So, as a preface, I know nothing about fishing, or fishing gear. But I thought, for someone like me who doesn't know, it would be good to hear what gear is good for fishing if you are hiking. My own personal preference would be as lightweight as possible.
So, bring it on... what do people use, or want to use, for hiking-fishing?
The lightest gear you could use would be a hand line with minimal tackel. If I'm going to an area that I know holds fish then I use a fly rod with the least amount of gear I think I will acctually use. then If I don't catch fish well at least I had fun.
Use whatever works for what's where you are going, and how you like fishing.
If I take stuff (and I more than often don't) it's a small fly rod with a small thing of flies. If I were actually meat fishing instead of just torturing fish it would be a small spinning rod with an adjust-a-bubble and similar flies. But then again most places I go it's small trout, grayling and whitefish, and that's what works. I might take different stuff if I were doing lots of canoeing in fencepost size pike lakes. (and if I were meat fishing for same it would be my platypus bladders, 4 feet of line and a big hook with a baitfish on the end. My brother and I used to nab pike like mad in a canoe by throwing out coke bottles with a foot of line and a baitfish on the end. when the bottle started moving you chased it in the canoe - great fun - although I believe not strictly legal now.. )
Ender Since you are not a fisherman, go simple and cheap. Get something easy to cast. I would suggest that you do not take up flyfishing. Spining gear, especially with a closed face real is pretty fool proof. Lots of people make multipiece rods. Be aware that you are probably not gonna catch a lot without some skill and the right bait as well, regardless of what gear you take. Jim P.S. carry a jar of salmon eggs.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Just to agree with Jim here, if you're not already a fisherman don't take a fly rod. I do because I already flyfish, and I have more fun with it, but it's somewhat difficult to master. It is much easier to start with a spinning rig - and you can cast it further, hence my comment about "if I was meat fishing".
If you are ending up in trout country in lakes, with a spinning rod, unless you have a canoe to fish from, I mentioned the adjust-a-bubble. I highly reccomend you take a couple of these with you:
How you use 'em is you put your line through the rubber tube in the middle, and then twist the tube around so it holds on the line, leaving about 5 or 6 feet of line at the far end of it. You tie yourself a nice little fly or nymph on the end of your line (up here a nice little montana, damselfly, or scud nymph), then you can open the end of the bubble and fill it with water to the point that it barely floats. now it has enough weight so you can cast it a looooong way. so you can heave it a ways into a lake, then retrieve very very slowly, so the float barely makes a ripple in the water. makes it easy to fish from shore effectively.
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I use a spinning reel and telescoping rod, both I have had for quite some time now. Like phat, I use the bubble he shows. One thing I just learned a couple years ago, is when casting with the bubble and fly set up, just before the bubble hits the water, stop the line with a finger, so the bubble will stop and the fly will continue so it doesn't get tangled so often. Lots of fun. For me, when the fish are biting good, I can knock them dead. A couple years ago on one of my Sierra trips, the fish were biting so well with the fly I was using at Rae Lakes, I had to quit to go back to camp to eat lunch. I was working my way back to camp, but had to quit, or I never would have got there. One of those rare trips.
We call that jug fishing around here. My dad used to meat fish with much success. He would put out a john boat full of 2 liter coke bottles rigged with a treble hook and live bait. He would place them from one end of the lake to the other. When we reached the end we would backtrack and start pulling in fish. He used to set YoYo's on branches. You had to put your name on them and your DL#. I just like to fish for fun and if I catch a couple for dinner, great..
I keep completely separate fishing gear for when I backpack and when I'm just plain fishing. Most places you hike to will have much smaller fish. Therefore you don't need so much tackle or equipment.
Here is what I recommend for packing:
Telescoping Rod These rods collapse very small and don't take up too much space. A conventional two or three piece rod sticks way out of your pack and tends to get caught up in things while you hike.
Small spinning reel All you need is a small reel with a low-strength line. 6 lbs test line is more than enough for the cutthroat and brook trout you may run in to at mountain lakes.
3-4 lures I keep my lures in a small tin. I only take a couple with me. A couple small spoons, and a couple small Mepp's style lures seem to do the trick for me. The tin is important because it is much smaller than a tackle box, and protects your gear from the hooks.
That is about all you really need to fish a mountain lake. It can be way more complex if you want to get in to flyfishing or anything like that. Always start simple. If you like it then you can start getting more advanced from there. Sometimes on one night trips you may want to consider bringing a can of worms and some bait hooks, but they will only last about a day when it's warm.
Loc: southern california
Let me say first, I am by no stretch of the imagination a fisherman. I zip-tie my cheese-ball wal-mart fishing pole to my pack and take 5 or 6 lures. I can yank fish out all day of back country lakes with this setup.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Thanks to an article just out on BackpackingLight, I've become really interested in Tenkara fishing, a traditional Japanese method of fly-fishing. It appears to be a far more sophisticated version of what I used to do as a kid with my line tied to the end of a willow pole. It's really light and no reel is required.
The video in the article is worth watching, if nothing else for the wonderful song in it!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
My usual fly-fishing gear is dramatically cut down when I go backpacking. Gone are the bulky chest-highs, the heavy vest, the cumbersome net and the half-dozen fly boxes. My fishing equipment for backpacking is as follows:
- Orvis Clearwater II 9"5wt 4-piece rod (3 1/4oz) - Rod/reel protection tube (1/2oz) - Reel w/ fly-line (1.3 lbs) - Lanyard w/ floatant, dry-shake, foreceps, multi-tool & three spools of tippet of various sizes (1.5 lbs) - A cheap folding net - One small or medium Orvis floating fly-box with the necessary flies.
Depending on where I am going and who I am going with I may also bring my Orvis Silver Label Hippers (these pack quite small)and my Simms Rivershead wading boot (can also double as a hiking boot).
The final item is an 8inch fry-pan if we are going somewhere that does not permit an open fire or where we know a pre-made fire pit/rock circle does not exist, since 99.9% of the time we choose to leave our designated camping place better than what we found it and thus do not mind the added weight for the cause of preserving our beautiful back-country.
If you are fishing small mountain lake and streams your not going to catch big fish so you can use a really small pole. One could try out a kid pole with or without the reel. When I dont know there is fish in the area I dont bring fishing gear, but now i think ill have to try line fishing. I highly recommend TFO fly poles. They are cheap, its not to big of a deal if you scratch or break them. As far as the reel goes..thats optional.
I use to catch carp and cat fish with a willow pole or reel-less fishing pole. Lots of fun, caught trout like that before but when I was way younger. From now on if there is any body of water where i am hiking ill be sure to bring line.
Oh yes bait, well you cant go wrong with caddies in the sierras.
I won't backpack into an area that doesn't have good fishing.......so you can say I'm fairly serious about backcountry fly fishing (for trout). A lot of people take alot of fishing gear into the backcountry but I disagree. Leave the fishing vests and waders at home.
What I take is my 4 piece 6 weight fly fishing rod carried in a lightweight sock (as opposed to an aluminum or plastic tube). Two reels (one with a sinking line, one with the floating line). Instead of taking 4-6 different fly boxes with hordes of different flies, I take one or two big boxes with the flies I'll know I'll need for that particular trip. Instead of waders I fish in my Teva sandals, and if it's too cold for that, my hiking boots and casting from shore has to do. Instead of a fishing vest, I wear a simple lanyard and hang the basic necessity tools (clippers, hemostat, floatant, etc) off of it. All of the other little items (extra reel, extra tippet and leaders, etc) go in my pants/shirt pockets. And sometimes I take an old camera case with strap that I can stuff everything into.
And keep the frying pan at home, it's just adds more weight and space in you pack. The best way to prepare trout in the backcountry is baking them in HD foil. The foil only weighs grams and there's no cleanup to worry about. After you're done baking and eating off the foil, just throw it back in the fire to burn off all odors, wad it in a small ball and pack it out. And I use various sauce packets from fast food joints to glaze the trout while baking. It's amazing what various BBQ, mustards, relishes, spices, lemon/lime juice, etc packets can do to make a baked trout delicious!!!
And keep the frying pan at home, it's just adds more weight and space in you pack. The best way to prepare trout in the backcountry is baking them in HD foil.
Baking or smoking trout is great-- but only if fires are permitted. Many places in the back country they are not, and too be honest, even if they were I wouldn't want to ruin the environment just for the sake of a 9oz pan-- which weighs less than a spare reel and fly-line.
I consider myself a hardcore backcountry fisherman. I only travel and hike to remote and usually offtrail lakes that I feel have a better than average chance of holding good to excellent fishing. But I'm also a very practical guy. I don't own a 400$ Orvis anything. My setup is based on lightweight and adaptability. I usually fly fish, but I also love to use an ultra light spin setup. My fly fishing set up is a Crystal River backpacking rod, 7pcs, 8 1/2' with a Cabelas graphite reel. Whole set up is under 120$ I use an Eagle Claw ultralight 2pc 5' rod, with sliding rings and a cheap ultra light reel. Whole setup under 50$. On long trips, over 3 days, I bring both setups. On 2-3 day trips I usually only bring the fly rod, but I bring the spinning reel, and use bubbles and or spinners with the fly rod if conditions are impossible to cast etc. I have a small case filled with flies, another with lures, bubbles, and swivels. For a full on week or longer trip, my full fishing gear weighs a bit under 2 lbs. Last year on an 8 day Sawtooth trip we fished 18 lakes, and caught fish to 20" every day. We broke one reel, and had enough "extra" gear that it didn't slow us down. I love great gear, but I also know that I don't have to spend a fortune to fish the backcountry. Craigslist, garage sales, and the big stores all have really moderatley priced gear that is perfect for the backcountry. It has to be able to take the beating! Good Luck!
Description: Sawtooth Trout
I dare you to move, like today never happened... -Switchfoot-
Phat, you mention these bubbles elsewhere and others seem to say they're great. I'm looking to buy a first backpacking rod, and have been looking at telescoping rods (my experience has all been with simple bamboo stuff as a kid).
Price is a major factor, so I am looking for a very cheap setup. The pen one only says it's good for 4+lb fish, so I would worry that an a-just-a-bubble would decrease that.
Thanks, and sorry if I'm off base on the question, but anything more complex than handlines or bamboo with line attached is new to me. I'm used to catching small karp and catfish, but will be looking to get graylings or trout, so I'm not sure what strength pole I will need.
I personally just use 'em with a very cheap telescopic spinning rod from crappy tire with a reel loaded with 4lb test line. I have a couple decent small shimano spinnig reels I put on them, but a cheap spinning reel would work fine too.
A spinning reel loaded with 4 lb. test line and an 1/8 oz. rooster tail is probably my first choice right now for trout. The same rig with 8 lb. line has caught a lot of bass. A few spare lures won't take up much room.
Pinch down the barbs for trout if you want to throw them back. Makes unhooking much easier on the fish. Barbed hooks, you just about kill the fish unhooking them with treble hooks. For bass you will need barbs.
Be familiar with the regulations in the area, as there are some fly fishing only trout streams, also watch minimum length of the kept fish, also subject to regulations. And there are a few spots where it is illegal to fish. If you get caught, you will be fined, so keep up with the regulations.
I am currently using some spinning rods and reels that I got for less than $20 on sale at target. Work great! Get something that looks well made. The biggest thing is a good drag. You will have a hard time judging this right now. The drag gives line to the fish when he pulls hard. I have caught fish with 4 lb. line that were 10-15 lbs. If your drag is set right, and doesnt stick , the fish can't break your line. Of course, if there is a snag nearby, the fish can go in to that, so you may need heavier line when fishing a place with snags.
Many reels have a number such as 20, 2000, 30, 3000. I'd recommend one that starts with a 2 or 3. I prefer the 3 for trout.These are slightly larger for a faster retrieve. A fast retrieve makes it easier to land fish. They will probably be able to hold 200 yds. of 8 lb. test or so. This is the size I prefer. My 3 is old, though, so I may take a 2 this time.
Don't fill it completely with 4 lb. test, fill it with 8 than add 50 yds. or so of 4 lb. Otherwisise you'll use a lot of 4 lb. line. The lighter line wont' take up as much room on the spool, so you can almost fill it normally with 8 lb and still be ok.
Other lures that I've had good luck with for trout are small spoons less than 2 in. long, #0 -#1 Mepps spinners, a big nightcrawler with no weight or maybe some split shot , small rapala type lure.
You may want to go for 6 or 8 lb. test line if you are just starting, as it can be tricky landing a largish trout on 4 lb.
Needle nose pliers are good for unhooking fish that have swallowed the bait. I consider tham a ncecssity.
Hi Ender, If you like to fish while you're backpacking, you might want to check out my site Backpack Flyfsihing. There's lots of good information there from people who have been doing it a long time and some links to good resources.
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