Choice of tackle makes a difference
Twelve year old, Liz, wasn’t speaking at that exact moment, but the look on her face said it all as another big redfish buried the tip of her rod in the water and stripped line much too fast for the drag to be of any use.The rod tip predictably snapped back and the slack line only confirmed what she feared from the moment the big fish zeroed in on her lure.
What should have been the highlight of the trip was quickly turning into a better reason to go home rather than continue fishing and further compound her frustration.Her dad was having a wonderful time fighting redfish after redfish, but she had just broken off her fifth fish in a row and had given up on any hope of ever landing her own fish.
Without verbally declaring her official resignation, she plopped down on the boat cushion and bounced her rod and reel off the floor of the boat.While I probably would have cursed in addition to that reaction, I shared her frustration as I looked down at what was now a two piece rod never to be used again.That incident, or lesson in my case, took place many years ago, but it drastically impacted my approach to equipping clients for a day on the water.
That was back in the early 80’s and I knew from the moment her dad handed her the rod matched with a push button spinning reel that she was behind the eight ball.“This is the only kind of reel she can use,” he stated, and I did her no favors at that moment by not stepping to the plate and insisting that she could handle one of the spinning combinations in my rod rack.That day did, however, end well.Liz eventually joined in the catching part of the trip and is passionate about fishing to this day.
As I can recall, it took less than thirty minutes to teach her to adequately cast the seven foot rod with the Mitchell 300 hanging beneath the handle.Looking back, it probably only took her five minutes to learn as the first twenty five minutes were spent trying to talk her into ever fishing again!
Spinning reels have improved every bit as much as level winds and while the majority of my clients now opt for spinning combinations as well, I would never start a youngster or first time fisherman with anything else.I don’t know how young is too young, but I fish a number of six and seven year old kids each year that master the casting technique in a matter of minutes.
There will always be a place for push button reels, but you want your new fisherman to enjoy the catching part of fishing as well and that means matching the fish to the tackle.While the Zebco 33 has probably caught as many fish as any reel ever manufactured, it is not even designed to make long casts or cope with a fish that can burn thirty yards of line off a reel in a hurry.
The larger 800 and 808 are adequate choices for saltwater fishermen that enjoy bottom fishing or fishing live bait, but you aren’t going to last long repeatedly chunking artificial lures with the bulky reel and line twist is still a major issue.The average youngster can’t even reach the push button with their thumb and hold onto the rod with the same hand.
From my experience, the only mistake you can make in starting a youngster out with a spinning combination is opting for a larger than needed reel.A seven foot medium action rod paired with a 2500 or 3000 (model sizes) is absolutely perfect for youngster and adult as well.Fill the reel with a quality 20 pound braided line and, for the most part, even those unwanted loops are seldom a problem.
With that combination you can easily handle everything from bluegills to over sized reds, cast and effectively fish every type of lure in the box, and never again have to worry about casting into the wind.Because my clients and I fish tails under a TKO popping cork so much, I easily spend forty percent of my time on the water fishing with the afore-mentioned spinning combination.
At this point in my fishing career, I am given enough new reels each year to negate any need for a reel sponsor and that enables me to use whatever works best for me regardless of the brand.You don’t have to start with a reel that is as expensive as the Shimano Stradics to be well equipped, but I have personally relied on both the 2500 and 3000 models for a long time.
Several months back, Bob Lawson with Pure Fishing, was down here scouting Sabine and after sharing information he handed me a Penn Battle II 3000 to try.I filled it with some 20 pound braid that he also asked me to try and I haven’t used anything else since.It has proven to be abuse proof, sports a thicker more durable anodized bail and the drag system is incredibly smooth.
At least as far as I am concerned, the best part is that it is not nearly as expensive as several other makes that offer most of the same features.I look forward to trying the smaller 2500 as it should better fit clients with smaller hands, but that is just nitpicking the advantages of the 3000
Liz, now a very successful owner of her own business and married with three sons, still fishes with me two or three times every year.The last time we fished she told her middle son, “If Capt. Dickie hadn’t insisted that I pick up his spinning rod and give it a try that day you and I would probably be playing golf with your Dad right now!”