Packable Tackle Do realize that, as with photo equipment, good gear assures quality results but only beginners pay list price. Tackle is widely discounted. Shop wisely and you can save 30 to 50 percent. I’ve found the lowest prices either in mail order catalogs you can order through fishing magazine ads or in discount stores where tackle from “nam” manufacturers such as Garcia, Diawa, Fenwick, Shakespeare and others offers roughly equal quality in any given price range — plus the access to parts and repairs you might find expensive with off-brand gear.
While blister-pack beginner’s outfits can get you started, a spincasting, casting or fly rod that breaks or telescopes down into a 14-inch or 16-inch package to fit luggage makes tackle “packable.” Spinning lets you cast small lures or baits best and is the typical all-around choice. Spincasting suits children and those who enjoy minimal casting fuss at the price of limited casting range and line capacity. Baitcasting allows heavier lines for larger fish and trolling without line twist. Flycasting magnifies the fight of small fish and provides its own special pleasures if you have time to practice casting skills.
Fiberglass rods fit the tightest budgets and suit beginners’ needs; experts find more expensive, yet lighter weight, graphite and/or boron rods increase sesitivity to better detect light bites and reduce casting fatigue. Good rods use graphite or fiberglass instead of metal ferrules.
A reel to match your rod comes next. Most manufacturers suggest their own matching reels, but you might save by mixing rod and reel brands. For example, any spring reel that holds 200 to 250 yards of four-to six-pound test line fits the typical all-around spinning rod. Look for full bails and skirts that reduce the chance of line loops snagging on reels. An extra reel spool lets you carry both four- and ten-pound test line to meet changing conditions.
Six- or eight-pound test line is a good choice for all-round use; flour-pound test suits trout and panfishing. Interchangeable spools aren’t available on spincasting reels, but are common on single-action fly reels and available in baitcasting reels to make it easy to switch line when needed.