With rows of rods and racks of flies from floor to ceiling, a trip to a large trout fishing tackle shop can be intimidating even for the experienced angler. But do not fret; With these six trout fishing tackle essentials, you'll be more than ready for your fishing expedition.
Rods, Reels, & Line (Combos)
The perfect combo depends on your destination, your fish, and your style. For spin or bait fishing in small streams and brooks, you need light or ultralight gear. Small streams mean small fish, and the Brookies and other smaller trout are best caught with a flexible ultralight rod 4-5 feet in length. Combos include the reel and line pre-spooled for convenience and economy.
If you are aiming for bigger lake or river trout, you need a heavy rig. Heavy rigs with longer rods (6 – 7 ft.) And stronger line allow for longer casting into larger bodies of water, and are durable enough to haul in a feisty big trout. Spin-cast, enclosed spools, are a good choice, with monofilament line in the 7-14 lb weight range.
Fly fishing is a totally different and exciting fishing style, and that requires an entirely different combo. A 7-8 foot fly rod is recommended with slow to medium action. A 3-pound test tippet with a tapered leader is also preferred. Cabela is a popular combo manufacturer with good quality and reasonable prices ($ 100- $ 250).
Flies, Live Bait, & Lures
The choices of artificial flies may be dizzying, but a little research can balance your decision making. Find out what kind of insects are prevalent at your fishing hole and choose your flies accordingly. The Elk caddis fly and the Peacock caddis are popular and effective. The Parachute Adams fly is another favorite, named for its ability to parachute softly onto the water's surface like real bug. If you're fishing live bait, nightcrawlers are easy to find at your local shop. A little digging around your fishing hole can also turn up grubs, hellgrammites, or leeches which all make great bait. Lures on the other hand, mimic the small fish trout eat, like minnows. Rooster Tails and the Blue Fox are popular spinner lures. Rapalas are the preferred lure to mimic minnows, and the Nestor Wobbler Spoon lure is my spoon of choice.
Waders, Boots, Hats, & Shades
In the game of trout fishing, you can not just sit on the sidelines. But, before you jump in with both feet, get some waders! Hip waders completely cover the legs up to the waist, while chest waders come all the way up to the chest and back allowing deeper wading. If you will not be in deep waters, a good rubber wading boot like those made by Rocky River or Frog Toggs may be all you need. Remember to be safe when wading in deep waters.
Also, do not forget a good sun hat and polarized sun glasses. Observant fishermen catch more fish. If you are blinded by the sun, you will not be able to identify insect types, water features, and fish activity. In addition, no one wants their fishing trip cut short by an eyestrain headache.
Tackle Boxes & Vests
Tackle boxes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and should be chosen based on your gear. Get a box that comfortable fits everything you are likely to use on a particular outgoing, with some room to grow, but not one so big it's a chore to lug. A good vest can compliment or even replace your tackle box. It's not practical to wade to shore every time you need to change flies, so vests with multiple pockets and secure Velcro or Zipper enclosures can help you take what you need into the water with you. A durable vest with some padding in the neck and shoulders for comfort is highly recommended. Remember, your vest will be much heavier when it's full of gear.
Creels & Nets
The first consideration when choosing creels and nets is whether you are catching and releasing, or catching and eating. Trout are some of the tastiest fish, so eating is a great option, but respect the environment and do not keep more than you will eat. Rubber trout nets are best for catch and release, because they will not injure the fish like thin-mesh nets. A flat bottom panel also helps protect fish you plan to release. Remember to size your net for the fish you are after. If trout is on the menu, split-willow creels or canvas creels are recommended.