FlatsFisher.com banner flats fishing information
Search r_gearshop
Article Archive

Back to current article

June 2002
Silver Spoons
August 2002
Starting Flats Fishing
September 2002
Beginning Gear - pt. 1
October 2002
Beginning Gear - pt. 2
November 2002
The Courteous Angler
Dec 2002/Jan 2003
Reflections at the
Tide Change
February 2003
Jerkbaits, another look
March 2003
How important is presentation?
April 2003
When to fish...?
May 2003
New ideas
September 2003
Flats Fishing 101 (recap)
December 2003
Another flats fishing year ends
Jan - Feb 2004
New year, new opportunities
March 2004
Flats fishing on any budget
August 2004
Special Request - Hurricane Report
Equipment for beginning flats fishing
September 2002

This is the follow-up to the August article about beginning flats fishing. There are many sources for information on fishing equipment. In fact, as many sources as there are opinions on what is the 'best' equipment. I will start out by saying that this is my opinion. I will pull from my recent personal experience, input from those who have guided me along and information I have read in preparation for my fishing. Lastly, this is only a suggestion for basic equipment. Budget and specific requirements will factor in your personal choice.

Well it is fishing and we can assume that you are going beyond a hand line (though I see them used by anglers). You will need a rod, some type of reel, line, terminal tackle. Okay, that is all you need to know. Just kidding. I will provide information on each of these.

If you already have an outfit for freshwater fishing it may be all you need. Depending on what you are targeting a reliable bass rod can work. Rod materials have come a long way. Fiberglass is an option. Older fiberglass rods were sometimes 'whippy' and heavy. Modern fiberglass rods are much improved and can provide good service. The buzzword in rods recently has been graphite. These rods are usually light for there strength and can provide a faster action with high sensitivity. They are not unbreakable but they do provide good durability. If you can find a reasonably priced rod of graphite it would be a good bet. Still each rod can be very different in feel. You will want to get a rod that has a feel (weight, balance, action) that you like. Also of consideration is the handle. Many lower cost rods have a foam handle material. I can think of no reason that this will not work as well as cork. It should be equal and possibly better in durability compared to cork. Check that the guides are of good quality and sufficient number to provide good performance. Guides should be no larger than needed for line and knots and a reasonable expectation is one guide per foot of rod length and a tip top. Finally you should check that the reel seat is durable and will remain tight.

There is such a large range of quality and price for reels that you will be able to find something that meets your requirements at a reasonable price. However, to a point, you get what you pay for. There is something to be said for purchasing a reliable but bargain reel. If it develops a mechanical problem you can set it aside for parts and replace it with another similar. The key here is to get a reel with a minimum performance to assure that you bring in the fish you hook up with. Suggestions include the following: 1) a metal frame will provide better efficiency 2) get as many bearings as possible 3) drag is critical 4) instant anti-reverse is a good feature for explosive flats species 5) line capacity is not critical for most flats species 6) a durable bail mechanism for long life. As with almost anything, buy the best you can. After you buy, whether expensive or budget priced regular maintenance will help assure the best performance for each use. Salt water is not kind to anything mechanical. Rinse in clear water after each trip. Use some lubricant or anti corrosion agent to on moving and exposed parts. Just remember, you may only have one shot at that fish and it could be the fish of a lifetime. You don't want a reel to fail at this critical time.

The comments above can be applied to any type of reel but you have some options on reel type. Spinning reels have a stationary spool and a bail lays line on the spool. Bait casting reels have a revolving spool. A hybrid of sorts it the spin casting reel. It has a stationary spool enclosed in the reel body and usually a pin that winds the line on the spool. Generally speaking spin casting reels are not as robust either in drag quality nor performance. A big fish is likely to outmatch the reel and drag. They do work, I have some myself but would not challenge a game fish with it if I had a choice.

Spinning or Bait Casting?
Between spinning and bait casting it may be mostly personal preference. There are advantages to each and it is not a bad idea to have both. You will find that many flats anglers, even those wading will carry two outfits and paddlers often between three and six. Why so many you ask? One answer, because they can. But there is a practical reason as well, you have each rigged with a different lure presentation to quickly adjust to any fishing opportunity. I will try to expand on this in a future article.

Back to the differences in spinning and bait casting differences. Spin casting reels benefit from using light lines to increase casting distance. In some cases this makes a better presentation. The need for a shock leader though reduces the stealth a small diameter line would provide. The reels have plenty of line capacity and offer smooth drag operation. Free spooling offers almost no resistance for live bait. On the down side there is a possibility of line twist due to the way line is wound on the spool. This can occur due to line stripping out against the drag or by spinning lures. Spinning reels offer good control for long or finesse casting.

Bait casting reels offer a challenge to cast. They have features to greatly reduce the 'backlash' (spool over spins and line loosens and becomes tangled). Casting distance is more effected by friction than the spinning reel. However you can get comparable casting distance. The casting motion is different in my experience and you should practice a little before you use it for serious fishing. The benefits of the bait caster are the drag which is more directly applied to the line and immunity from line twist issues. One thing to be careful of is casting into the wind. You will almost certainly get a backlash if you do not control the spool. This restricts distance.

Lastly, I will mention fly fishing. I have only slight confidence in my skills as a fly angler but it is rewarding to catch a big saltwater game fish on fly tackle. In some cases it can be an advantage, such as spooky schools of reds or bonefish. You can get a fly outfit at a reasonable price and this is what I suggest if you are starting out. Check online resources and your local fly shop for information.

Information on Line and Terminal tackle will be added in the next article.

Let me know what you think.

Good Fishing,

Search | Home | Articles | Reports | Reviews | Photos | Resources | Species | Contacts | Gear Shop
Privacy Policy - [Copyright 2004 Webb Information Exchange]