Fishing, like hunting, is a sport that involves a lot of lead up for a few exciting moments. Fortunately, the lead up actually happens to be pretty fun. And for outdoor enthusiasts with the right fishing gear, the exciting moments can happen more frequently too.
The Right Fishing Gear
Whether it’s in an chilly mountain stream, a river, a lake, an ocean, or even on the ice, having the right fishing equipment ensures that you’ll be ready when you have the opportunity to hook a fish.
Although the gear that you use can vary wildly depending on where you are fishing and what you are trying to catch, there are some basic components that are common denominators throughout the sport.
Here’s a quick look at your basic fishing gear:
Fishing rods allow you to cast further, and hit more spots from the same place. They also give you some leverage when you’ve hooked fish and you’re fighting them on the way in.
If you are brand new to fishing, and just heading out to casually fish with a couple friends, a rod and reel combo is a really great way to get started. They can be found inexpensively at big box stores, on Amazon, and of course at specialty stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. An entry level rod and reel combo will get you up and running, and can be used with good results on lots of reservoirs or streams.
Once you have gotten your initial taste and are familiar with what kind of fish are in your area, you will want to get a rod that’s more specific to your situation. On the far end, surf rods can be 10-12 feet, and tire you out just casting them. Fly rods for fishing trout in streams are extremely light.
There are several different styles and sizes of reels, depending on the kind of fish you are after, and the type of water you will be fishing in. There are closed reels, open reels, reels with different locking mechanisms, and lots of other variables. As you would expect, the price can differ wildly, depending on the type of reel and quality of the components.
Depending on what type of fish you are fishing for, the bait you use will be different. Catfish, trout, carp, crappie, bluegill, and bass all have different types of bait that will work best for them in certain conditions. Then again, the best bait for saltwater fishing is another whole story.
Additionally, the type of fishing that you are doing will do a lot to dictate what kind of bait you use as well. If you are spin-casting, trolling, or surf casting, it could be completely different. Literally every single fish combined with every single location could result in a different kind of bait.
As opposed to bait (that attracts fish based on scent), lures attract fish based on visual deception. Most lures have a mechanical component, which causes them to spin or flash. When they’re working, this causes curiosity in fish, and results in them taking the hook (or at least hitting it).
Lures have some pronounced advantages over bait. They are less messy. They are easier to swap out if you want to switch it up. And they make it easier to laser focus on the exact fish that you want to go after. On the flip side however, they are more costly. This makes it a bigger bummer if you lose them.
There are 6-7 basic classes of lures: jigs, flies, spoons, soft plastic baits, spinners, spinner baits, and plugs (actually a case for debate with 1-2 types). Spinners are great for beginners, and one of the more common lures, especially for lakes.
But in the last couple decades, fishing line has become an increasingly diverse and complex menu to navigate. Monofilament, flourocarbon, braided–each has their own set of pros and cons.
In our review we cover which lines are best in which situations, and also share our personal favorites to include in your tackle box.
When you have a lot of water at your disposal or are fishing a new area, fish finders can be very helpful. Obviously they can put you on fish quicker than you would be able to otherwise do with the naked eye, but with depth readings, you can also get a really good idea of how to fish them.
This means which bait or lures to use, what kind of presentation you’ll need, and more. While some people feel that using fish finders might be crossing the line of what is “fair” fishing, many of us find them extremely helpful. This is particularly true if you are fishing with beginners, and want to guarantee that they get some action, or if you have a limited amount of time.
A solid pair of fishing sunglasses is a must when you are on the water. Polarized sunglasses do wonders to protect your eyes, and increase your visibility. Particularly during the daytime hours, natural light casts layers of shadows that make it difficult to focus on specific sections of water.
Once you start looking at glasses however, you will realize that there are many different kinds. Not to worry, we have made an in-depth study of sunglasses, and put together a really solid guide, that shares our recommendations for the best frames, lenses, the best fishing sunglasses under $50, and the everlasting debate on polarize vs. photochromic lenses.