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Fishing For Beginners-Rods and Reels

You're interested in fishing. The peaceful waters, enjoying the outdoors on a boat or trekking the shore of a river. The fish have started calling to you but you are not sure where to start. I will do my best to guide you through the starting process to make sure you get hooked on fishing.

What are you fishing for?

You've got your fishing licence and now you are trying to figure out what to buy. The first thing to do is figure out what kind of fish you are wanting to catch. Then you can work on figuring out what kind of gear to get. Some gear will be too big and heavy for smaller fish, and while it is possible to get bigger fish on lighter gear, to prevent "ones that got away" stories bigger fish will typically need heavier gear. For most beginners I recommend a middle ground set up so that you are prepared for almost anything and then can branch out and get more species specific once you hone in on your favorite species to catch.

What do you need?

Figuring out what to get when you decide you want to start fishing can be overwhelming. The vast variety of rods and reels and lines and lures can leave some feeling lost with no idea what to choose. In this introductory post I will walk you through how to make some of those choices. First decision is what kind of rod and reel to get.

Rods and Reels

Walking into a sporting goods store and seeing the rows of rods and the wall of reels can be a lot. Choosing the right rod and reel combo is the first big decision when picking your starting gear for fishing. The rod is what carries the bulk of the fishes weight and gets the lure from point A to point B. The reel is what brings the bait and fish in by retrieving and storing the line conveniently in its barrel.


Fishing rods or poles come in all lengths, from 5 foot rods to 14.5 foot telescopic rods. They also vary from extra light power to extra heavy power and fast to slow action and primarily come in two types, casting and spinning. The length and action help know what kind of fish to target, while the type is designed for the primary form of fishing you'll be doing. Spinning rods are good for trolling, jigging, bobber or slip fishing. While casting rods are set up for casting, while some are also designed and used for trolling.


Choosing the rod that is the right length is the first step in choosing a rod. The shorter the rod the more control on the cast and while fighting the fish but tend to have less flexibility making them not able to cast as far as longer rods. What does this mean? Shorter rods will not cast as far and are generally stiffer, this means if you are fishing close to shore from a boat or where you want to cast shorter rods will work well. If you are fishing from shore, or needing to cast longer distances then longer rods are preferable. Most of the rods that I use are between 6'6" and 8' long. And for general all around fishing for beginners I recommend a rod between 6'6" and 7' long.

Rod Action

Rod action is where the rod bends. Extra fast the upper 15% of the rod will bend, while slow action the upper 50% of the rod will bend. Another term for rod action would be how sensitive the rod is to bites. Faster action rods are more sensitive to smaller fish and more tentative bites. While slower action rods will not be able to pick up some smaller fish when they strike. This is important as it allows for better detection and prevents loss of fish.

Rod Power

Rod power ranges from extra light to extra heavy. This is a measure of how strong the rod blank is and how much weight is needed to make it bend. If a rod is too light it will affect the accuracy and sometimes the distance of a cast, while using a rod that is too powerful will mess up casting creating backlashes and knots in the reel. This relates to the ratings of line and lure weight that can be found on the rod. Be sure to follow those ratings to make the best use of the rod.

Choosing the Right Rod

When choosing the right rod, length, power and action need to be taken into account. When you are just starting out a middle of the road rod (7' medium action, medium power) is the best way to go. This gives you the ability to go after almost any type of fish and will not give you too many problems when casting or trolling.


There are two types of reels, baitcaster and spinning. For most beginners I recommend a spinning reel. They are easy to work and can handle almost anything that you will be catching. Spinning reels attach to the underside of the fishing pole and can be used for casting, trolling, jigging and bobber fishing.

Each brand of spinning reel typically comes with different models (sizes) to fit the rod. Each model has a line weight range as well as a lure weight range. Match those up with what the rod has and you are off to a great start.

Parts of a Spinning Reel


The handle is what is used to bring line into the barrel of the reel. Most spinning reels have the ability to switch where the handle is so you can try each side and see what feels most comfortable.


The barrel is where the line is stored. This can also be where line amounts and weight limits are written once the reel is out of the box.


The drag on a spinning reel can be found in one of two spots. The first is on the front of the barrel, as it is in the picture above, the raised knob is the drag adjustment. The drag like brakes for the reel, if a fish pulls hard enough the reel will spin backwards and the line will come out. If the drag is too tight and a fish pulls the line may snap, however if the drag is too loose and a fish pulls it may be able to break free as the line goes slack. Play around with the drag so you know which way tightens and which way loosens the drag so you can adjust it while fighting a fish. The second location for the drag could be at the butt of the reel as a twistable knob.


The bail is what keeps the line in the barrel. When the bail is open the line will run freely out of the barrel. When the bail is closed the line will stay in the barrel.

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