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Tackle Box 101: Fishing Equipment Every New Angler Needs

December 12, 2017

Every year, millions of Americans head to a body of water to fish. They do so to relieve stress, for recreation, to socialize with friends and family, or to put food on the table. The water may take the form of a lake, pond, river, creek, tidal flat or deep ocean. Whatever the reason, whatever the venue, in order for these anglers to succeed, they need the right equipment and knowledge.

Here are some of the essentials every angler should have in their setup and tackle box, regardless if they are chasing bluegills in a pond or gamefish on the flats:

License/regulations: Check with the state agency that licenses fishing in your area. In Florida, you can obtain a license online from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at Like many states, Florida enforces size and bag limits on many species of freshwater and saltwater gamefish. Keep these regulations handy in printed form (found at many tackle shops) or have them bookmarked on your smartphone.

Rods: Of course these don’t fit in a tackle box, but they are one of the main components to a fishing trip. Rods can be either a single piece or break down into multiple segments for easy transport. The length and flex of the rod affects casting performance and fish-fighting capabilities. Do a bit of research or seek guidance at a local shop to find the rod that is best suited to catch the fish you are after.

Fishing line: Line comes in varying strengths and types. You want the right type and size line appropriate for the species you are after, so consult a bait shop or outfitter for the best match.

Reels: Reels provide a way to manage the line and retrieve it. There are many types of reels; spin fishing, bait casting and fly-fishing reels are very different from each other. A reel with an adjustable “drag” system can increase or decrease the resistance on the line when fighting a fish.

Hooks: Again, there are many sizes and shapes, and certain ones work best in specific situations. For example, a live bait hook is designed to hold a small baitfish and allow it to swim. A hook for fly-fishing will have feathers tied to it to imitate baitfish.

Bait/lures: This takes many forms. Bait can be smaller live fish. A lure can be a hand-tied fly, or a hard or soft artificial lure. Talk to experienced anglers and outfitters about which baits and lures work best for the species you are after.

Dehooking device: This piece of equipment is used to retrieve the hook from the fish’s mouth with as little injury as possible. For example, fly anglers generally use forceps to grab the hook and work it free. Anglers handling bigger fish might use long-nose pliers that can hold up to salt water.

Nippers: Nippers have two sharp edges that come together to clip line.

Sun protection: Keep some sunscreen in the tackle box and reapply as necessary to prevent getting sunburned. Wear a hat to protect your head, eyes and nose. Polarized sunglasses allow you to see more clearly below the water’s surface and cut down on glare coming off the water.

Shoes: Shoes or wading boots should be chosen with care. Shoes with a non-slip and non-marking bottom is preferred.

Consult a professional fishing shop for more information on the gear you need and how to use it.