Sections: Decisions - Day 1 Kit - Upgrade #1 - Upgrade #2 - Full Kit

For little more than $200 you can get started with one rod/reel and some tackle and have a ball catching average game fish like large mouth bass, small mouth bass, bluegill and catfish. For a little bit more fun, spend about $600 and get 3 basic setups. And if you have a boat or a kayak, get a 4th setup.

Decisions Before You Begin...

Start with Spinning or Baitcaster?

*WARNING: Some folks look down on spinning rod users as less 'manly' or less experienced. There is no easy way to say this. They are foolish. Don't listen to them. Catch more fish and have more fun than them, and ignore the haters.
90% of professionals will tell you Spinning Rod
  • Easier to use - won't frustrate you
  • Don't have to decide immediately what hand retrieve
  • Some techniques are better on a spinning rod
  • Baitcaster is not necessary, but can be more effective

Left hand Retrieve or Right Hand Retrieve Reel?

*WARNING: Most spinning rods can be switched left and right. Most baitcasting reels cannot.
When purchasing a baitcasting reel pay careful attention to LH retrieve or RH retrieve.
If never fished before and you are naturally right handed...
  • Cast with your right arm
  • Reel with your left hand
  • Purchase LH retrieve reels - less common so be careful
  • Do not have to switch the rod to your left hand after casting with your right arm so you can reel with your right hand

Cheap, Standard or High Visibility Fishing Line?

*WARNING: This is as close to a religious war in the industry as you can get. If you throw braid for everything and like it...keep doing it. If you think flouro is a conspiracy and mono is just fine...keep using it! Our recommendation is based on the collective consensus and research. But if you feel differently, even though the science and the collective experience says otherwise...we still love you. Rock on brother / sister.
  • Use Mono - it will work just fine..with a few limitations
  • Mono is not a 'floating' line. It just doesn't sick as fast as Flouro
  • It won't cast as well as Flouro or Braid...barely
  • It's not as abrasion resistant as Braid (heavy cover, rocks, shells)
  • But it's more abrasion resistant than Flouro...debated
  • This is what we recommend
  • Use Flourocarbon for everything except topwater and heavy cover
  • If that's too expensive you can use a cheap mono backer and then spool up only 100yards or so of flouro...we didn't say use a leader!
High Visibility - More Sensative(?)
  • High visibility braid like yellow or orange
  • Flourocarbon or mono leader based on technique and cover
  • Makes it easier for you to see your line on the water or in cover. This is absolutely true and we use it for this reason sometimes.
  • Industry believe it is the best of both worlds - disputed by some

Your First Rod, Reel and Tackle

All Purpose Spinning

  • Roughly 7 foot / Medium Power / Fast Action
  • Can cast 1/8oz to 1/2oz size lures

Reel #1 - 200/2000 Series

  • Any Gear Ratio
  • 6-8lb Flourocarbon

Basic Tackle

You are most likely going to be a bank angler. Because of this some techniques such as deep diving crankbaits are problematic, so we will stick with the techniques and baits that will bring you less frustration. Techniques such as Texas Rigging and Wacky Rigging and Ned Rigs will play a major part in the artificial lure category. You can use finesse size spinners, bladed jigs, swim jigs and swim baits if you want to try them before you buy the next rod/reel.
  • 3/0 Extra Wide Gap (EWG) Hooks
  • 1/10oz Ned Heads
  • Wacky Rig Hooks
  • 1/4oz and 3/16oz "bullet" style Worm Weights
  • ~5 inch stick worm in Green Pumpkin
  • ~4 inch Crawfish style plastic in Green Pumpkin
  • ~3 inch stick worm in a Greenish Brown/Chartreuse lamination typically called "Coppertreuse"

Your 2nd Rod, Reel and More Tackle

Heavier Duty Spinning

  • Roughly 7 foot / Medium Heavy Power / Fast Action
  • Can cast 3/16oz to 3/4oz size lures

Reel #2 - 300/3000 Series

  • Any Gear Ratio
  • 6-8lb Flourocarbon

More Tackle

You are now probably bored with fishing worms and plastic creature baits. We get it. Time to add in some moving baits, so you can cover more water and experiment with your first offshore technique...the dropshot.
  • Drop Shot Hooks
  • Drop Shot Weights
  • ~3 inch creature or chunk trailer in Green Pumpkin
  • ~4.5 inch straight tail worm Greenish Brown/Chartruese lamination typically labeled "Bluegill"
  • 3/8oz Single or Double Willow Spinner Bait in Chartreuse/White and some kind of Bluegill or bait fish color
  • 3/8oz Bladded Jig (also called a vibrating jig) in Chartreuse/White, Bluegill, Black/Blue
  • 5/16oz Swim Jig in Chartreuse/White, Bluegill, Black/Blue

Your First Baitcaster and More Tackle

All Purpose Baitcaster

  • Roughly 7 foot / Medium Power / Extra Fast Action
  • Go shorter if available - something like a 6'-8"
  • Can cast 1/4oz to 5/8oz size lures

Reel with Gear Ratio around 6.8:1

  • 6-8lb Flourocarbon
  • Add a Mono Leader when fishing Top Water in summer or respool
  • Shouldn't cost your more than $200 as a combo
  • Use this for Swim Baits in the Spring and Fall
  • Use this for Top water in the Summer

More Tackle

Until you have experienced watching and feeling a bass smack your top water lure, you will not have fully appreciated how much adrenaline fishing can bring. The first time it happened to me, I was reminded of the jump scares at a haunted house. We are also introducing your first treble hook crank bait. Watch for snags!!

How much basic tackle and bait do I really need?

What it looks like when you buy $150 worth of basic tackle.
The above 3 rods/reels and a basic box of tackle will do 90% of what you want 90% of the time.

If you have a boat/kayak, or are willing to risk a $10 lure to the snag gods when fishing from shore, the next is hard core cranking.

Cranking Rod and Tackle...

Cranking Baitcaster

  • Roughly 7 foot / Medium Heavy Power / Fast Action
  • Go longer if available - something like a 7'-6"
  • Can cast 3/8oz to 1oz size lures

Reel - Gear Ratio around 6.8:1

  • 10-12lb Flourocarbon
  • You need the Medium Heavy power to toss larger lures
  • The extra length to cast further
  • Casting further allows the diving crankbaits to travel at maximum depth longer

More Tackle

Don't get discouraged when you first try cranking. I spent a year cranking from shore and kayak and caught nothing. I had much better luck with the other rod/reel combos and techniques. Could also be that I just suck at crank fishing.

Final notes...

When you read above about the type and size of will notice we don't have a ton of different sizes and types. Might you need 20lb flouro instead of 6-8lb flouro in your situation? Sure...but we think the vast majority of folks significantly overestimate the line size they need (90% of the time new anglers don't have their line break...actually their poorly tied knot failed). Until you know WHY you need the stronger line or that cool new colored bait....stick with the basics. We put you squarely in the average to more finesse size so you are catching lots of average fish instead of trying to jack the jaw of one monster bass and running the chance of going home with a zero.