Fishing Gear Must-Haves for Beginners
Of all activities that take place outside the concrete walls, fishing is probably the most leisurely and restful one. It lacks the intensity of some outdoor sports and doesn’t require its pursuers to traverse miles of difficult terrain chasing the game, unlike hunting. Fishing is the test of patience and skill – a perfect way to change the monotonous tune of city life to something closer to the rhythms of nature. Listening to babbling water, spending time with yourself or those you chose to share this experience with – what else one might need from a hobby?
Like the majority of outdoor activities, fishing requires some obligatory equipment. There are, of course, dozens of items that make the whole experience much more comfortable and sometimes enjoyable but at the same time are not an absolute must. Instead of suggesting buying tons of equipment that will cost you a small fortune, we want to share the list of things that are the necessary minimum for fishing. It would be very frustrating to buy out half of a catalog only to find out that fishing is not your thing. If you are only at the beginning of this path, hesitantly walking along the shore thinking if it’s worth getting your feet wet, this guide is for you. Here are the fishing essentials that you need for your first catch and can find in one of the best outdoor equipment stores.
We might be playing Captain Obvious here, but this is a beginner’s guide, so bear with us. The fishing rod is the thing you’ll be mounting other essentials on and basically the key element of every fish-catching trip. Bears would argue with that, but most of us can’t catch fish by dartingly snatching it with our teeth, so this is what we have to work with. Fishing rods were once very simple since the technologies were not that developed, but today the number of options you have is astonishing. And confusing, for those who didn’t manage to gain some expertise in this sphere. Fishing rods vary in their physical parameters and the style of fishing they are designed for.
If we talk about physical parameters, fishing rods are classified according to the following characteristics: material, power, action, and configuration.
The material determines how durable, flexible, and heavy the rod is. If you are looking for a flexible and lightweight rod designed for long and accurate castings, graphite is a valid choice. If you need a durable rod that won’t break the bank and weight is of no importance to you, aim for fiberglass ones.
The power indicates what types of fish the rod is suitable for. The classification begins from ultra-light and ends with ultra-heavy and corresponds to the size of the potential catch. Ultra-light rods are well-suited for small baitfish and panfish, while ultra-heavy rods are indispensable for deep-sea fishing and any big-size fish in general. The thing is that there is no widely-accepted classification, so power tags put by different manufacturers are unlikely to match.
The action describes how fast the rod can return to its neutral position after being bent. Slow, medium and fast are the most common types, but other intermediates are also available.
The configuration is determined by the number of parts the rod comprises. One-piece rods are considered ones with the most natural feel, though they are not too comfortable to transport. Two-piece rods, on the other hand, offer their owners more compactness while sacrificing a bit of this very “feel”. If the rod is well-made, this sacrifice might be almost imperceptible.
Fishing rods’ styles are as diverse as fishing varieties. There is a rod for every type of fishing: fly fishing, ice fishing, trolling, surf fishing (no, it has nothing to do with surfboards). If we talk about “regular fishing”, the main rod varieties are baitcasting and spinning ones.
The second essential element of a functional rod is a fishing reel. Its functions are to store and wind the fishing line and assist anglers in distance casting and line retrieval. Reels are attached closer to the handle of a fishing rod and have two mounting styles, depending on the reel type. Some rods, like fly fishing ones, have a corresponding reel design, but for the majority of rods, there are two reel options: baitcasting and spinning.
We’ll begin with the style most suitable for novice anglers. Spinning reels have a fixed spool and thus are less likely to jam or tangle and are easier to maintain. They cannot boast the accuracy and casting distance of baitcasting reels, but versatility makes up for those disadvantages, even if only partially. Spinning reels are mounted below the rod. For that reason, they are less suitable for catching bigger fish since the pressure is exerted to line guides only. Spinning reels are more suitable for all the lighter things: lines, baits, fish. Affordability, together with simplicity and versatility, make spinning reels the best choice for those who are only getting acquainted with the fishing craft.
Baitcasting reels are a fishing accessory that experienced anglers can truly appreciate. Such reels have a free spool, which allows for further and more precise casting. They are also equipped with braking mechanisms that are used to control the spool once the lure hits the water. This operation takes some time to master, that’s why these reels are more suitable for those already proficient in fishing. Baitcasting reels are mounted above the rod. Such a configuration allows the user to fight the big fish more safely. High line capacity and increased durability only add to the list of advantages. But, just like all good things in life, these advantages come at a price. In this case, it’s nothing dramatic: baitcasting reels are just more expensive than spinning ones, but they are absolutely worth the money you spend on them.
The last piece of the fishing rod puzzle, the line is the element that mounts tackle. It can be of various lengths and diameters and made from different materials. Even though it might seem like the element to save on, poor quality lines are more likely to break and spoil your fishing experience, so here, a penny saved is a penny not saved, eventually.
The main varieties of lines are monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided ones. Monofilament lines are great for topwater fishing due to their floatable nature. These lines are very affordable and stretch well under load. Fluorocarbon lines are valued for their reduced visibility to fish and abrasion resistance. These lines are also pretty dense and are not as buoyant as monofilament ones. Last but not least, braided fishing lines are famous for their small diameter, lack of stretch, and increased durability.
Some anglers treat their tackle collection with care and attention compared to that of museum curators. Tackle items become collectibles more often than fishing rods. But since you are only beginning your path, it might be early to think about allocating a separate room for your future tackle collection. For the time being, you need to focus on the basic elements of the tackle.
The hook is the element that comes in direct contact with fish and is responsible for poking. The destiny of your hook depends not only on its own composition but also on how well you manage to tie it to the line. It’s reasonable to have some spare hooks in your tackle box, should the water claim one currently in use. They come in many forms, but we suggest beginning with more conventional-looking ones. You can experiment as you proceed on your fishing mastery path.
Weights unsurprisingly add some weight to the whole casting assembly so that it would fly further. They also keep your bait from floating on the water surface. You should choose the weights depending on how deep you want your hook and bait to be. The heavier, the deeper, as easy as that.
Floats, a.k.a. bobbers, are a countermeasure to weights as they keep your baiting from sinking to the bottom of whatever water body you’re fishing in. They also serve as visual indicators for taking-the-bait moments, so they should be visible to you all the time. If you don’t see your floater, you might want to start reeling in. Or check your floater, as sometimes they misbehave and lie lazily on the water.
Baits and Lures
The last truly essential element of the fishing, baits, and lures are the very things that allure fish to swallow the not-tasty-looking hook. The major difference between the two is their authenticity. Baits are (or used to be) living creatures that are part of a fish’s diet. Lures are designed to imitate baits and are more usual for fishing predatory or simply bigger fish. Lures are another valued member of many an angler’s collections. There are lures for all types of water and fish, so they might become a whole expense once you decide that fishing is your thing.
And that concludes our list of fishing gear must-haves for beginners. There are, of course, many other items that will make your fishing trip more enjoyable, but the main element is always fishing itself and not the accessories you acquire for it. May luck attend your every fishing trip, and may the weather be gracious!