Choosing the right fishing tackle

Angling equipment can be as basic as a handline wound around a cork, or at the other extreme, tackle costing hundreds of dollars may be needed to hook large gamefish. As these guidelines will demonstrate, what tackle you use depends on the type of fish you want to catch.

Choosing the right fishing tackle

Types of tackle


The basic requirements for catching fish are a length of line and a hook. However, using a rod greatly increases your chances of success. Look for a rod that is light and strong yet powerful enough to cast the sinkers you will use and to battle the fish you intend to hook. Light rods are suited to freshwater and estuary fishing, while heavy ones are needed for casting from beaches or rocks.


If you simply want to drop a line off a jetty or lob a line a short distance, a handline with a handcaster is all you need. The most common type of handcaster is a ring-shaped spool, sometimes called a Cuban Yo-Yo. For fishing with a rod, the best reel for the beginner is the fixed spool or "eggbeater" type, available in a range of sizes, that is easy to use and very effective. A reel must always be matched to an appropriate rod.


Most fishing lines are made of nylon and are classified in terms of their breaking strength — the weight an unknotted length of line will support. Always match the line's breaking strength to the type of fish you want to catch; most common fish can be caught on lines with a breaking strength of between two and 25 kilograms (four and 55 pounds).


Hook sizes are indicated by numbers, starting in the 20s for the smallest and getting larger as the number decreases. After no.1, another range of sizes starts with 1/0 ("one-oh") and includes huge hooks such as no.18/0 for sharks. The 24 sizes between no.12 and no. 12/0 are suitable for catching most of the popular species of fish.


Sinkers provide casting weight, take a baited hook down to the level where fish feed and give ballast to let a float sit properly. The secret to choosing sinkers is to use as much weight as you have to, but as little as you can get away with.


Floats are used to target surface-feeding fish, to keep bait above a rough, snaggy sea bottom or simply to act as bite indicators. They come in various shapes; popular types include quill, pencil, stemmed, bubble and bobby cork.


Knots are used to fasten hooks to the line, the line to the reel and one line to another line. Well-tied knots distribute strain on a line through the knot and avoid creating weak spots that might break under pressure. Each knot is suited to a particular fishing situation. There are hundreds of knots; the "Animated Knots By Grog" website ( has a section with the most useful fishing knots and how to do them.

Use these tips to choose the right tackle for the kind of fishing expedition you want to have.

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