Fishing is a great way to spend time with friends. It’s the perfect activity to get away from the city, relax, and maybe bag some game fish for dinner. If you’ve never tried it, we highly recommend that you do. But before you head out with your buddies, there are a couple of things you need to have in your tackle box.
If you’re a beginner, shopping for fishing gear can be overwhelming. There are numerous fishing rods, reels, tackles, and accessories that you can find on the market—not to mention they each have their own unique features for enhancing the experience.
Anglers, or fishers who hunt by means of a fishing hook, are used to bringing a tackle box full of fishing equipment, but every box will have the same basic items aside from your traditional fishing rods and reels.
Below you’ll find what most (if not all) anglers have in their arsenal, so you can have a better idea about how fishing works and what you need to get started.
Fishing Equipment for Beginners
In this article, we’ll be enumerating everything you need—from your rods and reels to your smaller tackle items, like your lines, hooks, sinkers, baits, lures, swivels, and cutters. Don’t worry, the beginner fishing gear we will be listing down are generally inexpensive and readily available at your local fishing store (or at LeisurePro). Enjoy!
Fishing Rod and Reel
Fishing rods are slender poles that are made of flexible but durable material—typically fiberglass or graphite—to allow you to cast your fishing line further and deeper into the water. They can be classified by their strength (power), responsiveness, action (bending capability), and taper.
Choosing the right rod for you should depend on the kind of fishing you’re going to do. If you’re just starting out, use a rod with medium strength so that you can angle different kinds of fish, and enough responsiveness so you can easily feel when the fish bite—allowing you to quickly reel it out of the water. The ideal length of a rod should be around 11.8 inches (30 centimeters) longer than your height.
As for your fishing reel, this is attached to your rod to help you wind your line and draw in your catch. They are lightweight, affordable, and easy to handle. Spinning reels, in particular, are quite versatile since they’re good for fishing from the shore, at a pier, or while on a boat.
When you’re fishing in shallow quayside water, a long stick with a line should be enough to catch a small fish. However, there are also plenty of basic, budget-friendly Spincast rod and reel combos you can start with.
You probably already know that you’ll need a fishing line. In fact, your new reel might already come with a roll or two, but remember to always bring extras. It’s normal for fishing lines to get tangled up or break, whether its because it got caught on logs or bitten by a particularly strong game fish.
You’ll also want a variety of simple strings or specially-designed cords for fishing, with different strengths and weights. Many of them are classified based on their castability, visibility, and elasticity—all of which vary in strength depending on what type of fish you’re after.
Rough environmental conditions call for heavier and stronger fishing lines, while clear waters typically require stealthy thin and clear ones (like braided lines) so your fish don’t run away from them. You may also want to try monofilament lines, which are very user-friendly and easy to knot.
Remember that you shouldn’t ever have less than 100 yards of line on your reel.
The Power Pro Super Slick Line ($37.95-$42.95), for example, is 300 yards long, super strong, and has a bluish or greenish color so it’s easier to see above water but hardly visible under the water.
Many beginner reels also have fishing lines that are already wound up on the spool. But in case your reel doesn’t, you can easily do it yourself with the help of the tutorial below: https://www.youtube.com/embed/IyUp5T6-piE
Aside from lines, you’ll definitely need to stock up on an assortment of fish hooks to catch fish of different sizes. These hooks are used to catch fish by poking them in the mouth when they come in for a nibble, although in some cases they end up getting caught in the fish’s body.
There are also various types of hooks, such as single, double, circle, and treble. But if you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with single hooks. Sizes range from number 32 (smallest) to 19/0 (largest). Find out how you can set the hook (and almost all of your other fishing tackles) with the “uni knot” below:
Bait is what you attach to the end of your line to attract the fish. The best option is usually live bait. Then again, different types of fish are attracted to different types of food. You should be all set with either of the two most common and effective live bait: worms and minnows (small freshwater fish). Other cheap options include grubs, corn, smooshed bread, marshmallows, or bits of hotdog.
You can get live bait at your local bait shop or simply dig up the worms in your backyard on a dewy night, store them in a tin can with grass and soil, and place the container in a cold, dim place until you’re ready to take them out.
Fishing lures are basically artificial baits that are designed to mimic real fish in order to get the attention of a predator. Fishers have these stored in their tackle box in case they’ve run out of live bait or simply prefer to use plastic, non-moving ones. For some, the variety of lures makes it easier for them to hunt specific types of fish and allows them to be successful in different weather and water conditions.
For example, light-colored lures are ideal for bright days and clear water, while dark-colored lures are used on cloudy days and in murky waters. Two-toned plastic worms (with a darker head and bright tail color) are also great for cloudy waters.
Plastic worms—especially those with long tails—are also very effective if you’re bass fishing. In fact, many anglers swear by certain colors of artificial lures, so they simply keep using them.
Also known as floaters, bobbers help keep your bait closer to the surface and let you know when a fish has taken interest in your bait. You’ll see the bobber sink when a fish bites the bait, and this will be your signal to reel your catch in. This important role makes bobbers an essential part of your fishing gear arsenal.
Like your bait and lure, you have several choices when it comes to bobbers. Traditional ones are made of cork with a stick in it so you can tie them to your line. The most popular and commonly used ones are the round red and white plastic ones, which are nice because they’re easy to attach to the line but can limit how deep you cast it. There are also those more elongated slip bobbers, which you can slide up and down the line and can help you get your hook deeper into the water.
Try not to make the mistake of buying bobbers that are too large. It’s important to have a bobber that floats but will also sink once a fish takes your bait, so it’s better to get smaller and more responsive ones.
Another important piece of equipment that you’ll need is a sinker. For every line you cast, you’ll need to attach one so your line will stabilize as your lightweight hook and bait sinks deeper. Make sure you have plenty of extras on hand as you’ll likely lose them at some point during particularly long fishing sessions .
Sinkers are traditionally made of lead, but newer ones are more environmentally friendly, like brass, tungsten, steel, and bismuth. They also come in different shapes and weights, depending on how deep you want your hook to go.
You can also get small split shot sinkers, which are very small round ones that you can easily clip on and off your line. Aside from helping you hold the bait close to your desired depth, split shots can keep your longer bobbers stand up in the water (when stacked at the bottom of your bobber).
You’ll find that some baits and lures will make your line spin and turn until your line gets twisted. A swivel can serve as the connecting tool between your line and bait and allows the latter to spin and move freely (as in the case of live bait) without affecting your line.
The swivel itself has a loop on each end, but you can include a snap to help save time and effort in attaching different lures, baits, and lines. Do note, however, that the snaps on snap swivels can easily break, especially when catching bigger fish. Fortunately, they’re very inexpensive, so you might as well buy good-quality ones.
Needle Nose Pliers
Needle nose pliers are very useful for taking hooks out of your catch, so you don’t have to risk hurting yourself with sharp teeth or the end of the hook. You may also need them to remove hooks from your skin, in case of accidents.
Basically any pair of needle nose pliers will do, but you’ll want to invest in stainless steel ones and maybe one with a bent, angled tip so it’s easier to pull hooks out and/or bend them for a better curve.
Fishing lines are designed to be super sturdy, so you’ll definitely need a cutter to set up a new line or to get out of a snag. Any will do, but fishers typically go for the smallest ones possible, like a nail clipper or knife, so they can easily fit inside a tackle box. If you happen to also dive for fun, you can use the Dive Rite Line Cutter ($24) as a multi-purpose tool. Or, just go for a sharp, handy knife that can also help you chop your bait into small pieces.
When fishing in bright daylight, it can sometimes be difficult to see where the fish are as the sun can create a glare on the water’s surface. Make sure to bring a good pair of sunglasses, like the Dive Shades 100% UV Polarized Sunglasses ($42.95), which feature polarized lenses that allow you to see beneath the surface better and pinpoint where the fish are. At the same time, polarized sunglasses are designed to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
First Aid Kit
We all hope for safe and fun fishing adventures, but accidents do happen. And in case of minor injuries, you’ll need to have a handy first aid kit with you. Assemble a small pack with some band-aids, small bandages, some waterproof medical tape, and antibacterial ointment for when you get scraped up or poked by a hook.
To be sure, get something like a pack of Adventure Medical Kits – Marine 200 ($34.99), which offer more than everything you need for boating and fishing injuries.
Speaking of safety, one last thing you absolutely shouldn’t forget is extra protection for your skin. Even if you’re well-covered by clothing, slather or spray on a sun-protectant formula—like the Sun Bum SPF 70 Continuous Spray Sunscreen 6 fl. oz ($15.99)—on all exposed skin areas, especially if you’re going to be fishing out in the sun all day. Make sure your sunscreen tube is small so it can fit in your tackle box and you’ll be reminded to put it on whenever you head out to fish.
Last but definitely not least is your tackle box. This is where you will be storing your new hooks, sinkers, lures, pliers, and all your other small tools. It will not only help you transport your gear but it will also keep everything organized.
Tackle boxes come in many shapes and sizes, depending on the type of fishing you’re in for (sports or recreation), preferred tackling style, the size of fish you will be hunting for, and many other factors.
If you plan to fish by the shore, small tackle boxes that can fit in your bag may be enough. When bank fishing, just bring one small tackle box as it would be easier to carry than having to drag around a large one. You’ll likely need to update your box with the appropriate fishing tackles for each of your trips in order to be able to bring a small box.