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Tips on Finding Reliable Bait-Casting Tackle

Nov 28, 2007
Bait casting is the most widely recognized method of taking game fish on artificial lures in the United States, although the spinning-gear user (including the push-button fisherman) is closing in on the plugger's - as bait-casters are called - long-time lead. All but a few die-hard spin-fishermen, however, would argue that husky muskies, big bass, and giant northern pike are best fished for with bait-casting tackle.

The basic functions of bait-casting tackle, as with any fishing gear, are to put a big meal before a big fish, to hook him solidly when he strikes, and then to control his frantic struggle to escape. The meal used in bait casting can be an artificial lure, or such natural bait as a minnow, a worm, or a grasshopper weighted, if necessary, to carry it properly to the fish.

I always recommend that the beginner purchase a moderately priced outfit. The difference between inexpensive tackle and medium-priced outfits is only a few dollars, but the difference in enjoyment and in ease of learning is great.

When you have learned to fish and feel that you are ready to move up into the expert class, you can purchase expensive gear. For the average fisherman, however, a moderately priced outfit will give many years of service and pleasure.

When purchasing fishing equipment, be sure that you buy the products of a nationally known manufacturer. Your local tackle dealer carries them and will be glad to show them to you. This advice holds true for all fishing equipment.

Let us take a look now at the rod that should be used in bait casting.


Today the average rods made for bait casting have a pleasant degree of lightness and flexibility. The vast majority are tubular glass fiber. The weight of the lure is one of the most important factors in choosing a bait-casting rod. In catalogues rods are generally classified extra-light (XL), light (L), medium (M), or heavy (H) action. (Action means the spring of the rod, the whip that shoots the bait out over the water during the cast.)

These four terms refer not to the type of action, but to the average weight of the lure that the rod will handle efficiently. As a general rule, an extra-light rod is adapted to lures of 1/2 ounce in weight or below; a light action rod handles 3/8- to 1/2-ounce lures; a medium is best for s-ounce lures; and a heavy, those above w ounce.

The weight of the standard lures for various kinds of fish will be plainly marked on the lure itself or on the box that holds it. The beginner who doesn't know in advance what the routine lures weigh should browse through the ones displayed by his tackle dealer to decide what weights he'll use most. Most rod manufacturers today have adopted the use of the XL, L, M, and H marking I mentioned earlier.

Remember that the biggest fresh-water game fish that ever swam probably could be landed on an extra-light rod, but if you intend to cast 3/4-ounce lures, you need a fairly stiff and powerful rod. On the other hand, it would be difficult to cast 3/4-ounce lures successfully with such a rod; they call for one that is lighter and more flexible.

The lengths of modern glass fiber bait-casting rods usually range from about 5 feet, 2 inches to 6 feet. Again, the kind of fishing and the weight of the lure will determine the length best suited to you. For casting lures weighing less than 1/2 ounce, an adequate rod should have light action, should measure approximately 5 feet, 8 inches to 6 feet long.

For lures in the 1/2- to 3/4-ounce class, a 5-foot, 8-inch rod with medium action should be about right. For lures ranging from 3/4 ounce and up, a good bet is a heavy action rod about 5 feet, 2 inches long. While some bait-casting rods are two-piece, the majority are one-piece with a detachable handle.

Choose your rod carefully and you will greatly enhance your chances of catching fish.
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