Fishing can involve anything from a relaxing day at a nearby creek or pond to competition angling to win money and endorsements. In 2014 U.S. consumers spent a little over 1.5 billion purchasing fishing tackle. Though fishing gear is big business, even the best anglers can get by with an assortment of eight basic fishing items in the tackle box.
The Tackle Box
Hard boxes are great for those fishing areas that are a short jaunt from the car. However, for anglers who crawl through the brush to get to a secluded trout stream, a soft tackle box is much more comfortable to tote. For those impromptu fishing moments when there is an extra half hour before or after work, keeping just a fishing vest in the car can serve most tackle needs. Many doughy bates in jars can withstand heat or cold for a good while before degrading.
Anglers should carry enough line to respool a reel out in the field. It is extremely frustrating to have to cut a day of fishing short because of a tangled reel or discovering that the line has become brittle. Be aware that fishing line degrades in sunlight, exposure to heat and mechanical abrasion. It is important for anglers to buy a fresh spool each fishing season to be able to land those catches of a lifetime.
Sinkers are indispensable. Old lead sinkers are being banned in more areas due to lead being a toxic metal that is injurious to humans and wildlife. There are many functional alternatives to lead sinkers available. Anglers should keep a variety of split shot, oval (egg) and bank sinkers of various weights in tackle boxes. There is no need to go overboard and carry several pounds of sinkers, but carrying a few extra for fishing holes with plenty of snags is wise.
Hooks, Lures and Bait
Many tackle boxes are filled with stuff that is never used. Anglers can be obsessive about tackle, never throwing out anything in hopes that it might be useful some day. The wise move is for anglers to carry hooks, lures and prepared baits for just the species they fish for. This can greatly reduce the amount of space needed in tackle boxes. Hooks are not heavy, but carrying large quantities of several different varieties is rarely necessary. Most anglers fish for a limited amount of species each season. Choosing top quality hooks, a couple of lures to suit the weather and season, and one or two baits made for those species is all that is needed.
A lazy day of fishing is not complete without conversation with a fishing buddy while watching bobbers to see when they move, or better yet, completely disappear below the surface. Every angler has a favorite bobber type that works for most situations. Carrying a handful is all that is needed. Bobber fishing is also one of the first experiences kids get as young anglers.
The two most used tools while out for a day of fishing are pliers and a knife. A good stainless steel multi-tool helps anglers handle everything from hook removal to tightening a screw on a reel. Choose a multi-tool with needle-nose pliers. Adding a plastic hook remover may also be useful in some situations. Anglers should also use the right tools and not their teeth to squeeze split shot and cut fishing line.
Some game species of fish have sharp teeth. Being bit while removing a hook is not fun. Catfish, like many species of fish, have dorsal and pectoral fins that are sharp. A good leather glove is useful while holding a fish still to remove a hook. First-time anglers may also be much more comfortable holding a fish if they are wearing a glove. So, if no glove is needed for Dad or Grandpa, consider a pair for the kids.
First Aid Supplies
There is no need to carry a doctor’s bag, but a few adhesive bandages, some triple antibiotic ointment and gauze pads for cleaning usually suffice. Diabetics should have glucose tabs for handling low blood glucose levels available everywhere, so carrying an extra tube in the tackle box is a good idea. Avoid aerosol sprays. The cans can burst when tackle boxes are stored in hot or freezing temperatures.
American anglers sometimes like to bring everything along for a day of fishing, including the kitchen sink. Their ancestors headed down to the creek with string on a hickory pole, one hook and a couple of worms. No muss and no fuss, and certainly a lot less stress. Unless an angler is making a living by fishing, it should be a time of fun and relaxation. New gear is cool, but carrying it can get heavy. Load up the basics and the family, and just go have some fun fishing.