Freshwater Tackle

Fishing tackle includes more than just rods, reels, hooks and rigs. There are all kinds of fishing accessories and fishing supplies available to help you get your fishing lure or bait to the fish – and get the fish to you. Start filling up.

FISHING LINE

Fishing line is available in a variety of weights. However, when it comes to fishing tackle for beginners, most choose monofilament nylon fishing line…and keep it a staple in their freshwater tackle kits throughout their angling days. A good line weight to start with is 6- to 12-pound test line. "Pound test" refers to the strength of the line. It's the amount of weight required to break the line. For example, a 10-pound test line is stronger than a 4-pound test line.

Using heavier fishing line than necessary may reduce the number of bites or strikes you get because heavy line is more visible in water. Meanwhile, if your line is too light, a bigger fish can break it and take your whole rig. Try explaining that to your buddies.

The trick is to match the pound test fishing line to the size of your rod and reel, the kind of bait or lure you're using, and the species of fish you want to catch. And that is the key to good fishing.

In fly fishing, fly line is a somewhat short length of line made of a plastic coating on a core that is often tapered to make fly casting easier. Backing line is a much longer length of monofilament line with one end attached to the end of the reel spool and the other end tied to the fly line. When you're playing a fish and you run out of fly line, the backing line comes into play. Go to the Fly Fishing Gear section for more information on fly line.

Environmental Alert: To protect wildlife and the environment, always take any discarded line with you when you leave. Discarded line can snag and harm wildlife and kill fish, turtles, frogs, birds and small mammals.

LEADERS

A leader is a length of fishing line (or wire) tied between the end of the fly line and the lure or hook. Leaders provide extra strength or abrasion resistance from the mouth, teeth, scales, gill covers and tails of fish. However, keep in mind that outside of fly fishing, it’s generally easier for a fish to snap a single strand of line attached to the hook than it is to snap a line with a leader.

FISHING SINKERS

These items of freshwater tackle allow anglers to cast their bait down to or near the bottom. Fishing sinkers range in weight and size from ¼ ounce split shot sinkers – about the size of a BB – to 5-pound cannonball sinkers nearly as large as a baseball. You’ll want to keep a variety of sinkers in your tackle box as different types of sinkers are best for different needs. Want to keep the line vertical in the water column? Use a bank sinker. Want to avoid snagging the line along the bottom? Try a bell sinker. Dealing with a sandy bottom? Pull out a pyramid sinker. Bullet sinkers are popular additions to rigs, so don’t underestimate the importance of these (mostly) tiny items of freshwater fishing tackle.

As with fishing line, the key to using sinkers is getting the weight right. Too little weight and your bait never falls to the depth needed. Too much and your bait falls to the bottom too quickly, disturbing the water column and all nearby fish on its way. The best weight is just enough to let your bait sink slowly and naturally to the bottom (or just above the bottom). With practice, adding sinkers to your line becomes second nature when rigging up freshwater bait and tackle.

BOBBERS AND FLOATS

These freshwater fishing tackle items are used to keep your bait at the depth you want it. They also help you know when you have a strike. Use a bobber that's just large enough to keep your bait from dragging it under the water. While round bobbers are easier to cast, floats, or pencil-style bobbers, are more sensitive, so it's easier to tell if a fish is nibbling at your bait. Easy-to-cast slip bobbers come in both round and pencil styles and can be easily adjusted to allow you to fish at different depths.

Today, there are even bobbers with direction control that allow anglers to steer the bait or lure, which in turn, can be more functional at getting to the fish.

For convenience, freshwater tackle items of this type attach to your fishing line with a spring clip and move up or down the line easily, depending on how deep you want to fish.

SNAPS

Snaps are small freshwater tackle devices much like a safety pin or a dog leash snap, tied to the line and used for attachment and quick release of hooks, rigs and lures.

SWIVELS

This item of freshwater fishing tackle is a small device with two or more eyes (rings) and a central swiveling part. They're used between a lure or leader and your line to prevent line twisting or tangling from a revolving lure or a barrel-rolling fish.

BAIT SPREADER

While freshwater fishing, some anglers use bait spreaders to separate a lure and a hook or to keep hooks from tangling when using two separate hooks in a rig.

To learn more about Freshwater Bait and Lures visit our next section.