Whether you want to try fishing for the first time or need to purchase more tackle for your collection, one thing is certain, walking into a tackle store can be overwhelming. Nowadays there are so many different rods, reels, line and lures it can be hard to make a decision on what you need to buy. I had this same problem a few years back. Usually I would fish with my Dad and he supplied me with everything I needed but about five years ago when I began tournament fishing I needed to start providing my own tackle and equipment. I learned quickly that you can land many great fish with a good quality rod, reel and a tackle box full of the essentials.
The first thing you need is a good rod & reel. You can buy specially designed rods for each species you wish to target which is really great, but if you are just starting to purchase your supplies I would suggest maybe buying one or two quality rods that can be used in different ways and for various applications. Try to find a medium power spinning rod in a 6’6” to 7’6” length and pair it up with a reel of your choice. Start using a spinning reel until you are comfortable with fishing and casting, I find that they are easier to operate than a baitcaster. Have a sales representative show you a variety of reels in different price ranges, and choose one that feels good when you hold it and also fits your budget. I have a variety of rods now in the 6’6″ to 7’6″ lengths that I use for Bass, Walleye, Pike, Crappie, Trout and any species that roam our local waters here in Manitoba and Northwest Ontario. When choosing what type of line to use I try to keep it simple. I spool all my spinning reels with eight or ten pound braided line and I tie on a four or five foot leader using ten to fifteen pound Fluorocarbon line. When the leader gets short from snags and having to re-tie lures, I make a new leader and keep on fishing. This will work year-round for open water fishing and we use it ice fishing as well.
Now you are ready to start making your tackle box. Number one on the list is the simplest but the best…the jig! Make sure you have a variety ranging from 1/8oz to 3/8oz. Most common sizes I use are 3/16oz, 1/4oz and 5/16oz. If you plan to use leeches or crawlers use a jig with a smaller, shorter hook and for minnows or soft plastics you will want a slightly longer hook. You can catch all types of fish on a jig all year long, just be prepared and have the right sizes. If you are fishing in current or on a windy day use a heavier jig for maximum control.
Next, pick up some hardbaits/search baits. Jerkbaits are great for casting in 0-15 feet of water to cover an area fast, and if you plan to do some trolling I would pick up a few crankbaits that run different depths. My all-time favorite crankbait is the Rapala Deep Taildancer; it dives to thirty feet and always runs smooth right out of the box. If you like to fish for Bass or Pike nothing beats the excitement of casting a topwater in summertime on a calm day. Last but not least is the spinnerbait, you can use it in shallow or deeper water, on rocks or in the weeds and it’s really easy to retrieve. Cast out and reel in, there’s nothing to it.
Last but not least are soft plastic baits. In spring using a 3-4″ minnow bait on a 1/8oz to 3/16oz jig is one of my favorite ways to fish and in the summer and fall I use a 4-5″ with a 1/4oz to 5/16oz jig as the fish become more aggressive throughout the season. Twister tails and grubs work great especially for Walleye and Crappie; you can cast and jig them. Tubes are a great way to land a few big Bass and don’t forget to pick up a pack or two of soft plastic swimbaits, it’s a must-have!
These are a few basic things you need to start a good tackle base. With fishing, the opportunities are endless, there is always so much to keep learning and each day out on the water is a new adventure. Keep slowly adding to your tackle box and try new applications like rigging, using a slip bobber or bottom-bouncing as you become more comfortable. Practise makes perfect so get out there and enjoy some quality time in the outdoors!
KEY ITEMS TO REMEMBER
• Rods, reels, lures, line, tackle
• Scissors, pliers, wire cutters
• Fishing licenses
• Scale/weigh system
• Measuring board/tape
• Proper clothing for the weather conditions
• Sunglasses (even on cloudy days, protect your eyes)
• Gps unit for weighpoints and navigation
• Safety equipment: whistle, paddle, life jackets, etc.