Monday, April 22, 2013

Fishing Gear Overload? Four Ways To Cut The Clutter On A Family Fishing Trip.

Family Picnic
Every once in a while I am able to talk the wife and kids into going to the lake with me for a picnic and some fishing. we do not own a boat and none of them particularly like to go fishing, but they are a good family and go from time to time just to make me happy. When this happens I get excited because this is the time I am going to show them how much fun fishing really is. In my excitement, I start gathering up my equipment and loading it into the truck. I usually load up what I would normally bring on a fishing trip with a buddy. A couple of bait casters for bass fishing, two or three spinning rods for bait fishing, a couple of fly rods for bluegill and trout, four or five other poles of varying purpose and usefulness just in case. then I add in four or five large tackle boxes chock full of all kinds of baits, lures, and terminal tackle to cover any situation I might come across. I will also grab a couple of folding chairs and a small ice chest for sandwich stuff and throw that stuff in the truck. After I get every piece of tackle and gear I own, and every type of bait I can think of sorted, organised, and loaded, I turn around and see the large ice chest and several dozen plastic grocery bags containing a wide variety of picnic foods along with paper plates, plastic cups, a large bag of charcoal, and various other assorted necessities for a family picnic piled up and waiting to be loaded into the, now full, truck.

Whoops! I forgot about all of that stuff. Now its time to start pulling gear back out of the truck and weeding out what I don't need. I still want to show them what fishing is all about so the question becomes, what gear gives me the best chance of catching fish? The sheer volume of crap we anglers think we need to have with us when we go fishing is quite amusing. We can't possibly use it all, and half the time we don't even know that we have what we have. On a family fishing trip there just isn't enough room to take everything along.  Here are a few tips on how to whittle down what you really need to bring with you on a family fishing trip.

Tip One: Know what species you will be targeting on which body of water and only pack relevant gear.
A little bit of thinking ahead and being adaptable can reduce a lot of what is needed for targeting multiple species. Generally, a family trip will consist of a very minimum amount of species being targeted, and unless you live by a large body of water you have a pretty good idea of the size and species of fish most likely to be biting at the time you are going. Bringing "just in case" equipment for several species of fish will mean you bring a lot of unnecessary gear with you that you will probably be more problematic than useful.

Tip Two: Keep the poles to a minimum.
Unless your Jeremy Wade looking for killer catfish on the Amazon river you probably don't need to bring sixteen different deep sea rods rigged up with everything from 5 lb mono to 3000 lb steel braided fishing line and  #25 to 000000000000 fish hooks on your family trip to the lake.A lot of anglers think they need to use specific rod, reel, and line combinations for specific types of fishing lures or techniques. There are literally thousands of potential combinations of  bait cast, spin cast, and fly fishing rigs each specifically designed for one type of fishing scenario. It is impossible to carry enough equipment to cover every fishing scenario possible, and all rods and reels do the exact same thing. The type of rod used in a particular scenario normally comes down to personal preference and performance over specific design purposes. Unless you are a professional fisherman that has a million dollar tournament on the line using one or two rigs and the smallest line size you can get away with for all of your fishing will save a tremendous amount space. This will also force you to pay more attention to the condition of your line, and make you an expert knot tier. So pick your favorite one or two poles for your particular type of fishing and leave the rest at home.  

Tip Three: Think natural colors and patterns for lures flies and baits.
A Good Hatch Match
Anybody that has ever been to a Bass Pro Shoppes or Cabella's knows how easy it is to get carried away with the selection of lures and flies you want to bring fishing with you. There is every combination of material, color, size, shape and movement imaginable available. Each and every one has a money back guarantee to empty a fisherman's pocket in a hurry. It can be extremely difficult to know what will work on any particular body of water at any particular time, and conditions will change throughout the day. Everywhere I look I see the mantra "Match the hatch" and think how elegant and simple that advice really is. With a little bit of research it is possible to find out exactly what insects fish and other critters are most likely to be present in the body of water you will be fishing, and what fish are eating which creatures. Once you know what kinds of forage is present it becomes real easy to whittle down the amount of lures baits and flies you need to bring with you. For a family fishing trip it is imperative to keep things as simple and straight forward as possible.

Tip Four: Have fun, this trip wasn't about fishing anyway.
After the food is cooked, the hiking is hiked, and the Frisbee is thrown it's time for some fishing! I set up a folding chair put a piece of hot dog on a hook and toss it into the water. A bit of cat-fishing is in order while I rig up the fly rod and bait caster. once that is rigged up and casted  into the water the kids come running and jump in the lake for a swim. With a smile and the knowledge that if there were fish here they are now gone, I get all settled down for a bit of relaxing. After about ten minutes I decide to pull out the fly rod and move down the shore line and away from the kids to see if I can get a fish that way when I hear my wife hollering down that it is time to go. I sigh a little with the realization that this trip was never about fishing, and smile to myself because I should have known better. I say, "I'll be right there." and start to gather up my gear and break it all down for the trip home. Ah, family. They are the only thing that trumps fishing, but I am still hopeful that I will get one of them hooked. Next time I will get that monster fish and show them what it is all about!


  1. Great post and great tips! I've learned the value of cutting back on fishing gear when taking non-fishing friends out for a day on the water. It's a lot more fun for them if they aren't overwhelmed by the gear.

    1. Thanks Argosgirl. I agree that it is more fun for them without the tons of gear we think we need. Even the people who "like" fishing do not always understand the overwhelming obsession a fishing addict has, and can get quite irritated by all of the gear.

  2. Hello, Ricky! Really enjoy reading this post. Your tips sure make a lot of sense too me. Being a fishing "addict", many is the time that too much gear or tackle, and too much intensity, took the quality of fun out of a fishing trip for me.

    Just starting another new fishing blog (A.K.A. Rainbow Chaser) now and would invite you to drop over and say hello. Have added your blog to my blogroll.