Trout can be fished with very modest equipment and modest outlay of investment. Budget-friendly essentials for trout fishing are: 1) fishing reel, 2) fishing rod, 3) fishing line, 4) floats or sinkers, and 5) bait or lures (with hooks).
Reel. A fishing reel is needed to basically let out and bring (reel) in fishing line. Two common types of reels are the `spinning’ and `spincast’ reels. The spinning reel has exposed spool and line and is generally affixed to the underside of the fishing rod. The spincast reel has covered spool and is affixed to the top of the rod. By either bail (spinning reel) or button (spincast) the line is allowed to be cast out. When the bail is flipped (spinning) or button released (spincast) the line can be reeled in. Both types of reels are affordable.
Rod. The fishing rod serves two main purposes. First, it is used to `fling’ the line, hook, and bait out to where the fish (hopefully) are. Second, it is used to `absorb’ the play of the fish, while at the same time keeping the line taught. Without the `spring’ of the rod, a sudden yank by the fish may break the line; and if the line gets slack, the fish may become unhooked. A `light’ rod should be used for smaller fish, and stouter rod for bigger ones. `Keep the rod tip up’ the best advice once a fish is on, so that the rod can `do its thing’. It is important that the rod and reel are compatible (for spinning versus spincast reels). Often they can be purchased together.
Line. Fishing line should be selected based on the size of fish being fished. Great multitudes of trout have been caught on `4-lb Test’ line, some more on `6-lb Test’, and many, even some big ones, on `2-lb Test’. The nomenclature referring to the tensile test strength of the line. Lighter line can be `flung’ farther; and more of it fits on a given reel. More important than the `Test’ strength of the line is the proper use of knots, discarding line when it gets frayed or damaged, and not trying to `hoist’ a fish into the air with your rod and reel. Many a large trout have been (carefully) landed on very light line.
Floats or Sinkers. Floats or weights are needed to `keep’ the bait, or lure, where it is supposed to be out in the water. They also greatly improve casting distance by providing more to `fling’ in the casting process. If the bait or lure is to be kept some distance from the water surface (say, fishing in a lake or pond), then the bait/hook can be set that desired distance below the float (or `bobber’). If fishing in a stream with current, or deep in a lake or pond, sinkers (or `split shot’) may be needed on the line to get the lure or bait `down’. In a fast moving stream it may take considerable weight to get the bait or lure where wanted. While bobbers and weights are perhaps the most `non-technical’ (and least expensive) items on the list of gear, they are very important.
Bait or Lures (with Hooks). Finally, something is needed to attract the trout, and hook it. In the case of fishing with bait, a bare hook is tied to the end of the line, and then worm `skewered’ onto the hook. The trout bites or swallows the bait, and gets hooked (theoretically). The best all-time bait for trout is the night-crawler (big earthworm). Other common baits include (processed) salmon eggs, marshmallows, and artificial baits. Alternately, various lures (or `spinners’) can be used. Lures can look like bait, or they can be used to attract fish attention (spinners). Lures and spinners generally come with hooks. Some lures and spinners are effective in aggravating trout into attacking the lure. The trout will smack the lure with the side of his head, or with open mouth, and (hopefully) get hooked. Hooks are not to be used, however, to `snag’ fish. (Generally the only legal method of hooking trout is for the trout to engage the bait or lure; simply resting a big hook on the bottom of a lake and waiting for a fish to swim by is a `no-no’.)
The list of not-so-essential gear is long, and especially if one is not budget-minded. Some might consider a net essential, and polarized sunglasses. Many invest in `fishing vests’ which have various pockets and places for various gear. A knife might be considered essential by some, and/or a boat, not to mention a fishing vacation to go along with the gear. Some might not leave the house without a stringer, or creel, to carry all the fish home with. Certainly purchase a license where one is required. But, on the other hand, even some of the most essential items are not all that essential. Not a few trout have been caught on a worm (or grasshopper) skewered to a hook tied to a short piece of line tied to the end of a stick.
Most sporting goods stores will have the essentials, and a copy of the local fishing regulations. And in many cases also sell the proper licenses. Just about all fishing gear imaginable can be purchased on line at Cabelas. Rods, reels, and rod/reel combos can be purchased new at, interesting enough, Amazon, along with line and lures (though perhaps not fresh bait), and new and used at, yes, eBay. Night-crawlers are generally obtained at night in the nearest yard, after a rain, and grasshoppers in the nearest field, by day, or, if in a hurry, at the local sporting goods store on the way out of town.
Consider the following set-up: Garcia 300 Spinning Reel with Stren Original Clear Blue 4-lb Test line, the Eagle Claw Trailmaster (collapsible) Trail (fishing) Rod, a Mepps Plain Aglia No. 1 Spinner, and a single removable split shot to help with the `flinging’ (all available at Cabelas). If the trout won’t take it as is, skewer a night-crawler onto the spinner treble hook. Irresistible!
Cabelas, Inc., One Cabela Drive, Sidney, NE 69160, 800-237-4444, www.cabelas.com.
Amazon.com, Seattle, WA, 866-216-1072, www.amazon.com.
eBay, Inc., 2145 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125, www.ebay.com.
Tri-State, “Idaho’s Most Interesting Store” (local sporting goods store), 1104 Pullman Road, Moscow, ID 83843, 877-878-2835, www.t-state.com.