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Fishing Gear

The initial investment to get started fishing is not as big as you might think. If you’ve ever seen a dedicated fisherman’s tackle box filled with strange lures, rigging, odd-shaped weights and hooks of every kind, plus some tools you’ve never seen before at all, it can be intimidating.

But you don’t need most of that stuff. Certainly not to start. Fishing is a hobby you can pick up for less than $100, including the rod and reel, and much less if you’re on a real tight budget. (Blogging, in fact, is more expensive, if you count the cost of the computer and Internet connection…)

Here’s the stuff you need and about how much to expect to pay for it. I’ll discuss it in more detail below. When you go to buy your gear, I recommend visiting your local fishing tackle shops as opposed to the big sporting goods stores. The small shops can help you choose gear tailored to local fishing conditions and are generally better at answering questions.

The Bare Essentials

Not a whole lot to it!

  • Hat & sunscreen: Don’t leave home without it, no matter what your skin tone. And put some on now while you’re thinking about it.
  • Fishing license: If you’re shore or boat fishing, it’s essential. Most SoCal piers do not require a license. Check before you drop a line! There are lots of licensing options. Its about $45 for CA residents for the calendar year. If you buy your license on Jan 01, it’s the same price as December 31, so you get more value if you buy early in the year.
  • Fishing pole & reel: Basic (and worthy) rigs can be had for $30-$40. These rigs include the pole, the reel and line. If you’re surf or pier fishing, use a pole about 6-7 feet long. Some surf poles are as long as 12 feet. But you can’t use a long pole on a pier effectively. Shore & pier fishers should use 12lb test.
  • Hooks: I prefer #4 and #6 size snelled hooks (hooks pre-fitted with mono-filament loops) for shore & pier fishing, especially for small mackerel, surf perch and croaker. Halibut and larger mackerel, as well as sharks and rays, can take a bigger hook. $4
  • Sinkers: Lead weights. Two-ounce sinkers work great for piers. I prefer four ounce pyramids for shore fishing for longer casting and so the sinker “sets” on the bottom and its harder for the current to drag your line around. $4
  • Surf leaders: A fancy name for pre-strung loops along a fabricated line. Makes it easy to add hooks and sinkers without lots of knot-tying. $4
  • Bait knife: A cheap serrated edge knife is useful for cutting lots of things. $1
  • Tackle box: Ya gotta have a place to put yer stuff! The one in the pic was $12 and is about the size of a shoe box. As long as it has a good solid lid that doesn’t pop off easy, it should be fine.
  • Bait: There are so many options, this is worth a post in itself. In the picture are some Gulp! fake bloodworms. The surf perch & croaker can’t resist these fake worms & the rubber can take beating before they fall of the line. $7 (but this is a top-of-the-line fake bait that will last you several trips.)

Stuff that’s good to have

Here’s some other items you may or may not need based on your preference.

  • Gloves: A pair of rubber-coated gloves makes it easier to handle slippery (and sometimes spiny) fish while you remove the hook. $2
  • Pliers: To get the dang hook out. This is almost essential. $2
  • Nail cutters: Finger nail cutters are good for cutting nylon line and safer than a knife. $1
  • Pole holder: That red springy-looking thing in the picture. Stick it in the sand and place your pole in it while you wait to catch dat fish! $5
  • Bucket: Some fishers bag their fish in those supermarket plastic bags. I like to let mine live a bit in case I decide not to keep ’em. $5
  • Hand towels: And while you’re at it, some moist towelettes & hand sanitizer in case you plan to snack while you fish.
  • Net or Gaff: How do you lift a 20 lb fish 50 feet up the side of a pier without breaking your line? Answer: you need a net or a gaff (a large weighted hook on a rope). I prefer nets since they don’t harm the fish in case you have to throw it back. Gaffs are certain to harm or kill your catch. Sometimes the pier has a bait shop or snack bar on it with a net or gaff you can borrow but don’t count on it.

Stuff for comfort

If you’re tough you don’t need this stuff, but it’s handy and convenient.

  • Chair. Unless you like sitting on the sand or the grimy benches if you’re pier fishing, a foldable chair is almost a necessity.
  • Cart: If you do a lot of pier fishing, its a LONG walk from the car to the end of the pier. having a little cart or dolly with wheels makes it much easier to haul everything around. I found one at a nearby grocery store for $10 (!) and it holds everything I bring.

That’s it! That’s everything you need and then some to get started. Now go catch dat fish!

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