Fishing is a wonderful way to spend a few hours communing with nature. Sure, it’s great to catch a massive fish or even return with the story of the notorious “one that got away.” But for many, the real draw to fishing comes from the thrill of the journey rather than the catch.
There is something intimate and engaging about fishing for anyone willing to let go and simply enjoy the experience.
That being said, you still are ultimately heading out, pole in hand, to go catch fish. Whether you end up having them for dinner or tossing them back, it’s nice to be able to say that you caught a few. To do that, you will need the right equipment.
Let’s discuss some of the rudimentary gear that will have you ready to get out there and catch some fish.
Tackle Boxes: A Fisherman's Private Arsenal
You may be surprised that the first item wasn’t a pole. Aside from being an obvious necessity, a fisherman’s pole can change based on locale and the type of fish that he intends to catch.
Fly fishing rods are drastically different from those used for deep-sea fishing, and both look virtually alien compared to regular freshwater fishing rods. A tackle box, however, is relatively constant. Unless you are a very serious fisherman, you probably only have one tackle box in which to store your various lures.
It might be scuffed, muddied, and smell like three different types of algae, but it contains nearly your entire array of gear, all conveniently stored in one treasure trove of aquatic cunning.
Still, an empty tackle box is just a plastic box. The real question is: What should you fill it with? For the sake of ease and brevity, we will focus on the bait and lures involved primarily in freshwater fishing. This is what you will want to use when fishing from your kayak on a lake or river or from the bank of that serene little pond you found tucked away.
The Great Bait Debate
Find three guys fishing in a pond, and the chances are good that they will all be using three different types of lures and or bait.
One man is standing in a shady spot, keeping his eye on a classic red and white bobber, while below the surface, a live worm wriggles frantically, trying to extricate itself from the barbed hook.
When the bobber dips below the surface, the man on the bank will jerk his rod and hook whatever hungry fish was gullible enough to take the bait.
Another fisherman is in the middle of the pond casting and then slowly reeling in his rod. On the end of the rod, he has equipped a jig. The jig is meant to catch a fish's attention by utilizing spinning bits of rubber or metal that glint and flap like a salamander or water bug.
This lure is weighted to go deeper and trail along near the bottom rather than rest up on top like the bobber.
Then there is the third angler. His lure also floats on the surface like a bobber, but it is far from stationary. It is called a popper and is shaped like a minnow or frog. Rather than using live bait, this lure is slowly reeled in.
The fisherman jerks his pole to the side every few turns of the reel, generating a small popping noise. The noise attracts larger fish, who see the silhouette of familiar prey on the surface and, with any luck, will try to make a meal out of it.
To Each Their Own
It’s a great little scene, but the question is, which man is catching the most fish? Which is better, live bait or artificial lures? Any experienced fisherman will tell you: it depends on the fish, and it depends on the day.
There are literally hundreds of different types of lures to choose from, but the bobber, jig, and popper are the first three we would recommend for beginners and casual anglers. After all, the more lures and types of bait you have available, the better the odds one of them will pique a fish’s interest.
If You Need One, Bring Two
When it comes to stocking your tackle box, there is a good rule of thumb to follow: Always have spares.
This applies to bait, hooks, lures and goes doubly for fishing line. If you are fishing anywhere other than a barrel at the state fair, there is a good chance your line is going to snag on something at some point.
When that happens, you will either be able to unsnag and retrieve it, or you will need to quite literally cut your losses by severing the line. You might lose a lure or a hook and will definitely lose some line, but as long as you have more squirreled away in your tackle box, the day doesn’t have to end in defeat.
The multitool is a veritable godsend for the outdoors, but it is an especially useful tool when fishing. Depending on the model, they can include everything from fish scalers to pliers, not to mention the ever-useful bottle opener.
They are all equipped with at least one type of knife blade that you can use for cutting lines, and the pliers are great for maneuvering your hook out of a fish’s mouth.
Moving on from tackle box contents, there are some basic health needs that need to be taken care of before you make the first cast.
The summer sun can be brutal on your skin, and if you are on the water, the reflected light can make you burn even faster. If you want to avoid the irritation and application of aloe lotion, it's best to take preventative measures.
You want to make sure you leave your expedition more or less the same shade as when you set out, and a sturdy and comfortable cap and some SPF 30 sunscreen will usually do the trick.
Gear For the Eyes
When you are going to be looking into the water for prolonged periods of time, it really pays to have some tools to make that easier. Your eyes are sensitive and valuable tools.
Sunglasses, especially polarized ones, allow you to see fish that the light on the water would otherwise obscure. Alternatively, for anyone going night fishing, a headlamp will provide you with light while simultaneously freeing up your hands so you can reel in your catch.
Last, But Not Least
We’ve covered the basic utilities of your fishing trip, but there are a couple of other things worth bringing, just in case.
Firstly, make sure you have a fishing license. They are easy to obtain, and all proceeds go to environmental conservation efforts.
With the great outdoors, there is always the chance of scrapes and bruises, especially when you are heading out to whip fish hooks through the air. Bring along some basic first aid and ensure you are prepared should an accident happen.
Having the wrong clothing can have you fishing with damp pants and/or socks all day. Wear some shorts or a nice breathable pair of pants. Find yourself something with moisture-wicking, UPF protection, and water-repellant capabilities, if you can.
Lastly, an item that’s either the first or the last thing you think about, depending on who you are: Food. Standing in the sun holding a fishing rod all day can be more tiring than it sounds.
Grab a couple of drinks, bring some sandwiches and keep a personal water bottle handy, just in case you decide to scope out a spot away from the cooler. Bring a spare cooler full of ice as well if you are planning on taking any of your catches back home.
Fishing is a great way to practice some mindfulness with a dash of excitement and adventure. So whether you’re going solo like a modern-day Thoreau or bonding with your crew, fishing is a great way to get out in nature.