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New to fishing, need help!
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F. M.
(fmattos) - F
New to fishing, need help! on 09/15/2012 09:05:29 MDT Print View

Hello, I live in Florida, I've been backpacking for a while and have come across tons of people fishing on the trails here and other places, and always wanted to get into it, but I don't know much about fishing. I have some fishing rods at my house, and have caught and released fish from piers at local lakes and by the beach a few times for fun, but never actually cooked the thing, plus my rods are way too big and bulky to take on the trail. I've done my research and seen some posts about ultralight compact rods and reels but I don't know if they are directed more towards experienced users or they can be used by beginners as well, and I also wonder if I would need a different knife, I usually only carry a Gerber compact scout for cutting fruits and cord, any advice on other stuff I might need would be great, I wonder if I will need some glove so my hands don't smell like fish and call out to every bear in a 100 mile radius. Another thing, should I get a book about different types of fish? I don't want to end up catching and eating a poisonous or endangered fish. I wouldn't go fishing only here in FL, I backpack all through the East Coast, and sometimes head out west too.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Backcountry fishing on 09/15/2012 14:17:36 MDT Print View

F M,

Oversimplifying greatly, you have three categories to choose from: Tenkara, traditional flyfishing, and spin fishing. Which you select should turn on where you'll be fishing, why you'll be fishing, budget, and personal preference.

Flyfishing means a rod, reel, line, flies, floatant, a tool or two, and some tippet material. Many rods come in sections (5, 6, even 7) that can be assembled once you reach the stream, and there are a few telescoping rods available too. You'll need some kind of protective carrier for the rod, such as the metal tube many come in or a homemade PVC tube. The most elaborate and most expensive option but in my opinion the most fun by far. LL Bean and Orvis have really good starter kits, and you can save money by looking for travel rod and reel set-ups at Cabellas, Wal-Mart, or any general sporting goods store. Warning: flyfishing is addictive and can become a very expensive hobby.

Tenkara is a Japanese method of flyfishing that uses a telescoping rod and line only - no reel. Because it takes up the least space and weighs the least it is the method of choice for UL and SUL backpackers. Plenty of information on other threads on BPL or at If you're only going to fish when hiking it's probably your most expensive option.

Spin fishing makes use of a telescoping rod and a simpler reel, with a weighted jig instead of a fly (although you could use a fly). Spin rigs are readily available in trail or travel models for easy packing, and are much less expensive than either of the two flyfishing choices. It's also the most versatile means of fishing as it requires no back cast, allows for longer casts and thus greater coverage, and generally fishes underwater (this last will almost always get you more fish).

If you are fishing for food, you'll do best with a spinning rig. I think flyfishing is more fun and requires more skill, and I release all fish I catch unless I plan to eat them then and there. But find out what you like. Once you know what you like and have an itinerary, check with local outfitters or fly shops about fishing where you'll be going. I wouldn't worry about endangered species, as you'll be informed of forbidden targets when you get your license.

Tight lines, Richard

F. M.
(fmattos) - F
backcountry fishing on 09/15/2012 20:38:44 MDT Print View

Hello Richard, thanks for the reply! I looked into the styles you mentioned, out of those, spin fishing seems the most attractive to me, and while on the trail I will be cooking the fish I catch. Tenkara and fly fishing, even though they look fun, they seem more complicated than spin fishing. Since I have done spin fishing before, it will be easier to adapt to my expeditions. I will be mostly focused on the backpacking aspect at first, fishing will be only an excursion out of my backpacking trips, therefore I need a simple yet effective rig (don't we all!) with a budget of less than $100 and weighing as little as possible, max I'm willing to carry for all is 1lb, less than 10oz is ideal (not couting knife since I will use that for fruits as well). Does any kit come into mind? Go fast and light has a kit that looks attractive for $20(link below), do you think that one is right for me? The problem with the outfitters around where I live, is that they don't carry any of those exotic ultralight rigs, I went to a bass pro shop here, they had hundreds of different rods and reels, couldn't find anything as compact and light as that one, but I don't know that much about fishing to tell how long the rod should be, what kind of reel, etc... I will be doing mostly fresh water fishing, rarely salt water, and salt water fishing will be from the beach or pier off a trail.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Backcountry spin fishing on 09/16/2012 21:02:51 MDT Print View

F M,

I am a dedicated fly fisherman, but it's on my list to get a reasonably lightweight spin set-up for high country trips. Too many lakes with trees right to the shoreline and no backcast room; besides I'm limited to about a 30-foot radius even if I can cast normally.

The fact that it's on my wish list means I don't have one. Right now I can't get to the website you posted, but I've seen simple and inexpensive set-ups carried by my friends and what you describe is what they look like - telescoping rods and small spin reels. Usually they fit into a small plastic box I did a Google search and could't find much, and I agree that most outfitters don't pay much attention to light weight and easy packability. You may be my guinea pig - let me know what you find.

Cheers, Ricahrd

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Lightweight spinning kits w/o breaking bank on 09/17/2012 07:19:23 MDT Print View

I think you can get and build a lightweight spinning rig for backpacking for pretty cheap.

The first step is the rod, and I'll break it down into two choices: high-end collapsable/sectioned or "not". In the "not" category, there are telescoping rod/reel kits from Daiwa and Shakespeare that are designed for either 4 or 8lb line and the 4lb'ers are really pretty nice. Shakespeare calls theirs "travel mate" and Daiwas are "mini spin". There is also a nice Eagle Claw telescopic rod for about the same price as the kits, just w/o the entry-level reels, about $30. Come to think of it, both Daiwa and Shakespeare sell the mini rode separately, also:

In terms of nicer rods, Daiwa actually makes a very nice series of 4-piece, light rods called "Spinmatic". These can be up to $50 for the rod, but the construction is very nice.

Now for reels, the two that come in the Daiwa and Shakespeare kits aren't bad at all, albeit a little heavier than others we could spend more money on... or less (see below). Both, however, include very low-quality line that you're best to remove and replace with newly-wound high-quality stuff -- that's about $5 at your bait-n-tackle store if they use the machine for you.

My son uses the Shakespeare travel mate rod with a different Shakespeare light reel ("Prius" )that came with a $30 complete sectional kit...and is composite-bodied, notably lighter. Daiwa also makes a neat little, lightweight reel, called the "d-spin", and Pflueger makes some nice mini reels, along with "underspin" rigs that are tiny, upside-down Zebco-style spincasters that work...and are light.

Once you've got the rig, then it gets down to a small kit of tackle that will fit in your gallon ziplock along with the reel and/or rod. I think you can do the whole rig/tackle, for under $50.

F. M.
(fmattos) - F
Got one! on 09/18/2012 09:56:37 MDT Print View

Well, I just got the pen fishing rod from, if you can't get to the link just google "go fast and light pen rod", it comes with a nice 4lb reel that weighs 5.2oz, .2 oz less than the shakespeare one, but the whole combo is $19.99, the shakespeare reel is about $25 on its own. The rod is only 3 feet long, which is kinda weird, I never even seen a rod that small, but I saw some videos of people using it and they had no problem casting and pulling fish, it's so cheap that it's worth a try, if it doesn't work out I can just get one of the telescopic rods that Erik suggested and use that same reel.

I also grabbed some lures and this new nanofil fishing line from their website, do you guys have any suggestion how to store hooks, floats, lures etc... without carrying those heavy boxes? Or some nice ultralight storage box for it. Another question, will a Gerber Scout knife be enough to gut the fish and all? Do I need to know anything special about cooking it over a fire?

Richard, as soon as I test this rod out and catch some fish with it, I will let you know how it is =).

Edited by fmattos on 09/18/2012 10:29:30 MDT.

Carter Young
(kidcobalt) - M

Locale: Western Montana
Tackle Box and Knife on 09/19/2012 12:43:22 MDT Print View

Years ago, I used metal Bandaid or Sucrets boxes to store my lures. Now I use a clear plastic box from Plano.

I only fish for trout, and a standard-sized Swiss army knife works fine. The scissors are good for clipping line.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Re: Got one! on 09/19/2012 12:56:38 MDT Print View

I suggest a ziploc bag for a tackle box and "taco sauce" containers for your small bits: many fast-food Mexican restaurants have small, clear plastic cups used for hot sauce, chopped cilantro, etc... such as Baja Fresh, El Pollo Loco, Roberto's, which are super light and great for holding lures, flies, weights and such. In fact, many shops that sell flies use the same containers.

I also use teeny ziplocs that come containing small parts or buttons with other things I buy, and these are great for "flat, no snag" storage of extra hooks, swivels, etc...

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: New to fishing: how to gut a fish. on 09/20/2012 15:33:09 MDT Print View

A swiss army classic is likely all you'll need (the scissors are key). It'd be nice to have a set of pliers, I got a multitool for $5 at Cabelas that had both scissors and pliers but it was heavy and the scissors sucked.

This is a great video on how to gut a fish.

I haven't tried to cook trout this way, but I'd dying to try it. So if you can have a fire:


I like rooster tail spinners 1/8 size.

What Carter said.

I'd not worry about the weight and just get a little plastic tackle box the size of a deck of cards for your stuff. An altoids tin (there's a mini one) works too. That way you have everything in one box that you can carry around in your pocket.. put in your bear bag at night etc.. when you're standing on a log with bushes all around you, fishing line blowing everywhere, and you're trying to tie tiny lures as the sun is setting fast and trout are jumping everywhere around you, the last thing you want to do is dig around for stuff.

Personally I'd carry an extra half pound to be able to cast an extra 50 ft.

Also, google "trilene knot". It'll hold 17 lb steelhead in a fast current.

Edited by elf773 on 09/20/2012 15:49:56 MDT.

Francis DeRoos

Locale: Mid Atlantic
re: "New to fishing, need help!" on 09/20/2012 18:40:43 MDT Print View

@ Richard - Excellent post. really clear, focused and accurate. I began a spin fisher in the 80s while backpacking but have also migrated to fly fishing exclusively. Only a few times last year on the JMT did I wish I had a spinning rod (large lake, big wind, rising big trout too far off shore) otherwise my 3 wt was perfect, intimate, effective and lightweight ;)

F. M.
(fmattos) - F
the kit on 09/21/2012 16:35:37 MDT Print View

So I got some artificial lures and put everything together, here is everything I'm taking:
Fishing kit

I might be taking too much stuff(floats, artificial lures), or not enough(sinkers), I don't know yet, but this kit is just 11oz, 12oz with a little baggie I made of seasoning good enough for several trout.
Kit weight

I'm carrying everything in ziplocks until I get something better to carry it all, I'm leaving for my trip on Tuesday and don't have enough time to stop and get containers. Anyways, I will let you all know how it works, and by the end of the trip I will have this kit trimmed out to less than 10oz for sure, I'm carrying the gloves because I don't know how I will do at handling the fish while gutting and cleaning, as I get better at it I'm sure I wont need it. I spent about $80 on the kit, here is where: Berkley nanofil line was $16, the rod and reel kit was $20, lures and floats and sinkers were around $25 and shipping was $20 (thats where they get you).

Edited by fmattos on 09/21/2012 16:38:13 MDT.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Re: the kit on 09/22/2012 08:11:26 MDT Print View

I think you did great. The ziplocs are great containers for all but the hooks but here's a UL fix: put a 3x5 card in there and pierce the hooks in that to keep them stable/secure.

I don't think you have too many bobbers, because things get lost, but when you get ready for your next trip, you should hunt down some of the clear ones that can be weighted with water -- very useful and harder for the fish to see. You won't be able to cast far enough with that mini rod to need the dayglo, anyway.

You will, however, be able to catch your limit. So, go have some fun and let us know how it works out!