Beginner’s Guide to Fishing Tackle

So you’ve decided you want to take up fishing and done all your research but still can’t make heads or tails of what you really need to get started.  In this article I will give you a rough outline of exactly what you need to get on the water and start catching fish.

Fishing rod and reel.

This part is rather obvious.  Without a fishing rod its going to be a bit difficult to put a line in the water, but which rod and reel do you need?  Generally speaking a good spinning rod combo with somewhere between 10-15 lbs. test line will be  good starting point.  I go into more detail in some of my other articles which you can find here.

Terminal Tackle

Terminal tackle is anything that you attach to your line that doesn’t include the bait.  This can be hooks, sinkers, swivels etc.  Today we will take a look the bare essentials to get you out on the water soaking some bait and hopefully catching fish.  The first item we will discuss is the barrel swivel.

Barrel Swivel

This simple, yet important item, is used to for attaching the leader to the main line and avoiding a twisted mess after a few casts.  It also doubles as a stopper for a sliding sinker setup which we will discuss further down the page.  For starters it would be good to have a few different sizes and about ten of each for different applications and the chance that you will get a snag and lose some tackle.

The next item you will need in your tackle box is an assortment of sliding sinkers.



Egg Sinkers


These come in sizes from 1/8 ounce up to 3 or more ounces.  I would suggest purchasing around ten of each size ranging from 1/2 ounce up to 3 ounces for general use.  The lighter that you can get away with the better.  Most of the time during calmer flows you will be able to use 1 ounce, however when the current is ripping through a river it is nice to have 3 ounces or more to make sure your bait stays where you want it to be.

Now that we have your weights and connectors sorted, we can move on to the most important of all the terminal tackle, the hook.  There are many different styles of hooks on the market and so many brands to choose from it can get a bit confusing.  There are no more than four brands that you will find in my tackle box.  They are Mustad, VMC, Owner and Gamakatsu.  Each angler has their personal preference but these are four brands that I have grown accustomed to using and have always had good luck with.

Gamkatsu Octopus Circle


A good starting point would be to stock your tackle box with octopus circle, as seen above, and bait holder style hooks in sizes 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8.  One pack each should suffice.  The octopus circle are good for using with live bait such as minnows or leeches, while the bait holders are good for worms and cut bait.  The hook size should be matched to the size of the mouth of the target fish.  For example, a typical catfish rig would be well suited with a size 1 or 2 hook.

Finally, you will want to throw in a few fishing beads as seen below.  These are good for placing between the sliding egg sinker and barrel swivel to protect the knot as the sinker slides back and forth on the line.  These can be purchased at any bait and tackle store and any style should be fine.

Fishing Bead


Once you have all of these items you will want to purchase a small box to put it in.  Plano makes good tackle boxes which open from the top and have one, two or even three trays inside.  You way want to get a small one or two tray box for starters so you will have room for expansion later as you get more into the hobby.  Also you will have room should you want to put your fishing knife, flashlight or any other accessories such as bug spray or small snacks that you will want to bring along.

Sliding Sinker Rig

Now, to string it all together, pardon the pun.  I will describe the basic and most widely used bait rig for fishing anywhere from the pier to your local pond and river.  This setup can be used for all species and most types of live and cut bait.  First off you will start by threading an egg sinker onto the line followed by a fishing bead.  Once this is complete you can attach a barrel swivel using either a Palomar knot or improved clinch knot, both of which are shown in my article Fishing Knots.  The next step is to make a leader by tying 12-18″ of line onto the hook which you will be using.  This again can be done with a Palomar knot or improved clinch knot.  As you become more experienced you can use the snell knot as it is a bit more difficult to tie.  Now tie the other end of the line onto the barrel swivel with an improved clinch knot and you are all set.  This type of rig will allow the line to slide freely when the fish picks up the bait.  Thus allowing a more natural presentation and increasing your chance of a catch.

Now that you have the basics down its time to get out and give it a shot.  Let me know how you get on in the comments below.  As we know, every angler enjoys a good fishing story.


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