Basic Fishing Gear: Everything You’ll Need To Start Fishing

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Going fishing for the first time? Here’s a list of the basic fishing gear you should have before you set off.

With 20 years of fishing experience, I’ve seen many different types of fishing gear. After hours of consideration, I’ve narrowed them down to 10 pieces of essential fishing gear.

Fishing can be overwhelming, especially to a beginner. It doesn’t help that fishing tackle has become more advanced, and complicated over time. 

I’ve been where you are, and I understand how hard it can be to decide what to get. You don’t want to spend too much, and you want to get only what you need. The thing is, you’re not very sure what all the different pieces of fishing gear do, and whether you’ll need them. You don’t know which type of rod you should get, what lures you should get, and so on and so forth.

Don’t worry, it’s normal. This article will help you get the right gear.

Here’s all the fishing gear you’ll need for your very first fishing trip:

#1 – Rod and Reel

#2 – Fishing Line

#3 – Tackle

#4 – Baits & Lures

#5 – Swivel

#6 – Needle Nose Plier

#7 – Nail Clipper

#8 – Tackle Box or Bag

Optional Gear

#1 – Rod and Reel

A fishing rod is basically a long, slender rod that you’ll be attaching your fishing line to. A fishing reel is the spinning mechanism attached to your rod for you to reel your catch in. 

If you’re just starting out, my advice is to get a rod and reel combo. A rod and reel combo is, as the name suggests, a combo. You’ll be getting a fishing rod and a fishing reel as a set. This is usually cheaper than purchasing both separately.

On top of that, the reel should be made to be attached to the rod, so you’ll have a much easier time joining them together.

Most importantly, rod and reel combos often come pre-spooled with monofilament line. This saves you the hassle of having to attach the line yourself. 

#2 – Fishing Line

Your fishing line is quite simply, the line you attach to your rod. 

If you’re purchasing a rod and reel combo, you won’t have to worry about the line.

In case you’re not, beginners should start with 6lb test monofilament lines. You can also get fluorocarbon lines, but it’s easier to tie knots with monofilament lines. A 6lb test line will hold up well for many species. You’ll only need a heavier test (8-12lb) if you’re targeting bigger fish like in bass fishing.

Note that you will have to attach your line to your rod and reel. Since you’re only starting out, I’m betting you don’t know how to do it. Here’s a great video teaching you how to do it.

#3 – Tackle

Tackle refers to everything on the end of your line, aside from the bait. Mainly, tackle consists of fish hooks, sinkers, and bobbers.

Fishing Hooks

You’ll be attaching fishing hooks to the end of your line. You’ll attach your bait or lure to it, and use it to penetrate fishes’ mouths. For starting out, just get a few single hooks.

Sinkers

Sinkers are weights you attach to your line so it goes deeper. Sinkers are important pieces of equipment. You’ll need them to fish at your desired depth.

All you’ll need is 5 sinkers. 5 sinkers are enough to reach even the deepest point of any water. Most of the time, you’ll be using only 1 or 2 at a time, and the others will act as back-ups.

Bobbers

Bobbers, also known as floaters, do just that – float. Bobbers work with sinkers to allow you to control the depth you’re fishing at.

A bobber essentially stays on the water surface and when a fish takes the bait, it’ll be pulled downwards.

As for what you should get for bobbers, it’s important that your bobber is not too buoyant. If your bobber is too big, it won’t sink when fishes take the bait, making it pretty much useless. As such, you’ll need to get a sensitive bobber that is responsive to action.

#4 – Baits & Lures

Bait is food that fish can actually eat, like worms. Artificial lures are artificial fishing baits that resemble live bait. These are what you use to get fish bites on your hook.

The thing about baits and lures is that they really depend on what fish you’re trying to catch. It’s just like how we all have different taste buds. Different fish prefer different baits and lures. You can simply ask your local fishing store which baits you should use for the fish you’re targeting. As for lures, you can do the same too.

At this point, you’ve got the bare minimum gear required to catch a fish. You’ll notice that the next few pieces of gear are actually not must-haves when fishing. You’ll still be able to fish without them.

I would highly recommend you have them though, because they’ll greatly enhance your fishing experience.

#5 – Swivel

A swivel is a mechanism that will allow your bait to spin as much as it needs without affecting your line.

Imagine if you were being tied up and used as bait. You’d definitely struggle to get free right? Similarly, live bait will move around a lot, which sometimes leads to a twisted line. Even if you’re using lures, your line can still get twisted.

To avoid this, all you’ll need is a sturdy swivel.

Swivels are all roughly the same, differing only in durability. The good news is they don’t cost that much, so don’t be afraid to ask for the sturdiest one at your local fishing store.

#6 – Needle Nose Plier

Needle nose pliers are a type of plier that many fishermen use to remove hooks from fishes (and from themselves in unfortunate accidents). 

Trying to remove hooks from fishes with your bare hands can be dangerous. Accidents can happen, and you could get your hook impaled in your hand.

No matter how careful you are, you will eventually get impaled at least once. Ask any experienced angler. It’s more than likely they’ve had at least one incident where a hook got stuck in their body.

Needle nose pliers aren’t just great for removing hooks from fishes, but from your body too. Any pair will do, but try to get stainless steel ones, as they last longer.

#7 – Nail Clipper

This probably raised a few eyebrows. Yes, you read that right, a nail clipper.

When you’re fishing, you’ll definitely need something to cut your fishing line. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as trimming excess line from your knots. Scissors can of course do the job too.

However, scissors are bulkier, more likely to cut you on accident, and are easier to lose. As such, nail clippers make way better line cutters than scissors.

#8 – Tackle Box or Bag

A tackle box is a plastic or metal box designed to store fishing equipment, like lures, hooks, etc. A tackle bag is a bag designed for storing fishing equipment. 

Tackle boxes are heavier but are perfect for organizing your fishing tackle. Often, they’ll have fold-out trays, presenting your equipment in a pleasing manner.

In comparison, fishing bags allow more storage and are lighter. 

Which one you should get depends on your preferences.

If you like to keep things tidy and don’t mind the extra weight, get a tackle box. Otherwise, if you want to keep it light, and would rather store everything in a bag, get a tackle bag.

Optional Gear

At this point, you’re pretty much set to go fishing. The next few pieces of gear are going to be optional.

Unlike the previous 8 pieces of gear, these next 2 are not super important. You don’t need to have them, but they’re nice to have on a fishing trip.

Sunscreen

There isn’t much to say about this. If you’re already used to the outdoors, you should be comfortable with the sun and won’t need sunscreen. But if you’re more of an indoors person, your chances of sunburn are quite high.

If you’re worried, you should get a bottle of long-lasting sunscreen to protect you for the few hours you’re fishing.

Fishfinder

Fishfinders are devices that use sonar to detect fish underwater. 

Usually, fish tend to stick around cover, like rocks. This means most of the time, you just need to fish around cover.

On rare occasions though, you’ll find that you can stay around a rock for hours and still not catch a single fish. When this happens, a fishfinder can be really handy to have, to see where the fish are.

Additionally, there may be some spots that have more fish than cover do. Fishfinders help guarantee that you’re always fishing at the spot with the most fish.

Most fish finders work roughly the same, so just go for one that fits within your budget.

Final Check

Aside from all the fishing gear, there is one final thing you’ll need to go fishing – a fishing license. 

This isn’t always the case, but in most places, you’ll need a fishing license. You should get one to make sure you’ll be safe from any trouble from the authorities.

Fishing stores usually have it. You can get annual ones for $30-150, and one-day ones for less than $20.

With that, you now know what you’ll need to start fishing.

Before you go off, check out these 10 tips to ensure your first fishing trip goes smoothly.

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AUTHOR

Reuben went on his first fishing trip when he was 9. That's when he fell in love with fishing. When he's not fishing, he's searching for new gear and ways to fish better.

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