Choosing Fishing Tackle

Choose Your Kit

Any look around a tackle shop or a fishing magazine shows there are thousands and thousands of different items of fishing tackle on the market. Each one is designed for a specific purpose and will in most cases only be suitable for that specific purpose.

You will need a totally different rod for casting a light waggler float 20 yards than you will need for casting a heavy method feeder 50 yards. Having the right kit to do want you want to do is essential if you are going to be a successful angler and will help you enjoy your fishing even more.

Choosing a float fishing outfit

The first question you need to ask yourself is what type of fishing am I going to be doing with my float fishing kit? If you are going to be fishing only on commercial fisheries for carp mostly you will need a different set up to the one you’d need if you were only going to be fishing on canals for roach and skimmers. However like most new anglers you don’t yet know what you are going to be specializing in so an all round kit is what you need for starters. It will be a jack of all trades the master of none but when you have gained some experience and knowledge you can then upgrade to the kit that will be the master of your chosen branch of the sport.

The rod

Look for carbon fibre match rod of either 12ft or 13ft in length, anything shorter will severely restrict your casting and anything longer will feel very unwieldy. It should be designed to cast weight of up to 15 to 20g which is perfectly adequate for most situations and should bend with a smooth curve showing no flat spots. Set it up in the shop with a reel on it if possible and hold it at the top of the handle, it should feel light and well balanced and not top heavy. The lighter the rod is the better but the lighter the rod is the more expensive it will be due to higher grade carbon being used in its manufacture. Look for a rod weighing between 220g and 270g, anything over 300g will be a handful on long sessions. At this stage avoid anything that calls itself a ‘power’ or ‘carp’ rod.

The reel

A lightweight open faced reel is ideal as a starter model. If you are right handed you will need the handle on the left and vice-versa if you are left handed but this shouldn’t be a problem as most reels come with an interchangeable handle these days. It should run smoothly when you turn the handle, the bail arm should open and close easily and it should have an adjustable clutch. You need at least one spare spool to allow you to load the reel with different strength lines for different situations.


For general fishing a reliable 3lb line, such as Maxima or Bayer, is ideal being strong enough to land most fish you will hook while still being light enough not to hinder casting. If you are going to be fishing on commercial fisheries mostly a 4lb line might be a better choice but anything heavier will make casting much more difficult. Whichever you choose it is important that you fill the spool right to the lip, most reel spools tell you how line you will need to fill it and if your reel doesn’t have a match spool on it you may need to put some backing line on first.


For starters opt for clear plastic waggler type floats, by reputable companies like Drennan or Middy, with shotting capacities of between 3BB and 4AAA which will allow you to  fish in the margins with the smaller ones and up to 20 yards out with the bigger ones. Lock the float on the line with the bulk of the shot with just a couple of small number 8 shot down the line.


Start by using hooks pre-tied to hooklength opting for sizes 20 or 18 to 2lb line for maggot fishing and sizes 16 or 14 to 2.5lb line for sweetcorn, worms or bread. The hooklength must be weaker than the line on your reel so that if you get snagged up you will only lose the hook. Once you have learned a few knots then tying your own hooks will give you more options and will save you some money.


Buy a dispenser that contains a range of different sized shot from AAA’s to number 8’s. The shot are miniature balls of non toxic metal with splits in them. To put them on the line locate the line in the slot and close the shot around it with your teeth or some pliers or forceps. Don’t squeeze them on too hard though or you will weaken your line.

Other essentials

You will also need a plummet for finding out how deep the water is, a disgorger to help unhook any fish you catch, a rod rest, a landing net and a seat box or stool to sit on. A good tackle shop will be able to help with choosing all of the above items as well as being able to suggest good places to go fishing and the best pegs, it is well worth getting to know the people in your local shop and don’t be afraid to ask questions.


  1. colin ayres

    Mar 19, 2008

    70 years old tomorrow and i am still learning. I am about to take up fishing and have found your advice both interesting and helpful. I now know what to look for in a tackle shop.

    thank you.

  2. Terrie Hnatiuk

    Jul 06, 2008

    Looking to take up river fishing. Used to sea fish but find it quite boring now. Found this site very interesting and extremely helpful. Just been added to my favourites.

  3. Aiden

    Aug 26, 2008

    Happy Birthday Colin!

    70 Years Old. The perfect age to get really into fishing. Lots of spare time. You could even take the grand kids with you.