for beginning flats fishing
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
Let me know what you think.