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How to Rig Up a Fishing Pole or Fishing Rod and Reel


The steps provided on this page are not a set in stone description of how to setup and use your rod and reel. It is simply the basic steps. I can not stress enough how important it is to follow the instructions and ratings suggested by the manufacture or your rod and your reel both. They are the ones that know the gear that the angler is using and how to rate it.

If the manufacture of your car indicates that you need to use 5W30 oil and you use 10W30 oil, you will end up with engine problems and void any warranty.

Let's assume:

1. Joe Blow has a reel that is rated at 14lb test.
2. Joe Blow uses an 8lb test
3. Joe Blow's Fishing Rod is rated for the max. 10 -17lb test
4. Joe Blow then places a lure that is lighter than the lure rating on the rod.

You're going to have failure! Your whole fishing rod is out of tune.

You also want to keep an eye on the weight rating on a rod and select one that will work with what you plan to use it for. For example, a rod that is rated for casting between 5 to 10 ounces and you want to fish lures, this rod will not work for you at all. This is a rod for casting a heavy piece of bait and a big sinker. For fishing lures, you'll want a rod rated for 1-3 or 1-4 ounces.

Once you get the hang of it, setting up a fishing pole will become second nature. 


Which type of fishing pole will you be using?

Cane Pole     Rod and Reel

How To Setup a Cane pole

There is no "real way" to set up a cane pole however this is the method I was taught by my dad and uncles. This is knowledge that has been passed down from many vacations and weekends spent on The Lake in Evergreens, MO.

To set up a cane pole start by wrapping several turns of line around the base of the pole (the "handle" if you will) and securing it with a good heavy knot, then run the line to the tip of the pole and wrap the line around the pole a few times and tie another good secure knot a few inches from the end. The wrapping around the pole prevents the line from slipping. The reason for tying the line to the base of the pole is in case a fish is hooked and the pole breaks you will still have a chance to land your fish.

Click here to continue setting up your pole

How To Setup a Rod and Reel

Start by attaching the fishing reel to your rod. Then place the reel into the reel seat. When you tighten the reel seat be sure not to tighten too much.

You can buy a reel which has been already spooled with a test line. If the reel you purchased does not have any fishing line in it then you will need to spool it onto your fishing reel.

If you don't know how to put line onto a reel, visit Our How To Spool Line On A Fishing Reel Page
How To Spool Line onto a Spincast Reel   How To Spool Line onto a Spinning Reel   How To Spool Line onto a Baitcast Reel


Next, thread the test line up through the ring holes of your fishing rod leaving a couple feet of slack so you can attach the rest of the terminal tackle.

Let's start with the hook. 
How to Attach a Fish Hook or Artificial Lure

Start off with a 3/0 hook and attach it to the end of your line opposite of the pole or reel. Now you can simply tie and knot the hook to the line but you would be risking loosing your hook and bait.
The best knot to attach a fishing line to a hook for a secure hold would be what is called a Clinch knot or often called a fisherman's knot.

It's very simple and explained below:

1)  Pass the line through the eye of the hook, swivel, or lure.  Double back and make five turns around the standing line.

2)  Holding the coils in place, thread the tag end of the first loop above the eye, then through the big loop

3)  Hold the tag end and standing line while pulling up the coils.  Make sure the coils are in a spiral, not overlapping each other.  Slide against the eye.

4)  Clip the tag end.

See Our Page on Knots for different types of fishing knots.

How To Attach The Sinkers or Weights

If you are using an artificial lure a split shot is generally not required since they are already weighted down and designed to either float or sink as they are reeled in.

As I mentioned above, a Split Shot Sinker is your best bet as you can simply clamp them onto your line, otherwise you will have to remove your hook and tie on any other type of sinker.

Select the right weight of split shot for the situation. 

For more information on weights and sinkers visit Our Different Types of Sinkers Page
To learn how to use different types of weights and sinkers, visit Our Different Types of Fishing Rigs Page

The placement of the sinker can vary. Common arrangements include a single sinker between the hook and bobber for bait fishing, as well as a series of sinkers with different weights to control drift below a float.

Use the lightest sinker possible for a given situation. Excess weight may discourage fish from taking the bait, and it can alter how the line feels as you cast and fish with it. Fishing in strong current may require multiple larger split shots to keep your presentation from going downstream too rapidly, while fishing where the water has no movement permits you to go with a much smaller and lighter split shot.

Find the spot on your fishing line where you wish to attach your split shot. When fishing in rocky, gravel-bottomed streams, a split shot positioned about 18 inches below your hook keeps the hook off the bottom, reducing the number of snags. Fishing on a muddy, soft bottom allows you to put the split shot above the hook on the line, with the distance from the hook usually set at least 12 inches.

Here is how you attach a split shot sinker to your line:

Pinch the two fins on the split shot together using a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Refrain from using your teeth to avoid chipping a tooth. Pinching the ends with the pliers forces open the opposite side of the split shot. Do not pinch the ends so tightly that they meet.

Hold the split shot with your thumb and forefinger so that you have access to both sides of it. Run your fishing line through the opening created by your pinching action on the split shot's opposite side. Hold the line in the crevice created so that it is as close to the center of the split shot as possible.

Wrap the line around the split shot so that it runs between the two fins on the other side and back through the crevice once again. You should have two wraps of line in the crevice now. Pinch the split shot closed with your pliers, keeping the line in the now-shut crevice. By wrapping the line twice around the split shot, you prevent it from being able to slide up and down your line when you cast and retrieve.

Hopefully this gives you an idea on how to utilize sinkers for positioning the hook in water and as weight to cast your line.

Again, if you would like to learn more about the use of the different sizes and styles of sinkers and their purpose, visit Our Sinkers Page.

How to Attach a Bobber

If you are using an artificial lure a bobber is generally not required since the whole principle of a lure is to cast the line out and then lure the line back in to imitate a bait swimming in the water.

hey are already weighted down and designed to either float or sink as they are reeled in.

Set a bobber above the hook (how far depends on the water depth).

Because the Bobber is lightweight it will float on top of the water while the rest of the line with your hook will stay at a certain depth in the water.

Determine how far into the water you want the bait to go. If you want to hang the bait 3 feet into the water, then the bobber should be set 3 feet above the hook and bait.

To attach a spring bobber, press the piece of plastic on top of the bobber, which will release a small clip on the bottom of the bobber. Thread the line through the clip and release. The bottom of the bobber now is affixed to the line.

Place a finger where the line is attached to the bottom of the bobber, then press down on the outside edge of the plastic piece on top of the bobber. This will reveal a small clip, like the one on the bottom of the bobber. Thread the line through the clip and release. The bobber now is attached to the line.

To change the bobber's placement on the line, detach one end of the bobber from the line. One end still will be attached, but you can slip the bobber up and down. When you're satisfied with the bobber's placement, secure the other end.

Here is an image of the end result of Setting up Your Rod and Reel

Decide on what kind of bait you are going to use and . . .

Now you are ready to go fishing!

Because fish have an excellent sense of smell there are many things that could affect how your bait, lure, flies or whatever it is you are using smells.
Bug repellent for example has a very strong smell. Getting it on your hands obviously means its also going to get on everything you touch as well. And that stench is going to stick around on your offering for quite a long time. A big way to avoid this problem is to use the bug repellent that comes in the form of a stick. Almost like a deodorant stick, these types of bug repellent allow you to apply it with out actually getting any of it on your hands.

Everyday soap can be another factor. 
If you must wash your hands either before or while you are fishing, find yourself a fragrance free glycerin soap that won't leave any trace of perfume or fruit aromas on your hands.

Cigarette smoke can also be a factor. 

Before you bait your hook, think if there is possibly anything on your hands; be it gasoline from handling the fuel pump, lighter fluid, anything perfumey (I know that's not a real word, but I think you know what I mean), and so on.

A little tip! If you're fishing with another person and they seem to be catching fish and you are not, try having him or her bait your hook a few times and see what happens!  If you begin to catch fish, it could be because you have something on your hands.

If you need help on how to put your bait on your hook you can visit Our How To Bait a Hook Page which will show you how to put specific live baits and artificial baits on your hook.


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It is important that people who fish follow all fishing rules and regulations.
These rules help conserve fish populations and also help anglers be successful.
Regulations may limit the size of, number of, and season that a type of fish may be caught, and may require a license to fish. In some cases, only “catch and release” fishing is allowed, which means the fish must be let go. Some bait is illegal in certain areas.
Contact your state wildlife agency by visiting Our Rules and Regulations Page.

If you have any hints, suggestions, techniques or anything that you would like to share or have me put onto this web page,
please feel free to Email me

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