If you don’t know what equipment to buy or take when you go fishing, all you need is a fishing rod and reel, pliers, hooks some bait and lures.
GEAR FOR FISHING
It helps to keep all your fishing gear in the one location so you don’t waste time trying to locate it all the time. If you can, have all your equipment organised the night before so you don’t need to rush or waste valuable fishing time before you go.
Things like having your rod all ready to go with a rig attached or spare rigs in your tackle box makes life much easier when you get to your destination.
If kids are dying to get their rod in the water it can become stressful trying to keep up with them whilst tying knots and getting organised. A little preparation makes our fishing days so much easier as everything starts out in the right direction.
Make sure you bring spare hooks, line, pliers and a tackle box, as you never know what you might encounter when you start fishing.
- Fishing rod and reel
- Hooks, lures or soft plastics
- Swivels/clips, sinkers, pliers and an old cloth
- Bucket, scoop net and a camera to record all the fun
- Food, drinks, sunscreen, sunglasses and hat
Choosing a rod and reel
Rod and reel combos start from as little as $30, and all you need is some basic tackle, a few lures or some bait. When buying equipment for children, you don’t need to spend a fortune as it may be dropped over the edge of a boat, stood on or dunked underwater numerous times.
But be careful of really cheap fishing combos, no matter how much your child loves the look of it - try to resist. Poor quality equipment may last one trip and often reels won't wind properly and cheap fishing line breaks easily.
The last thing you want is to get everyone out fishing and find the rod and reel doesn’t work, you can’t catch fish and there is disappointment and frustration.
As with anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you are not sure how your child will like fishing, then start with an entry point rod and reel and if they love it, then maybe down the track invest in better gear. Higher quality rods and reels will last longer and the kids will find it easier to cast and retrieve.
We have found that short rods work really well as it minimises the amount of times the kids hit each other and us as they try to cast and land fish. Standard fiberglass rods are the way to go with children, as they are a lot stronger than more expensive graphite rods, which break very easily. I know this as I have lent my good rods to my boys more than once and they have easily broken them when they accidently hit it on something.
It is also easy for rods to get trodden on or lost over the edge of jetties which is another reason why not too spend too much money on gear when you have young children. When fishing of a jetty in Exmouth my four-year-old hooked a good fish and wasn’t strong enough to hold it. He dropped the rod and we saw it being towed up the canals, attached to a very good fish. As you can imagine, the tears came thick and fast!
As kids get older and more responsible, then you might want to consider purchasing better fishing gear then.
Pliers are an invaluable tool to have in your tackle bag. You can use the cutters on them to snip your line, although a little pair of scissors or nail clippers are very handy for this as well. More importantly, pliers make removing hooks from fish very easy. You can get a better grip with pliers and you don’t have to put your hand in the fish’s mouth.
Take an old rag or tea towel as you can use this to hold the fish while you are removing the hook. If you wet the towel, it will assist in keeping the fish healthy as handling a fish can remove the slimy coating on its skin. If you do want to pick up a fish, wet your hands first and support it under its belly if it is a bigger fish.
This is basically an attractant for fish and you put it in the water and hopefully fish will swim to where you are. You can use different types of burly such as breadcrumbs or some tuna oil or a burly premix you can buy already made up, which is generally a mix of pollard and fish oil.
You don’t have to use burly but sometimes I put it in the water to attract a few fish when the kids are on the boat or fishing off the beach or jetty. The kids actually like throwing it in the water and watching the fish that soon arrive in their little burly trail.
Lures and soft plastics can easily fool fish, they are fun to use although they require a little more effort, the satisfaction is high. It also means you don’t have to use messy bait and lures can be easily transported and never get smelly.
However lures can be trickier for kids to use and they will usually catch more fish with bait than they will on lures.
This is what you tie onto the end of your rod and it can make a big difference to what you catch. If you are using heavy sinkers and big hooks in an estuary or river then chances are, you are not going to catch much.
It is better to use lighter line, smaller hooks and sinkers as that way you can feel the fish biting. Fishing with lighter tackle gives you more opportunity to catch fish. It is much better to at least catch something than wait all day for the ‘big one’ that never arrives.
A great way to get kids familiar with the equipment required for fishing is to set them up with their own small tackle box. Our boys love having their own gear, sifting through their little lures, clips, sinkers, hooks and soft plastics.
It also provides them with the opportunity to handle gear and learn to be careful with hooks and as they grow older, they can practice their knot tying and how to make rigs by themselves.
If you are unsure, you can buy pre-made rigs with hooks and sinkers already on them. This is quicker and easier than making your own, but it is also a lot more expensive. Maybe try them the first couple of times and when you get more confident, start trying to tie your own rigs (see how to).
I always take a selection of hooks, some swivels and a spool of trace line, which is the line you use to make rigs out of and attach to your main fishing line. I know a couple of fishing knots but I also have an app on my phone that I can rely on when I forget exactly how to tie them. My husband has shown me so many times that he has given up but my phone never complains when I ask it to show me just one more time.
There are two different types of fishing line that can be put on fishing reels. The first being monofilament (mono), this is a plastic line which is generally what comes on kids combos. It is probably the easiest to use as it is easier to tie knots with, it can be untangled that bit better than braid but make sure you are not using a really cheap mono line. Cheap line is more likely to tangle and break which can be very frustrating for kids and adults.
If you are not sure about the line you have on your reel, take it into a tackle store as ask them. Usually they have huge spools of mono line and it doesn’t cost much or take very long for them to replace the line on a reel or you can buy a small spool of line and do it yourself at home.
Braid is a manmade, woven strand which is very strong and abrasion-resistant and thinner than mono and I find it is also a bit stronger. I often fish with braid and we put light braid on some of the kids reels but it is a lot more expensive than mono so you need to consider if it is worth spending the extra dollars.
There are debates as to what is better and they both have advantages and disadvantages. When starting out, it doesn’t make a huge difference as long as you are using a good quality mono otherwise you may encounter problems.
You can use a variety of bait and if you like, even catch your own that can sometimes be more fun than catching fish. Bait such as pippies can be found, prawns can be scooped in a net or bloodworms or even nippers can be sucked out of their holes using a special sand pump. If catching your own bait, ensure you adhere to state fishing regulations.
While fresh bait is the best, the easiest option is to buy frozen bait. If the thought of cutting up small bait doesn’t inspire you, then think about using lures or choose bait that is more palatable such as prawns or calamari (squid) or octopus.
Squid and octopus tend to hold on well to hooks so it means you don’t need to rebait as much. Pilchards, mullies or sardines are the same thing it just depends where you live as to what people call them. They are great bait as they are very oily and fish love them but they are messy smell a lot and fall off the hook quite easily so if you like it clean, perhaps try squid.
The bait you use will depend on the species you are trying to catch. Ask at the fishing tackle store as to the best bait to use for what you are targeting. Also see best fish to catch with kids for ideas on target species and what bait to use.