By Grace Caldwell
It’s that wonderful time of the year again. It’s the time for a young angler to start gathering gear for the upcoming fishing season. I love to hear people share stories about when mom would give them the Toys R Us or JC Penny wish catalogs to circle what they wanted for Christmas. Well I have news for you, I still do this, but I have moved on to fishing catalogs now.
I am going to give advice to all the adults who are purchasing gear for their young angler. It is always best to start with the basics. Good quality, but basic gear. We have all seen the new kid who joins with a fancy rod and reel, but no tackle and doesn’t understand the basics of fishing, or the one with the Barbie or Spiderman pole that understands the basics, but the parents do not. Quality is important in keeping their interest high.
I would suggest for new anglers medium quality gear that will not break easily, but has room to improve to nicer gear as their skill level increases. A tackle bag, for example, will be their most important piece of equipment from my perspective. It will house everything needed to allow for a good day of fishing. Tackle bags should have nice compartments, good zippers or Velcro, be lightweight (lures and terminal tackle will weigh enough already), and be large enough to be comfortable and not too big to tote around or take up too much floor space in boats or boat compartments. Some may need more than one tackle bag once they figure out different types of fishing.
For example, some may have a tackle bag for bass fishing, one for pan fish, one for catfish, etc. This will come later with more experience. I use tackle boxes with plastic compartments that are labeled with the bait inside. I keep those stacked until the eve of tournament day and put the ones I need in my tackle bag. My bag also contains scissors, knife, clamps, line, nail clipper, and terminal tackle (hooks, sinkers, jig heads, etc.). Terminal tackle is the hardest to figure out because it is the most used and most expensive.
A tackle bag should always have an assortment of terminal tackle. When you look at a package of 5 hooks that cost $5 or $6 compared to a nice shiny lure with cool packaging costing the same amount, most younger kids will choose the lure because it looks cool. They don’t realize it isn’t good for anything. That is the biggest problem with purchasing fishing gear. Companies want to hook the consumer and not the fish.
If your young anglers find something that works well and they can catch fish with it don’t be afraid to buy several of the same lures or bait. You wouldn’t want them running out in the middle of a tournament because the tackle became hung up or lost. That could make for a bad day. A rod- reel combos? Not at first.
Find something they like and build off that. Match the level of quality to their fishing level. They do not need a $400 rod and $200.00 reel with a backpack of cool baits. Find a good, quality rod with a reel of equal quality and invest in a tackle bag. Reading, researching, and talking to others can determine the best bait. We all want to look good fishing. Remember I am a girl, so I know about looking good. Carrying an expensive rod and reel doesn’t look nearly as cool as carrying a big bag of bass to the scales.