Fishing tackle

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An angler on the Kennet and Avon Canal, England, surrounded by his tackle Angler at devizes england arp.jpg
An angler on the Kennet and Avon Canal, England, surrounded by his tackle
A completed assembly of tackle ready for fishing is sometimes called a rig, such as this Carolina rig. Carolina-rig.jpg
A completed assembly of tackle ready for fishing is sometimes called a rig, such as this Carolina rig.

Fishing tackle is the equipment used by anglers when fishing. Almost any equipment or gear used in fishing can be called fishing tackle, examples being hooks, lines, baits/lures, rods, reels, floats, sinkers/feeders, nets, spears, gaffs and traps, as well as wires, snaps, beads, spoons, blades, spinners, clevises and tools that make it easy to tie knots.


Tackle attached to the end of a fishing line that gets cast out along with the bait are referred to as terminal tackle. Terminal tackle can include hooks, leaders, floats, sinkers/feeders, swivels and attached snaps and/or split rings. Sometimes the term "rig" is used for a specific assemblage of terminal tackle.

Fishing tackle can be contrasted with fishing technique. Fishing tackle refers to the physical equipment that is used when fishing, whereas fishing technique refers to the manner in which the tackle is used.

The term tackle, with the meaning "apparatus for fishing", has origins in the Netherlands from the late 14th century. [1] Fishing tackle is also called fishing gear. However the term fishing gear is more usually used in the context of commercial fishing, whereas fishing tackle is more often used in the context of recreational fishing. This article covers equipment used by recreational anglers.

Hook, line and sinker

Hook, line and sinker is a classic combination of tackle empowering an angler to catch fish.


A fish hook Fishhook.jpg
A fish hook

The use of the hook in angling is descended, historically, from what would today be called a "gorge". The word "gorge", in this context, comes from an archaic word meaning "throat". Gorges were used by ancient peoples to capture fish. A gorge was a long, thin piece of bone or stone attached by its midpoint to a thin line. The gorge would be fixed with a bait so that it would rest parallel to the lay of the line. When a fish swallowed the bait, a tug on the line caused the gorge to orient itself at right angles to the line, thereby sticking in the fish's gullet.

A fish hook is a device for catching fish either by impaling them in the mouth or, more rarely, by snagging the body of the fish. Fish hooks have been employed for millennia by anglers to catch fresh and saltwater fish. Early hooks were made from the upper bills of eagles and from bones, shells, horns and thorns of plants (Parker 2002). In 2005, the fish hook was chosen by Forbes as one of the top twenty tools in the history of man. [2] Fish hooks are normally attached to some form of line or lure device which connects the caught fish to the angler. There is an enormous variety of fish hooks. Sizes, designs, shapes, and materials are all variable depending on the intended purpose of the hook. They are manufactured for a range of purposes from general fishing to extremely limited and specialized applications. Fish hooks are designed to hold various types of artificial, processed, dead or live baits (bait fishing); to act as the foundation for artificial representations of fish prey (fly fishing); or to be attached to or integrated into other devices that represent fish prey (lure fishing).


Fishing line with hooks attached Angeln zubehoer haken.jpg
Fishing line with hooks attached

A fishing line is a cord used or made for fishing. The earliest fishing lines were made from leaves or plant stalk (Parker 2002). Later lines were constructed from horse hair or silk thread, with catgut leaders. From the 1850s, modern industrial machinery was employed to fashion fishing lines in quantity. Most of these lines were made from linen or silk, and more rarely cotton. [3]

Modern lines are made from artificial substances, including nylon, polyethylene, dacron and dyneema. The most common type is monofilament made of a single strand. Anglers often use monofilament because of its buoyant characteristics and its ability to stretch under load. Recently alternatives such as fluorocarbon, which is the least visible type, and braided fishing line, also known as 'superlines' because of their small diameter, minimal amount of stretch, and great strength relative to standard nylon monofilament lines.

Important parameters of a fishing line are its breaking strength and its diameter (thicker, sturdier lines are more visible to fish). Factors that may determine what line an angler chooses for a given fishing environment include breaking strength, diameter, castability, buoyancy, stretch, color, knot strength, UV resistance, limpness, abrasion resistance, and visibility.

Fishing with a hook and line is called angling. In addition to the use of the hook and line used to catch a fish, a heavy fish may be landed by using a landing net or a hooked pole called a gaff. Trolling is a technique in which a fishing lure on a line is drawn through the water. Snagging is a technique where the object is to hook the fish in the body.


Three types of small lead sinkers Angeln zubehoer grundblei 01.jpg
Three types of small lead sinkers

A sinker or plummet is a weight used when angling to force the lure or bait to sink more rapidly or to increase the distance that it may be cast. The ordinary plain sinker is traditionally made of lead. It can be practically any shape, and is often shaped round like a pipe-stem, with a swelling in the middle. However, the use of smaller lead based fishing sinkers has now been banned in the UK, Canada and some states in the US, [4] since lead can cause toxic lead poisoning if ingested. There are loops of brass wire on either end of the sinker to attach the line. Weights can range from a quarter of an ounce for trout fishing up to a couple of pounds or more for sea bass and menhaden.

The swivel sinker is similar to the plain one, except that instead of loops, there are swivels on each end to attach the line. This is a decided improvement, as it prevents the line from twisting and tangling. In trolling, swivel sinkers are indispensable. The slide sinker, for bottom fishing, is a leaden tube which allows the line to slip through it, when the fish bites. This is an excellent arrangement, as the angler can feel the smallest bite, whereas in the other case the fish must first move the sinker before the angler feels him.

Fishing rods

Fishing with a fishing rod Deepsea.JPG
Fishing with a fishing rod

A fishing rod is an additional tool used with the hook, line and sinker. A length of fishing line is attached to a long, flexible rod or pole: one end terminates with the hook for catching the fish. Early fishing rods are depicted on inscriptions in ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. In Medieval England they were called angles (hence the term angling). As they evolved they were made from materials such as split Tonkin bamboo, Calcutta reed, or ash wood, which were light, tough, and pliable. The butts were frequently made of maple. Handles and grips were made of cork, wood, or wrapped cane. Guides were simple wire loops.

Modern rods are sophisticated casting tools fitted with line guides and a reel for line stowage. They are most commonly made of fibreglass, carbon fibre or, classically, bamboo. Fishing rods vary in action as well as length, and can be found in sizes between 24 inches and 20 feet. The longer the rod, the greater the mechanical advantage in casting. There are many different types of rods, such as fly rods, tenkara rods, spin and bait casting rods, spinning rods, ice rods, surf rods, sea rods and trolling rods.

Fishing rods can be contrasted with fishing poles. The line on a fishing rod is controlled with a specialised reel which allows accurate casting. A fishing pole does not have a reel. Instead the line is just tied directly to the tip of the pole, or is tied to some sort of elastic mechanism at the tip. Poles can be up to 18 m in length and are made of optional sections which can be slotted together by the angler.

Fishing reels

A spinning reel Fishing reel.jpg
A spinning reel

A fishing reel is a device used for the deployment and retrieval of a fishing line using a spool mounted on an axle. Fishing reels are traditionally used in angling. They are most often used in conjunction with a fishing rod, though some specialized reels are mounted on crossbows or to boat gunwales or transoms. The earliest known illustration of a fishing reel is from Chinese paintings and records beginning about 1195 A.D. Fishing reels first appeared in England around 1650 A.D., and by the 1760s, London tackle shops were advertising multiplying or gear-retrieved reels. Paris, Kentucky, native George Snyder is generally given credit for inventing the first fishing reel in America around 1820, a bait casting design that quickly became popular with American anglers.

Fishing bait

Natural baits
Green Highlander, an artificial fly used for salmon fishing Green Highlander salmon fly.jpg
Green Highlander, an artificial fly used for salmon fishing

The natural bait angler usually uses a common prey species of the fish as an attractant. The natural bait used may be alive or dead. Common natural baits include bait fish, worms, leeches, minnows, frogs, salamanders, shrimp, nightcrawlers and other insects. Natural baits are effective due to the lifelike texture, odour and colour of the bait presented.

The common earthworm is a universal bait for fresh water angling. In the quest for quality worms, some fishers culture their own worm compost or practice worm charming. Grubs and maggots are also considered excellent bait when trout fishing. Grasshoppers, flies, bees and even ants are also used as bait for trout in their season, although many anglers believe that trout or salmon roe is superior to any other bait. Studies show that natural baits like croaker and shrimp are more recognized by the fish and are more readily accepted. A good bait for red drum is menhaden. [5] Because of the risk of transmitting whirling disease, trout and salmon should not be used as bait.

Processed baits, such as groundbait and boilies, can work well with coarse fish, such as carp. For example, in lakes in southern climates such as Florida, fish such as bream will take bread bait. Bread bait is a small amount of bread, often moistened by saliva, balled up to a small size that is bite size to small fish.

Artificial baits

Many people prefer to fish solely with lures, which are artificial baits designed to entice fish to strike. The artificial bait angler uses a man-made lure that may or may not represent prey. The lure may require a specialised presentation to impart an enticing action as, for example, in fly fishing. Recently, electronic lures have been developed to attract fish. Anglers have also begun using plastic bait. A common way to fish a soft plastic worm is the Texas rig.

Bite indicators

Different types of fishing floats Floats.jpg
Different types of fishing floats

A bite indicator, also referred to as a strike indicator, is a mechanical or electronic device which indicates to an angler that something is happening at the hook end of the fishing line. There are many types of bite indicators—which work best depends on the type of fishing.

Devices in wide use as bite indicators include fishing floats, which float in the water and dart about if a fish bites, and quiver tips, which are mounted onto the tip of a fishing rod. Bite alarms are electronic devices which bleep when a fish tugs a fishing line. Floats and quiver tips are visual bite detectors, while bite alarms are audible bite detectors.

In fly fishing a commonly used indicator is the "hopper dropper rig". With this technique a nymph or wet fly is hung from the bottom of a floating dry fly. [6]


The Filipino Negritos traditionally used bows and arrows to shoot fish in clear water. Negrito outrigger.jpg
The Filipino Negritos traditionally used bows and arrows to shoot fish in clear water.

Spearfishing is an ancient method of fishing conducted with an ordinary spear or a specialised variant such as a harpoon, trident, arrow or eel spear. [8] [9]

Harpoons are spears which have a barb at the end. Their use was widespread in palaeolithic times. [10] Cosquer cave in Southern France contains cave art over 16,000 years old, including drawings of seals which appear to have been harpooned. Tridents are spears which have three prongs at the business end. They are also called leisters or gigs. They feature widely in early mythology and history.

Modern spears can be used with a speargun. Some spearguns use slings (or rubber loops) to propel the spear. Polespears have a sling attached to the spear, Hawaiian slings have a sling separate from the spear, in the manner of an underwater bow and arrow.

A bow or crossbow can be used with arrows in bowfishing.


Fishing for salmon with a hand net on the Fraser River, Canada FraserRiverSalmonFishing.jpg
Fishing for salmon with a hand net on the Fraser River, Canada

Fishing nets are meshes usually formed by knotting a relatively thin thread. Between 177 and 180 the Greek author Oppian wrote the Halieutica, a didactic poem about fishing. He described various means of fishing including the use of nets cast from boats, scoop nets held open by a hoop, and various traps "which work while their masters sleep". Ancient fishing nets used threads made from leaves, plant stalk and cocoon silk. They could be rough in design and material but some designs were amazingly close to designs we use today (Parker 2002). Modern nets are usually made of artificial polyamides like nylon, although nets of organic polyamides such as wool or silk thread were common until recently and are still used.

Hand nets are held open by a hoop, and maybe on the end of a long stiff handle. They have been known since antiquity and may be used for sweeping up fish near the water surface like muskellunge and northern pike. When such a net is used by an angler to help land a fish it is known as a landing net. [11] In the UK, hand-netting is the only legal way of catching glass eels [12] and has been practised for thousands of years on the River Parrett and River Severn.

Cast nets are small round nets with weights on the edges which is thrown by the fisher. Sizes vary up to about four metres in diameter. The net is thrown by hand in such a manner that it spreads out on the water and sinks. Fish are caught as the net is hauled back in. [13]


Vietnamese traditional fish trap Dat do.jpg
Vietnamese traditional fish trap

Fishing traps are culturally almost universal and seem to have been independently invented many times. There are essentially two types of trap, a permanent or semi-permanent structure placed in a river or tidal area and pot-traps that are baited to attract prey and periodically lifted. They might have the form of a fishing weir or a lobster trap. A typical trap can have a frame of thick steel wire in the shape of a heart, with chicken wire stretched around it. The mesh wraps around the frame and then tapers into the inside of the trap. When a fish swims inside through this opening, it cannot get out, as the chicken wire opening bends back into its original narrowness. In earlier times, traps were constructed of wood and fibre.

Fish stringer

Simple fish stringer for spearfishing Prosteishii kukan dlia podvodnoi okhoty.jpg
Simple fish stringer for spearfishing

A fish stringer is a line of rope or chain along which an angler can string fish that have been caught so they can be immersed and kept alive in water. [14]

Fly fishing tackle

Fly fishing tackle is equipment used by, and often specialised for use by fly anglers. Fly fishing tackle includes fly lines designed for easy casting, specialised fly reels designed to hold a fly line and supply drag if required for landing heavy or fast fish, specialised fly rods designed to cast fly lines and artificial flies, terminal tackle including artificial flies, and other accessories including fly boxes used to store and carry artificial flies.

Tackle boxes

Typical tackle box with rod and bait bucket TackleBoxFortDeSoto.JPG
Typical tackle box with rod and bait bucket

Fishing tackle boxes have for many years been an essential part of the anglers equipment. Fishing tackle boxes were originally made of wood or wicker and eventually some metal fishing tackle boxes were manufactured. The first plastic fishing tackle boxes were manufactured by Plano in response to the need for a product that did not rust. Early plastic fishing tackle boxes were similar to tool boxes but soon evolved into the hip roof cantilever tackle boxes with numerous small trays for small tackle. These types of tackle boxes are still available today but they have the disadvantage that small tackle gets mixed up. Fishing tackle boxes have also been manufactured so the drawers themselves become small storage boxes, each with their own lids. This prevents small tackle from mixing, and can turn each drawer into a stand-alone container which can be used to carry small tackle to a rod some distance from the main tackle box.

Tackle industry

Worldwide, the recreational fishing tackle industry is big business, worth over five billion US dollars annually in the United States alone. [15] Notable brands include The Shakespeare Company, Orvis, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle and Simms Fishing Products.


  1. "Online Etymology Dictionary" . Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. Ewalt, David M. (5 August 2005). "No. 19: The Fish Hook". Forbes . Archived from the original on June 30, 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  3. Henshall, James (Dr.), Book of the Black Bass (1881).
  4. "Nontoxic Tackle: Let's get the lead out!". MPCA. Archived from the original on April 20, 2010.
  5. Gunnar Miesen; Steve Hague; Steve Hauge (2004). Live Bait Fishing: Including Doughbait & Scent . Creative Publishing. ISBN   1-58923-146-5.
  6. Why The Hopper Dropper Catches So Many Trout. Trout Fishing Resource, June 10, 2022.
  7. March, Alden (1899). The history and conquest of the Philippines and our other island possessions; embracing our war with the Filipinos in 1899. Page 39.
  8. Image of an eel spear.
  9. Spear fishing for eels. Archived 2009-08-13 at the Wayback Machine .
  10. Guthrie, Dale Guthrie (2005). The Nature of Paleolithic Art. Page 298. University of Chicago Press. ISBN   0-226-31126-0.
  11. "Fishing Tools – Landing Nets". Archived from the original on 15 September 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  12. "Eel Regulations: Eel fishing". Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  13. Casting net. Archived 2021-02-27 at the Wayback Machine .
  14. Toth, Mike (2000). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fishing Basics. Second edition, pp. 158–159, Penguin. ISBN   9781101222126.
  15. 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, page 9.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fishing</span> Activity of trying to catch fish

Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are often caught as wildlife from the natural environment, but may also be caught from stocked bodies of water such as ponds, canals, park wetlands and reservoirs. Fishing techniques include hand-gathering, spearing, netting, angling, shooting and trapping, as well as more destructive and often illegal techniques such as electrocution, blasting and poisoning.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trolling (fishing)</span> The practice of fishing by drawing a baited line or lure behind a boat

Trolling is a method of fishing where one or more fishing lines, baited with lures or bait fish, are drawn through the water. This may be behind a moving boat, or by slowly winding the line in when fishing from a static position, or even sweeping the line from side-to-side, e.g. when fishing from a jetty. Trolling is used to catch pelagic fish such as salmon, mackerel and kingfish.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fishing rod</span> Fishing tool


<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fishing reel</span> Hand-cranked reel used in angling to stow fishing line

A fishing reel is a hand-cranked reel used in angling to wind and stow fishing line, typically mounted onto a fishing rod, but may also be used to retrieve a tethered arrow when bowfishing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fishing line</span> String or line intended for angling

A fishing line is a flexible, high-tensile cord used in angling to tether and pull in fish, in conjunction with at least one hook. Fishing lines are usually pulled by and stored in a reel, but can also be retrieved by hand, with a fixed attachment to the end of a rod, or via a motor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fly fishing</span> Method of angling

Fly fishing is an angling method that uses a light-weight lure—called an artificial fly—to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. The light weight requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting. The flies may resemble natural invertebrates, bait-fish, or other food organisms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Angling</span> Fishing technique

Angling is a fishing technique that uses a fish hook or "angle" attached to a fishing line to tether individual fish in the mouth. The fishing line is usually manipulated via a fishing rod, although rodless techniques such as handlining and longlining also exist. Modern angling rods are usually fitted with a reel that functions as a cranking device for storing, retrieving and releasing out the line, although Tenkara fishing and cane pole fishing are two rod-angling methods that do not use any reel. The hook itself can be additionally weighted with a dense tackle called a sinker, and is typically dressed with an appetizing bait to attract the fish and entice it into swallowing the hook, but sometimes an inedible fake bait with multiple attached hooks is used instead of a single hook with edible bait. A bite indicator, such as a float, a bell or a quiver tip, is often used to relay underwater status of the hook to the surface.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Recreational fishing</span> Fishing as a hobby

Recreational fishing, also called sport fishing or game fishing, is fishing for leisure, exercise or competition. It can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is professional fishing for profit; or subsistence fishing, which is fishing for survival and livelihood.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fishing lure</span> Object to attract fish

A fishing lure is a broad type of artificial angling baits that are replicas designed to mimic real prey animals and attract the attention of predatory fish, using appearances, flashy colors, bright reflections, movements, vibrations and/or loud noises to appeal to the fish's predation instinct and entice it into striking.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Casting (fishing)</span> The act of launching fishing tackles into water

In angling, casting is the act of the angler throwing the bait and hook out over the water, typically by slinging a fishing line manipulated by a long, elastic fishing rod. The term itself may also be used for setting out a net when artisanal fishing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coarse fishing</span> Type of freshwater angling in the United Kingdom and Ireland

In Britain and Ireland, coarse fishing refers to angling for rough fish, which are fish species traditionally considered undesirable as a food or game fish. Freshwater game fish are all salmonids — most particularly salmon, trout and char — so generally coarse fish are freshwater fish that are not salmonids. There is disagreement over whether grayling should be classified as a game fish or a coarse fish.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bank fishing</span>

Bank fishing is fishing from banks or shores, typically very near but still above the water's edge. Bank fishing from rocky outcrops that protrude into the water is usually called rock fishing. Bank fishing is typically done by angling, casting a tethered hook dressed with bait or lure into the water, and is usually performed by a rod often equipped with a reel, but handlines, nets, traps, bows, spears and snag hooks can also be used.

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Striped bass are perciform fish found all along the Atlantic coast, from Florida to Nova Scotia. They are of significant value as sporting fish, and have been introduced to many areas outside their native range.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fishing techniques</span> Methods for catching sea creatures, especially fish

Fishing techniques are methods for catching fish. The term may also be applied to methods for catching other aquatic animals such as molluscs and edible marine invertebrates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of fishing</span> Aspect of history

Fishing is a prehistoric practice dating back at least 40,000 years. Since the 16th century, fishing vessels have been able to cross oceans in pursuit of fish, and since the 19th century it has been possible to use larger vessels and in some cases process the fish on board. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping.

Drop shotting is a highly finesse angling technique using plastic baits, consisting of a small thin-wire hook with a weight (sinker) attached to the tag end of the line. This is in contrast to the more traditional Texas Rig, where the weight slides inline, resting on the nose of the bait; or the Carolina Rig, where the weight is fixed above the bait. The dropshot rig provides the ability to keep a hook and lure off the bottom with a more "weightless"-looking posture. Usually the bait is fished by letting the weight hit the bottom and then twitch the rod tip, causing the lure to shake in a jumping-like action, but can also be flipped, dragged, hopped or jigged along the bottom. This simple but versatile technique has endless combinations with the different hooks, soft plastics and weights that can be used.[1] The aim is to present a free floating, slow twitching lure to induce a strike from non-aggressive fish. This rig is commonly used in bass fishing for catching smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass, but can be used for a variety of other bottom-dwelling fish species, as well.

Fly fishing tackle comprises the fishing tackle or equipment typically used by fly anglers. Fly fishing tackle includes:

This page is a list of fishing topics.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to fishing:

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