Getting started

Rodney Woodward explains the easy way to get started on the fishing journey.

With the weather on the improve, and school holidays on us, many people decide to take up the sport of fishing. Retirees, children or friends are all opportune targets for you to hook on this wonderful sport. Getting started is tough though, with a huge number of choices to make before you start actually fishing. Just choosing a rod and reel is difficult.


This is a quick guide to some of the things to keep in mind when getting someone started. And remember that although you wont catch fish every time, newcomers, particularly children need to at least catch a few fish to keep interested. For this reason they need to be given the best chance of getting fish as they can.

Tackle Choices

The rod and reel for a beginner will depend mostly on what type of fishing you intend to do, and the price range you can afford.

One of the best ways to wade through all these choices and new terms is to visit your local Tackle Shop. At first this can be both a daunting and exciting experience, but if you tell them you are new to the game they will only be too happy to help. These people know their gear inside out and can help you find gear that will best suit your needs. The technology that goes into tackle these days means that, to a certain degree, the outfit you use to flick light lures around for trout will also be quite suitable for catching bream on soft baits or even chasing flathead with soft plastic lures.

A good all round outfit for a beginner would be a spinning outfit with a reel that holds between 130-220 metres of 4-5kg line and a light to medium action rod of around 180-210cm long 

A spinning reel is the type that has a revolving rotor that winds the line onto a stationary spool. These reels are also known as eggbeaters, threadlines or fixed spool reels. This outfit will allow you to cast quite light weight baits and lures a reasonable distance quite accurately, while being versatile enough to use in a range of situations. Recently a number of tackle companies have developed some excellent matched outfits that have been specifically designed for a wide range of fishing situations.

From what I have seen in Tasmania, particularly with saltwater anglers, there is a tendency to "overgun" on the gear they use. In general the lighter gear you can use the better your results.


When you buy your tackle, as with many things, you should buy the best you can afford. In my opinion this even means spending the $20 or $30 that many people spend on tackle boxes, on buying a better rod and reel. You can use an old ice cream container and/or other smaller tubs and jars to keep your tackle in for the time being (this is in fact what I am currently doing having recently had all of my gear stolen).

A good quality rod and reel if looked after will last many years and catch many fish. It is nice to know that when you do hook that prize fish you can rely on your gear. Many reels also come with spare spools, which is quite useful. With a spare spool it is possible to use line on both ends of your reel's range. You can use 3 kg (or lighter) line on one spool for use in trout streams, then easily swap to 4 or 5 kg on the other spool for use in heavier situations.


Bear in mind most rods and reels have a recommended line class range. Line on a reel must be within this if the outfit is to perform at it's best. Remember that too heavy a line can reduce your casting distance, reduce lure action, and  spook fish. The most common lines are Nylon Mono-filament line, which are also the easiest for a beginner to use. I would recommend that the beginner angler avoids using the new  braided lines as they have some inherent problems the beginner could do without

Keeping line diameter to a minimum is another important area to look at. Quite often cheaper lines have a very large diameter for their breaking strain. The effects of thicker line can be significant, and are similar to having too heavy a line. Having thick line also reduces the amount of line you can put on your spool.

Line colour can be thought of in the following ways. Clear line is invisible simply because it is clear. Bright colours use elements of science to be less visible when they are underwater. And the Brown and green lines simply blend with the water colour around them. I use either the Chameleon or pink lines, however, I do have some spare spools loaded with the clear-blue line that I use in very clear water conditions. This is an area of much conjecture among anglers so I wont add fuel to the fire with my opinions.

Terminal tackle

As far as what lures to use, get hold of issue 16 of Tasmanian Fishing and Boating and read the 2 articles. One on lure colour by well known Tasmanian fishing writer Greg French, and the other on lures by Michael Bok. These two articles sum up the whole lure issue quite nicely.  I tend to favour red/green combinations in lures for trout  and bright flashy silver and blues in saltwater. Equally though ask the tackle shops what they recommend. Remember to look at the recommended cast weight on your rod or you may risk damaging it.


Undoubtably fresh is best when it comes to bait. In Tasmania saltwater baits include sandworms, crabs and nippers, as well as frozen baits available from tackle shops and other various outlets. In freshwater preferred baits include worms, mud eyes (the larval stage of dragonflies), wattle grubs, snails  and gents (otherwise known as maggots)

For saltwater bait anglers, sinker weight will be dictated by the gear you have chosen and the conditions. I fish with the lightest weight possible. This means the fish is less likely to feel the weight and reject the bait. I prefer to use a small hook as I  believe that you can catch a big fish on a small hook, but you often can't catch a smaller fish on a big hook (provided the big fish doesn't straighten the hook). 

There are a vast number of ways to attach your terminal tackle, again, I would suggest keeping it as simple as practicable. I use the Uni-knot system and recommend this as a good place to start.

The cast

Casting is a personal thing and there are any number of ways of casting with no right or wrong way. I would recommend that first casting attempts are not on the water. Instead find a big open space like an oval or even your a big back yard.  Start short and work you way up to longer casts. Don't try to cast a mile when you first start. Accuracy is more important and will stand the angler in better stead later on, especially when casting lures.

Learning curve

As one who is currently introducing a girlfriend into fishing I would recommend that if you are an experienced angler taking a new comer out for the first time, be prepared for your own fishing to suffer somewhat. Be prepared to spend time helping and explaining things. Remember making a few mistakes is often the best way to learn. You might even learn from some of theirs. Remember, if you do a good job you will have a great fishing partner later on down the track.

One of the things you will learn very quickly is that among anglers there is a lot of conjecture as to the best way to do most things. My recommendation is to experiment to find what works best. To help you do this read as much as you can. Start simply, and build on your knowledge base slowly and as you require.Fishing is a great pastime and a chance to get out into the fresh air and relax and make lifelong friends.

Fishing is a great pastime for kids to get into as they can learn about nature and develop patience. I even recently saw some research that suggested that kids who fish are less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol. I would encourage anyone to get involved in fishing. With Christmas fast approaching, might I suggest a trip to a tackle shop for presents. Personally I could find worse ways of filling in time than sitting on the shore of a lake or the bank of a river.