Lew’s, Quantum, Yum, Abu Garcia, Strike King, Ardent, Rapala, Shimano… The number of brands and the variety of offerings are dizzying. Today’s anglers can be overwhelmed with choices for fishing , so many that it becomes just like buying a car- a real challenge. How often have you gone to your favorite tackle and fishing gear store and simply been overwhelmed and at a loss to make choices given all of today’s fishing products on the market? What creates this problem? Well that’s easy- funds are limited, you want to get the best value for something that represents a fair amount of your discretionary money available for such purchases, and you know you are going to have to live with the decision for a while. So, first of all, rest easy, we’ve all been there- especially when we were starting to get more serious about our fishing. So let me offer some quick decision making tips to help you on your journey towards becoming a more experienced angler and a more seasoned buyer.
1) Buying a good Rod and Reel: Most anglers want to start off with something less expensive. Your level of experience will offer insight here. For example, a Shakespeare spinning combo is a good place to start. A combo will allow you to throw most types of baits under most types of conditions. Specialization comes with experience- where you fish, how you fish, what baits you like to fish, what fish you prefer to target all play into decisions on fishing gear. But when an angler just ramping up in fishing compare takes on “too much” rod and reel- for example, buying an Abu Garcia Revo baitcaster on a well matched flipping stick, after laying out all that money, the inexperienced angler could get discouraged from their lack of baitcasting knowledge ending up with multiple backlashes and, out of frustration, get mad and throw the whole set up into the lake. The Shakespeare Company targets several of its budget-wise combos towards the teen angler or the inexperienced fisherman just beginning to discover lures and a few varying fishing styles. They offer a variety of rods and reels, such as their very durable Ugly Stik line, that will put you in the fish catching game.
As you gain fish catching experience these combos may begin to wear over time or your demands as an improving angler may dictate and slightly higher level of performance leading you to a decision to replace it. This is the fun part, because now you can upgrade and do it with confidence of having more of an idea of what type of equipment best suits the type of fishing you enjoy. Perhaps a next level combo like the Quantum Optix spinning combo. Doing some research never hurts either. It is always good to know what manufacturer won best new product in the category for which you are shopping at the annual fishing industry ICAST trade show. For example, Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool SLP baitcast combo was voted best rod and reel combo at ICAST2017, making it four years in a row that Lew’s has won that category. 13 Fishing, a company that has taken ICAST by storm the last few years, also makes a great spinning combo.
2) Don’t underestimate the importance of your Line choice: Fishing lines are another multi-brand/ multi-use category maze for the novice angler to navigate. I like to start off with products from a solid main stream manufacture like Berkley’s Stren or Trilene products. For a beginning fisherman, the sophistication of braids with Fluorocarbon leaders require skills and sensitivity in one’s fishing that these anglers are not ready for yet. So going with a basic 8-10 lb. mono gives the fisherman the versatility of lure and species not to mention it being easy knots. Once you feel comfortable, and begin to understand concepts like castability, line memory, line diameter and line visibility, and as your presentations get more sophisticated, feel free to step up to a line like Spiderwire or, use your network of fishing pro staff such as our ibass360 prostaff Nick Ferry who can advise you and set you up with more specialize lines from the European line manufacture Balsax. Our Scott Cormier uses SunLine exclusively. Todd Sages, the Vicious line of products and Rob Zorn Seaguar. All good line companies. I myself prefer Berkley’s Spiderwire in various test strengths. Remember, if you are going for that big Muskie or Pike you always dreamed of, you will likely want to use , a much stronger braided line.
3) Lures: I could write a book on shapes , sizes, brands of lures etc. but I will keep it short for now. Lure selection at the start should be minimal. I suggest a bag of Yum Senko-type worms in watermelon flake, a couple good Booyah spinnerbaits or even the cheap spinnerbaits from the “dollar bin” have gotten me some nice bass. You will need to go with a couple crankbaits- I suggest lipless rattling baits in a dark color for dark clear water, natural, reflective colors for clear water, and fluorescent colors for stained, even cloudy water. Strike King has the Red Eye Shad which is an excellent lure to cover this option and cover water. Lure selection can be intensely overwhelming so keep it simple to start. Over time you will start thinking like a fish and know what works and what doesn’t work under a variety of conditions.
To summarize, the angler on a budget has one main objective- catch keeper fish on inexpensive tackle. With the economy as it is, a lot of us have trouble affording $200 rods and comparably priced reels. It certainly is hard to justify plunking down $40 dollars for a single swimbait. So your question is, will the low price stuff catch fish? I am here to tell you, without a doubt, yes. Will it haul in that elusive wiley monster in your home water that has seen all the tricks? Perhaps not, but by using it, you will develop the confidence needed to become an ever more successful fisherman. So don’t be afraid to grab that Walmart special (an official sponsor of the FLW Tour) if your wallet can’t handle the more custom bass gear. You will get there in a more intelligent manner by putting in the time and effort a budget requires for you to LIVE THE PASSION!
- Kevin Carwile is passionate about his bass fishing. His fishing began in Indiana and life has moved him a little further to the west- Virginia, Illinois where he has continued to grow in his love and his experience of bass fishing. Like a lot of us, Kevin has learned the craft of bass angling from his experiences. To his personal learnings he has added sharing ideas with fellow anglers at the tackle shop, at the launch and online. What he has learned he fine tunes on the water. As an iBass360 pro staff he now is in a good position to share his knowledge with fellow anglers who are where he was. This is his first article for iBass360 and we are pleased he has chosen a topic relevant to many a bass fisherman. We look forward to more contributions based on his Midwest fishing experiences.