Your First Fishing Rod and Reel – What Should You Buy

You have caught the fishing bug and you intend to buy fishing tackle that caters to your needs and type of fishing. The correct gear depends largely upon the type of fishing you do. Equipment for fishing Cichlids like Tilapias wont be adequate for fishing Billfishes. If you know exactly the kind of fishing you want to do, then getting the right gear is a relatively simple matter:

• Find a local tackle shop you like.
• Go in and tell them what you want to fish and where.
• Consider and buy their recommendation.

As an alternative, you can ask your experienced fishing buddies what they would recommend. Or a visit to a trusted tackle shop in your should give you an idea of what you should buy.

What if you don’t know exactly what kind fish you will go after?

If you are just a newbie and you just want to start fishing; and you want some good gear that will handle almost any freshwater situation? What do get then?

What you need is a good all-around outfit to get you started. This outfit should be fun to catch small fish with, yet have enough backbone to reel in the bigger ones as well. It won’t be perfect, but it will be pretty close.

Your First Fishing Outfit

• 6-foot to 7-foot, medium to medium-light action, 2-piece graphite rod.
• Medium to medium-light spinning reel filled with 8 lbs to 15lbs quality monofilament line
• Quality hooks in assorted sizes.
• Assorted ball-bearing swivels & snaps.
• Split Shot and a couple of sinkers.
• Floats in assorted sizes.
If you’ve never put line on a reel before, ask the tackle shop do it for you. Trust me, about the spare spool. Sometimes, you’ll want to change out your line while on the water, and that spare spool makes it easy. A two piece rod will be more convenient to handle and transport than a one piece.

The Importance of A Balanced Outfit

It is very important that your outfit be balanced (the rod and reel are “matched” to hold the same size line.) A balanced outfit will allow all the individual parts to work to the maximum of their effectiveness and efficiency.

How will you know if you are a buying a balanced outfit?

If you buy a “combo” (rod and reel sold together as a package deal) from a reputable local tackle shop, you can be reasonably assured that the outfit is balanced. Combos are a good way to get a better price, compared to purchasing the rod and reel individually. But, if you buy your rod and reel separately you will need to read the specifications yourself to ensure that they are matched well.

How to Read Your Rod and Reel Specs

If you look at the butt end of the rod, just before the handle, you will see some specifications printed on the rod. These printed specifications usually tell you the length of the rod, the rod’s action, and the range of line and lure size they are designed to cast.
You would see for example that the rod is 6 feet long, medium action, and rated for 6-12lb test. Some rods have more or less information.

Look for the specifications on the reel, as well. They will be printed on the box and sometimes on the reel. Just as in the rod for example, you can see the reel holds 200 yards of 6lb test, 140 yards of 8lb test, and 120 yards of 10lb test. This is a great match to the rods shown above. 
With an outfit like this, you should be able to handle a wide range of freshwater fishing situations, and a wide variety of fish.

Congratulations on your new fishing outfit!


The Rod

The first thing to notice is that, whatever type of rod you are considering, there is a huge variation in price. Generally, as in all things, the more you pay, the more you get.

Gone are the days when fishing rods were made from natural materials, like split cane, and the modern rods available to the angler take advantage of modern materials technology, giving the angler a rod with superb characteristics at a reasonable price.

The structural material of choice for a modern rod is usually hollow section carbon, which may be multi-ply, low resin, or carbon composite. These carbon materials have a high strength to weight ratio and the resulting fishing rod will appear deceptively light considering its strength.

There is a popular misconception that the tip action is responsible for extra casting power and more power when playing a fish. This is not true. Casting power and fish handling properties are governed by the middle and butt sections of a rod. The tip action governs the sensitivity, or control, of the strike.

Rod Length
The varying rod lengths that are available is often confusing to the novice angler. To arrive at the correct length you need to take into consideration the rod's intended use.

    *      Fishing at distance requires a longish rod. The extra length provides better control when playing fish   far out.

    *      Fishing close in to the margins, or in an enclosed space, requires a shorter rod.

    *      For beach fishing a longer Surf casting rod, above 13 feet is better.

    *      Fishing deep water, there are techniques for fishing deeper water with shorter rods.

Look for a rod with plenty of line guides, fewer line guides means that the line may stick to the rod in wet conditions, thereby inhibiting the free run of line.

A fishing rod's action is the way the rod behaves during casting out and playing fish. In one situation you may be fishing light tackle on an ultralight rod, on other occasions you may be casting out a heavy swim feeder. In the former situation you may be expecting to hook into smaller fish, and in the latter situation your expectations may be higher, bigger fish that can give your selected tackle some punishment. In either situation you need to be using the correct rod for the job in hand.

The top-most rod has a tip action (or fast action) which means that the middle and butt sections remain absolutely rigid while the tip bends through the 90 degree curve.
The rod in the middle has a tip-to-middle action – the butt section remains rigid while the other two sections bend through 90 degrees as the weight pulls down on the rod.
The bottom-most rod has a through action – like most Avon rods. It bends right through the blank as the weight pulls down on the tip.

A rod's "Action" refers to the rod's degree of responsiveness to a bending force, and the speed with which the rod springs back to its neutral position. A rod action may be tip action, middle action, or through action. Fast action rods tend to have more flexion in the tip section only. Slower rods tend to flex more towards the middle and butt end of the rod.

Test curve
A rod's test curve is the figure calculated by determining the weight required to bend the rod tip through 90°. In other words, if the rod body is held horizontally, how much weight is required to bend the tip to the vertical position. The test curve tells the angler the power of the rod and hence the strength of line that the rod is suitable for.

As a general rule the line's breaking strain for use with a particular rod is approximately five times the rod's test curve. For example, a rod with a 2lb test curve: 2 X 5 = 10lb breaking strain line. However, a rod is usually considered to function correctly with a range of breaking strain lines. The lower limit of breaking strain for the rod is given by multiplying the test curve by four, the upper limit is given by multiplying by six. Hence a rod with a 2lb test curve would be suitable for lines with a breaking strain between 8lb and 12lb.

Line Guides
These are just as important as the blank of the rod because correct rod ring placement will ensure that the rod bends perfectly. Certain type of guides will produce ultra lightweight rods, while certain line guides will make for a seriously strong rod. Finally, the size and the materials used within the guides (coupled with the rod’s strength) will determine the distance the angler will be able to cast.
The butt ring (the one closest to the handle) has to be the strongest ring as this has to take the most tension because the line travels through this guide and then leaves it at an angle to reach the spool of the reel. You’ll find that most rod butt rings are triple-legged – they have three stems that are whipped to the rod blank.
The tip ring on most rods is also reinforced to take the brunt of any knocks more than anything. Fishing line tends to run straight through the tip ring on quivertip and waggler rods so strength where playing fish or casting isn’t really an issue – the strength is simply there to protect that guide.

All other line guides along the blank will vary in style depending upon the strength and weight of the blank. There’s no point in creating a very lightweight, through action rod designed for lightweight fishing and ring it with super strong guides having triple legs joining then to the blank. That would defeat the rod’s action and performance.
In general terms, the stronger the rod blank, the stronger the line guides need to be to be able to cope with the power of the fish being caught.

You’ll notice that rods have different numbers of line guides, spaced differently. The number of guides reflects the strength of the rod. The more flexible the rod, the more line guides will be needed to ensure that the mainline doesn’t touch the rod blank, and it follows the same curve as the rod when it is bent. You will also notice that some line guides are longer than others. Waggler rods and carp/specialist rods tend to have long line guides while quivertip rods tend to have quite short line guides.
Longer guides help keep the line well away from the rod blank when casting and this prevents the line slapping against the rod blank which could potentially slow it down due to the resistance caused by the mainline contacting the blank.

Handles and Reel Seats
There are three main types of rod handle. There’s the traditional cork that gives the rod a great look and provides excellent grip plus warmth. Then there’s Duplon, which is black or dark grey foam – a cheaper and easy-to-produce alternative to cork. Finally there’s abbreviated handles. These are common on carp rods.
Some rods have a mix of cork and Duplon. This won’t affect the rod’s performance at all, but it will help keep the rod’s cost down though as the Duplon section is cheaper to place upon the rod butt compared to cork.
If the truth be told, abbreviated handles are nothing more than a fashionable addition to carp rods. They make the rod look nice, and they do provide grip in the right places, but that’s all really.

Years ago we were stuck with one design of reel seat – simple brass or in later years graphite rings that were pushed over the foot of the reel. These, quite frankly, were awful things that made the reel slip, slide and sometimes fall off completely.
Thankfully we now have far more advanced screw-fit reel seats that grip the reel perfectly, no matter what type of reel we use.
Some screw-lock reel seats on cheaper rods have a visible screw design. When the reel is set upon the rod, your hand will come into contact with the screw and that can be quite uncomfortable.
On more expensive rods the screw is positioned above the reel and is hidden by a sleeve. These offer a lot more comfort as the sleeve twists over the screw to hide it, plus this design gives it additional thickness and therefore a much better feel.

Handle length and casting
Rods designed for chucking rigs a long way tend to have longer handles. Take beachcasters as an example – their handles are extremely long allowing the angler to spread the hands apart for maximum leverage and maximum punching power.

Lure rods have the shortest handles (apart from fly rods). Again these are held for long durations, so weight needs to be cut down, and they are used for short casts of around 40 yards maximum. Finally these rods need to be manoeuvrable across the front of the body when working the lure, playing or landing fish, so short handles perform much better. Short handles are also handy when boat fishing too, as they won’t get in the way in often cramped circumstances.

Rod Joints

There are two different types of joint between rod section. The basic joint is a simple put-over joint where the next section along the rod simply slides over the last. They are easy to produce, they fit well and are the cheaper option when rod-building.
The more advanced joint is the spigot. This is an additional length of thinner diameter carbon tubing protruding from the rod joint. The next section slides over the spigot to form a snug and tight fit.
Spigot joints help keep the rod’s weight down as the blanks can be thinner throughout the length.

But many newcomers to fishing are put off by spigot joints. Why? Because they put the rod together and see that there’s a gap between the two sections. That’s how they should be because every time you slide the rod together a microscopic amount of carbon is ground off the spigot joint, so there has to be some ‘give’ in the join to accommodate the reduction in carbon on the spigot. Eventually, after many years of use, the rod sections will touch as the spigot wears down, and that’s when the join between the section becomes weak and the rod may twist, slip and even fall apart on the cast.

Blank Materials 
Most rods today are made from either Graphite or Fiberglass, or a Composition of these two materials.

Fiberglass rods

Fiberglass rods are usually inexpensive and typically geared towards beginners. These rods need little maintenance, have an average weight and a good all-around rod strength and are not easy to break.

Carbon fiber or graphite fiber 

Carbon fiber has many different weave patterns and can be combined with a plastic resin and wound or molded to form composite materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic (also referenced as carbon fiber) to provide a high strength-to-weight ratio material. The density of carbon fiber is also considerably lower than the density of steel, making it ideal for applications requiring low weight.
The properties of carbon fiber such as high tensile strength, low weight, and low thermal expansion make it very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motorsports, along with other competition sports. The company continued making carbon fibre, developing two main markets: aerospace and sports equipment. The speed of production and the quality of the product were improved.

High Modulus

Carbon fibers are classified by the tensile modulus of the fiber. Tensile modulus is a measure of how much pulling force a certain diameter fiber can exert without breaking. Modulus is the ratio (espressed in millions of psi, "pounds per square inch", a measure of a force on an area) between stiffness and weight of the graphite blank. The higher the modulus, the more energy the rod can store and release. The energy is a way of saying the speed and the power of the rod.
Beware, though, the higher the modulus, the more expensive is the blank and also more brittle the rod after an impact.
There are many types of carbon fibers: IM6, M8, M55, M40, M40J, M46J, T300, HR40, and more. Each have their own properties: which are the modulus and the strength. Good fishing rods have generally speaking a high modulus, a high strength, and intermediate percentage of fibres.
The higher the modulus, the more expensive the rod will be. IM 7 graphite offers a nice compromise being light, sensitive and not overly expensive.
Don't get too caught up with the modulus rating. Just because a higher modulus graphite fiber itself may be lighter does not mean that the finished rod (or blank) will be lighter or better. The graphite fiber must be bonded with a resin (weight) and is typically given a glossy finish (more weight). This doesn't even take into account a much more important factor: rod/blank design & taper.
Just go put some rods in your hand. String them up, if possible, for a test drive. See what feels good to YOU, because you're the one that's got to fish it.



Fixed Spool reels aka Spinning reels
Of the several designs of fishing reel available, the Spinning reel (or Fixed Spool reel) is the most popular type used by anglers.

With a Spinning reel, casting out a line becomes much easier due to the fact that line is freely pulled of the fixed spool on casting. Retrieval is also much faster and easierl due to a geared winding ratio, commonly around 5:1 retrieval rate, meaning that for each turn of the handle five turns of line will be wound onto the spool.

As the name suggests the spool is fixed and line is wound around the spool by a rotating bale-arm.

A common design feature of the fixed spool reel is the adjustable drag (or clutch), which may be positioned at the front of the spool or at the back of the reel. The drag (or clutch) enables the angler to allow fish to take line from the spool while the fish is
being played, thereby reducing the possibility of line breakage.

In more recent years the Spinning reel has acquired a new design feature in the form of a freeline facility. This means that at the flick of a lever the reel spool can be allowed to rotate and give line, again controlled by a clutch mechanism.

                                                                    Spinning Reel

By far the most common fishing reel available – almost every single angler in the country has at least one fixed spool reel.
The reason why they are called fixed spool reels is simple – the spool of the reel, under normal fishing circumstances, doesn’t move. It is set in a fixed position and instead the rotor arm passes around the spool to wind the line back onto the spool. Years before fixed spool reels were invented anglers used centrepin reels that did have revolving drums.
Fixed spool reels come in a wide variety of sizes, colours and configurations. Some have front drag systems, some have rear drag systems. Some have single handles, some have double handles. You’ll find much more information concerning these features below.
This type of fishing reel makes for a great all round reel. It could be used for float fishing, legering, lure fishing, trotting, specimen fishing, pleasure fishing or match fishing – it really is the most versatile reel we have at our disposal.
What makes fixed spool reels so versatile is that they are cheap, they are easy to use, they often come supplied with extra interchangeable spools to hold different strengths of fishing line, and they are reliable. Some of the best reels on the market will last decades of service, without a need for a service too!
They can be used for close range fishing right through to 100-yard casts with a heavyweight feeder – they really are incredibly versatile.

Freeline reels
Freeline reels are sometimes mistakenly called baitrunners. This is incorrect, Baitrunner is a trade name of a tackle company and should only be applied to that company’s reels.  

                                                               Freeline reel

This freeline mechanism is designed so that if a rod is left unattended and a bite occurs, line will be given out rather than the rod being pulled in by the fish!

Free spool fishing reels are an advanced design of fixed spool reels. They are exactly the same as fixed spool reels but they have one additional feature – an extra drag system.
This system, when it’s switched on, will allow the reel’s spool to turn under a set amount of tension determined by the angler. So, if a fish were to pick up a baited rig and swim off with it, line can strip from the reel easily. All the angler has to do to stop the line coming off the reel is to pick up the rod and turn the reel’s handle to disengage the free spool mechanism.

If a normal reel is used for this purpose there’s a very high chance that the fish would simply drag the rod and reel into the water because the spool can’t revolve to pay out line – it’s happened many times before.
Generally speaking free spool reels tend to be larger and heavier than fixed spool reels because there’s more mechanics within the reel’s body, and they tend to be used for casting heavier rigs longer distances, so the spools are often on the large side.

Multiplier reels
More frequently used by sea anglers fishing from boat or beach, multipliers are also used by some coarse fisherman when lure fishing.
Because of the small and compact nature of multiplier reels and the fact that they can be operated by the thumb, multiplier reels lend themselves perfectly to lure fishing. An avid lure angler can cast artificial baits many yards single-handedly really easily.
The only problem facing lure anglers who choose to use multiplier reels is the rod. As multipliers are positioned on top of the rod, it’s necessary to buy a rod designed to be used with a multiplier. The reel seat has to be slightly different, the blank action has to be different and the way the line guides are positioned has to be different to the norm as well.
Multipliers are very easy to use, but only when they have been set up correctly. The brake has to be adjusted to prevent the drum spinning after the lure has entered the water. If it’s not tightened correctly the drum will carry on rotating, causing line to strip from the drum and tangle. After a few of these near impossible to save tangles you’ll wish you had set the drag correctly!

                                                                   Multiplier reel
Drag systems
All modern fixed spool reels have drag systems. Some of them are adjustable at the back of the reel (rear drag) while some are adjustable upon the spool (front drag reels).
Rear drag models are the most popular among pleasure anglers, while front drag reels are the favourite among lure anglers and increasingly popular among match anglers.
Both style of drags provide the same function – they tighten or slacken the movement of the spool. When the drag is set at its loosest setting, the spool will rotate easily and a fish will be able to pull line from the reel faster than you’ll be able to wind it in.
At its tightest setting the spool will lock tight and the line will snap before the spool gives and starts to pay out any line.
Once a rig has been made the drag should be adjusted to suit. To do this guess the drag required, hold the rod and reel in one hand, and hold your line and in the other. Flex the rod as far as you can to see if the line begins stripping from the spool.
You should adjust the drag so that the spool begins paying out line just before the line gives up and snaps.

                                                                    Rear drag system

Regarding the performance of the different types of drag systems – front drag reels have the edge over rear drag reels simply because the mechanics of the drag don’t have to run all the way through the reel’s body – they are positioned right on the end of the spool. This means that front drag reels are slightly more effective than rear drag models. Maybe this is why so many of our top-flight match anglers prefer front drag reels.
Most reel manufacturers code their front drag reels as FD, and their rear drag reels as RD.
Some of the more advanced and expensive fixed spool reels have a fighting drag system. This is yet another drag switch set at the rear of the reel’s body and by either pushing it to the left or right will either tighten the drag or loosen it. This feature will ensure that you have direct control over a hooked fish at all times throughout the fight, ensuring that the fish can take line when necessary, and you can also tighten up and stop the fish if it heads towards any snags.

The amount of bearings set inside a reel will determine how smooth-running it is. But bearings help prolong the reel’s lifespan too, taking the brunt of any wear and tear of the moving parts.
Basic, budget fixed spool reels tend to have one, two or three bearings, while top of the range fixed spool reels may have as many as 12.
Pick up two reels – one having a few ball bearings and one having many and give them a spin. You’ll soon feel the difference, and what a difference it makes!

Some reel nowadays tend to only be supplied with the one spool, but closed face reels, fixed spool reels and free spool reels may well have a spare spool, or more in the case of higher quality reels.
This isn’t a sales gimmick – it’s a useful addition that allows anglers to load up each spool with different strengths of line, or braid depending upon what you prefer using.
If stored safely in a watertight bag that doesn’t allow light to penetrate, the line upon the spare spools will last for a year or more, depending upon how much it’s used.
If you do invest in a reel with additional spools the best and simplest way to remember the strength of line on each is to paint a little Tipp-Ex on the inside of the spool, let it dry, then use a fine permanent pen to write down the line strength over the Tipp-Ex blob. Simple!
The spools of rear drag reels can be released by pressing the centre button at the very front of the spool. To release front drag spool you will have to fully unscrew the front disk, but be careful not to knock off any washers from the spindle.

                                                             Different spool sizes

Line clips
If you’re not that bothered about accuracy when you’re casting then you don’t need to worry about whether the spool on your reel has a line clip or not. But you should be bothered as accuracy is everything when fishing.
If you keep casting feeders to the same spot every time you will catch more fish, and a line clip on your spool will help you achieve this.
All you need to do is cast out your rig to the chosen distance and then wrap the line around the clip. Retrieve the rig, aim it towards the same spot and chances are the line will shoot off the spool until it hits the line clip, making the rig stop. That will provide you with the accuracy you need to ensure you hit the same spot upon every single cast.

Retrieve ratio
The retrieve ratio of a reel gives an indication of the reel’s speed. The average fixed spool reel will have a retrieve ratio of around 5.2:1. This means that the rotor assembly will spin around the spool 5.2 times for every one full turn of the handle. That’s about the average speed of a general purpose fixed spool reel.
Really powerful specialist reels such as some big pit reels have much slower retrieve ratios -along the lines of 4:1. This gives the reel more cranking power, allowing the angler to take control of larger, extremely powerful fish easily.
There are some fixed spool reels available that have very high speed retrieves – as high as 7.2:1. These are a little too specialist for the average angler as the very swift retrieve rate could cause problems with the line and hook length spinning violently as the rig is retrieved, ultimately causing tangles.
High speed reels are ideal when fishing at long range during match fishing circumstances as the angler can bring the rig back quickly, saving time.
An everyday fishing session, where normal distances are being fished, and average fish are being caught will demand a ‘normal’ reel to be used having a retrieve ratio of between 4.8:1 and 5.4:1.

When a reel manufacturer produces a new reel they tend to create around four different sizes so the angler can pick the one that best suits the fishing circumstances.
Unfortunately there isn’t a standard size code for reels, but most manufacturers use numbers to indicate the size.
Some companies use the numbers 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000 etc through to 12000 (smallest first) to indicate the size of the reel, while others use 025, 030, 035, 040 (smallest first).
Reels in the 1000, 1500, 2000, 020 and 025 size are lightweight, compact models ideal for lure fishing or for light float fishing purposes.
Series 3000, 3500, 4000, 030, 035 reels are better suited to general pleasure fishing, float fishing where fish of many sizes may be caught.
Specialist anglers favour reels in the 5000, 6000, 8000, 060, 070 and 080 ranges as they hold more line, tend to be more powerful and therefore will reach further distances and control larger fish.

The choice of reel handle is a personal one. You won’t get much of a choice when deciding between  multiplier and closed face reels because they are all pretty much the same. But the two types of fixed spool reels offer a wide variety of handle shapes and lengths. Some of the higher range fixed spool reels also have double handles to provide better balance upon the retrieve and quicker use as it’s easier to locate a handle that has two grips than a single handle. Take a close look at the grip of the handle and see if it’s large enough for your hands. It will pay to check out the type of grip too – some are likely to offer a good grip when dry, but would it slip in the wet?
There’s no reason to have long handles upon any reel other than big reels – these reels demand long handles to enable the angler to power into large fish or to retrieve rigs that have been cast very long distances.

Differences between Spinning reel and Baitcasting reel

Spinning Reel
  • Twists the line when "cranked on the drag".
  • Can increase lure-tumble during casting.
  • Are easier to set on the floor of the boat - reel sits on floor. with the rod ready to grab quickly. Bait casters ALWAYS roll over and sit upside down.
  • Are easier to learn to use overall - no settings for spool spin, and lure weight.
  • Works nicest with 2 to 12 lb. line
  • Are easier to hold in your hand. The reel's weight is under the rod instead of on top of the rod like a baitcaster reel.
Baitcasting Reel
  • Do not twist the line when you "crank on the drag" - line goes out linearly and returns the same way.
  • Allow the lure to cast more accurately with less tumble
  • Work better with heavier lines and braided lines - 10 to 20 lbs.
  • Require that you adjust the reel's spool friction for the weight of each lure that you cast. Change a lure, change the friction setting on the side of the wheel.
  • Require the user to have a good feel for the weight of the lure, the casting distance and the spool friction.
  • Make great, trolling-only rods especially for big fish.
  • Do not sit well on the floor of the boat - always ends upside down.
  • Are fun to to use but baitcasters are for patient people who like to mess around a bit more. If you're on a tight time budget, spinning reels might be better.


Fishing Lines

Getting good quality fishing equipment is essential. It can make the difference between success and failure in your fishing; that goes for the fishing line that you use as much as it does for the rod, bait and lure, but very often, unless you are a very experienced angler and have learned the hard way that your fishing line matters a great deal, fishing lines can be sorely neglected in the putting together of your fishing kit. Getting the wrong type of fishing line for the fish you want to land can result in ‘the one that got away’ or at the very least annoying tangles on your fishing line.

Basically, there are four types of fishing line available to buy: monofilament, braided, fused and fluorocarbon.


This is the most popular type of fishing line and has been in use for years. It is a great type of fishing line for all sorts of circumstances and conditions for fishing.  One disadvantage of monofilament fishing line needs to be taken into consideration when storing your fishing equipment; that is that if it is stored for a long time, it tends to take on the shape in which it has been stored. This means it won’t easily straighten out again to allow you to use it easily for fishing if you have not fished with it for a while; therefore, if you use monofilament fishing line and you do not fish often, you would be well advised to replace this type of fishing line when you want to use it again if it has been left in one shape for a long time.
Also, care must be taken in storage. Never expose it for long periods of time (like the boot or back of the car) to heat and UV rays. In these conditions, the monofilament line tends to be brittle and fails when you need it most; especially with a big one on the end of the line!


As you might expect, braided fishing lines are the strongest of all the types of fishing line available.  They don’t stretch and they float in the water. The strength of braided fishing lines can also be a disadvantage as although they are strong, the braided nature of the fishing line can make it quite abrasive on your hands and also your rod and the guides on your rod. This means you have to have a durable fishing road and reel to cope with braided fishing line. A very sensitive line that would transmit every movement from the bait to your reel. With its sensitivity, it is a good line to use for lure fishing.


It probably won‘t be a surprise to you that fused fishing lines are similar to braided fishing lines. They are very strong too and basically the difference between the two is that fused fishing lines have their threads glued together in their manufacturing and they then are surrounded by another coating to strengthen it further, rather than simply being woven together as is the case in braided fishing lines. This means that fused fishing lines have some disadvantages in common with braided fishing line: they are difficult to cut except with scissors or a sharp knife so that you would need to ensure that your fishing kit includes something with which to cut the fishing line.  It also slides around a little on the reel spool. You should also be aware that both braided and fused fishing lines are thicker and therefore more easily visible to the fish – so they get advanced warning of your intentions!


Fluorocarbon fishing lines are invisible to the fish and do not have the problems of  retaining their shape which older types of  fishing line have; they are therefore the most popular type of fishing line in the modern world of fishing today. Fluorocarbons as good as they are has the disadvantage of being brittle and flaky if the line has been in too many fights.
A good reminder to cut off  a short length of leader and retie to avoid disappointment when the next big one hits your bait!


If you are fishing in dark, or muddy, or stained waters a Brown colored line is best. Moss Green, is best suited for waters with heavy weeds and other vegetation. Clear Blue Florescent, is great when the sun is out and you need to see your line above the surface, whether it is trolling, casting, or just retrieving. It is almost invisible under water.
High Visibility Gold, this color is easier to see and when a fish strikes is easier to tell, it is also best if you are trolling several lines at once as it is much easier to see. Low Visibility, this line tends to blend into most waters. It is great for fishing in areas that receive heavy pressure or areas whether fish spook easily. Low Visibility Clear, This is best suited for clear water, whether it is a stream or a lake. This line works great in ultra clear water situations.

When you buy your line, buy from a store that does high volume sales of fishing line. Line gets OLD quickly, and light and heat weaken the properties quickly, so you want Fresh line as fresh as you can get it.You would have noticed on any given line package it WILL NOT have a "Manufactured on" or "Expiration" date. You need to go to a place that sells a lot of line, and this applies to Bulk spools as well.



Hooks are hooks in most people’s mind. They figure they either need a big one or a small one, depending on the fish they are pursuing. Lots of anglers go though life completely missing the importance of using not only the right size hook, but probably most importantly the right type of hook.
Hook Anatomy

For the novice angler the choice of hooks available and what they are designed for is a confusing issue. Clearly, hooks must be regarded as the most essential piece of tackle and yet the choice of hooks is often not given the attention it deserves. For consistent results it is vitally important that the correct hook choice be made.
Hooks used by the freshwater angler fall into three categories: eyed, spade end and ready-tied hook to nylon hook lengths.

Eyed and spade end hooks are for the angler who prefers to tie his own knots and are attached with whipping knots for spade end hooks, or palomar or simple snell knots for eyed hooks. Other knots may be employed and this is purely a matter of individual choice.

Fishing hooks of various designs are on offer and differ in terms of bend shape, shank length, eyed, spade end, off-set point, barbed, barbless, etc. However, the basic requirements of any hook are the same.

Forged hooks are stronger than their cheaper counterparts, but for any hook the "wire" from which it is manufactured should be as thin and light as possible, as is consistent with its strength. A light hook is important for several reasons; a hook adds weight to a bait and therefore increases the speed at which the bait falls through the water, this can appear unnatural to fish, especially when presented with loose feed that is descending more slowly. Also, a hook that is too thick has a tendency to rupture baits such as shrimps and earthworms.

With eyed hooks always examine the shape and size of the eyes. In general the size of the eye will depend on the size of the hook, but they do vary and you should try to choose hooks with eyes that are just big enough for the diameter of the line intended for use with the hook. This will ensure that the hook, once correctly tied, will hang at the correct angle to the line and not be at an odd angle due to a too large and obtrusive eye.

An important consideration when choosing hooks is the shank length. Hooks are available in short shank and long shank designs. If the intended bait is bread crust, paste, worms or sweetcorn, a long shank is best. A special design of long shank with barbs at the rear of the shank to hold the bait is also available.
 It should also be noted that the longer the hook shank, the smaller will be the hook's angle of penetration. This means the hook will penetrate easily but to a lesser depth than would a short shank hook. The short shank hook will require a stronger strike but will set in more deeply.

Extra Strength Hooks

Hooks marked '2x strong' or '2x' are made from wire as thick as the next size up. A 3x hook is as thick as a hook two sizes up.  These hooks are designed to provide as much strength as a hook one or two sizes up, but where a smaller hook is required.
As an example a 2x 4/0 hook has a wire thickness and strength of a 5/0 hook, and a 3x 4/0 hook has a wire thickness and strength of a 6/0 hook.
Extra strength hooks are often used when live-baiting, to avoid having too much hook visible to the fish. They are also useful on lures, where using a bigger hook would kill the action of the lure and make it less attractive to fish. In both these scenarios the extra strength of the smaller hook, equates to a larger size hook.

Hook Types

Fish hooks also come in several types. Knowing a few of the more popular ones and their uses can help you be successful:


This hook is named for the specific design of the hook. It’s a standard hook, forged with a very strong bend. This hook is relatively thick, very strong, and not likely to bend out of shape. Generally designed for saltwater, it is good for general bottom fishing use. Sizes range from #3 to as large as 19/0.


These hooks, while primarily used in smaller sizes in freshwater, are also used by saltwater anglers. They are generally made from shaped wire. Unlike the O’Shaughnessy, it can and does bend. It can be bent back into shape several times before it becomes too weak. However, once a fish is hook and the barb has completely penetrated, this hook holds quite well. These hooks are modified with bends in their shanks for use in jig molds.

Perhaps the best innovation in hooks to come along, circle hooks promote healthy catch and release. The design of the hook itself, when used properly, prevents fish from being hooked in the gut. Many anglers have a problem using these hooks because they require no hook set. If you do try to set the hook, it will generally come out of the mouth of the fish. These hooks are designed to move to the corner of the fish’s mouth and set themselves as the fish swims away from you. Anglers feel a bite and simply begin reeling, slowly at first, then faster as the hook gets set.


These hooks generally have a shorter shank than other hooks. Whether that is to allow the live bait to swim more freely or to be less apparent to the fish is debatable. My vote is to allow the bait to swim more freely. These hooks come in regular and circle designs. Regular live bait hooks will be swallowed and result in gut hooks most of the time. Circle live bait hooks provide a greater chance for a good release.
Hook Sizes 
The numbers that define hook sizes can be confusing, but the system is really very simple. Hook sizes are based on a nominal hook size of zero. Hook sizes with a number followed by a zero increase in size as the number goes up.
For instance a 4/0, ("four bar oh" or "four oh"), hook is one size up from a 3/0, which is one size up from a 2/0, etc.
Hook sizes not followed by a zero, decrease in size as the number increases.
For example a size 3 hook is smaller than a size 2 hook, which is smaller than a size 1 hook.
While nearly all hook manufacturers follow this basic numbering system to indicate the increase or decrease in size of each hook within an individual pattern, there is unfortunately little standardisation in overall sizes. For instance what may be a size 4/0 in a Mustad hook may not necessarily be the same as a 4/0 in a Gamakatsu hook.
Treble and double hooks follow this sizing convention, that is, a treble or double hook is described by the size of any one of the hooks. For example a size 4/0 treble hook is made up of three 4/0 hooks.



What is a float? A float is an indicator attached to your line to help you catch fish. It is a visual indicator between your rod and hook bait. When a fish picks up your bait and swims away, the float is pulled beneath the water. When you see the float disappear, you know you have a fish on the line.
You can use floats to fish the whole depth of the water.  i.e.; from the surface right down to the bottom. 

Floats come in different shapes and sizes. Choosing the correct float depends on the type of fishing you want to do as you can use floats at many different venues from shallow lakes to fast or slow rivers.

There are basically three types of floats that are commonly used:
  • the waggler
  • the stick float
  • the pole float

The waggler 

The waggler is a float that is attached to the line at the bottom of the float. depending on the situation, a waggler can be locked in one spot or left free to slide up and down the line. The waggler can be used for almost all forms of fishing making it the most versatile of all the floats.

The Stick Float 

The stick float is designed for river fishing. They are attached length wise along the line with the bottom facing the hook end. Two or three small silicone  rubber bands are used to slide over both the line and float. This holds the float in place but allows you to easily adjust the float position along the line.
Stick floats are fished downstream of where you are river fishing. The stick float have a slim design that allows it to lay down in the current. This allows you to maintain control over the float and the hook bait.

How to correctly set a float for fishing

Floats  require a certain amount of weight to set the float on water. Various forms of split shots are used to weigh the float down. These split shots are pinched onto the fishing line and are used mainly in pole fishing because they allow you to spread the weight down the line. This lets the bait to slowly fall through the water.



Sinkers and weights are some of the most important pieces of terminal tackle in fishing.  "What exactly is the difference between a sinker and a weight?" you ask.  One reply is that these two terms are used interchangeably in the angling community.  Another response, and a common trend, is to refer to sinkers as tackle associated with live-bait fishing, and weights as tackle used with artificial lures, but of course these are not hard-and-fast rules.  For the sake of this buyer's guide, and the upcoming "weights" guide I'll be using this distinction. 

The majority of sinkers (and weights for that matter) are formed by pouring hot, liquid metal into a mold.  The metal cools and the tackle takes the form of the mold's design.  For the longest time sinkers were made from lead and although lead is still used today, other metals are replacing it.  The main reason is that lead can be toxic.  In some fishing areas lead is banned and anglers must use other sinkers, made from non-toxic materials.  Some lead alternatives are: brass, tungsten, steel, and bismuth.  Anglers should always be careful when using lead sinkers and never leave lead products in the environment.

Split Shot Sinkers
Split shots are one of the most well-known and frequently used sinkers.  They come in sizes from that of a BB to larger ones about the size of a raisin.  They feature a groove that runs the full length of the sinker.  This opening holds the line once the sinker is pinched in place.  Some split shots feature small handles on the opposite side of the opening, allowing them to be removed and reused.  A clam shot is a variation of a split shot.  It maintains a groove for holding line and is an oval shape, making it more snag resistant. 
Split shots are often used with live-bait offerings.  Adding a split shot above a hook with a worm suspended below a float has been combination that has caught thousands of fish and introduced just as many young anglers to fishing.  Yet split shots are also not used in sophisticated ways.  Tapering split shot weight below a float to control the speed of a bait's drift down a stream is a mandatory skill of successful float fisherman. 

Rubber Core Sinkers
Like a split shot, rubber grip sinkers feature grooves in their center to hold line.  These oval, or football shaped, sinkers have a rubber core that has two tabs (also called ears) on each end of the sinker.  The line is placed in the sinker's groove, and then the tabs are twisted in opposite directions, wrapping the line around the rubber core.  When the tabs are twisted in reverse, the line is released. 

These sinkers can quickly be added or removed and do not nick the line.  They come in a range of sizes and weights.  Some common applications include: using a small 1/8 ounce version for live bait offerings, or adding a large sinker when trolling long-lines to help baits run at greater depths.  These sinkers have a range of applications and can be used in several fishing situations.  

Bell Sinkers
Bell (also called bass casting) sinkers resemble a tear-drop or bell shape with a brass loop or a lead eye at their tapered top.  Line can be fed through or tied directly to the eye.  The eye is often made of brass, but plastic models are available and some feature snaps, allowing anglers to clip-on or remove sinkers from the line without retying. 
These sinkers cast well in the wind, making them a favorite for shore anglers.  The rounded profile of the sinkers also reduces its chance of snagging.  For boat anglers, bell sinkers are often used on a three-way rig.  This rig is designed to get baits deep without needing any extra equipment, like downriggers.  The rig consists of a three-way swivel with one eye for the main line.  The next loop holds a drop line with a bell sinker at its end.  Finally, the last loop holds a leader and a lure or a live bait rig.  The rig is effective when bounced along the bottom or lowered to a desired depth and trolled in open water.

Pyramid Sinker
This sinker also has a line eye which sits at its base, giving it an inverted pyramid profile when tied.  These sinkers are often used in fast currents.  Their streamline profile causes them to sink quickly, and their flat edges prevent them from being rolled along bottom in fast currents.  When used in water bodies with sand- or mud-floors, the sinker will bury itself into the soft bottom.  These two traits make it a staple piece of tackle for surf fishing.

Egg Sinkers
Before the walking sinker was born, the egg sinker was used in its place for live bait presentations and is still a favorite among catfish anglers.  The egg-shape makes these sinkers fairly snag resistant and able to roll along the bottom.  These sinkers slip on the line, which is threaded through a hole that runs lengthwise though the sinkers.  The sinker can be used with a rig (like the walking sinker described above) and some anglers hold the sinkers in place using a split shot instead of a swivel.

Cone Sinkers and Bullet Shots
Cone (also called bullet) sinkers follow the same premise as egg sinkers in that they are threaded onto the line, with the narrow point facing towards the rod.  The cone-shape of these sinkers makes them ideal for gliding through weeds.  These sliding sinkers can be used on a live bait rig to replace a walking sinker when used in weedy areas.  A weedless hook will also greatly enhance the effectiveness of this weed-rig.

The above is just a small sampling of the more common sinkers available to anglers.  Looking at sinkers, one sees that many are variations on some common themes.  Sinkers come in models that either slide or stay fixed to fishing line, allowing you to customize the rig you are tying.  Some come in rounded or tapered designs to resist snags and slip through weeds and wood, while others feature flat edges to dig into soft bottoms or stay in place in fast currents.  No matter what kind of fishing you're doing, there's a sinker to suit your needs.


How to load line onto your reel

Spinning reel
In order to properly use the spinning reel, you must know how to spool a spinning reel. The following will guide you through the process of reloading fishing line onto your spinning reel;
  • Unwind the old fishing line from the reel and dispose of it in a recycling manner covered by your local by-laws or fishing regulations. You can save your used line for proper recycling.
  • Open the bail, which releases the line from the reel. 
  • Lay the new spool of line flat on the floor.
  • Feed the free end of the new fishing line onto the spinning reel by feeding it through the eyelets on the fishing rod. Open the bale, and tie the free end of the new fishing line onto the fixed spool using a slip knot. Tighten the knot until there is about inch of line from the free end of the knot still exposed from the knot.
  • Manually spool about 10 to 15 revolutions of line onto your spool, using a bit of tension.
  • With the new spool of fishing line lying flat on the floor, close the bale (closing the bale can be done by simply starting to reel the handle), start reeling the new line onto the fishing reel's fixed spool by cranking the handle. Apply a little pressure on the line against the upper handle of the rod with your fingers.
  • Reel the new fishing line onto the spool until the spooled line reaches the full line marked on the inside of the spinning reel's spool.
  • Adding too much line only invites the fishing line to twist, knot up, or become loose and not reload onto the reel's spool properly.
  • Once the spool is full, stop reeling and cut the excess line. If your reel has a line clip, slip the line into the line clip.
This entire process, when you become more proficient with it, should not take any more than about five minutes.

                                            (click to enlarge)

Baitcasting Reel 
Spooling new line onto a baitcasting reel requires the aid of a pencil and a friend.

  • Pull old line off reel thu line guides until you have enough room on spool for new line. Always leave some line from spool through rod guides and past end of rod to tie new line to. Save the old line for proper recycling.
  •  Tie new line to end of old line with two clinch knots.
  • Put pencil through holes in new line spool.
  • Have someone hold pencil or hold it between your feet.
  • Make sure line comes off new line spool in the same direction it will go on the new spool.
  • Hold line tight with left hand just above reel.
  • Reel line onto reel slowly, making sure it is spooled tightly.

Don't fill whole spool, you usually need only about 50 yards of line for most fishing.


Setting the drag on your reels

The drag mechanism on your reel is designed to allow you to set how much resistance a fish feels when it pulls on the line.

Drag is measured in pounds. The tighter you set the drag, the more resistance the fish feels. You want to set the drag tight enough that it tires out the fish when you fight it, but not so tight that the line breaks under stress.

The most accurate procedure for setting the drag on your reel requires a scale.
                                                   - a spring scale

What is the correct drag setting for my reel?

The drag should be set to 25% of the breaking strength of the line you are using. The breaking strength is the line’s pound test, which should be clearly labeled on the package and spool.

test strength ÷ 4 = correct drag setting

For example, if you are using 8lb test line, the correct drag setting should be 2lbs.

8 ÷ 4 = 2lb

How do I set the drag on my reel?

  • Assemble your rod and attach the reel. Thread the line through all the guides from the butt to the tip top.
  • Tie the line to the hook of the scale.
  • Hold the rod at a 45° angle.
  • Pull down on the scale. Take a reading on the scale the moment the drag begins to slip.

Adjust the drag mechanism until the drag slips at the correct setting for the line strength you are using.*On a spinning reel, the drag mechanism is usually on the top of the reel (front drag), though it can sometimes be found on the back end of the reel (rear drag).

It must be duly noted that the above formula should only serve as a guide and common sense should prevail in cases of lines with test poundages of above 80 lbs. Using the above formula, a reel loaded with 80 lb test would have to be set at 20 lbs.
Fighting or holding a fish at 20 lbs drag is not only dangerous on a rocking boat but also strenuous on the angler’s physique.