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Simple setup all that’s needed to get started fishing

By Larry Pape
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Visit any fishing tackle store and you might be overwhelmed with the selection of what is “required” to go fishing. There are lures, jigs, plugs and poppers of every color and shape and rod and reels of every price range. The truth is that a stick, string, hook, weight and optional bobber is all it takes to have a fun evening of fishing at the lake.

Let’s discuss what you really need.

For your stick and string, an inexpensive push-button reel with 6- to 10-pound monofilament string will catch most fish. This type of spincast fishing outfit is widely available for a range of prices. Fishing rod and reel sets for about $30 will last a lifetime. Better yet, most of us know a grandpa, uncle or neighbor who will have one of these sitting in the shop that will be free for the asking. This style of fishing rod seldom wears out and may just need new string and grease. Don’t be shy: That grandpa or neighbor also probably will help and go fishing with you if you ask.

For a relaxing fishing trip, leave the lures at home or at the store for now. Using a simple and versatile hook-and-weight fishing rig will catch trout, catfish, bullheads and panfish, such as bluegill, bass and crappie.

For the hook, smaller is more effective than too big. A bait-holder hook, which has barbs along the shank in addition to the point, in sizes 6 to 10 will cover small bluegill up to 10-pound catfish. Add a few 1- to 2-inch bobbers, small split-shot weights and quarter-once sliding egg sinkers and you have all the tackle you need. Total tackle cost should be less than $15.

To catch a catfish or bullhead, place the egg sinker on the line, then a split shot with about 18 inches from the end, and tie a size 6 hook on the end of the line. Bait with worms, uncooked hot dog chunks or lunch meat. Cast this rig out and let it settle to the bottom. To snag your fish, let it pull the string freely away and set the hook with a gentle yank on the pole when you are confident they committed to eating the bait.

For panfish and trout, skip the egg sinker and just place the split shot about 18 inches from the end with a No. 8 or 10 hook tied to the end of the string. This is a simple rig that can be fished on the bottom or floated by adding a bobber above the split shot. Bait can be worms, crickets or just about anything you find in your pantry, including corn, scraps of meat and balled up bread.

Handy tools to have include a long-nose pliers to add the split shot and nail clippers to trim the string.

If you are just getting into fishing and want more details on fishing rigs and tackle, a helpful resource for all things beginner is the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Going Fishing Guide, available at OutdoorNEbraska.gov/howtofish. Buy a fishing permit at OutdoorNebraska.org.

Photo: A simple spincast rod-and-reel combo is the perfect choice for a new angler’s first fishing pole. (Nebraskaland Magazine/NGPC)

Read more fishing tips:
Well-tied knots important for any new angler

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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