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Catch trout - no skills, cheap gear
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John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Catch trout - no skills, cheap gear on 05/05/2010 22:21:36 MDT Print View

I'm a backpacker who wants to eat trout when camping near them, as opposed to a fisherman.

Have never fished a day in my life (ok, one), don't want to buy a ton of gear for a new hobby.

I camp in Sierra's, Rockies mostly. Is there a simple fishing setup I can get that's light, cheap, relatively easy to figure out, and will help me catch dinner with relative ease?

How hard is it to catch fish if you don't know what you're doing? Worth packing the extra weight?

I realize it's asking alot, but the sad reality is, I ain't gonna buy a bunch of chichi gear, and I've got to many other hobbies to spend a lot of time mastering a new one. Just want to eat fish in the woods.

William Johnson
Alternative to fishing. on 05/05/2010 22:44:54 MDT Print View

If it was easy, it would be called "catching."

Here's an alternative:

Canned Trout

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Catch trout - no skills, cheap gear on 05/05/2010 22:48:27 MDT Print View

John, the quick and dirty on your question is:
You will get out of it what you put into it or garbage in, garbage out

John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Trout, No Skills, Cheap on 05/05/2010 23:22:33 MDT Print View

Tad, yes, garbage in garbage out, I'm sure that's true, but it's also not a very helpful answer. Is spending tons of money and time the only way to catch fish? If so, I'll probably just take William's suggestion ;-)

What I'm trying to figure out is what's the minimum that will yield a basic result. And how does a total beginner who's more interested in catching dinner than seriously investing in a new hobby sort through the 1000s of options for rod/reel/bait to get something that will be acceptable?

Edited by johnbrown2005 on 05/05/2010 23:24:52 MDT.

Chris Gray
(ChrisFol) - F

Locale: Denver, Coloado
Re: Trout, No Skills, Cheap on 05/05/2010 23:56:29 MDT Print View

Most waters in the United States are artifical flies and lures only-- this is certainly true here in the Rockies.

Bascially a decent fly-rod, reel and fly-line outfit will set you back at least $180-$250.

Ontop of that you will need:
-Fly box
-Dry Shake

This alone could cost $70-80.

Then you will need some flies-- the going rate is about $1.85 per fly. So just 20 flies will set you back $40. Add your fishing license into the mix and you have quite a large start-up cost.

If most of your waters permit bait fishing, then you can pick up a spin rod and reel for next to nothing and Cabela's has complete sets of gear (both spin and fly) for less than $200 which would probably suit you better.

Fly-fishing takes time and practice to be any good-- certainly efficent enough to catch fish for dinner on a regular basis. It is not something that *most* people just pick up without any instruction.

You could learn to cast in an afternoon, but hooking and landing requires serious river time. You may want to bring additional food with you on those your first season or so.

Edited by ChrisFol on 05/05/2010 23:57:28 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Catch trout - no skills, cheap gear on 05/06/2010 00:10:59 MDT Print View

"I'm a backpacker who wants to eat trout when camping near them, as opposed to a fisherman."

The fishermen will be relieved to hear that. I couldn't manage a whole one in a sitting anyway. ;-)

There are other tasty morsels to be had from rivers which aren't as hard to catch. Crayfish for example.

But if you want a U/L meathod for trout, then tickling is the way to do it.

Edited by tallbloke on 05/06/2010 00:20:20 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Cheap fishing gear on 05/06/2010 01:42:08 MDT Print View

I've found all kinds of fishing gear at garage sales and thrift stores. Fly fishing gear can be outrageous, but casting gear is cheap, even when new. A two piece casting rod and a few lures will get you started. The last one I got was $5 with a reel. Of course, fly fishing has a romantic appeal to it. I do like the idea of tricking the fish with bits of fur and feathers.

I've always said that fishing tackle is designed to catch fishermen rather than fish. Your local tackle shop and/or fishing newspaper will have all kinds of advice on what to use for the local species.

I have a Popeil Pocket Fisherman that is great for hiking. You can actually catch fish with one, but I recommend a pole and reel. Study your knots-- monofilament line is different.

A Zebo closed-face reel and matching pole will work for lures and bait casting. If you can use eggs or worms with a bobber, it is a time-tested way to catch fish, but it bores the heck out of me-- like watching golf :) Casting lures is more fun and very dramatic when you "hook one."

If you know what you are doing, you can catch fish with some very simple gear. It is more a process of understanding what and how fish eat, where they hide, etc. And then sometimes, they just aren't hungry or don't like your offering. I wouldn't count on having a certain catch for your meal plans!

The regulations vary from state to state as far as using bait, flies, or lures, and high mountain lakes and streams may have different regulations and seasons than lowland lakes-- it is very much that way in Washington. Some lakes are "quality" fishing, where you may only keep a smaller limit of fish of a particular size-- 3 fish over 12" or something like that. You can get a copy of the regs when you get your license.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Catch trout - no skills, cheap gear on 05/06/2010 11:00:40 MDT Print View

You could try a casting line setup such as this one:

No personal experience, but there are (rare) times when just having a line and lure are enough if the fish are cooperating. In more typical settings it seems to take tackle, time and some skills, along with the necessary luck.



Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Catch trout - no skills, cheap gear on 05/11/2010 01:16:53 MDT Print View

Most areas of the High Sierras only allow a single barbless artifical lure. Makes it hard for a novice to catch fish. Probably the best set up for you would be a minature spinning reel and section pole set up. Keep in mind I am not an expert at all.

Current cost of license in Calif is:
Resident $41.50
non-Resident $111.85

I would imagine you will be frustrated in the Sierras as they have been over-fished for decades. Plus, you need a litle more elaborate kitchen than most of us take. However...






We caught 5 in about 2 hours. However, now the maximum bag limit is 2 in this area.

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Trout Tickling on 05/11/2010 08:28:52 MDT Print View

Loved the video Rog!

Here's one that's more serious -

A couple of friends caught a trout with their hands on one of our trips. It was after dark in a log jam at the spillway of a small lake in the Pecos Wilderness. It took a few tries, but the fish kept coming back to the same spot. They finally got one when obscured their hand with a bandanna. Both of them are noodlers. OK is one of 3 states that its legal in.

Edited by akajut on 05/11/2010 08:53:02 MDT.

Jonathan DeYoung
(jdeyoung81) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Trout Tickling on 05/11/2010 08:35:08 MDT Print View

I had seen this method on tv once before... the ultralight in fishing for trout!

Talbot Hardman

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Tenkara on 05/13/2010 08:01:37 MDT Print View

Don't forget about Tenkara or at Jason Klass' site This is the most inexpensive way to get into flyfishing and it is a load of fun. The first site has a lot of interesting videos under the "gallery" section.

Tight Lines,


Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Catch Trout - No Skills on 05/13/2010 08:28:39 MDT Print View

To catch trout with no skills and limited equipment, follow a hatchery truck to where it dumps a load of legal sized trout in a stream or lake.

Cut a willow rod (renewable resource!), attach a line, split shot weight and hook. Bait with Berkley Gulp! bait. Toss weight and bait in the water. You should shortly have a limit of trout.

Occasionally that will technique (all but following a hatchery truck) will work in the mountains away from roads, but if the trout have been fished before, probably not so well.

John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Trout, no skills, cheap gear on 05/13/2010 22:25:56 MDT Print View

Thanks for the responses folks! Checking into cheap spinning gear and the Tenkara. Tenkara looks like you need major stalking skills...

The kitchen issue is a good point. Grill made out of coat hanger? I sure as heck ain't dropping $70 on a ti grill.

Edited by johnbrown2005 on 05/13/2010 22:27:16 MDT.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Fishing is easy and cheap! on 05/13/2010 23:21:34 MDT Print View

I am a flyfisherman, so i dont bait fish often anymore. But man it was tough wading in freezing water for hours flailing a line back and forth trying to avoid hooking my ears while my buddies sat on the bank with a beer in their hand hauling out fish after fish on powerbait. And you dont need money!!

thrift store fishing pole $10 (if they call it a "rod", its expensive, you want a fishing "pole").
Walmart reel $15
yellow powerbait $4.25
10pk size 16 treble hooks $3.75
Walmart 2lb fishing line $5.00
Walmart 1/4 oz split shot $2.00
Aluminum foil, butter, salt, 1 clove garlic, paprika

step 1: throw bait in, put the rod down, and wait
step 2: when fish nibbles, wait for a big pull,then reel fast.
step 3: wrap fish and ingredients in foil and place on coals

I dont know of any trout that's immune to the addiction to powerbait, we call it trout crack. You'll catch panfish galore like this, but the big ones might get away with cheap gear like this. Call the ranger and get the fishing regulations before you go!

Edited by Lopez on 05/13/2010 23:33:26 MDT.

Al Clemens
(al) - F
fly fish with spinning gear on 05/16/2010 20:25:46 MDT Print View

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet, but there's no reason you can't fly fish with plane ol' cheap spinning gear if you're restricted to "fly fishing only" areas that mandate 1 hook with no barbs etc. The age old practice of placing a bobber a few feet behind a fly and pitching with spinning gear is very effective and easy to learn, plus you have the versatility to cast lures, or bait fish with the same rig if you so desire. You can get a long narrow clear bobber made for that purpose, a half dozen assorted flies, bit of fly floatant and you're in business.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: fly fish with spinning gear on 05/17/2010 06:47:36 MDT Print View

Fly fishing with spinning gear - even if it terminates with an honest-to-goodness fly straight from the fly shop - is not considered fly fishing in Washington and not allowed on "fly fishing only waters" here. Personally, I think it should be based on the end of the setup (fly) and not the rod or reel, but it's not so. I fish about 95% fly on spinning setup, so this is less than ideal when I am near those waters.

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
Re: fly fish with spinning gear on 05/17/2010 08:45:40 MDT Print View

My rig is a ten dollar collapsible pole, a forty dollar spincast reel (this eliminated a ton of frustration with the cheap reel that came with the pole), six pound line, two bobbers, a small collection of Mepps spinners, a kastmaster, and some gnats, grasshoppers, a couple wooly buggers, and a (fake) one egg on a hook, all in a little plano box. Picked up forceps at walmart and threw in a red stringer. My Leatherman Micra has a scissors for nipping line and a small blade that cleans fish. The bobbers twist onto the line and can be partially filled with water for more weight for casting. I've fly fished in subalpine lakes with it and hooked brooks and rainbows.

The cooking gear is a few sheets of foil and some garlic salt and olive oil or butter packets, or some packets of lemon juice. Most places I fish we are able to build a small hobo fire. We have also caught so many that we filled a bear vault with snow and packed our limit to carry home in a ziplock.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
i always use spinng reels on 05/17/2010 09:50:56 MDT Print View

fly fishing is something i do not know how to do, but i always put them back, not a fan of killing if i don't NEED to.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 05/17/2010 09:51:26 MDT.

Jason Klass
(jasonklass) - F

Locale: Parker, CO
Fishing on 05/22/2010 10:21:02 MDT Print View

As Talbot pointed out, Tenkara fishing is a lot cheaper than Western Fly fishing. You can literally get a complete outfit for under $200 that will be a perfect UL rod for backpacking. Plus, the learning curve is minutes or hours rather than years. If you have any questions about Tenkara, feel free to PM or email me.