounce to one-half ounce, will provide you with plenty of flexibility. Plastic baits are good for catching bass, bream, trout, crappie and walleyes, and they work in most weather conditions. Spinner baits, crank baits and spoons are effective for a variety of different species as well. In all circumstances, select larger lures for larger fish. When the water is cloudy, use chartreuse or orange lures, but when the water is clear opt for white, silver, green or blue lures.
- Missouri Department of Conservation: Rigging Your Pole
- FishingLoft.com: Freshwater Fishing Setup Instructions for Rigging A Fishing Rod
- Lake Fork Guide Trips: Picking the Right Hook
- Game and Fish: Top Tactics for Using Live Bait for Bream
- Walleye411.com: Types of Rods and Reels
- FishingInfo.com: Crankbait 101
- Bass Resource: Color Perception
- Александр Ковальчук/iStock/Getty Images