No matter your skill level, every enjoyable day of fishing starts with knowing how to set up your pole like a pro. Choosing the right fishing gear depends on the type of fishing you will be doing, from freshwater fluking on a boat to surfcasting in saltwater from the beach.
Intended more for beginners, the remainder of this article will cover fishing pole preparation tips when fishing in freshwater environments like lakes, streams, and ponds.
How to Choose a Fishing Rod and Reel
The first step is choosing the length of your fishing pole and the type of reel. A six to seven-foot casting rod from the Bulldawg Rods Trophy Series should do the trick. Be sure to go with a shorter rod when fishing in a stream or near hanging branches.
Next, find a good quality baitcasting reel rather than a spinning reel— at least until you’ve gotten the hang of it. Now that you’re ready, it’s time to discuss how to set up your new fishing pole.
How to Set Up a Fishing Pole Line
When fish can see your fishing line, they won’t bite. As a result, you’ll need to choose a line color that matches the color of the water. For instance, when angling in relatively clear water, go with a clear monofilament line. In slightly murky water, a darker green line is a better choice.
The more you fish, the more refined your preferences will become. At some point, you may decide to try a braided line. Most experienced anglers set up several poles with different line colors and weights depending on the water conditions and species they are after.
Tying the line to the reel
Once you have your bait-casting reel and line, string the line to the reel using these steps:
- Starting with the eyelet nearest your pole’s tip, string the line through each eyelet while going towards the reel. Then, string the line through the line level (most bait-casters have).
- Near the reel itself, leave about 10 inches of line to work with while keeping both ends of the line pulled tight.
- Take the line nearest the reel and wrap it around the main part of the reel seven to nine times. This creates a loop at the bottom that you can then feed the end through.
- Once a second loop is created, feed the other end through and pull it tight. This will keep the knot from loosening.
Note: For a spinning reel, string the line the same way except open the bail and put the line directly on the reel.
Once the line is secured to the reel, start reeling it in while keeping the line tight as you go (You may need help for this step). Winding the line tightly will prevent it from bunching up like a ball of yarn when you cast it out or reel it in (“crow’s nesting”).
If you’d rather not string your own reel, go out and get a pre-tied, Zebco Slingshot spinning reel and fishing rod combo instead!
Tying Lures on Your Line
Beginner or not, you won’t be able to catch fish without any bait on the “business” end of your line. Using the same knot described above, tie a swivel on the end of your line. This will allow you to quickly switch out lures or attach a hook for live bait.
Once you graduate to artificial soft plastic lures, like the Castaic Jerky J. series, you can also experiment with different sized Kitana Hooks based on the type of rig (hook + bait) you are using (Wacky Rig, Drop Shot Rig, Carolina Rig, etc.). When fishing with live bait, attach a leader and use a bobber— except in flowing streams.
How to Set Up a Fishing Pole with a Bobber
Find a push-button float bobber in bright colors like red and white, and then attach it to your line at the top and bottom by pressing in the brass hook on each end of the bobber. Once connected, your bobber should keep your baited hook about 12 inches off the bottom.
As a “rookie” angler, that will allow you to see when a fish nibbles on your bait. If your bobber disappears beneath the water’s surface, your unsuspecting prey has completely taken the bait.
How to Set Up a Fishing Pole for Bass
Bass is the ultimate quarry for most freshwater anglers, one that you’ll probably end up falling in love with too. To set up a bass fishing pole, combine a spinning reel and 6 1/2- foot spinning rod from the Bulldawg Rods collection with an 8 to 10 lb. monofilament line.
If you want to fish for bass with live bait, like nightcrawlers, tie a worm hook from the Kitana Hooks series on your line and thread your worm. You can also use rubber worms to catch trophy-worthy bass, along with many other freshwater soft swimbait lures. But that’s a topic for another day!
How to Set Up a Fishing Pole for Trout
Since rainbow trout grow to about 12 inches, you are even safe with ultralight tackle. A standard trout fishing setup would include a spinning reel, 4 to 8 lb. fluorocarbon line, and light or ultralight action rod.
A short rod (6 feet or less) is ideal for short, accurate casts. A longer rod (over 7 feet) works best when pinpoint accuracy is not needed. Dirty or dingy water and heavy cover are two situations where short-range accuracy is preferred.
In general, trout hooks size 8 to 14 work best. Always use barbless hooks for trout unless you plan to eat what you catch. Smaller hooks catch more trout because they can see larger hooks in clear water, like in a shallow stream with moving water.
As a novice trout angler, be sure to keep your bait from embedding in the bottom of the lake or river. Always remember that a bobber fishing technique can net you much success with minimal skill when fishing for a hungry, bite-happy species like trout.