If you’re new to the fishing community, walking into a tackle shop can spoil you for choice. Between a variety of high-powered spinning reels and irresistible lures, narrowing your shopping list can be challenging.
As a fishing enthusiast, you need to prepare for every scenario imaginable—but it doesn’t mean overstuffing your tackle box with frivolous gear. Below are the top five gear and gadgets every fishing novice should have in their arsenal.
Rod & Reel
Every new angler’s first piece of gear is their rod and reel. While various rods best suit specific fishing styles, you’ll want to keep it simple. Baitcasters make for durable tools with stronger drag capabilities but may be too complex for first-time anglers without a feel for standard spinning setups.
Spinning rods and reels allow beginners to quickly navigate soft plastic baits for starter fish, such as bass. For both bait and lure fishing, you’ll want to consider a medium action rod that can support an 8-pound to 20-pound line.
Responsive beginner rods should be 30 centimeters longer than your height. Products such as the Ugly Stik GX2 are affordable options for anglers who frequent lakes and rivers.
Another spinning combo product that may be worth your buck is Lew’s Fishing American Heroes Speed Spool. Its graphite body makes for impressive, uninterrupted performance under all weather conditions.
Line & Tackle
While beginner rods may already come equipped with one or two fishing lines, it never hurts to pack an extra set. You never know when you’ll come across a particularly aggressive game fish!
Consider a variety of simple strings with different materials and diameters. Popular spinning line options include:
- Fluorocarbon: These sensitive, sinking lines are ideal for clearwater fishers.
- Monofilament: These are affordable, floating lines that are most compatible with top-water bait and lures.
- Braid: This powerful line has a small diameter, perfect for fishing in ponds and areas with a heavy structure.
Ultimately, what line you choose will be up to personal preference. As a rule of thumb, rougher conditions call for heavier fishing lines, whereas calmer streams can accommodate stealthier products.
You can pair your line with tackles of three varieties:
- Weights: If you need additional casting distance to keep your bait underwater, weights are the way to go. First-time anglers will benefit from split shot weights. These inexpensive weights are easy to install.
- Hooks: Many angling veterans will advise against snelled hooks. However, they allow beginners greater control over their point position and are highly secure.
- Floats: Floats, otherwise known as bobbers or strike indicators, make for an easy-to-spot indication that your bait is successfully luring in a catch.
Live Bait Or Lures
While different types of fish are attracted to various food, you can’t typically go wrong with worms and minnow. Nightcrawlers make for excellent universal bait. With it, you can lure virtually any freshwater fish, including bottom feeders such as catfish. Other affordable options for bait that you might consider are corn, grubs, marshmallows, or even bits of sausage!
Shopping for live bait is relatively straightforward—you’ll find everything you need at your local bait shop. Alternatively, you dig up earthworms from your backyard on a dewy afternoon. Store live worms in a glass or tin can with a moderate amount of grass and soil. Shelve them somewhere cool and dim until your next angling trip.
If you’re keen on exploring artificial bait, lures mimic real fish to attract predators. With such a varied selection to choose from, it can be challenging to settle on just one lure. Below are few products to consider that guarantee a high success rate for first-time anglers.
- Soft plastics: Rigged, brightly-colored soft plastic lures are particularly effective on bass. Ball jigs are an excellent way to target bottom feeders—trying your hand at different retrieve speeds can give you a better idea of where these fish are staging.
- Topwater lures: Some fish such as black bass, tarpon, and spotted seatrout will feed on the surface. As such, topwater lures are an easy cast. Vary your retrieve speed, experimenting with pauses or twitches to find out what works best for you.
- Spinnerbaits: These old-fashioned lures have been around centuries for a reason—they work. Consider a spinnerbait if water visibility is lower than usual.
Lure material and color will also have an impact on your success. As a rule of thumb, consider light-colored lures on high-visibility days and two-toned plastic worms for murkier waters when it’s overcast.
There is no better bait storage option than your classic tackle box. Depending on the type of angling you’re after, you won’t find a shortage of tackle boxes in different shapes and sizes.
When shopping for a tackle bag, consider your tackling style, favorite catch, and essentials that you’ll need to have on your person at all times. If you’re a casual angler and love fishing by the shore, a small tackle box that you can zip into a backpack may suffice. Consider something larger if you’re looking to fish in deeper waters.
As a general rule, wearable tackle storage is best for remaining mobile for several hours at a time. Flat, clear boxes are also an excellent choice—you can quickly identify the tools you need and arrange them as you please with removable dividers.
First Aid Kit & Protective Gear
Last but certainly not least is your first aid kit and protective gear. Anglers are adventurers and ones that aren’t immune to the dangers of nature.
In case of minor injuries, you’ll want to include small bandages, waterproof medical tape, and antibacterial ointment in your first aid kit.
As an angler, you’re more than likely to experience sunburn. At least 50 SPF should keep your exposed skin areas protected against harsh UV rays. Similarly, a pair of UV-polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from bright sunlight and make it easier to see through the glare.
Ready, Set, Angle!
Over time, new anglers will learn to curate essentials that best suit their fishing style. As you learn to pursue your favorite catch, feel free to explore what type of bait, lure, and rod makes for an enjoyable afternoon by the lake.
If you’re fishing on foreign soil, don’t forget to take along these holiday necessities—and your permit!