Author: Gary Brown & Boat Accessories Australia Date Posted: 8 June 2022
You don't have to be a pro to enjoy fishing, but you do need to have the right equipment. When buying your first rod we recommend purchasing from a retailer that employs experienced anglers. They will be able to help you select the best rod for you and the type of fishing you will be doing. If you are a little more serious about fishing, heading out on a charter boat is a great way to try out different rods. You can get a better understanding of which rod you need and how it should perform.
If you are just starting out in fishing, you can easily become very confused with the number of rods and reels that are available. What makes a balanced outfit?
Over the years there has been a bit of a misconception that a balanced outfit is one that if you hold the rod and reel on your index finger (somewhere along the length of the rod), and it lays horizontal this means that the outfit is a balanced one. This is laughably far from the truth!
Also, a lot of new and existing anglers think there is an ‘all-round’ rod and reel outfit that will cover all types of fishing. This is evident by the answers from many customers that come into the store where I work casually for a couple of days a week. When I ask them what they’ll be fishing for and where, I get answers like “We are going to fish for bream, whiting, Australian salmon, snapper, kingfish and tuna off the shore and out of a boat”.
To me, a balanced outfit is where a rod has been matched together with a reel, plus the line and terminal tackle or lures for the type of fishing that you are going to carry out.
Firstly, decide on what type of fishing that you are going to do. Are you going to be a land-based or boat angler that fishes in the estuaries, creeks and rivers, or maybe you’d prefer to fish offshore?
Are you going to bait or lure fish? Sure, you can get a rod that does both. I have many that do just that.
Don’t forget that you can always have a go at fly fishing. There is also fishing off the rocks or from the beach, and don’t forget about freshwater fishing. The choice is up to you!
Once you have narrowed it down to where you are going, you then need to try and narrow it down further to what type or types of fish species you are going to target. Once again, I will have many anglers say to me, “Whatever jumps on at the time”.
As an example, if you are:
…you won’t want to be taking a 3.6m Alvey rod with a side-cast reel, 10kg line and snapper sinkers with you. Instead, look at a rod:
Next, I would allocate a budget for how much I am willing to spend on the new outfit. Remember that you are going to have to buy line, sinkers, hooks, swivels, tackle box and much more to go with it.
An expensive outfit doesn’t always mean it’s the best. There are so many brands of rods and reels out there that it can become very confusing trying to choose one.
Many new anglers ask me to recommend a few brands of reels they could start looking at. I would try:
Then when it comes to rods, you have all the above brands plus:
My personal best GT was caught while using an Okuma Helios SX, 2.1m, 3-6kg graphite rod paired with a Epixor 30 threadline reel spooled with 15kg braid whilst using a Z-man 4-inch DieZel MinnowZ.
Fishing reels can be either a:
Fishing rods come in a variety of types:
Mick was using a 2.1m, 2-4kg rod paired with a size 25 threadline reel spooled with 2kg braid and a 3kg leader. The Squidgy 2-inch grub did the job on a pan-sized snapper while flicking them under the boats.
To take some of the confusion out of selecting your fishing outfit, I’m giving you 6 different outfits to consider.
With each of these outfits, I’ll explain the reasons I’ve chosen them, including:
An Okuma BN-S-1162NT:
This outfit would be great for fishing off:
...targeting bream, whiting, flathead, trevally, mullet and tailor.
An Okuma LRF Gen2 - LRF2-S-742L:
The reel spooled with the monofilament would be ideal for sensitive bites from whiting, bream and trevally. As for the reel spooled with braid on the same rod, it would be great for lure-fishing with either soft plastics or hard-bodied lures.
The Savage Manic Baitcaster Combo featuring a lightweight & sensitive 2-piece, 3-6kg graphite rod, matched perfectly with a 7+1 stainless steel ball-bearing reel. Ideal for casting, retrieving and trolling large soft plastics and hard-bodied lures for:
I would suggest that you use around 5-6 kg braid as it would suit the rod capacity. You could use the same breaking strain in monofilament, but it would reduce both the amount of line on the spool and your casting distance.
The Penn Level Wind GT 330 Overhead reel combined with the Penn 5ft 6in, 10-15kg rod is great if you’ll be dropping baits or lures to the bottom when fishing offshore on your boat. The easy free-spool action means you can drop your bait or lure down vertically faster than you can with a spin reel. They are also ideal for trolling skirted, metal and hard-bodied lures.
They usually have a greater line capacity, which is important when fishing in deep water or targeting species such as marlin, tuna and other pelagic fish that can pull hundreds of metres of line from the reel.
If I am drifting whilst bottom bashing, I will only use braided line. When I am trolling and there is some wind however, I find using monofilament line is better. This is because the wind doesn’t pick the line up and move it sideways as much as it does braid.
Get your fly-fishing career started with the Gillies Fly Set Fly Combos 9ft 6WT (4-piece). This is ideal for the travelling angler as it comes complete with everything you’ll need, including a rod, reel and backing.
Whether you want to fly fish for trout in streams and rivers, or fish the flats for species such as trevally and bonefish, this is the outfit for you. It can be a left or right-hand wind, so will suit everyone.
The Alvey C50GZ Easy Cast System side-cast reel allows you to use it either right or left-handed. Ideal for estuaries, rivers from both onboard or onshore, and boat fishing in either salt or freshwater.
Matched with the 2.1m, Hollow Glass, 2-piece rod you can catch bream, whiting, trevally, flathead, tommy ruffs, trout and carp. 4-6 kg monofilament line would be ideal for this outfit, and it could be used for both bait and lure fishing.
Learning how to tie a hook and sinker is one of your first lessons. You don’t want to cast then see your hook and sinker fly away unattached to the line!
There’s no need to learn a dozen or more knots; these three knots are suitable for tying almost any shape & size of hook or sinker.
Pick one of these knots, then practice doing the same knot a dozen times, so you memorise how to do it. You can follow the videos below for a step-by-step tutorial for each knot type.
This simple-to-tie but strong holding knot is suitable for securing fishing line to a lure, swivel or clip. The Improved Clinch Knot is one of the most popular fishing knots amongst anglers.
This is a very versatile knot, suitable for almost any fishing situation. It can be used for attaching the line to the hook or lure, as well as attaching two fishing lines together.
This knot is ideal for joining two similar lines together, particularly for adding more line on the reel.
A rig is the combination of your hook, sinker and swivel. Choosing the right rig depends on where you are fishing (freshwater or the ocean) and the type of fish you want to catch.
Now you know how to tie a solid fishing knot, you’re ready to work on your rig.
Three of the most popular rigs are the running sinker rig, paternoster rig and quill float & bob rig.
The length of the leader will vary depending on the size of the rod that you are using. Great rig to use when there is a fair bit of current running. Best used with lighter baits like peeled prawns, whitebait, pink nippers, worms and fillets of pilchards as the baits will rise off the bottom in the current.
I find the trick to using this rig is to keep the bait types small and lightweight as it tends to keep the bait away from small snapper, catfish and pickers. When the tide slows down, I will change to the running sinker down onto the bait. Sometimes there will be no sinker at all. Bream, trevally, snapper, tarwhine, mulloway, barra, mangrove jack and almost any reef or estuary species will take a liking to this rig.
My personal choice when fishing off the rocks for bream and trevally is that I will always use at least a 3.6m rod with a size 55-60 threadline reel. The line class is usually 6-7.5kg and the rig is a running ball sinker down onto the bait.
Completely peel the prawn leaving no shell. Push the hook through the tail of the prawn about a centimetre from the end and thread it through the body of the prawn, making sure that the prawn is straight and the barb and point of the hook are outside the bait. Tie 2-3 half-hitches around the tail of the prawn to stop it from coming off when you cast it.
What saltwater fish species doesn't like a feed of prawns? I have even caught carp, trout and golden perch on prawns. When fishing in the estuaries or bays I will target bream, trevally and whiting with whole peeled Hawkesbury River or local prawns. When chasing bream, drummer, luderick and snapper off the rocks I prefer to use larger prawns, like royal reds and blue tails.
Great rig to use when drifting over snaggy areas. Having two hooks allows you to have two different baits to see what the fish prefer. Can be fished with one hook. When using two hooks you must ensure the two hooks cannot link together.
Having fished from Broome in WA, right around the bottom of Australia and up to Weipa in far north Queensland, I have found the paternoster rig can be used to catch leatherjackets, morwong, red emperor, coral trout, snapper, mulloway, barramundi, gummy sharks, snook, whiting and many more fish species.
It's not just a rig for bottom bashing. I use if off the beach chasing bream and whiting, as well as snapper, trevally and groper off the rocks.
Freshwater water worms come in a variety of types and sizes, and they are one of the best baits to use when chasing trout, Atlantic salmon, bass, golden and silver perch, Murray cod, carp, redfin, estuary perch and catfish.
They are quite simple to rig on a hook and can be used with a number of different rigs, including the paternoster, running ball sinker down onto the hook, a running sinker down onto a swivel and a leader of about a metre, suspended under a bubble or stemmed float with a small spit shot or just unweighted. You can check these rigs out in Gary Brown’s Essential Bait Fishing Rigs.
When fishing with scrub worms I prefer to use only one worm and when it comes to fishing with garden, red or tiger worms I tend to put 3 or 4 on the hook as this gives more of a wiggle factor.
When you are attempting to catch fish near the water’s surface rather than deep water, a float is needed to keep the line high in the water. A red & white bob float is one of the most popular types. The line is threaded through clips at the top of the float. The quill float uses plastic bands or an eyelet at the bottom to attach to the line. To ensure the hook hangs down away from the float, use small split-shot sinkers. This type of rig is popular for freshwater fishing.
Sinkers come in all shapes and sizes, but the shape is important because it determines how the sinker behaves.
Try to use the lightest possible sinker when setting up your rod. The more current there is, the heavier the sinker needs to be.
I love my Alvey side reel matched with a Bruce Alvey 3.6m rod. I find that I can cast a long way and still stay in contact with the bait to feel the bites.
Now you have your fishing rod set up basics sorted, it’s time to master your craft. Practice your knots and rigs by changing your setup often in search of different species of fish until you find one that works. Talk to local fishermen to find out what’s biting and what types of rigs work for the fish in their area.