Do you know why fishing is so popular around the world? It is because it is a great individual and group activity, and it is perfect for both those looking to relax and others who want to compete. Whether you plan an afternoon away from the city or want to gather some friends to see who will get the biggest catch, fishing is an excellent way to spend free time.
Before you head on your first angling adventure, it is essential to pack the right gear. However, if you are a beginner, you might not know which essentials and accessories to select. How to pick the best fishing gear from thousands of reels, rods, lines, and even accessories when you are not an expert?
We have the answer to all your troubles – a detailed fishing equipment list. Feel free to check out the list below and start packing for your angling adventure!
Basic Fishing Equipment Needed for Beginners
Reels are another essential part of every angler’s equipment, and you should look for one that fits with the rod well. Take a look at the most common reel types used by fishermen these days.
The favorite choice of many anglers for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Spinning reels are incredibly versatile and simple to use. You release the line by flipping up the bail wire, and it is already set for a cast.
You can keep the line in place by flipping the wire down. As you retrieve the line, the reel spins, which means the mechanism is quite simple and you should figure out how everything works after a couple of casts.
These reels are reliable, powerful, and versatile, but they are also prone to tangles. Although you can catch some big fish with baitcasting reels, they shouldn’t be the primary choice for a beginner because it takes skill to use them.
You can find baitcasting reels in a round and low-profile design, but make sure that you use them with the same rod type.
If you are only entering the fishing world, a spin cast reel may be a smart choice. In most cases, the price of these units is affordable, which makes them perfect for mastering your skills.
You will find a button you should push for a release, which means using this reel is as simple as it can get. The accuracy is adequate and, although tangles can happen, it shouldn’t take a lot of time to untangle the line.
The downside of these reels is that they usually have a limited line capacity and, therefore, restricted cast distance. These are primarily for newbies, and you should stick to them only until you fill skilled enough to use another reel type.
Here is how this reel works – you remove the line from the spool while using your other hand to cast. You will probably need some practice to become accurate in casting to the desired area. They feature simple construction, but they are durable and reliable. Make sure to use them only with fly rods.
Some other types of reels you can choose from including offshore, surf fishing, overhead, trolling, and center pin reels.
A fishing rod is a pole that you use when you fish. You can find an extensive selection of rods these days, and the choice depends on your preference. Here are the most common types of fishing rods you can find.
If you are looking for rods that can secure the desired length and accuracy of casting, this is the right choice for you. There are two subcategories of casting rods on the market:
Spin casting rods
– the eyes are on the front, and the one closest to the reel is relatively large. The recommendation is always to combine them with the same type of reels.
– the main difference is that the eye close to the reel is smaller than in spin casting rods.
The key feature of these rods is that they are light and small, although the exact size and weight vary from one unit to another. The average size is up to nine feet, and they have a reel hanging below the rod. Thanks to that, they may be more suitable for beginners.
As the name suggests, they are particularly designed for fly fishing. That is why they need to be compact and light, but the size varies depending on the fish you target. Fly rods do not have the so-called but area, which allows free casting. The “snake” eyes help to avoid tangles, and the reel mount is wooden or cork.
Other Types of Rods
Some other types of rods we should mention include:
Ice fishing rods
– if you like fishing in a frozen lake, these will be great for you. Ice fishing rods are among the longest ones out there, and they do not always use a reel, which means anglers use their hands to wind the line.
Sea fishing rods
– in other words, saltwater rods durable enough to catch large fish. Anglers can use them from the beach, but also in deep water that they can reach with a boat.
– these are quite long and have long buts to enable two-handed casting. They specialize for saltwater or freshwater fishing when you plan to stay on dry land, or only make a couple of steps into the shallow water.
– if you are dreaming about catching marlin or tuna from your boat, this fast-action rod can be a smart selection.
– these are extendable and suitable to move around. Their length can be impressive when extended, which is when they are up to 20 feet long.
– another rod known for its compact size because it is foldable for easy transport.
and for those who can not pair rods with reels, we’ve prepared the rod and reel combo buying guide!
While you are choosing rods and reels, you may neglect the importance of another fishing equipment piece. Having the right line may be a crucial factor to catch fish. The chances are you already received a couple of line rolls with the reel you bought. However, those can be of questionable quality, and the overall duration of a fishing line is limited.
It may be wise to purchase new lines separately. Here is quick information on the types of fishing lines you can choose.
If you want to go with an old-school approach, you should consider monofilament lines. They have been around for decades, but they are still doing a great job.
The primary material used to make these lines is nylon, which makes them supple and soft. The possibility of burning or slippage is low, and the abrasion resistance is solid.
These lines are not easy to break, which is partly because of their stretching capabilities. That is what makes them useful in numerous different situations that may occur while fishing.
Braided lines are the latest tech achievement in these areas. They combine non-stretch braids with fluorocarbon leaders, which makes them very versatile.
Braided lines might be the most durable ones out there, and they are also thin, which makes them less noticeable. Although they are long-lasting and reliable, their price might be a bit bigger than for other lines.
Fluorocarbon lines may be similar to monofilament ones at first glance, but subtle differences exist. Fluorocarbon is a bit better at absorbing water, and it is less pliable. These lines also do a great job when it is cold outside or in the water, which makes them suitable for ice fishing.
These lines are durable as they offer a mixture of carbon, fluorine, and hydrogen. They can refract light, which makes them hardly visible underwater. Thanks to that feature, the fish may not even notice the line which increases your chances of a successful catch.
You will attract the fish with a lure or bait, but the hook also does a vital job in the catching process. Once the fish come for a nibble, the hook pokes and (hopefully) sticks to their mouth. Although it doesn’t happen that often, the hook may also catch the fish by its body.
Since the hook does such an important task, it is vital to have a reliable hook. In most cases, hooks are disposable pieces, which is why you should have hook packs with you when you had fishing.
You can find single, double, treble, and circle hooks. It is, however, the easiest to use a single hook, and you should stick to it if you are a newbie. The sizes may vary depending on the fish and the remaining equipment, but it should be fairly easy to set the hook on the line.
Lures & Baits
Throwing the line into the water is not enough to attract the fish. That is why the anglers equip the end of their line with:
- Live bait
- Artificial lures
The jury is still out on which is better, and the best answer may be that it depends on personal preference and the type of fish you want to catch.
It may sound a bit disgusting to grab a worm and place it on the line, but that is precisely what setting a live bait involves. You may need a couple of times to get used that your bait is moving, but keep in mind that it usually does a great job in attracting fish.
Apart from the worm, you can also use minnows and other small fish. In case you aren’t up for using creatures that move just yet, start with smooshed bread, corn, hotdog bits, or even marshmallows.
Unlike baits, lures are artificial and non-moving. The most frequently used material to make lures is plastic, and they often feature a detailed design. Their goal is to resemble real fish so that they could attract the desired species you want to catch.
Lures primarily serve for catching predator fish – the species that do not hesitate to eat other (smaller) sea creatures. The wide variety of lures allows you to choose one suitable for different conditions easily.
If the water is clear and the day is sunny, there is no reason why you shouldn’t use a light-colored lure. On the other hand, dark plastic works and other lures are ideal when the waters are murky, and the weather is rainy or cloudy.
Feel free to experiment with various types of lures and baits, and you will quickly discover your favorites.
You may know this piece of equipment under the name floater, and that pretty much explains what it does. The idea is to keep the lure (or bait) close to the surface and make it easy for you to know when the fish nibbled. As soon as you see the floater sink into the water, it is time to retrieve the line and see what you caught.
Most beginners use plastic floaters with white and red colors that make them easily noticeable. Although the most frequent shape is round, you can also try elongated bobbers that you can move along the line to decide how deep you want the hook to sink.
If you are catching small fish, we suggest going with a light bobber because you need responsiveness. There is no point in using a floater that won’t sink when the fish takes the bait.
Other Items to Pack for a Fishing Trip
Let’s take a look at some other essential items that you can carry on a fishing trip.
When you throw the hook and lure into the water, a sinker can assist in stabilizing your line. In most cases, you will use lead sinkers, but you can also go with a material that is more friendly to the environment, such as steel, brass, or tungsten.
You can pick various weights and shapes of the sinkers, and some of them can even keep bobbers in an upright position. Keep in mind that you can easily lose sinkers, which is why you need multiple pieces for a single expedition.
In some cases, lures and baits will spin the line and cause it to twist. If you want to minimize the risk of that happening, you should use swivels.
This equipment piece connects the bait and the line, and the idea is to allow the bait to move without twisting the line. Swivels can be particularly helpful if you love using live baits.
Once you actually catch a fish (congratulations), you will want to remove the hook from it. In some case, you can do that with your fingers, but the hook is sharp, and you may hurt yourself.
That is why pliers also deserve a spot among your fishing equipment. We suggest finding ones with an angled and bent tip since the curve may help in dealing with hooks.
Fishing lines are durable, which means you can’t expect to cut them that easily. Whether you are setting up a new line, or you need to find your way out of a tangle, specialized line cutters can help.
You can’t go wrong when choosing a cutter as long as it is sharp. However, you may want to consider buying a small one so that it doesn’t take a lot of room.
A tackle box is a place where you pack essentials, such as lures and baits, as well as extra line and other equipment pieces.
You want the box to be durable enough, and have plenty of compartments for various items. Some manufacturers include tackle boxes of different sizes with the backpacks they sell.
The easiest way of packing all your fishing equipment and accessories is to find a suitable backpack. You can find specialized backpacks for anglers that have numerous compartments and sections to pack both big and small gear.
The size of the backpack will depend on the items you want to pack. If you are going on an afternoon of fishing, you can pack lightly. However, if you plan a trip that will last for a couple of days, you need a backpack spacious enough to fit all the items you may need.
A fish finder is a gadget that allows you to identify the fish location in the water. It utilizes the SONAR system, which means that it uses sound energy pulses to find fish.
The device has a screen where the angler can see how close the fish are. Reliable fish finders are not that cheap, but they can be of great assistance for beginners that want to make a catch. Please note that using a boat is recommended as fish finder may require you to switch locations.
Useful Accessories to Take with You
Although they won’t technically help you catch fish, these items are important to stay safe and maximize your experience:
– you want to keep things legal, which is why you should make sure to take the license with you and check out whether fishing is allowed in that location.
– this may be an accessory that can boost your chances of catching fish. Wearing sunglasses enables optimal sight, and reduces flare during sunny days.
– the chances are you might spend hours in the sun, which is why it is crucial to protect your skin.
First aid kit
– you never know when something may go wrong, and having this kit may play a vital role in keeping you and other travelers safe.
Differences Between Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing
Saltwater environments include seas and oceans while freshwater cover lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and many more. Apart from the obvious that the water is saltier in the former let’s check out the differences in fishing experience.
You will use the different fishing technique for a freshwater and saltwater environment. First, let’s take a look at some approaches that are more efficient in fresh waters:
- Still fishing – the basic fishing approach that every beginner should start with. You cast the line and be patient until the fish baits. It may be wise to use a bobber as a signal that something is happening.
- Trolling – since this technique is commonly used in big lakes or rivers, you will need a boat, canoe, or something similar and reliable. You can catch big fish with this approach.
- Bottom jigging – also great to catch big fish, it primarily focuses on catching predators. It is strongly recommended to use live baits, such as leeches, worms, and minnows.
- Fly fishing – you have to use adequate equipment, and you can even try dry flies or artificial animal and insect replicas.
If you are heading into a saltwater environment, trolling can also work, as well as bottom jigging. However, you also have some other approaches at your disposal, and those are:
- Offshore fishing – it involves using a boat and heading for an open ocean or deep seawater environment. Make sure to check the weather forecast, and use maps so that you don’t get lost. Additionally, consider fish finders and other electronics to help you to find fish.
- Surf fishing – in this fishing technique, you stay on the shoreline or stand in shallow water. The idea is to fish in the surf zone, which is formed by the ocean waves breaking close to the shore.
- Pier fishing – you find a pier and cast your bait there. It is a rather basic technique suitable for beginners.
Types of Fish You Can Catch
You probably knew that some fish live only in freshwater while others prefer saltwater. In this section, we will focus on some of the most common and popular catches in both environments.
Freshwater Fish Species
Anglers can find these in stream, lakes, and rivers. Here are some details about the particular species:
- Trout – some of the most frequently caught species include spotted or rainbow trout, but you may also encounter marble, steelhead, and bull trout. They prefer cool fresh water and are suckers for leeches, worms, and even small amphibians and crustaceans.
- Walleye – a fish that loves warm water, and it is native to the US Midwest. Keep in mind that it is nocturnal fish, which means you can find it in dark and deep water.
- Bluegill – it is the perfect species for newbies to catch. There is no need to have specialized equipment to catch bluegill, although live baits are particularly tempting for them. Another great thing is that you can catch them throughout the year.
- Catfish – you can find different species of this fish, and it is one of the most commonly caught across the US. You can use both live and artificial baits and lures, and the best time to catch it is the fall.
Saltwater Fish Species
- Striped bass – it is a migratory species, but it is also the one that newbie saltwater anglers catch most often. It is also known as a rockfish.
- Chinook – they call this fish the king of all salmons, and for a good reason. It is a bit challenging to catch (depending on size), but what matters more is that it is delicious.
- Pacific halibut – you can stay on the shore and catch this flathead. It prefers cold water, and you can find it in the Pacific.
- Bluefish – did you know that this fish has very sharp teeth? Make sure to keep that in mind to avoid any problems. Since they are a predator species, bluefish prefer live baits.
- Red Drum – it is a migratory species also known as redfish. It can be challenging to catch it since it can put up a fight. You can use flies, shrimp, crabs, and clams to try and catch this fish.
Do Fish Offer More of a Fight in Saltwater?
Although it depends on the particular species and size, the general rule is that catching a saltwater fish can turn into a real challenge. That especially applies do oceans and deep sea where some large species live. It is precisely why you saltwater fishing requires more durable equipment, including heavier rods and baits, and stronger lines.
Fishing Variable and Techniques
Have you ever wondered what factors affect what sizes and types of fish you will catch during your fishing trip? While you are probably aware that different equipment and techniques may affect the outcome, did you know that variables can also determine whether you will have success?
Details You Should Pay Attention to When Fishing
Apart from the obvious differences between salt and freshwater locations, the specifics of the water in the area can affect your fishing experience.
Some of the major features to consider include:
- Temperature – some species like it a bit colder while others prefer only warm waters.
- Clarity –clear water usually requires using light-colored baits and lures, as well as lines that won’t be that apparent to the fish. On the other hand, murky waters call for dark-colored items to attract the fish.
- Depth – the chances are you won’t land your biggest catch in shallow water. If you have higher dreams than catching small fish, you should probably head to a deep water surrounding. That doesn’t necessarily have to be an ocean since many seas, lakes, and rivers are very deep, too. Grabbing a boat and securing moderate distance from the shore should be enough to lurk for some large species.
- Bottom structure – biologists can talk for hours how the structure of the bottom affects the fish living in that location. The important thing is that the water bottom may affect what fish you encounter in the area, especially if you are planning on doing some bottom jigging.
- Plant and weed life – the same as for the bottom structure – the types of algae and other plants living in a location can directly affect which species appear there.
- Pollution – the majority of fish do not like extremely polluted environments. That is why it is vital to clean up after yourself and avoid throwing any waste into the water.
The next thing you want to check out is the weather. Here are the crucial things to consider:
- Temperature – if it is a hot summer day and you are barely enduring the heat, that is what may cause the fish to avoid getting closer to the surface. You may want to wait for the evening or next morning since you will probably be luckier then.
- Precipitation – snow, and rain may affect the chances of making a catch, too. On the other hand, a frozen lake is an excellent opportunity for ice fishing.
- Wind direction and speed – instead of getting scared away by some wind, use that to your advantage and catch that fish that otherwise makes it impossible to sneak up on it.
Shadow and the Line of Sight
Beginners often miss to consider this point, but it is vital to keep in mind that the fish can notice you. Some species are that cautious that they will run away even if they notice a shadow, let alone a weird form lurking them from outside the water.
The first thing you want to ensure is that you stay away out of the fish’s line of sight. We advise you to stay low and avoid a lot of moving.
Additionally, make sure to consider the position of your shadow. If you cast a shadow over the particular area on the water, it may be a sign for the fish to stay away from that location. You can use rocks or other structures to avoid casting a shadow.
Do not forget that the shadow position changes throughout the day, which may require you to experiment with different angles and locations.
Frequency of Anglers
Here is another important thing that you should add as a variable – how often can you see an angler in that location? If plenty of fishers are at the same spot every day, it may affect the quantity of fish available in that area.
Fortunately, the authorities give their best to regulate everything and make sure that fish species in that particular zone are not endangered.
Change Locations If It’s Not Going Well
You may have had success in that spot on your previous expeditions, but it doesn’t seem like it is your day today. It may be wise to switch locations and return next time. Some of the variables mentioned above have probably changed, and maybe you should look for more favorable conditions.
Learning some specific things about the species you want to catch can be crucial to having success. Some species prefer artificial lures while others are only tempted to live baits. The habitats significantly vary, and some fish prefer to be near the bottom while others often climb up near the surface.
In the beginning, you can experiment with different equipment until you master your skills. Once you have enough experience, you can tackle a specific type of fish. However, make sure to do your homework and discover everything about it before heading on a fishing expedition.
Salt VS Fresh Water Tackle
Your equipment choice should always depend on the location you plan to visit, as well as the fish you plan to catch.
The first decision you have to make is whether your next expedition will be to saltwater or freshwater environment. Although you will mostly bring the same items, their features and quality may vary depending on your goal.
How the Equipment Compares Depending on Where you Will Fish
The crucial thing to consider is that you will need a more durable rod for saltwater fishing. The primary reason for that is the fact that salt can damage cheap materials quickly, which will limit the longevity of your rod.
If you plan to fish in the sea or ocean, you want a rod made of components that are resistant to corrosion. Salt has corrosive properties, which means you need to choose corrosion-resistant materials. Those can be both graphite or fiberglass as long as they have adequate quality.
The general rule is that saltwater rods are heavier than freshwater ones. That makes sense because the chances are you will deal with big and heavy fish in a saltwater environment more frequently.
Make sure to read for a product description and confirm whether the manufacturer approves the rod for saltwater use. When you take the pole out of the water, make sure to clean and wipe it as soon as possible as that can boost the longevity of the rod.
When it comes to materials, you also want a more durable reel for salt water. The manufacturers will proudly state suitability for sea and ocean environments. Corrosion resistance once again plays a crucial role, and most companies achieve that by anodizing the reel’s outer covering.
It is also recommended to use sealed casings for saltwater fishing. That way you prevent the water and salt from getting inside and potentially damaging and reducing the lifespan of the reel.
That is not something you should worry about in lakes or rivers, which means you do not have to use sealed casings there, although the choice is entirely up to your preference.
When it comes to reel types, baitcasting, spin-casting, and spinning reels are the most common choices for a freshwater environment. Each of these can do a good job regardless of the location.
In salt water, the location plays a far more important role. Inshore anglers use basic bait-casting and spinning reels while deep waters and oceans require heavy-duty reels. Some even choose to try specialized trolling reels for deep water.
The line capacity you choose should depend on your fishing location. However, you cannot divide that purely on the required capacity for saltwater and freshwater environments.
The reason is simple – if you are fishing from the pier and the seawater is not that deep in that location, a 100-yard line capacity will do the job. However, if you get a boat and head for deep waters or ocean, you will need a long line capacity. The general rule is the longer, the better, but you may decide depending on the species you are hunting.
As for the fresh water, the same principle applies. You will find areas where water is relatively shallow, and a short line will perform well. On the other hand, some rivers and lakes are very deep, and they require a generous line capacity.
Can You Use Saltwater Fishing Equipment for Freshwater?
Yes, feel free to use your saltwater gear in a freshwater environment. The general rule is that the equipment anglers use in seas and oceans is more durable and reliable than the one designed for freshwater.
That is why there is no reason why you shouldn’t use saltwater equipment in a freshwater environment. However, the opposite is not recommended. Although you could theoretically use a freshwater rod and reel for fishing in saltwater, it would probably decrease its lifespan and performance over time.
It will take a bit of time and effort to pack everything up for your first fishing trip. We hope that our fishing equipment list helped you and that you are now familiar with the items you need to bring with you.
Some of the gear we mentioned is essential, such as rods, reels, hooks, lines, and baits. However, many of the other items are optional, although they can maximize your angling experience. It is up to you to choose the equipment you want to buy, but do not forget to consider your fishing plans during the purchasing the best fishing gear for your needs.
The saltwater environment will require different gear than freshwater, and you may want to adjust depending on the weather and other conditions, as well as the type of fish you want to catch. It may sound complicated at first, but as soon as you catch your first fish, you will realize it was all worth it!