Clint Nail offers expert tips on choosing the right rod and reel as well as outfitting the perfect tackle box for your next fishing trip.
Rod and Reel Tips
Like everything else in life, finding the perfect fishing rod comes down to your personal preference. Here are some ways to simplify a complicated process, plus a few of my own recommendations:
Get started on the right foot
After you research the Web and talk with fishermen, determine what action you want with the rod and what gear ratio you want with the reel. I would recommend talking with salesmen at an outdoors store to get specifics about rod actions and reel ratios.
In general, heavy and medium-heavy action rods are stiffer than medium and medium-light action rods. Reels with higher gear ratios will retrieve more line per reel revolution of the handle than lower ratios.
Since I fish for bass and large fish, I prefer heavy to medium-heavy rods and the highest gear ratio possible, like 7:1. If you are targeting smaller fish, you may want to go with lighter action rods and a slower ratio on the reels.
Size is important
It’s really all about the size of lure you are using and the strength (size) of the line on the reel. The smaller the lure and line, the more flexible the rod should be. This will help with the casting ability of the rod and reel combination.
The length of the rod can help with the casting and accuracy of the lures. In general, the longer the rod, the farther you can cast a lure, and the added length can also help with the hook set when you get a fish to bite the lure. However, the longer rods will negatively affect your casting accuracy and sometimes create too much leverage for the line, resulting in line breaks.
I like a happy medium with 7-foot to 7.5-foot rod lengths and the appropriate line strength (the longer the rod, the higher the line poundage).
Find your happy medium
In general, the two most popular styles of fishing combos are bait-casting and spinning. Brand recommendations are up to the individual, but keep in mind price, reputation, warranty and the recommendations of other fishermen. The more expensive rods and reels tend to be easier to use, and are sometimes more durable. However, unless you fish for a living, some of the higher-end combinations are not worth the price. Find a happy medium that fits you.
Tackle Box Essentials
- A quality flashlight with batteries. It’s useful in early morning or if you stay until night. I keep a couple of flashlights in the boat.
- A couple of towels. Useful in drying the boat seats, your hands, your face, etc., especially on rainy or hot days.
- Bug spray. This frequently overlooked item can be a lifesaver for obvious reasons. I keep some in my boat and my truck.
- Sun block. This is a must. A bad sunburn can ruin the best day on the lake.
- Radio and headphones. If the fishing action slows down, you can at least listen to some music, or maybe even a football game.
- Needle-nose pliers. Very useful in removing hooks and lures from fish, pliers can also be used to tighten nuts and bolts.
- Scissors. You’ll want scissors, clippers or some type of fishing line cutters. Cutting specialty fishing line, like braided line, requires special scissors that usually will not work very well on monofilament or fluorocarbon lines.
- Wire cutters. Keep a quality pair of wire cutters in the boat. They can be very helpful in the event that someone gets a fish hook in a finger.
- Rope. Always keep a couple of 5-foot-long pieces of rope for tying the boat to a dock. Also, keep a longer piece of strong rope, 20 feet or so, in case you have to tow a boat or be towed.
- Fishing line. Always keep extra fishing line with you in case you get a bad “backlash” or knot that can’t be untangled. I keep an extra fishing reel with me for extreme situations.
- Tools. I like to keep a small, simplified toolkit in the boat that contains pliers, screwdrivers, a crescent wrench, electrical tape and a small socket wrench set. It always pays to be prepared.
- Propellers. I keep an extra boat propeller and trolling motor propeller in the boat with tools for changing. Extra props have saved the day more than once.
- Boat safety items. I recommend looking at the following websites for all safety requirements while boating and fishing: Outdoor Alabama, US Coast Guard