How To Choose A Spinning Outfit

By Jeff McGovern

When you visit any place that sells tackle, your choices of a rod and reel combos are huge.  You are faced with dozens of selections for many different species of fish.  For the person just starting out (or someone that just wants to buy an all around outfit), it can be hard to focus on just one and know that you made the right choice.  Thankfully, rod and reel manufacturers rate their equipment for different sizes of line and weights of lures. This helps to narrow down the selection and makes picking the right outfit a bit easier.
Picking an all around outfit is fairly simple.  You want something that will work in a variety of situations and in a manner that makes fishing enjoyable. The 8lb spinning outfit is light enough to be fun catching smaller fish, yet it still handles the big ones when they bite.  This means the outfit is rated for 8lb line in the middle of its range.  Look at the side of the rod.   The label should read 4lb to 10lb line or 6lb to 12lb line.  The rod rating (action) should be either medium light or medium.  There will be slight differences from rod company to rod company, but the ranges mentioned above are the ones to look for. Rod length is the next consideration.  A six to seven foot rod is a good all around size to start with.

Spinning reel proper grip

Photo: Jeff McGovern

A two piece rod is easy to transport.  The handle material can be cork or foam but, in either case, you want a reel seat that tightens down with some type of secure fastening method.
Choose a rod from a recognized tackle manufacturer or supplier so that you are purchasing a product that will be supported, if a problem develops.  You can buy them via the Internet, phone, or by visiting one of their retail stores.  Both firms employ product specialists that can help guide you in picking the right rod for the fish you are trying to catch.  These firms have excellent customer support– just be sure to save the receipt, in case there is a problem.
Once you have a rod, the next piece of gear is the reel.  Look for a spinning reel weighing between 8 and 12 oz.  A lighter reel makes for a much easier fishing day.  Try the reel on the rod before buying and see how it fits your hand.  Your index finger should be able to reach the spool in a standard casting grip.  The reel stem is fitted between the middle fingers with the reel fastened under the rod.  The index finger should be able to touch the edge of the spool with as little shifting of the grip as possible.  This allows you much better control while casting since you’ll be able to feather the line with your finger tip for more accuracy.  The wire arm (bail wire) should be closed by hand, since that will help prevent line twist and keep uncontrolled loops from forming on the spool.
If you have never spooled line onto a reel before, you might be better served having the tackle store do it for you.  They use a line spooling machine that does the job quickly and properly.  It also saves a little money, since you are charged only for the line that fits on the reel.  If your reel comes with a spare spool, have that filled as well.  Swapping a spool out while fishing is faster than refilling the spool on the reel.  I’ve had spools of line trashed after a long fight with a big fish, so having a spare saved the day.
No single rod and reel can handle all fishing situations, but a light 8lb spinning outfit comes close.  It’s fun-so go out and give one a try!

Jeff McGovern is a life long angler and fishing equipment expert, a professional consultant in the fishing and kayaking industry., and a distributor of Emmrod fishing rods.

Visit Jeff’s kayak fishing blog >>

How To Choose A Bait Caster

By Jeff McGovern

Bait casting is a powerful, accurate fishing system—but, without practice, the pursuit is frustrating.  The first thing to do is to decide which rig to purchase.  Bombarded with ads from every direction, making the right choice can be difficult.   I’ll try and give you a place to start.
First, do not be swayed by all the hype you see on TV and in the magazines.  There is no magic reel that will never backlash or add huge distances to a cast.  Those things are the result of how you develop your angling skills and how well you set up your individual reel.  The key is to start with a proven reel design that fits your hand and match it to a good rod you can handle easily.  It really is all about the fit and how the outfit feels to you.
There are two basic types of bait casting reels: low profile and round.   Low profile reels are sleek and racy looking.  Good examples are Shimano, ABU, and Daiwa.  The round reels are taller and have round frames.  The same reel companies previously mentioned have reels in that class as well.
The prices range from 60 dollars to over 500 dollars.  Now we need to address the confusion of deciding how much you need to spend to have something that works.  I have some simple suggestions, based on my own experience, to make this easier.  I normally recommend for a beginner a basic reel in the 60 to 140 dollar range.  Good examples are the ABU round reels, such as the C3 series with the 4500 or 5500 reels. These are found at most sporting goods stores and will cost you 60 to 80 dollars. Make no mistake about reels in this price range– they work.  You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a nice reel.  I use them regularly and have no problem catching fish.  The basic design has been around for decades and proven to catch fish anywhere in the world.  Mine have been around a long time, cared for properly and some are now approaching 40 years old.
One last important reel issue is which hand you will use to cast.  Most casting reels have their handle on the right side.  The standard casting method is to cast right handed, then switch the outfit to the left hand to reel in.  It sounds complicated at first, but becomes natural within a short time with practice.   More and more reels are now becoming available with left hand retrieve, so you don’t have to switch hands.  If you are just learning to cast, practicing with using either hand can be a real advantage.
Now that you’ve found your reel, you’ll need a rod to match.  Again, the same price range of 60 to 140 dollars will get things started.  Don’t go overboard on heavy actions and big long handles.  A great starting point is medium action, rear handle of no more than eight inches or so, and a total rod length of 5’6” to 7’.  Get the size you are most comfortable with.  You don’t need a long rod to cast far.  The longer rods are harder to transport and somehow manage to find car doors and tree limbs very easily.  Try out the rod on the reel at the store and check the feel.  There are many rod companies to pick from–just be sure it’s a known brand so, if there is a problem, you aren’t stuck with a lemon.  Your tackle store can help you with the brands best suited in your area.  You can also check out the catalogs from Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas.   These firms have additional in-house rod brands that are superb and well covered with guarantees.
Line is the next consideration for you new bait casting rig. Look for a line rating of 10 to 20 lb test.  The best line weight for beginning bait casting is 12lb test. Start with a premium mono line. Don’t buy cheap line.  Use well known brands: Berkley, Stren, Sufix, or YoZuri.  There are others, but these are nationally distributed and easy to find.  A solid basic product that is universally available is Berkley Big Game 12lb test.  I use this line and have been happy with it for years.  For teaching purposes, I use a version called Solar that has a fluorescent green color.  It’s easy to see and manage while learning, and relatively inexpensive.
Now you have gotten the rig together, spooled on the line.  Time for casting practice to begin.  The best place is not on the water, but on the lawn.  Buy some of the plastic practice plugs and try a little “lawn bassin”.  It’s a great way to learn and helps you practice the casting part instead of the fishing part.  I do this daily at home just to keep my casting eye in shape and it pays big dividends on the water.  Start with a ½ ounce practice plug and tie it on your line with the canoe man’s loop knot.  (Check the archives for my previous article on knots.)
Casting is a learned process.  Become familiar with the instructions that came with your reel on how to use the casting brakes and spool controls.  Start with easy tosses and progress as you get comfortable.  Don’t go for distance–go for accuracy.  A small plastic bucket is a great target to begin with.  Keep at it and learn to control the outgoing line with your thumb.  In no time you’ll be casting like pro and hitting right where you need to catch the big ones.

Jeff McGovern is a life long angler and fishing equipment expert, a professional consultant in the fishing and kayaking industry., and a distributor of Emmrod fishing rods.

Visit Jeff’s kayak fishing blog >>

Kayak Fishing From the Mounted (Riding) Position

While the advantages of fishing standing are pretty obvious to most fishermen many who haven’t tried the W Riding (mounted) position may wonder what’s so special about it, and why it is considered so advantageous when compared to the traditional L kayaking position or to fishing seated in a canoe.

The answer is that it has to do with how much support you have for your casting and reeling-in efforts, as well as when you’re fighting a strong fish:
The result of every physical effort you make, whether its jumping, running, pulling or throwing something depends on the kind of support your body gets from the ground you stand on. Soft, slippery or shaky ground doesn’t offer you good enough resistance.
Similarly, fishing from a big boat enables better physical performance than fishing from a small, unstable one: You can cast to longer distances and fight bigger fish more easily.
Riding the saddle of a W kayak doesn’t offer you as much stability, support and confidence as the deck of a big bass boat, but it certainly gives your legs more support than a sit-in or SOT kayak does, and through your legs you get more support and power for your arms and upper body.
Imagine riding a pony, which is similar to riding a W kayak saddle: The horse rider can gallop and jump hurdles, throw a spear or shoot arrows like ancient warriors used to do, or a lasso like modern days cowboys still do, and so on. -Now try to imagine all this being done when the rider sits on the horse’s saddle in the traditional L kayaking position… It’s practically impossible because the rider lacks stability and sufficient support from his legs.
Like any analogy this one is not perfect but it’s close to the truth: The combination of having two hulls on the W kayak’s sides and riding the saddle that you mount in a posture that’s advantageous from a biomechanical standpoint changes everything when you fish.

As Jeff McGovern puts it: -”I would venture to say the W offers improved casting with any gear. From the riding position, I get more power with my casting and spinning because I can put my whole body into the cast and use my legs. The solid feel of the boat gives you a great sense of security. ” (Read More)

Wheels For Transporting Your Fishing Kayak

This article presents different approaches to transporting your kayak on land.
In most cases, you won’t need wheels for your W kayak, as you’ll just drag it from your vehicle to your launching spot, and back.
But if you must carry it over long stretches of asphalt or concrete pavement, you may want to consider shielding its hulls from excessive abrasion by attaching the lid of a plastic bin to the part of its hulls that come in contact with the pavement. It’s an inexpensive, easy, and lightweight solution, and the lid can fold easily, so you can store it in one of the hull tips when you’re fishing and paddling.
The drawback of dragging a kayak is that it’s not as easy as transporting it on wheels.

Kayak anglers have different fishing styles, and they fish in different environments. This fact, as well as logistic issues, affects the way they rig their fishing kayak with wheels (or a single wheel), a kayak trolley, cart or a simple mat.

Here is what you need from your fishing kayak wheels:

We put this benefit first, because kayak anglers are often enthusiastic about making a perfect kayak trolley, and they tend to overlook the fact that once they reach the water, they’ll have to take it with them on board their kayak. Kayak wheels should be lightweight and preferably small in size, so you could easily tuck them in one of the storage compartments in the hull tips, or on top of them.

Solid Construction
You definitely don’t want your wheel cart to fall apart while you’re on your way from your car to the water, or back. Although it’s possible to drag W fishing kayaks, it’s not recommended to do it on asphalt or concrete pavement.

All-Terrain Capability
Wheels that are too small or too narrow could sink in sand, or in mud.  You should remember this when you purchase the wheels for your fishing kayak trolley,

Sometimes you may require to pass with your fishing kayak in tight spaces. For example, in the space between two cars in a parking lot. In such cases, being able to control your fishing kayak on wheels is important.

Ease of Use – Attachment
Attaching the wheels to your fishing kayak, as well as detaching them should be quick and easy. You definitely don’t want to waste time and energy on complicated systems for attaching the trolley to your kayak.

Here are examples of different solutions found by kayak anglers from all over the world: Outfitting and Rigging Your Fishing Kayak >>

What to Carry on Board Your Fishing Kayak

By Jeff McGovern

A kayak is not a bass boat, bay boat, or a flats boat when it comes to hauling equipment.  While a kayak can fill most boating roles, space is limited– so serious thought is needed as to what to carry.   You outfit your boat according to the needs you have in your own fishing area.   My fishing time is split between saltwater and freshwater in Florida.  The gear is similar, except for the tackle changes normally associated between the two types of fishing.

Safety gear is first.  You need to be safe in the water and there are some things that are mandatory and might be required by law.  A PFD or personal floatation device is very important and should be worn at all times while in the kayak.  A whistle is required as a signaling device and should be carried on board.  Hat and sunglasses add protection and comfort from the sun.   Proper clothing, either rain suit or sun protection, needs to be accessible for when the need arises.   Fishing gloves protect the hands from sunburn and can aid in the landing of fish.   Sun block should be worn at all times to protect the skin.  I prefer at least SPF 30 or higher.  Foot wear needs to be nonskid and of a type that can be worn in the water.  Here in Florida, shoes with a sturdy sole help prevent cuts and slashes from oyster beds and shells.  I also carry a sponge or towel to wipe my hands after a fish, as well as to soak up any water I get into the boat.

You need some way to secure your kayak while still fishing.  An anchor or stake out pole is ideal for this.  My preference is to use a small folding anchor on an anchor trolley rigged to the side of the kayak.  If the water is shallow enough, in the W you can simply change your position on the seat to pin the hulls to the bottom–a great method for stop and go style flats fishing.  In deeper water, a drift sock or small bucket can be used to slow down your drift.  In addition to securing the kayak at times, you’ll also need a place to keep the paddle out of the way.  You can either place it across the cockpit, resting on the cockpit noodles or on paddle hooks (as seen on the W website.)

Fishing tackle needs a place to be kept out of the way until needed.  A fishing vest with multiple pockets is fine for small terminal tackle and packages of plastic baits.  It also gives you a place to carry a small camera, line clippers, dehookers, and other small fishing tools.  I use small gear reels or lanyards to keep the gear close at hand but out of the way while fishing.  Larger lures in tackle packs and other tools can be placed in a small plastic trashcan and slid under the deck on whichever side is most convenient.  A net is handy and a small one can be kept under the front deck opposite the side with the trash can.  Another great tool for landing and controlling fishing at the boat is a pair of fish grabbers.

I keep drinks and snacks in a small soft cooler behind me in one of the hull spaces.  If fish are to be kept for dinner, they can be stored in a cooler bag in a hull space as well.

Rods and reels are placed in the flush mount holders, if the W model you have is equipped with them.  If I need extra rods, I use multi-piece pack rods stored below the decks.  Some folks like to troll while paddling and the new Ram rod holders are ideal for this purpose.
Remember that, even though space is limited compared to a powerboat, there is more than enough room for a day of fishing in a kayak.  It just takes a bit of thought and planning.

More advice and tips from Jeff on his kayak fishing blog.

Go to Wavewalk’s website to find the world’s best fishing kayaks for sale>>