Fisherpersons: give me the Dope on tackle.

I’m not a fisherwoman by any stretch of the imagination, but I have fond memories of tossing a line into many rivers in my youth, and catching all sorts of fishies. It’s doubtful that too many were of legal size for the jurisdiction, but hey…they were sweet as, grilled on the BBQ less than 20 min after being caught!

Nowadays, every second show on the telly is a FISHING show, touting all sorts of lines (monofilament vs braid), all sorts of lures (bright and shiny ones VS bright and shiny ones) and of course a $200 rod with a $450 reel is going to net you more fishies than a KMart $30 Combo right?

Or is it? Is the hype around fishing just that, hype? Is a $30 lure qualitatively better than a $3 lure? Is it gonna catch me more fish?

Can someone give me The Dope on fishing tackle, please? I want to take my grandsons fishing over Xmas at a place I remember catching umpteen fishies…but if the tackle rules have changed, I need to know!

Oh, it’s shore fishing (off a pier or beach). We don’t have the loooxury of a fish finder!


You can catch fish with a cane pole, any kind of line, a hook, sinker, bobber, and bait. You can catch fish with expensive equipment. You can catch fish with a variety of gear between those extremes. Preferred methods and equipment vary wildly depending on location, conditions, and types of fish desired.

Your best bet? Visit the place you plan to fish with the grandsons a week or so before they arrive, and talk to people you see catching fish there, find out what equipment and/or techniques they’re using, then outfit your party accordingly.

**Oakminster **gives good advice. The fisherpeople love to help newbies, in my experience. I’d add, if the kids are inexperienced, that it would possibly be cheaper and less of a headache to try fishing with bait rather than lures if your survey finds successful fishers doing both. Lures require frequent, active casting and if they are not skilled you are in for a long day and possibly lots of lost hardware. Losing hooks and weights is less expensive. Don’t buy one of the cheapest all in one outfits at Walmart (or wherever) if you can help. They are cheap plastic, perform poorly, and usually have line that is way too heavy for most freshwater usages. If there is a Bass Pro Shop or good local shop they can probably set you up pretty well for about $50 per pole or so.

Even when we had a fish finder, it never seemed to help much. But I agree that live bait is probably a better bet for most places. The kids may or may not enjoy that though. Depends on the kids.

We always used bobbers for the kids when they were small. They would usually get bored pretty quickly with holding the pole, so the bobber was helpful.

I actually have an amusing story about the first pole we bought for our son. We just bought him a small cheap pole from Kmart, thankfully. We got him all set up and let him go. The next time we checked on him, he only had the bottom half of the pole. He’d thrown the top half in the water because he didn’t need two poles.

Well, maybe you had to be there. Anyway, have fun!

Even without seeing them, yes $30 is certainly going to be better than $3 (do they even make those?) $100 might be better than $30. But $1000 isn’t going to be 10x better than $100. There are diminishing returns.

Check the local laws. Is this fresh or salt water (a lot of the below assumes fresh)? What kind of fish are there? Do you know how to clean them? Learn the knots, at least the improved clinch knot. Normal knots may not work with monofilament and may either come apart or break easier.

Many of those things are more for fly fishing. Fly fishing tends to be more expensive to start. You probably want to buy a spinning reel. Don’t buy baitcasting for them unless you want them to learn how to swear/break it (depending on their ages).

Pick the right weight line based on the fish, and note that rods and reels accept only a certain range (like 6-12 lb, so you can put 6, 8, 10, 12, etc.) on. The best lure is one that is the right size for the fish in the area. All the other features may be part marketing. Buy a few and stick with one that works. I like “Panther Martin” types as a general lure, if you have those. You can just tie it on, maybe add some weights higher up to make it easier to cast. No reason you can’t cast flies without fly rods, tie a bubble and fly. You fill the bubble with an appropriate amount of water. With bait there are many ways to do it, but generally you’ll want some lead weight above the hook and possibly a bobber above that.

IANAn expert fisherman and am rejoining the sport (after a 40 year absence). I’ve been fishing on a variety of the local lakes while trying to relearn the knots, casts, etc. I’ve had a little luck, both with live bait and lures so here’s my take.

If you’re planning catch and release, or are unsure whether you’re keeping the fish, it’s probably better to use lures. In my (limited) experience, it seems the fish swallow live bait much deeper than lures, and it’s nearly impossible to extract the hook without hurting or killing the fish. I only use live bait when I intend to keep and cook them.

I’ve been using a boat* and a fish finder, and it does help a lot. I can tell the depth where the fish are hanging out, and choose appropriate lures/weights to get to them. Without this, I can’t tell where to start (topwater? worms? spoons?).

Best of luck, and I agree with the others about rods and reels. We amateurs are a long way from needing the professional stuff, and any lack of success isn’t due to the price of our gear. But the all-in-one packaged stuff at WalMart (or the aussie equivalent) is too cheap. I was able to outfit myself with a decent rod/reel and 8 lb line for about $50.00. Most sporting goods stores can help you pick this out, and can “customize” it a bit when you tell them where you’re planning to fish. Just 'fess up that you’re a newbie and (ime) they’re really pretty helpful.

Best of luck. Hope you have as much fun as I’m having.

*Not a “real” fishing boat, but I don’t think the fish know much about boats. :slight_smile:
On edit: Forgot to mention; Garage sales are a great way to pick up a full tacklebox, often outfitted by someone with way more experience. That’s how I got restarted.