Paul Walker makes some suggestions about what you need to set up your first fishing kit. Getting your first boat is always hugely exciting, and like most kiwis you’re going to need to look at your fishing tackle requirements. Mates and neighbours will come over to have a look and congratulate you on your buy and maybe discuss a future fishing trip, and it’s about this time you think hell I haven’t got any fishing gear. This oversight for first-time boat buyers is not unusual.
They have been so focused on purchasing the boat and safety equipment they forgot about the fishing tackle. The irony here is that the boat was probably bought with fishing in mind in the first place. Unfortunately, some will have exhausted their finances in buying the boat and will now resort to garage sales, Saturday markets, or the internet to buy cheap junk that other people are getting rid of for just that reason. It’s just junk.
WHAT TO BUY
RODS – There are only two styles of rod, but with in these two styles there are many different rods made for different types of fishing. The two styles of rod are built for either spinning or surfcasting type reels also known as fixed spool reels, or built for overhead reels also known as drum or multiplier reels. The main differences between these two rods are that spin reels are placed underneath the rod and overhead reels are placed on top of the rod. To get the best performance out of each rod, it’s not advisable to use the wrong reel on the wrong rod.
Rods designed for spin reels will generally be about 2.1m long with a softish tip as this aids the reel to cast as they are designed to do, although you may find kid’s rods with spin reels attached will be much shorter. Rods designed for overhead reels used for general fishing can be anything from 1.5 to 2.1m long, and it depends a little on the size of the reel and line weight its designed to take. Rods are built in different line strengths to match the reels, they will also have different size of line guides and the placement of these guides will differ on the two styles of rod, smaller but more frequent on the overhead and larger but less of them on the spin rod.
REELS – Let’s look at the spin reels first. These start with the tiny 2500 size and go up to the hugely powerful jig and top water reels capable of carrying 37kg braid line or more. But for us the general fisher, we will stick more around the middle. One of the most popular spin type reels for boaties over the last twenty years has been the bait runner type reel. As spin reels are better fished in water under 20m, bait runners make the perfect stray line reel allowing fish to pick up a bait and run with it.
If the boat you have just bought is a dingy or very trailer boat you may tend to fish a little closer to shore in shallower water, so a bait runner set will be just the thing for you as stray lining catches a hell of a lot of fish. Overhead reels are better at fishing the deeper water say over 20m, You can use a big spin reel but overheads just do it better. They control the dropping line easier, you can feel bites on the way down and they just seem more balanced. A lot of models come with a level wind, that takes out the hassle of laying the line on straight when retrieving. Most of these rods and reels will come as matched combos from the distributors so any of the good tackle shop sales staff will be able to help make the right choice for you and your boat.
LINE – As for the line, I think for your first fishing season it would be best to stick to nylon. The exception would be if you only fished in deep water, then braid line would be a better choice. In your second season if you find you really enjoy fishing, then a change to lures where braid is essential may be an option. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves and it’s a whole different ball game with braid, so my advice is just to use nylon in the beginning.
RIGS – In your first fishing season try to keep things simple, learn to tie the uni knot it’s easy and very strong. For the stray line rig, the trace needs to be about 600mm long. Tie one hook on then slide another hook down the trace to meet the first hook followed by a light ball or egg sinker and then finish the trace off with a swivel at the top. Most fishing books will show this rig and the uni knot or you can always go to Google. When it comes to deeper water and the overhead reel, one of the best rigs to use is the snapper flasher rig.
These are available at any tackle shop and they come all pre-tied from a range of manufactures and they work amazingly. You just take them out of the packet, tie a mid-weight sinker to the bottom, put a small piece of bait on each hook and your fishing. Even the top fishos use these rigs because there not expensive, easy to use and they catch fish in big numbers.
TACKLE BOX – For most folks a two tray tackle box is all they will ever need. It should contain a small selection of hooks in a few different sizes, the same in sinkers in a few different shapes and weights, a packet of swivels to match your line strength, line cutters, bait knife, an iki spike, a spool of trace line about 20kg, and a couple of snapper flasher packs. That’s all your basics covered, so don’t go filling your box up with a whole lot of junk you will never use. Just keep it simple. When and if you start using lures its best to have a separate box just for them, it keeps things neat and tidy and everything is easy to find.
LANDING NET – This is a very handy tool and should be onboard every boat going fishing. Pick one with a mid-width mouth and I like the new rubberised nets as the hooks don’t get caught in them. The length of handle will depend on the size of your boat. Clearly a small dingy will want a shorter handle than a 6m cabin boat. You will lose a lot less fish with a net on board, and fish to be released will be less stressed when landed with a net.
Just remember the day you forget to put it on board, is the day you will catch and then lose that monster. You shouldn’t need a gaff on board unless you intend to chase bigger fish like kingfish, puka, tuna, etc. I guess you need to learn to walk before you can run.
A good ice box is essential when fishing, as it is pointless catching a good feed, only to have it ruined by poor care. It pays to spend a bit of money on a good one as it will keep your lunch and drinks cold on the way out and your catch in great shape on the way back. Make sure you use only salt ice as it lasts much longer. Hopefully, there was a bait board on the boat when you bought it, if not get one they keep the bait mess in one place making the cleanup much easier at the end of the day.
Even a cutting board fixed on top of the chilly bin is better than nothing, and keep your bait knife sharp, nothing more dangerous than a blunt knife on a boat. Well, there’s a starting list that explains simply the basics of what you need to go fishing.