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Thursday, January 04, 2001

TUTORIAL[4]: Walking into the tackle shop

Walking into a tackle shop is a daunting task. When you ask about getting a rod or a reel, you will be shot back with many questions that will make you feel very silly. So before going into a tackle shop, some knowledge is needed.

To select a proper rod and reel combo, you would need to answer the question.

1. What kind of fishing you are doing?

Fishing can be classified into the following
By place
1. Jetty
From a Jetty, there is no need to cast far. It is possible to get a big fish from a jetty, so rod will need to be strong.

2. Beach
From a beach, you will need to cast far. Hence a long rod will be needed. Mostly 13ft and longer type.

3. Kelong
From a Kelong, there is no need to cast far. Mostly catching baitfishes. It is possible to get a big fish < 5kg.

4. Boat
From a boat, there is no need to cast far. Depending on location, could be getting fishes > 5kg

By types
1. Bottom fishing
Where the bait is placed near the bottom. Need stronger rod.

2. Float fishing
Where the bait is placed near the surface. Need to cast further.

3. Jigging
Need to reel up and down repeatedly. Jigging rods have to be light.

4. Luring
Need to cast repeatedly. Casting rods have to be light.

5. Surfcasting.
Need to be long. 13ft and above.

If you don't know, you are probably wanting to do Bottom fishing, from a Jetty. I think that is general enough.

2. How big the fish are you targeting?

You equipment need to match the specs of the fish that you are targetting. It is no point to get a small rod/reel when you want to get big fishes like marlins. The rod will break, and the lines will snap. It is also no point to get a heavy duty gear to get small fishes in the 1-2 kg category. This is because you will not feel the fish at all, and the fishing wouldn't be very fun.

Fishing folks usually talk about weight in pounds (lbs). Not sure why they do not adopt the metric system of grams and kilograms. But roughly, to get the kg, just divide the pounds by 2.

Specification on lines. This is a 20lbs line

Specification on a rod

Hence, you can read off the strength of equipments like 20lbs line, rod 8lbs - 15lbs etc. For lines, that would mean the breaking limit. Eg. 20lbs line will roughly be able to hang up a 10kg fish. That is considered quite strong already. For rods, the limits would indicate the recommended line to use effectively. Hence 8lbs - 15lbs is for lines rating from 8lbs to 15lbs. Too low, it will affect the casting distance. To high, the rod may break under a heavy load.

3. What do you want, a spinning or a baitcasting?

Baitcaster reel

Spinning reel

Reels, there are 2 main category ie Spinning and Baitcasting. There are some hybrids in between, but for now, it is enough to know the 2 main types. If you are a beginner, you would go for a spinning type. That is the regular reel that you will use your left hand to "spin" around to reel in the line. A baitcaster would look like a small drum, and is usually operated by the right hand. (opposite). These are normally quite hard to use for beginners and misuse will cause the lines to entangle badly. Stay away from these for the time being.

A spinning rod guide (baitcaster will be smaller)

Specification on a rod

Rods are also matched to the reels that you would get. Hence, there are spinning rods and there are baitcasting rods. The guides (those round rings) for a spinning rod would point downwards, with the first guide being rather big. The guides for a baitcasting rod on the other hand would face upwards, and the guides would be rather small. Hence if you buy a spinning reel, you would need a spinning rod, and vice versa.

Rod and reels require a certain amount of matching. Do not use a big reel on a small rod, or a small reel on a big rod. It just doesn't match.

4. Do you want 1 piece or 2 piece?

Fishing rods come in 1 piece or 2 piece..and some even in 3 pieces and more. The more pieces there are, the weaker it is as there are multiple points for breakage. The strongest is 1 piece for sure. However, you will need to weigh it over the convenience of bringing your rods where you go. A 2 piece rod is recommended if traveling with a long rod is not your style.

5. What is your budget?

Fishing like all other things, comes in different grades of quality. Some rods and reels can amount in the thousands. But for general fishing, a decent entry level rod would cost around $40-$50 and a decent reel, around $50.

Although fishing stuff can be gotten cheaply, avoid brands like surecatch, pioneer etc. It is usually not cost-effective to get cheap stuff. Fishing can be a life long hobby, and such rods and reels can be kept for many years. It is better to get a better good quality entry level ones instead. If you enjoy fishing, it will serve you well for many years.

5. What kind of lines do you want?

Braid on the left, Mono on the right

Lines also come in many variety. There are Mono lines and there are braided lines. Braided lines are considered "expensive" lines and can cost $20 per 125 yds(again, non metric system). Mono lines are the normal type of lines that we are all used to. It is fairly cheap and a spool can last a little while. But Mono lines have some stretch (about 20%) and due to that, it is not as "sensitive" as braided lines that have 0% stretch. In fishing, you want your setup to be sensitive in order to feel the fishes taking your bait.

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