GET FISHING ON A BUDGET
Before we look at getting started fishing on a budget, let’s get a few key fishing terms out of the way that can get confusing quite easily because they have a couple of different meanings or they are just “the way things are said in fishing”. It’s going to be hard understanding anyone if you don’t understand these few phrases clearly yourself.
I found the meanings for other fishing terminology were pretty easy to find out by searching online. But still, some of the most basic language that people start talking to you with can be extremely confusing, and they have no idea your head is spinning. It’s also important to get your words right or you risk looking at pulled faces. I hope these few terminology explanations help you on your way. It’s not perfect, that’s for sure but I think it is a good start before we look at how to get your fishing tackle together on a budget.
Can mean everything in fishing, from rods to reels to all the accessories you can imagine. Fishing tackle is everything. Anglers don’t really say “fishing gear” as much as one would say “camping gear”, they say tackle more often even though they do use the term “fishing gear”. “Fishing tackle” and “tackle” are interchangeable and mean the same thing most of the time. Fishing tackle can also mean stuff like fishing line, hooks, sinkers, swivels; all the stuff that goes in your tackle box. Terminal tackle is another more formal way to say tackle that goes on the end of your fishing line but most people just say tackle or fishing tackle.
You only ever cast your rod. There is no other appropriate term for the action. Never dare to say “throw” even if you are joking. Casting is casting and that is it. The action is a cast, you can cast your reel, cast your rod, cast your line, cast your outfit, cast your setup, cast your rig and so on. But you only ever cast. It’s not that difficult, the idea is to let the rod do most of the work.
An outfit is a combination of a rod and a reel. When a rod and reel are put together, they are called an “outfit”. A balanced outfit is one where the rod and reel are suited to each other and a particular or general style of fishing.
Your retrieve is when you wind in the reel and “retrieve” your line. Again, there is no other way that is more appropriate to say retrieve. Wind in your line sounds okay, reel in your line, well, that sounds okay too. Retrieve is the best term to use.
SET THE HOOK
Setting the hook is when the hook digs into the fish’s mouth. For example, you jerked your rod swiftly so that the hook stuck into the fish right on time and now you want to keep the fishing line tight so that you have the upper hand in the battle with the fish. That moment is known as “setting the hook”. It’s easy to think that someone is talking about rigging up a hook, but no, they are not. You will have a more powerful action if you keep your elbows close to your body and a stance where your legs are the same distance apart as your shoulders while being slightly bent at the knees.
TURN THE HEAD
This is the action of lightly pulling the fish’s head towards its tail so that it tires and can give up the fight.
THROW THE HOOK
People don’t normally throw hooks, fish do. This is when sudden action, even by the fish, causes the hook to slip or rip out of the fish’s mouth, basically, you didn’t set the hook. Here is an example you might hear, “If you do, the fish will throw the hook”.
This is not how you look, it is how good your hook and bait or your lure looks. Good presentation, for example, mimics what the fish normally wants to eat. Fish can see the hook if your bait is not covering it properly, for example, and they won’t go for it.
There’s plenty more to come, but with those few phrases, you can get going. Individual terms are easy to find but I remember struggling to understand what everyone was talking about for a long time. If you don’t understand something when someone is talking, the best way is to ask or you will never find out. I learnt that lesson the hard way. That’s why I included the terminology above. They took me a long time to work out for myself.
Where do you start when you want to get fishing but like everyone else, you have a limited budget? A quick walk down to any jetty and you see fishos loaded up with gear, and if you are like me, you wonder, “Where did they get all that?”.
Fishing can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. That’s a simple fact. There is always something else to buy and something else you will want to try. Fishing isn’t for everyone but if you get hooked on fishing, you will have a hobby that will turn into much more than a pastime.
THE SMART FISHO BUYS LOW
The smart way to get into fishing and keep fishing is to buy only what you need. There is plenty of time to get what you “want” later. Chances are if you do buy something because you think you want it, you probably won’t want it much further down the track. You can only find out by trying but it is advisable to purchase your fishing tackle step-by-step so that you can find out what you would like to try next.
Some people go down the baitcaster route and never come back. They will only fish with a baitcaster and they are not interested in anything else. Some anglers only fish for Snapper. Other anglers are strictly beach and surf, while others only kayak.
The more that you get into fishing, the more you will find out what you like more about it. That’s your personal fishing experience. Everyone is different and your journey will be your own. This is what someone trying out fishing for the first time should keep in mind when deciding on what to buy at the start – buy the basics. There’s nothing smart about investing in something more than you can afford at the time because you “think” it is the way to go when you don’t really know yet.
GET A COMBO AND FREE STUFF
Rod and reel outfits are also called “Combos”. A combo is a good way of getting a rod and a reel that you know will work together. Buying a combo is a good way to know you are choosing a balanced outfit – a rod and reel that suit each other. You will be surprised, not all reels will go onto all rods. There are many more factors at play, but let’s not get into that discussion just yet.
You can get a great rod and reel package for around $50, or even less – something like a 2m rod with an all-purpose spinning reel is perfect. I see plenty on the market for even $35. Don’t think just because they are so affordable that you are not getting a decent outfit. A fishing company with a brand name you know is a fishing brand that has been around for generations. Sometimes they introduce newly branded products into the market to target a specific consumer with a specific type of product, but let’s not forget that there is that well-established fishing company behind that. The fact is, there aren’t too many quality fishing brands compared to the number of brands that exist in other industries. Fishing rods and reels aren’t like mobile phones suddenly being made by companies you have never heard of before.
If you already know the brand from when you were a kid, chances are it is solid.
The brands you know are the brands you can trust in fishing, that is just a fact, and there is a lot of experience that goes into their entry-level reels, rods, and combos.
Always look for a starter pack with some fishing line and some terminal tackle to get you started – hooks, sinkers, swivels and the like. Most general or “all-purpose” fishing kits are perfect for a wide variety of fishing situations. Check up on your chosen retailer’s reputation and get some help if you can’t decide by yourself.
LOOK FOR STARTER TACKLE PACKS
You are going to need a tackle box, for example. Look for a starter tackle box that comes with a range of hooks, sinkers, swivels and all the bits and pieces you will need. You can get one of these for less than $30. Starter packs are not the marketing ploy they might appear to be. They actually do contain the tackle anyone getting started would need. Even those more experienced will occasionally top up their own stock with a starter pack and grab an extra tackle box to make sure they have a good base stock of tackle at any time.
TOO INEXPENSIVE TO BE TRUE
I used to think this myself. I used to think that fishing tackle and offers were all marketing until I got to understand fishing better myself. When you look at starter combos and starter tackle kits, it is easy to wonder why they are so inexpensive compared with some of the super expensive rods, reels and everything else that goes along with fishing. In fishing, as anything specialises, the price generally increases.
With that in mind, I think fishing tackle manufacturers are kind of smart. And this is just my guess; they supply beginner gear at more than affordable prices so that we can afford to have a go without spending too much money. You can’t blame them for giving you the chance to do something that can easily turn into a lifestyle. From something to do on the weekends that doesn’t break the bank, to something that becomes a part of someone’s identity, that’s fishing, and where your journey will go, we just don’t know yet.
KNOW YOUR REGULATIONS
Recreational fishing regulations vary by state and even by location sometimes. A quick search online and you should be able to find out all you need. A good load of results come up at the top of the search on Google. The government websites are easy to follow and very helpful. You can even get your fishing permit online in most cases. Permits are available from a few days to a few years, so make the right decision, get what you need not what you think you want – invest small.
In summary, at around $80 you have your own gear to go fishing. All you need is a bit of bait. For first timers, you can get bait online but you want to make sure it is what the fish like you are planning to catch. Local bait is taken locally and is what those local fish want to feed on. Bait is going to cost you another $20-50 tops, for example 2 packets of bait worms with delivery for $30 (total 50 worms) – always look out for the specials. And you will need some refreshments and something to eat for the afternoon. You need to eat and drink anyway, so that is not really a cost of fishing is it now?
GET INTO GOOD HABITS EARLY ON
Good habits go a long way in fishing, and that means taking care of your gear. The majority of fishing tackle and fishing gear malfunctions are actually a result of user abuse. When you get an outfit, make sure you get the information from your retailer or directly from the manufacturer on how to maintain it. Cleaning down your rod and reel properly after each use is a really good habit and will mean your rod and reel can outlast you. Don’t do that, and you’ll find they start looking shabby and deteriorate really fast. Even when freshwater fishing, corrosion is a big deal. Leave that rod and reel in the garage without giving it a clean after a fishing trip and you just started down the road of destruction.
You will save a lot of money by looking after all your fishing gear, down to the tiniest of items.
If you’ve got your stuff and you are ready to head out, you obviously have a location in mind. Jetty fishing is a great way to get started, it all depends what’s accessible for you. Most people see other people fishing and that is why they want to give it a go. Follow the crowds. Watch to see what times the regulars go fishing and go fishing at the same time. Learn by copying other others.
Don’t worry, Aussie fishos are a great bunch. No one is going to laugh at you if you don’t know how to cast or if you haven’t got a stylish technique. It’s more than likely you’ll find that you get the help you need.
You can always practice a bit before you get out there. There is plenty to be found here OnDECK.
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