Before fishing, it’s important to understand basic tackle and techniques. A fishing rod, bait, hook, swivel, sinkers, and a fishing reel are essential. A tackle box is recommended for storage.
So you’d like to move some rainbow trout from the lake to your plate, wouldn’t you? Before setting out on your first fishing trip, it’s important to have a general understanding of basic tackle and techniques. Many sporting goods stores now offer starter sets containing most of the essentials, but a local store’s athletic department may stock these same items individually.
It can be helpful to examine a typical fishing rod from end to end to get an idea of the basic equipment needed for freshwater travel. At the end of the line is the bait. This can be anything from earthworms to crickets to minnows. Other popular baits include salmon roe, balls of raw dough, chicken livers, portions of cheese or so-called “stink baits”. These baits can be harvested at home or purchased at local fishing supply stores.
The bait is almost always attached to a barbed hook, another basic piece of fishing tackle. Hooks are sold in various sizes; the smaller the size number, the larger the hook. It helps to know what type and size of fish you intend to catch when buying hooks. Most freshwater species such as bass, bluegill and crappie can swallow a size 10 hook whole, but tend to be caught with size 6 or 8 hooks. Hooks larger than a size 6 are usually reserved for larger species of freshwater fish, such as largemouth bass, pike and lake sturgeon.
The hook is attached to a small piece of fishing line with a loop at the opposite end. This ring is attached to the main line through the use of a metal snap called a swivel. The swivel is tied to the end of the main line and a small clip holds the loop of the line securely. The swivel allows the angler to quickly remove the hook from the mainline after a catch. A swivel also protects the mainline from excessive twisting motion that a hooked fish can create.
A few centimeters above the swivel are the sinkers. Sinkers are generally made from lead, and are sold in various sizes and weights. Most sinkers can be secured around the fishing line with just a small pair of pliers or even a quick bite from the angler. For a technique called bottom fishing, the swivel/lead arrangement can be reversed so the angler feels the tug of a fish on the line instead of the weight of the sinkers. Most tackle boxes contain a large amount of spare sinkers, as they are often lost when the mainline snaps.
A good fishing rod is perhaps the most essential piece of basic tackle. The main line is threaded through several eyelets on the pole for support. These eyelets should be smooth and uninterrupted, as the line may weaken from excessive friction or abrasion. The pole itself should have some flex, but still be firm enough to support the weight of a large fish. The poles can be constructed from natural materials such as sugarcane or high-tech materials such as carbon fibers.
Just as important as a good rod is the fishing reel. On a freshwater pole, there may be two different reel designs. One is an open face reel system, where the angler releases a small holding rod and casts line from an exposed spool. The other type of reel is called Zebco and is generally recommended for beginners. In a Zebco style reel, a small thumb switch acts as both the release mechanism and the brake. The line spool is protected by a solid housing. When the angler casts the line, the brake is released and the line comes out of the housing. Zebco reels are less likely to snag than open face reels.
All of this basic equipment should be stored in a compartmentalized container known as a toolbox. A tackle box keeps all the individual pieces of fishing tackle separate and dry during travel. Other essentials like lures, spray attractants and hook removers can be stored in the tackle box. All that’s left to do is find a good spot at your favorite lake and wait for the big one to get a little hungry.