Fishing starts with a good rod and reel
December 2, 2008
Searching through a sporting goods store for a nice trout rod and reel for shore fishing can be an overwhelming experience. There are so many options and price ranges.
In choosing a reel for beginning anglers, such as your children, I recommend either a spincast or a spinning reel.
When my kids were very young I bought them a little spincast reel matched with a short rod that had a cartoon theme. The setup was very colorful, with fishing line and a rubber weight to practice casting. So they would go outside and cast over and over again. Some love to do this for hours at first.
This is an important part of learning how to cast properly and become proficient at having it land where they intend. They can also fish from shore at our local lakes with these little sets.
Over time, they will need a more grown-up rod and reel. This does not have to be expensive. A few years ago I bought a spincast reel and rod set for my daughters for less than $20. I still use it and I have caught three- to four-pound trout with it without any difficulty.
The spincast reel has an enclosed face with a small hole in the top where the line comes out. When the trigger, or button, in the back is pushed, the line is released for casting. After your lure or bait lands where you want it to, then you just start reeling in and the line release is reversed.
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There is usually a star-shaped wheel by the crank handle to control the drag. You move it to either tighten or loosen the drag. Spincast reels can be purchased left or right handed and are matched with “casting rods.”
Spinning reels, on the other hand, have a visible line spool with a wire loop at the top called a bail. The crank handle usually can be removed and reattached on either side for left or right handed use. The drag can be located in the top of the spool or at the base of the reel.
These require a lot more coordination to use, but they excel in casting. Spinning reels are harder to manage for young ones, as they can have more line loops, or what some call a “birds nest.” They are no fun to deal with. Usually it is best just to cut them out and start over with either type of reel.
Taking the slack out of the line will help prevent this as well, especially when reeling in. I have observed that young ones usually gravitate to spinning reels.
When it comes to rods, I really like the Shakespeare Ugly Stik, since they are reasonably priced and are limber enough for you to see even small bites. They are mostly black, and near the rod tip they change to clear. They also produce a Lite Pro graphite rod that is a little more streamlined. I would recommend buying a light- to medium-action rod at a length of 6-foot-6-inches or less for shore fishing.
There are no hard and fast rules concerning the type of rod and reel you choose for your children. It boils down to what you prefer.
I talked to a father with his 22-month-old son at Donner Lake recently, and they were using a small ice fishing rod and reel. It was a perfect size setup for his son, who caught two trout in about 15 minutes. They had a blast and it was a joy to watch.
Starting young is the ticket.
– Rob Cryder is a nine-year Truckee resident who hopes to help others, especially children, catch fish through his column.
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