Stock a Basic Fishing Tackle Box: Hook, Line and Sinker

If you're a beginning fisher using spinning or spin-casting gear, read on for suggestions on stocking up a basic fishing tackle box.

| May/June 1989

For my eighth birthday (which was, Gad, some 33 years ago) I was given a five-dollar bill. I can still remember the wonder of walking into Walt's Sporting Goods knowing I could suddenly afford virtually any fishing plug, spoon or spinner that I wanted. If memory serves me, I walked out of Walt's that day with a red and white Flatfish plug, a silver-bladed Mepps Aglia spinner and a red and white Dardevle spoon. I think I might have even gotten change. Those basic lures would cost a bit more these days, but they're still available, and in attempting here to advise the stocking of a basic fishing tackle box to use on the bass (smallmouth, largemouth, white and rock), pan fish (bluegill, crappie, perch and sunfish), trout and walleyed pike that occupied most of my childhood weekends, I'll certainly include those standbys among my choices.

Of course, when talking about building a basic tackle collection from the bottom up, there are many more artificial lures, as well as the more prosaic hooks, leaders and sinkers, to consider. But first, we're going to have to define a few parameters. For one thing, I'm going to have to limit my discussion to equipment for the angler using spinning or spin-casting gear (though much of it will meet the needs of the bait-casting-rod user as well). These are, I think, the rigs most commonly used by beginners—probably because they're relatively inexpensive and easy to master. In addition, the goodies described here will be specifically aimed at the species mentioned above, and therefore at the freshwater pond, lake or river angler. (A few of the lure choices will, however, prove effective against such smaller, inshore saltwater species as sea trout, young bluefish, Spanish mackerel and so forth.) Finally, though anglers with a total of several hundred years' of fishing experience are called upon in putting this article together, the gear recommended here should be considered basic. It will allow you to catch fish just about anywhere within the parameters defined above, but nothing can beat the on-the-spot observation of what's catching a particular species on a particular body of water at a particular time. Keep your eye on the anglers who are catching fish (use binoculars to watch them if you have to!), and add their secret weapons to the arsenal described below.


You can probably cover most needs by purchasing a number of hooks both snelled (with sections of leader tied to them) and unsnelled in sizes 4, 6 and 8 (that's going from larger to smaller). These will handle most live baits (worms, minnows, crawfish, etc.) as well as the firmer types of doughballs or stinkbaits used for carp and catfish. Remember, it's easier to catch a big fish on a small hook than vice versa.


Buy a variety pack of split-shot sinkers (for live-bait fishing with bobbers and to add casting heft to jigs and spinners as needed), an assortment of bullet weights (to use with plastic worms) and a sampling of wire-eyed "bass" or "bait-casting" sinkers. When using the last two types, stick with the smallest sinker that will allow you to cast effectively or, when bottom fishing, that will hold your bait in place.

Snap Swivels

You'll need these to prevent your lures from twisting and kinking the fishing line. Those that are about an inch long will do for most applications.


It's hard to beat the old standby red and white plastic ball bobber. Get a few sizes, to handle smaller and larger bait/sinker combinations. Any design that grips the line firmly enough to stay where it's set will do fine.

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