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In this section, you can learn about the equipment used to catch fish; from jigs and poppers to doughballs and stinkbait.

Though fishing can become complicated with fancy lures, expensive reels, shiny boats, water-depth finders, and all sorts of other gadgets, all you really need to fish is a pole, some line, a sinker, a bobber, a hook, and some bait (all refered to as tackle).

Be sure to visit The FUNdamentals Store at

for sunfish or panfish.
This type of fishing doesn't require a tackle box the size of a transport, nor do you need any type of degree.
You need only a rod and reel, line, a bobber and hooks, just like in the good old days.
The only bait you really need are worms!
(or perhaps grubs, plastic worms, corn, bread or bits of hot dog for bait)
Worms can be caught on a dewy night using only a flashlight and a tin can that has a bit of grass and soil in it. This keeps the worms alive.

They can be kept outside or in the refrigerator if it is especially warm. If you place worms in the refrigerator, be sure to put a waxed paper over the top, fasten it with an elastic and poke a few small holes in the paper to ensure the worms have oxygen. If possible, allow your child to help catch the worms. That is part of the fun.


So, let's organize what we need for a simple and successful fishing trip to your local pond. 

Your line should be as light and inconspicuous as possible so that it does not frighten fish from your bait.

However, it must be strong enough to hold the fish you want to catch!

Before you can fish and you are over the age of 18
  you will need a fishing license!

Be sure to purchase proper licenses!!!
In most states, licenses aren't required for children.

You'll also want to know the basic fishing laws and few simple things about where fish live, what they eat, and when they are hungry.

Pole   Rod   Reel   Fishing Line  
Bait & Lures   Live and Natural Bait
   Artificial Bait and Lures
   Plugs   Poppers   Spoons   Spinners   Jig   Crankbaits
   Hooks   Sinkers/Weights  Bobber   Swivels    Tacklebox



Youth Fishing Kits
They come with either closed face or open faced spinning reels, a rod, line, and one even had a small supply of artificial baits.

Add a small tackle box, some split shots, a couple of bass sinkers and supply of small hooks and your in business.
Total cost roughly $25-$30.
This equipment, when shown the proper care, will last for years. 



Fishing tackle is used to get your bait or lure to the fish. You don't need a lot of equipment to begin fishing. In fact, it's a good idea to begin with basic, simple tackle. You can try more difficult tackle after you've mastered some basic skills.

Almost any type will work
and Line

The simplest fishing tackle is a pole; however, for some types of fishing, even a stick with fishing line wrapped around it can be used!

The pole can be made of cane, bamboo or a straight piece of tree branch. You do not use a reel with a pole.

 Cut a piece of fishing line as long as the pole. Tie the line to the tip of the pole and a hook to the other end of the line. A small sinker, called a "split shot", is squeezed onto the line above the hook. The sinker makes it easier to swing the bait out into the water and keeps the bait under the surface. You may also want to use a bobber or float. By moving the bobber up or down the line, you can change the depth of your bait in the water.

With a pole and line you can fish the area near the bank, where many fish often live.

Rods and Reels

Other types of fishing tackle use reels to store large amounts of line. They let you cast a bait or lure farther. They also help you retrieve lures correctly, fish in deeper water, and battle larger fish more easily.


 Almost any type will work. The basic fishing rod is 6 feet long and has a medium "weight" (which means it's a good all-purpose rod).
A cane pole or even a long stick will work for crappies and sunfish.

A fishing rod is a long, straight, flexible pole that an angler uses to cast bait or lures into the water. Fishing rods can be made of bamboo, fiberglass, or graphite. Bamboo rods range from inexpensive cane poles without reels to finely handcrafted fly-fishing rods. Fiberglass rods are the most popular rods with beginners. They are relatively inexpensive, not easily broken, and require little maintenance. Graphite has become a popular rod material for experienced anglers because it is extremely light yet strong.

Rod length depends upon the fishing an angler intends to do-not only the type of game fish sought after, but also the type of water and the surrounding landscape. Short, flexible rods are often used in locations where overhanging tree limbs and branches limit an angler's casting area. Long, wispy rods up to 4 m (12 ft) in length may be used for long casts in moderate winds. Shorter, sturdier rods are used for pulling heavy game fish from the depths of large lakes or the ocean. The diameter of the rod determines its flexibility, which is the measure of how far it can bend without breaking when a fish is fighting hard. Thicker and stronger rods are used for bigger, more aggressive fish that would break medium and small rods.

The rod has a grip or handle made of high-quality cork or foam. Several small metal rings called ferrules are attached to the rod from the handle to the tip, including one on the very tip of the rod. These ferrules serve as guides for the fishing line. They help the line flow smoothly when the angler casts and retrieves, and the last guide helps control the direction of casts. Most rods also have a reel seat that secures the reel onto the rod near the grip.

What the rod does

The rod's job is to take tension off the line. When fighting a fish, you want the rod to partially bend, so it'll take some of the tension off the line. This is good, because if there was no transfer of tension, the line would break.

If you use a rod that isn't stiff enough, the rod will bend, but too much. When a rod bends as far as it can, the rod can't handle any more tension from the line. Something has to give, either the fish, rod or line.

If you use too heavy of a rod, the tension isn't transferred because there isn't enough force being applied by the fish. This puts all the tension on just the line. Once again something has to give; in this case it's either the fish or the line.

Using the right rod is important because it enables the rod to bend but not too much, absorbing the tension from the line, allowing you to fight the fish and win.

Shopping for a rod and understanding it how it works will be vital to your success as a fisherman. As you can see, it's not difficult at all.

Let's talk about the differences between casting and spinning rods.

Spinning rods

Only a Spinning (open face) style reel can be used.

Notice the reel sits on the underside of the rod. 

The guides point to the ground 

The size of the eyelets start large and become smaller closer to the tip. 

Casting rods

Either Spincast or Baitcast reels can be used

The guides sit on top of the rod (point to the sky)
along with the reel 

Many types of casting rods have a style of grip called a Trigger Grip.
 It'll help you determine where to hold the rod. Simply, place your forefinger around the grip to hold it. 

Both rods come in a variety of sizes and actions.
 Chose the one that best suites your needs. 

Lets look at some of the major parts when it comes to shopping for a rod. 

The 3 main parts are: 



Reel seat 

Guides- The ceramic o-ring looking holes that are attached to the rod are called guides.

The line is fed from the reel through the all the guides and then to the bait. Typically, they're attached using either thread, or tape. One more thing about guides, check them periodically to make sure they aren't chipped or cracked. Guides that are damaged can ruin your line.

If you do find a guide that is damaged, it can be simply replaced by using a Rod Tip Repair Kit.


Take a cigarette lighter and as you heat the metal of the tip (do not put the flame on the rod just the metal of the tip)pull on the tip (with needle nose pliers) as you heat it up. This will melt the glue holding the tip on and the tip will pull off.

Most of your fish and tackle stores sales a rod tip repair kit with glue and various sizes of rod tips. The kit also gives instructions on how to take off the old tip and put the new one on.

Grip/Handle This is where you hold the rod. Typically, grips come in either cork or foam. Try them both and choose the one that is most comfortable. Handles come in various lengths. Be sure to consider the length of the handle and find one you like and is also comfortable.

Reel seat- This is where the reel is attached.

Simply place the reel into the reel seat and hand tighten (no tools are needed).
The reel is now attached.

Be sure not to over tighten!

What is a ferrule?

Manufactures make various kinds of fishing rods. Some of them are a single piece, others are made up of two or more pieces that have to be assembled. To assemble the rod, connect the male and female ends together making sure the guides are lined up. This male- female connection is called a ferrule. With two piece rods, the ferrule is typically located in the middle of the rod and is covered by a piece of tape. Regardless of where the ferrule is, the connection is very simple. The pieces just slide together. You should be able to assemble the rod in under a minute.

 You shouldn't need any type of lubricant. But, occasionally it may be necessary. 

Use your skin as lubricant.
 Rub the male end against the side of your nose.

You should not use any type of commercial grade lubricant to help make the connection. When you're done connecting the pieces together, make sure the guides are lined up. If not, simply twist one of the pieces until they're in line with each other.


As you shop for a rod, I encourage you to hold and even slightly bend it. Get the feel of it. Notice how the rod feels in your hand. Does it feel comfortable? How does it feel when you cast? Be sure to find a rod you like and is comfortable. Remember, you'll be using it for a long time. One of the things you'll notice pretty quick is the rods' flexibility. This flexibility is called action. You'll know what type of action the rod has by looking at the information listed on the rod by the handle. Actions are typically defined as:

Ultra light -Typically used for Panfish such as Crappie and Bluegill

Light - Typically used for Perch

Medium - Can be used for Bass and Walleye and many other species of fish

Medium Heavy - Typically used for larger fish or used when casting larger baits

Heavy - Typically used for larger fish and larger baits

The more flexible the rod is, the more action it has. For example, there is more action (flexibility) in an Ultra light rod than there is in a Heavy action one. If you had to choose one action to use general, I'd suggest the Medium action because of it's overall versatility.

One more note about shopping for a rod, stick to the major manufactures such as Berkley, Shakespeare, Daiwa, Shimano, just to name a few. These companies have been around for a number of years and can be trusted. You won't go wrong buying from a major manufacture.

Let's look at
The Reel

 The easiest ones to use are called spin-cast reels. Spinning reels are popular, but they are a bit harder to use.

If you use a cane pole or a stick, just tie the line to the end.

   There are four kinds of reels: 
spincast, spinning, baitcast, and fly. 
Each kind uses a different type of rod.  

Fishing reels store line on a spool. An adjustable friction device inside the reel (known as a drag) helps the angler fight a fish. The drag creates tension on the line as it is pulled off the reel spool. When the fish pulls line off the reel, the constant tension tires it and keeps the line in order. Without a drag system, the fish would take out too much line, causing the line to tangle. The opposite situation-not releasing any line from the reel-would cause the line to snap. Most reels have adjustable drag settings depending upon the fish an angler wants to catch. Anglers can also disengage the drag to cast or do anything else that requires the line to release easily.
Reels are made in four basic categories: bait casting, spinning, spin casting, and fly.

Bait casting reels have a covered frame and a revolving, horizontal spool that winds in line when the handle is turned. One turn revolves the spool four or five times, bringing in several feet of line quickly.

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For More Detailed Information

Spinning reels have a stationary spool set on the underside of the rod. A curved bar, or bail, acts as a guide on the outer lip of the spool. As the reel handle is turned, the bail also turns, winding line neatly onto the spool.

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Spincasting tackle is ideal for beginning anglers because it works well and is easy to use. A spincasting rod has small line guides and a straight handle. Spincasting tackle is often used while fishing for bluegill, crappie and other panfish. The spincasting reel mounts on top of the rod's handle. The fishing line comes out of a small hole in a cover on the front of the reel.


A variation of the spinning reel is the spin casting, or closed-face, reel. The spin casting reel has a cover over the spool and a hole through which line passes. This construction keeps the line clean and out of the angler's way. There is no bail inside of a spin casting reel. Instead, metal teeth attached to the spool gather the line in neatly.

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Fly reels, which have few moving parts, are the most basic form of fishing reels. Most consist of a frame that holds a narrow revolving spool. The handle attaches directly to the spool and turns the spool one rotation at a time.

Click Here to learn more about
Rods & Reels

Fishing Line

As you stroll down the fishing aisles, there are many different types of line to choose from, and it can be very confusing to say the least. Hopefully after reading this, you'll have a good understanding of fishing line.

Most fishing line is made of nylon and is called "monofilament," or mono for short. It comes on spools of various lengths that are called "tests." Usually, a four-pound test line will hold up a fish weighing four pounds without breaking. The larger the test of the line, the thicker the diameter it is and the more it will hold. For your basic rig, try to find a piece of four-pound or six-pound test line that is eight to ten feet long.
Tie the line onto the end of your pole.
Now you're making progress!

Fishing line can be a complicated subject, but it doesn't have to be.

 Let's start with a basic rule in mind:

When you're buying line or any equipment, match the gear to the conditions your fishing. With that said, you'll need to find out a few things before purchasing line.

What kind of fish are you after?
 Are you after small ones such as Crappie, Perch or Bluegill ? 
Or maybe you want a bigger fish such as Bass or maybe your after the ones with big teeth such as Walleye or Pike.

What is the body of water like?
 Does it have large amounts of vegetation, rocks etc?
 With regards to this question, you may not know so you'll have to do some investigating, Still unsure? Then stick to a general fishing line from a major manufacturer, and you should be O.K.

By answering these questions you start matching equipment to the conditions. For example, if the body of water you want to fish on has lots of weeds, you will need a stronger line to get your bait through the weeds because a weaker line may break.


I tried to break them down into three basic categories. These are my own categories, some purists might argue with us, but we like to keep things simple.

A short introduction to the types of line

(Also called mono) 

It's the most common type of line, and typically it comes in either clear or green. If you buy a pre-spooled reel, chances are it was spooled with this type of line. One thing to keep in mind is memory. When line is uncoiled (by casting) it tries to maintain the shape of the spool. This coiling after the cast is Memory. It will wreak havoc on you in the form of not being able to cast, tangles, pure frustration etc. To avoid this, be sure to re-spool your line at least once a year. Monofilament is a great all purpose fishing line that can be used anywhere..

Monofilament is listed on the package, by terms such as mono or monofilament.

Super lines

These include Fusion and Braided type lines. Some of the more common ones are:



Fire Line


In this case, the materials are either braided or fused together to make a single strand of line. What's produced by the process, is a super strong line with a much smaller diameter than it's monofilament competitor. For example, if you were to purchase a 12 lb test monofilament line, the diameter would be listed. With super lines, the package might list 24 lb test line with 12 lb diameter. These lines tend to be more sensitive and have little or no stretch to them. we suggest using this type of line when you're going to be fishing heavy cover, or going after fish with big teeth. What's the downside you ask? You'll have to try it and see. We will say don't wrap it around your finger or hand while pulling on it. It'll cut into you. Take it from experience!

Listed on the box, you'll see such terms as "fusion", "braided", "ultra sensitive", or "minimal stretch".


These lines look like monofilament but, are virtually invisible underwater. They have very little stretch which can lead to better hooksets. This type of line is best suited for the same conditions as monofilament.

Berkley's Vanish is an example of a Fluorocarbon line. 

These types of lines do well in clear water and when there is heavy fishing pressure.

When it comes to comparing Monofilament to Fluorocarbon line:

Fluorocarbon has less stretch
Has increased abrasion resistance
Sinks faster than monofilament
Doesn't absorb water, therefore it retains 100% of it's dry tensile strength
Is virtually invisible under water


Now that you know a little about the different types of line, the fishing conditions and what you're after, it's time to tackle the label. Listed below are several of the more common features that show up on the boxes of fishing line.


Understanding what the terms mean

Test Strength
This is the breaking strength of the line. Meaning, with how much force does the fish fight with before the line breaks. You'll see this listed right on the front of the box. This seems to be the first thing people think about when choosing a line. The label will say something like 12 LB Test or 6 LB Test. The larger the number, the stronger the line.

Oh, one more thing, test strength has nothing to do with the weight of the fish, only the amount of the fight. 

When fighting a fish, make sure your rod tip is up and that the rod is slightly bent. When the rod is bent, the force of the fight is being transferred from the line to the rod. This is one reason people land big fish on light line. The object is to keep the fish's head up and the line taunt. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, if you haven't already seen the page how to fight a fish, click here after you're finished with this article.


Is the thickness of the line. It affects the running depth of your lure. Remember, as you work your lure, you're also moving water at the same time. The larger the diameter, the more water is being moved. A thicker line moves more water than a thinner line. This means that your bait will actually run deeper with thinner line!

Diameter also relates to how much of a particular line your reel can hold. To learn about reels, click here.


Stretch is primarily meant for monofilament. If the line doesn't stretch, it will break. Super lines have minimal or no stretch, but typically don't break when fighting fish. They're so strong fish will break before the line does

The label will include terms like "Low Stretch", "Controlled Stretch" or "Minimal Stretch".

Abrasion Resistance

How tough is it? Can it withstand being dragged over rocks, stumps, bitten by fish and not break? 
Words on the package might be "High Abrasion Resistance" "Extra Tough".
Unless you're going to be fishing heavy cover, such as rocks and submerged tree stumps, don't let abrasion resistance factor into your decision about what line to purchase.

Knot strength

Knots weaken the line, because the line is wrapped back on itself and tightened down. Certain knots can decrease line strength.
To learn how to tie some of the more common knots, click here.

Advertising on the package will include terms such as "Superior Knot Strength"

Last but not least, stick to the major brands.
 Brands such as Berkley, Spiderwire, and Stren. 
You may pay more, but it's worth it. You've already spent hard earned money purchasing your reel, and possibly even your rod, why try to save money on the most important piece of equipment? The piece that connects you to the fish!

As you can see, there are many types of line on the market to choose from. Ultimately, you have to decide what is important for your type of fishing, is it test strength, stretch or another factor? We've said it before, and we'll say it again. When you're buying line or any equipment, match the gear to the conditions your fishing. No one line is the "right" line for all types of fishing. You may have to experiment with several lines to find the one you like best.

Bait & Lures

Bait- Bait is what you put on the end of your line to attract the fish, something a fish would love to eat. Just like people, all fish are not attracted to the same foods. Some baits work better than others for certain types of fish.

(see the fish food charts here)

Bait can be broken down into two major types:

 1) live or natural bait, 
 2) artificial bait and lures.

Live and Natural Bait

 There are a number of living creatures that many fish like to eat. For most fish, the best all-around baits are nightcrawlers, and half a nightcrawler, or worms - these include earthworms.

Earthworms are one of the most widely used forms of real bait.  They can be used to catch almost any type of fish.

As a general rule when using worms, be sure to match the size of the worm to the size of the fish you're after.  When going after small ones such as, Crappie or Bluegill, (sometimes called panfish) you'll want to use a small worm or even just a portion of a large one.  Worms can easily be cut into pieces with a pocket knife.  Be sure to put the unused portion back in the container, so it'll stay alive.

When fishing for larger fish such as Bass or Walleye, you should be using large worms, just be sure not to overload your hook. Remember, you want to give them a taste not the whole meal.

If possible, we suggest buying your worms at a tackle shop close to where you're going to be fishing.  

Let's talk about storage for a moment. If you're fishing for the day, use the container they came in, keep them in a cool dry place and be sure not to keep them more than a couple of days. If you want to keep them more than a couple of days or want a quality container use a worm box.

Frabill ® Lil' Fisherman Worm Box

Insulated poly-foam worm box has dual fliptop lids for easy access to top or bottom. Holds 1-2 dozen crawlers. Includes bedding.


Minnows are probably the 2nd most popular type of real bait.  They come in 3 sizes, small medium and large (also called chubs). Like worms, you have to match the size of the minnow to the size of the fish.

Minnows can be attached to a hook various ways:

Through the back in front of the dorsal fin and above the horizontal line 

Through the lips (upside down) the minnow will try to "right" itself thus attracting fish with its movements. 

Put the hook in the mouth and bring it out the gills trying not to cause any damage. Turn the hook over so it faces the minnow and insert the hook into the minnow above the horizontal stripe.
The minnow will try to "right" itself.

Click here to see how to hook other live baits

Storage can be an issue with minnows but, you have a couple of options.  First, if you plan on fishing for an entire day, keep them stored in a minnow bucket.

850 Bait Bucket
Bucket is designed to stay in water while trolling to keep minnows fresh and alive. Secure bait door and built in handle. Yellow. 10.75 " W x 8.5"D x 14.5"H.

Fill the bucket with lake water. Be sure to change the water at least every hour to keep the fish alive.

 If you plan on fishing for a few days, you may want to bring along one or several minnow traps.

Economy Minnow Trap

Efficient, durable and easy to operate. Black vinyl coating blends in with underwater colors, providing superb camouflage. 1/4" mesh. 

Minnow traps are designed to be submerged, and be attached to the dock or some other form of structure.  The purpose of the trap is to catch minnows.  We've found, if you cover the ends of the trap and put your minnows in the trap, they store just fine.  Each morning, simply raise the trap, take the amount of minnows you'll need and put them in the minnow bucket (be sure to put water in the bucket first), secure the minnow trap, and put it back in the water.
 Minnows can die quickly so be sure to keep an eye on them and use dead ones first.

You may want to consider buying large (chub) minnows when going after small fish.  You can cut the chub into 3-4 smaller pieces.  That's 36-48 pieces for a dozen chubs compared to what you might pay for a dozen small minnows.

Live bait can be delicate. 
I do not suggest casting and retrieving it like you would an artificial lure.
Rather, fish it with a bobber or as bait on a rig (see the section for the basics on rigs)

Fish also like crickets, grasshoppers, and cray-fish. All of these baits can be gathered for free. Worms can be dug in your garden, grasshoppers collected in grassy fields, crickets found in dark corners in the basement, crayfish found under rocks in small creeks, and minnows seined or caught in a minnow trap at a local pond.



Crappie: Minnows
White Bass: Minnows
Sunfish: Worms
Black Bass: Worms
Catfish: Worms or Stinkbait
Sunfish: Crickets
Trout: Salmon eggs


Waxworms work well for sunfish. To catch carp, try a kernel of canned corn. Catfish are partial to a piece of turkey liver.

Minnows are great fish-getters. Try tiny (1-inch-long) minnows for crappies and larger (2-to 6-inch-long) sucker and fathead minnows for walleyes and northern pike.

If you don't know what type of minnow to use, just ask the person selling the bait.

Take along a needle-nosed pliers to remove the hook from the mouth of any fish you catch.


Note: Worms, minnows, and nightcrawlers die easily, and when dead they will no longer attract fish.

Keep worms and nightcrawlers in a cool, moist place, out of the sun. Put minnows in a bucket with a few small holes punched in the sides and keep it in shaded water nearby. To keep water from spilling out, transport the bait bucket in a larger bucket.

Other Natural Baits

Other natural baits include corn kernels, pieces of hot dog, rnarshmallows, salmon eggs, cheese, and dough balls. Most of these can be found in your pantry or made from ingredients you have there. Salmon eggs can be purchased at a bait and tackle store. Not too many marshmallows grow in nature, but for some reason certain types of fish like them!

All of these natural baits can be used with your homemade fishing pole. Choose your bait based on the type of fish you are trying to catch  (see the fish food charts here). Put the bait on your hook, toss it into the water, and wait for the fish to bite. If you just can't decide which bait to use, a worm is always a good bet for most types of fish.

Artificial Bait and Lures

In fishing lingo, artificial bait is usually called a lure.

If you've ever wandered down the fishing aisles, you'll know there are literally hundreds to choose from.  I just want to give you just the basics.  These are ones that should be in every tackle box.  We think this will give you a good starting point.

Some lures closely Imitate living creatures such as worms, flies, frogs, and minnows. Other lures attract fish by their movement and their sound or by tempting the fish's curiosity.

Artificial lures are designed to look and move like something a fish would eat, namely worms, minnows, grasshoppers, flies and other tasty morsels.

 There are hundreds of different types of artificial lures, but many come under the basic categories of Crankbaits, plugs, poppers, spoons, jigs, or spinners.

There is no doubt you'll be dazzled by the variety!
There are even holographic lures that flash a 3-D view of scales or a small school of baitfish!
But don't let your piggy bank go broke. 

Practice restraint or soon you'll need a tackle box bigger than your boat! 
Start with a few carefully chosen lures to entice your favorite fish species and learn to use them well.

Plugs are designed to look something like a small fish. Some are made to float and some are made to dive down into the water. They shimmy, shake, gurgle, and splash in various ways to imitate something a hungry fish would like to eat.

Poppers imitate bugs floating on the surface of the water. When twitched along, they make a sort of "glub" sound that attracts certain kinds of fish.


Spoons look something like the eating end of a teaspoon. They are heavier than water, and imitate a speedy minnow flashing and darting under the surface as they are reeled in.

Spoons are mostly used for northern pike and muskies.


Of the hundreds of lures on the market, the most popular are spinners (such as Mepps or Rooster Tails), crankbaits (such as Rapalas), and jigs with feathers or rubber bodies (such as Mister Twisters).

Spinners have small blades or propellers that rotate around a center shaft. When you drag a spinner through the water, the blade spins and flashes, attracting fish by the motion it makes and the vibrations it sends into the water.

They are easy to use and will catch a wide variety of fish.

Use spinnerbaits with the lightest, brightest and shiniest blades on clear days 
dark finishes on dull days or dingy waters.

Jig- This is simply small hooks with a lead ball near the eye of the hook. They are often decorated with feathers, artificial eyes, rubber legs, and tinsel. They are cast into the water and "jigged," or bounced up and down, to attract the fish. Retrieve a jig by bouncing it along the bottom of the lake or river.

Note: There are now alternatives to jigs. These alternatives are usually made of steel, ceramic or cement. If you loose your sinker, these alternatives are safer for water birds.

Crankbaits- More expensive than other lures, crankbaits are excellent for walleyes, pike, muskie, and bass.     


 These are lures that look like a small fish. They are cast into the water and retrieved by reeling (aka cranking) the line back in. There are 3 types: those that work the surface, medium divers (1-10 feet) and deep divers (10-20 feet)

As a general rule, you can tell a deep diver from a shallow one by the size of the lip.  The larger the lip, the deeper it will dive.  This rule is, however not set in stone.

Surface lures

Typically the face is pushed in to form a cup. The cup creates a popping noise when the line is pulled instead of cranked in.

Some have a propeller instead of a "cup" face. The propeller moves the water around the lure to get the fish's attention.

Minnow baits. They may rattle, but don't have any movement built into them unless it's done by the fisherman pulling the line in various ways. There is no lip attached.

Medium Divers

Appear to look the deep divers.  Generally, I look at the lip size and the specs on the box to determine how deep it'll go

Deep Divers 

These are going down no more than 20 feet. 


Color is important, because fish may be biting on red lures one day and yellows the next. This is why you need so many lures.

Colors on surface lures tend to be yellow- use on overcast days 
white- use on sunny days 
black- use for nights or dull days 
Weight Size (length) Jigs

In order to be most effective, almost all of the artificial lures should be used on certain kinds of store-bought fishing rods with reels attached. There are bait-casting rods for bait and plugs, fly rods for artificial flies and poppers, and spinning rods for spoons, jigs, and spinners. Different types of reels are made for each of these rods, but all of them hold a spool of line and allow the lure to be cast out into the water and reeled back in.

Learn More about
 Lure Fishing

Hooks- Fishing hooks come in all shapes and sizes. They are probably the most important part of your fishing equipment, but luckily they are not very expensive. It's a good idea to have a small assortment of hooks for various fishing situations.


A basic fishing hook is shaped like the letter "j" and is made up of several parts. They are called the eye, the shank, the bend, the barb, and the point.

The eye is where you tie the hook onto your line. The point is what you use to put on the bait, and what penetrates the mouth of the fish when it eats the bait. The barb is shaped such that after the hook goes into the fish's mouth, it won't easily come back out. Many people who are fishing just for fun (not for the frying pan) make what is known as a barbless hook. With a pair of pliers, they mash down the barb. Though you don't always land as many fish, these hooks are a lot more "fish friendly," and they make it much easier to release what you catch.

Generally, large hooks are for large fish and small hooks are for small fish. You should choose a hook appropriate for the weight of fish you will be trying to catch. You might begin with a size 4 or 6, but if you are going for the big fish, you might need something larger. An experienced fisherman friend can give you some help with this.

The point of your hook should be sharp, for good reason: so you can hook the fish! If it gets dull or a little rusty, it won't catch as many fish. Get a file and re-sharpen it.

Any type of hook will work. 

The smaller the number, the larger the hook. Look for hooks in sizes 4-10. Hooks with a long "shank" (the part between the eye and the barb) are easier to remove from fish with small mouths, such as sunfish.

Use a hook that fits the mouth of the fish you want to catch. Size 8 and 10 hooks are best for crappies, sunfish, and carp. Size 4 and 6 are good for walleyes, catfish, and northern pike.


Rigs are a productive and easy way to catch many different species of fish. 
We suggest 2 types of rigs:

Crappie Rigs

Bobber Rigs

Start by attaching the Crappie Rig 

Double arms with fluorescent beads. Four popular gold Aberdeen hook sizes to choose from
to your main line, and add about a 1/2 ounce casting sinker

to the bottom of the rig.
 Simply add a minnow or piece of worm to the hooks and drop it over the side. Let the rig sink to the bottom and take up the slack in the line so the rig will standup straight.

Bobber rigs 
can be effective for Bluegill and are a great way to get kids started fishing.
any type will work for pan fish. First, figure out how deep you want your bait off the bottom and tie the bobber stopknot on your line at that depth. Slip on the bobber stop bead and then the slip bobber and a hook. Put a good size split shot about a foot or two above it. Bait the hook and throw it all over the side. Make sure you have some slack in the line to allow the bobber to bounce up and down during a bite. You can fish a bobber rig next to the boat or toss it away from the boat. Bobber rigs work great if you want a relaxing day of fishing or for kids. If the bobber goes under water, set the hook, period. If the bobber continuously bounces a few times in a row, set the hook during the bounces. If after attempting to set the hook, you did not hook the fish, check the bait. If it's still there, get it back down quickly; the fish may still be interested. If the bait is gone, re-bait the hook and get it back in the water.
School is in session and a class maybe waiting for your worm to come on down!


Sinkers are lead weights used to cast light lures and to drop the bait quickly to the bottom of the lake or river bottom, where most fish swim.

Used in together with bobbers, they hold the line at a given point. 
Sinking lures and jigs don't need sinkers.
There are many different kinds of sinkers, split-shot; pencil and bullet are just a few of the types you can use.

Store-bought sinkers are usually made of lead and come in many different shapes, sizes, and weights.
The depth of the water and the speed of the current will determine how much weight you need to hold your bait in front of a hungry fish.

You will have to experiment with the size to get the float to set right. 
Only use one weight, fish shouldn't see any more than they have to.

One easy sinker to use is called a split shot.

 It is a small round piece of lead with a slit in it. To attach the sinker, just slide your line through the slit and squeeze the lead together.

Use your fingers or a pair of pliers, but DON'T use your teeth!
Besides the possibility of damaging your teeth, 
lead is poisonous
 and shouldn't be put into your mouth.

Note: There are now alternatives to lead sinkers. These alternatives are usually made of steel, ceramic or cement. If you loose your sinker, these alternatives are safer for water birds.

For most shore fishing, pinch on one or two small weights the size of a BB, about 10 inches up from you hook. Use only enough to sink the bait. If the fish feels too much weight it will drop the bait before you can set the hook.

Another kind of weight is called an egg sinker.

It is made of lead, shaped like a chicken egg, and has a hole through the middle. To use an egg sinker, run your line through the hole and place a split shot below the sinker to hold it in place. An egg sinker will attach more weight to the line, but when the fish takes your bait it won't feel the weight because the line slips through the sinker.

More on SINKERS (weights)


It could be called a float, bobber, cork, etc.

Bobber fishing is one of the first methods we all learn when starting to fish.

A sinker takes your bait to the desired depth in the water, and a bobber holds it at that lev It will allow you to adjust the depth of your hook wherever you want.

Bobbers let you know when you've got a nibble. Button, pencil and slip bobbers are a few of the types available. When you clamp the bobber on the line, remember that the distance from the sinker to the bobber should not be more than the depth of the  water.

 Bobbers come in various sizes to accommodate different sinkers and baits. They are usually made of red and white plastic and have a push-button spring attachment that makes moving them up and down your line easy.

Remember the smaller the better.  Wind is your enemy in this case.  If the float is too light, the wind will blow it back to you, too big and you will scare the fish off.

The bobber has a second benefit.
 When the bobber twitches in the water,. you know a fish is nibbling at your bait. When it goes under the water, you know a fish is serious about eating the bait and it's time to "set the hook" (give the line a little jerk).

Usually the smaller and thinner bobbers work best. But don't use one so small that the weight and bait sink it. When the bobber goes under the water surface, you know that a fish has taken your bait. A bobber also adds weight to the line to help you cast farther.

bobber basics: 

Use a bobber just big enough to float the bait and weight  
Wait for the bobber to go under before setting the hook 
Make the leader light enough so fish won't be spooked by it 
Make the leader long enough not to spook the fish 
Use a bait that sinks 
Sharp hooks 
Adjust bait level below bobber so its close to the bottom but not on it.

A Good Set Up of a Float

A wooden float has a hole through the center so that it can slide up and down the line. Tie a piece of dental floss above the float so that the float will stop where you need it to.  The float should set up straight with only the orange section out of the water. 

From the hook to the weight is about 4 inches.  From the weight to the knot is around 48 inches.  You will want to experiment with this depth.  Though it's set up to around 48 inches, it doesn't mean that you neccesarily fish that deep.  Use that to see how deep that you are.  Try using a long pole with a reel, and this rig will most of the time just under the end of the pole.  When the float is in the water, the knot could be at any depth because the weight and hook are really hanging from the pole.

This set up will allow you to wind the tip of the pole all the way up to the hook when you get hung up under water.  Once you have reeled up all of the line, you can punch it and normally the hook will break free.
Another advantage is the ability to throw it. 
The float will slide to the weight and there is no wobble as everything goes through the air.  When retrieving the rig from far away, the float will try to sit still in the water so that the hook and weight will almost come straight up.  This helps to keep from getting hung up. 

Try this trick, 
remove the weight and floss and let the cricket float slowly down in a natural way.  You will catch bigger fish especially if it can hit the bottom where the bigger ones feed.
The only problem here is that you sometimes have a fish and don't know. 
More than often the small ones will get on your nerves.  

Slip Bobber

What is a slip bobber and what does it do? 

A slip bobber is a float that slides freely along the angler's fishing line. 

Sure, plastic conventional clip-on bobbers - the ones that attach directly to the line - are easy to use; anyone can easily clip them on and off.

Most youngsters start out fishing with a conventional bobber and a worm for bait. Ninety-nine percent of the kids I see fishing are using the old stand-by plastic bobber. Dad or Grandpa started them out that way; because that's the way they started fishing.

But are they the best way to introduce a youngster to angling? Considering the frustration many experience using them.

Conventional bobbers have 3 serious drawbacks:

 1) The depth at which they can be set is pretty much limited to the length of the angler's rod because anything more is too difficult to cast with distance or accuracy;

The other problem comes when the fishing depth is more than a few feet below the surface. With a lot of extra line between the bobber and the hook, this rig becomes an unwieldy task to cast. In deeper water the youngster winds the bobber up to the tip of their rod, and still has too much line out to retrieve the fish without losing it.

2) Because of their attachment to the line they limit the amount of line that can be reeled up, thus hampering efforts to control fish (especially large ones) in that critical time when you've almost got 'em landed;


3) Their direct attachment tends to damage line. Problem is, the line is usually kinked by the wire clasp. The line will often break at that kink when a large fish is hooked, especially if the line is old.

Slip bobbers solve all 3 of these problems quite nicely. They can be fished at any depth, the line can be reeled all the way to the terminal tackle, and they do not damage line.

For any float to work there has to be some point at which the float is restrained from movement on the line. As I said, conventional bobbers do this by attaching directly to a fixed point on the line. The key to slip bobbers is that they are not attached directly to the line, but they are limited in moving by a part that is. This part is the line stop or stop knot. A stop knot is small enough to pass easily through rod guides and reel mechanisms, but too large to pass through the stop bead on the slip bobber. The stop knot is snugged tightly enough to resist movement under pressure from the bobber, but can still be moved along the line by the angler if he or she desires a different depth setting. Thus, the angler armed with a slip bobber can fish at any depth and is only limited by the depth of the lake or the amount of line on the spool.

It may sound all complicated but really it's not. And it's greatly effective. 

Let's go on with how you actually set the Slip Bobber up.

First you'll need the fixin's.

There are three main parts to a slip bobber rig. The first part being the bobber stop.
There are a few types the most popular are a sliding bead, a sliding knot or some use rubber bands knotted to the line. They all do the same thing, which is to stop the line from sliding through the bobber at the depth you set them. They must also be of a size that will easily pass through the eyes on your pole.
(Some ultra lights use such small eyes the bobber stop can't pass through and can't be used for slip bobber fishing.)
The bobber stop is placed on the line first. 

The second part is the slip bobber. It is called a slip bobber because it is made to slip up and down the line and makes fishing any depth of water possible with a bobber.

The last part of the set up is your choice of bait rigs.

Slip bobber, bobber stop, and beads are available both in kits and separate packaging. Slip bobbers are available in pencil thin designs made from wood as well as foam; however, some of the originals were made from porcupine quills. Fatter floats are available, depending upon the bait and weight involved in your presentation. Ideally, you want the bobber to barely support your bait, so that when a fish takes the bait, it won't feel the resistance.

The concept is simple. Starting with a bare line, you slide on the "bobber stop" first. 

There are several types of stops. Rubber stops look like a grain of rice. They don't need to be tied but can be a challenge if your eyesight is poor like mine. Gizzmo and Dogbone stops are two other popular styles.

Another method utilizes a simple knot. 

If you elect to use the traditional "knot stop", remove the knot from the straw by sliding the straw off of the line. Pull the knot tight and snip off the tag ends so that it will not become tangled when wound up all the way through the rod eyes to the reel. Once you've got the knot secure, thread a small bead and the bobber onto the line. The bead serves to keep the knot from being drawn down into the bobber when a fish takes it down. Once you've completed this process, tie on your choice of hook and add the appropriate weight to reach the depth you are working. The weight and bait should hold the bobber upright, just above the surface.

  1. Thread your line through the plastic tube that holds the stop knot. Give yourself at least a couple of feet of free line.

  2. Slide the stop knot off the tube and onto your line. Make sure you slide it off the end of the tube toward your rod tip. Slide the tube off your line and discard it.

  3. Slowly and steadily pull both tag ends of the stop knot to tighten it down and then snip off the tag ends to 1/16 inch so that it will not become tangled when wound up all the way through the rod eyes to the reel. When you think it's tight enough, test it. You should be able to slide it under medium (not light) pressure.

  4. Once you've got the knot secure, thread a small bead and the bobber onto the line. The bead serves to keep the knot from being drawn down into the bobber when a fish takes it down. Once you've completed this process, tie on your choice of hook and add the appropriate weight to reach the depth you are working. The weight and bait should hold the bobber upright, just above the surface.

The final product should look something like this.


Another way to make your own stop knot is out of a piece of scrap mono.  Tie the scrap line on your main line above your slip bobber in 3 overhand knots.  Make it tight enough to stay in place but still be able to slide when you want to move it.  Repeat the process on the opposite side of the main line.  Trim the tag ends to 1/16 inch.  The big advantage of this method is that you don't have to tear down your rig to apply it. It's a very useful technique, especially if you find yourself out of stop knots or in the middle of a feeding frenzy.

Ok, the hard part's over. Thread your line through the slip float - this means entering through the glass bead and exiting through the brass tube guard - and tie on your terminal tackle (hook, jig, etc.). It's a good idea to attach a small split shot about a foot above your bait - this will keep the float from sliding off if Big Wally snaps your line at the bait. Now, slide the stop knot to set the depth at which you want to fish.

You now have a fully functional slip bobber rig.


1) Bait up with whatever they bite on in your area and cast your rig upon the waters. The slip bobber will rest in a more or less horizontal position as your bait sinks and your line slides through it. As soon as it contacts the stop knot, it should assume a vertical position. The length of time that this takes depends on how deep you are fishing and how much terminal weight you are using, but you want the bobber to be vertical because many game fish will carry the bait upward as they strike, causing a vertical bobber to pop up to horizontal. You can't detect this if your bobber is already horizontal, and you may lose a fish because of it. If your bobber doesn't tip to vertical, here are some reasons why:

A) Your depth setting is too deep and your bait is resting on the bottom of the lake;

B) You are not using enough terminal weight; 

C) Your bait is hung up on a weed or some other structure; or 

D) A fish has taken the bait on the way down (more on this later).

2) If your float tips to vertical and immediately sinks,

A) You are using too much terminal weight; 


B) Fish On!

3) Pay attention. Any movement of the float - down, up, sideways - should be regarded as a fish. If you keep getting strikes while the bait is sinking, the fish are suspended above your depth setting and you should shallow up.

4) When should you set the hook? 

Hit 'Em Now
Hit 'Em Hard!

Many fish have been lost by trying to wait them out rather than have by setting the hook with speed and gusto.

There is no bigger thrill than watching a bobber disappear under the water's surface, reeling up the slack line and setting the hook into a nice big catch.

5) How big a bobber should you use? 

Just enough to float your bait. The smaller the bobber, the more sensitive it is and the less the fish can feel it.

6) When you cast, allow your line to remain slack until the bobber tips to vertical. This will help prevent the float from "running up" your line and pulling your bait away from the structure that you casted to.

7) As good as they are, slip bobbers do have a drawback. They are not a "fast" fishing method, so they are probably not your best bet for locating fish. I typically drift or cast until I find actively feeding fish; once I find them, I get out the slip bobbers and clean up on them.

When you want to fish at a depth of 10 feet, just slide the knot further up the line to the desired depth and cast it out. When the bobber hits the water, the line will slide through the bobber tube and come to rest at your preset depth where the knot is tied. When you have a fish on, you can reel the fish all the way up to the dock or boat without having to deal with a bobber that is clipped at 10 feet. If you do much fishing at night, you might want to check out the illuminated bobbers that glow brightly and are easy to spot without any ambient light.

If you want to switch to a different presentation, just snip the line at the hook and slide the bobber and bead off. You can leave the stop on your line and be ready to switch back at a moments notice.

Not only will slip bobbers work better for youngsters and Grandpa as well, they will eliminate a lot of frustration for you, and make a more pleasant day for all concerned. More importantly, the more time you spend with your bait in the water (instead of untangling junior's line) the more fish you will catch.

Some techniques used for specific species.


Another piece of tackle called a swivel comes in handy if you are using bait (like a minnow) or a lure (like a spinner) that has a twisting or turning action that tends to get your line twisted. Tie a swivel between your bait and your line. This will allow the bait or lure to spin without getting the line all tangled up. Swivels are inexpensive and come in various sizes to match the hooks and lures you might be using.

Rigging Your Pole

All that's left now is to put your pieces of tackle together, put on your bait and go fishing! After you've tied your line onto the end of your pole, ther are several ways to rig the other end. One way is to tie the hook onto the end of the line, come up several inches and sgueeze on your sinker, and put your bobber on above that.

Another method, called a fish-finder rig, puts the weight at the bottom of the line with the hook tied off to the side on an extra piece of line. This kind of rig lets the bait float freely and naturally in the water (a better way to fool the fish) while the sinker holds it at the correct depth.

Once your pole is rigged, you'll need to decide 
what kind of food to put on your hook to attract the fish.

Look here!

Now we need something to keep all this fish gear in . . .

a Tacklebox - Most any durable box with a tight lid and a handle will do the job! It could be an old toolbox or sewing box.

Most sporting stores and department stores sell tackle baoxes in a variety of styles and sizes.


When considering what size tackle box you wish to buy,
just remember,
fishing is a lifelong pursuit.
You will always be adding items to your fishing gear!

Visit Our Fishing Tackle Box Page to purchase a new Tackle Box

Here's a Tackle Bag I purchased from

Ready to Fish Soft Sided Tackle Bag
Lightweight and easy to carry and holds everything you need for your next fishing trip!

that's about the basics as equipment needed for fishin'!

Then there's the broad category of other stuff:
a net, a stringer to hold the catch, line clipper, filleting knife, first-aid kit, bait bucket, sun-glasses, a hat, lunch.

Tackle Box Checklist

A vaiety of hooks

Hook remover (disgorger)

Bobbers (various sizes and styles)


Extra fishing line



Weights (various shapes and sizes)

Bandaids (better yet, a first aid kit)

Sunscreen (if needed)

A spare reel wouldn't hurt

Needle nose pliers

One thing you DO NOT want to keep in your tackle box -
is bait!

Trust me, the next time you go fishing, 

your tackle box will smell worse than dead fish itself!!!!

Be sure to visit The FUNdamentals of Fishing Store at

Read up on Tips for your equipment . . .

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