Stocking your first fishing tackle box

Stocking your first fishing tackle box
Stocking your first fishing tackle box

From Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The coming weeks will finally start to offer Kentuckians a welcome break from frigid temperatures. As the temperatures begin topping the 50s next week, fishing begins to look a lot better than it did when a foot of snow blanketed the Bluegrass state. It’s time to pull out the fishing rods and reels as the water begins to warm for the upcoming season.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is expanding its Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) program to 29 urban lakes statewide – a perfect opportunity for inexperienced anglers to take up the sport. Beginning anglers, however, may not know where to start when it comes to putting together their first tackle box of needed fishing supplies.

"A trip to a sporting goods store or Walmart can be dizzying," said Marc Johnson, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s aquatic education coordinator. "But in those beginning stages, you don’t need a lot of stuff."

Johnson recommends starting with a simple, one-tray tackle box. Get one that is fitted with a latch, rather than the snap-on variety, so the bottom of your box doesn’t fall and send your lures and other fishing tackle spilling onto the ground. Next, stock it with small hooks, bobbers and split shot weights.

"I think one thing beginners tend to do wrong across the board is they think that a big hook and a big bobber will catch a big fish," said Johnson. "That’s not necessarily true. You can catch a big fish with a small hook, but you can’t catch a little fish with a big hook. The goal initially is to catch fish – any fish. Later on, you can start to target specific fish."

Johnson recommends small, removable split shot sinkers, 1 1/4-inch bobbers and size 6 hooks.

"I like size 6 because it’s big enough to catch a catfish, which is often what you’re going to catch at urban lakes," he said. "You can go with a smaller size 8 on a pond that gets a lot of pressure and has a lot of small fish."

Live bait, such as redworms and wax worms, are always a good option to finish off this basic fishing rig. Size 1 feather jigs, commonly known as Pop-Eyes, in both light and dark colors are another good addition to the tackle box. Small inline spinners such as Rooster Tails should also be included. White is a good, all-around color.

Ask the store clerk or person behind the counter at your local bait shop if you have trouble finding these items.

A redworm on a size 6 hook is the simplest rig for beginner anglers. A feather jig paired with a wax worm is also an effective combination. Both rigs should be placed under a bobber with a small split shot sinker. Start by placing the rigs three feet under the bobber then experimenting with different depths.

"When a feather jig gets wet, the feathers resemble wings, and the worm moves, making it look like an insect. Everything in the water likes to eat insects,"Johnson explained. "The same goes for small fish. An inline spinner like a Rooster Tail mimics a small fish, and fish will eat it because it fits in their mouths."

Beginning anglers should also include pliers and fingernail clippers in their tackle box, to remove hooks and clip excess line. Finally, request a copy of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s fish identification booklet by calling the department at 1-800-858-1549. Being able to identify your catch is essential to complying with fishing regulations.

The 2010-11 Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide outlines that state’s fishing laws. The department’s basic fishing booklet helps beginning anglers get started with valuable tips about tying knots plus information about where to fish and how to fish. Both of these publications are available online at or by calling 1-800-858-1549 to request a printed copy.

A statewide fishing license is required for anglers who are 16 and older. A $5 senior license is also available for those anglers age 65 and older.

To find a nearby lake, check out Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s FINs program Web page. Go online to, then search under the keyword “FINs.” With temperatures on the rise, newly stocked lakes ready to fish and a basic tackle box assembled, your fishing season will soon be underway.

Author Hayley Lynch is an award-winning writer and associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. She loves deer hunting, shotgun sports and introducing women to the outdoors.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For more information on the department, visit our Web site at

Recommended for You


MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

Fishing How-To

Why You'll Lose Your Next Big Bass

Larry Larsen

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it.

Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

As Pure Fishing's Andrew Upshaw explains, reel making giant Abu Garcia has done it again at ICAST 2019 with a new spinning reel geared towards finesse fishermen.

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Record-Sized Walleye Was Foul-Hooked, Agency Says

G&F Online Staff

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record.


Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...


4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

See More Stories

More Fishing How-To


MLF Pros Checklist for a Day on the Water

Pete M. Anderson - July 02, 2019

Catching more bass starts before you leave your house. Here are 10 pointers to help you...


MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish New Waters

G&F Online Staff

These Major League Fishing pros share their approach to a new lake.


How to Find Bass on Strange Water

Gary Lewis - July 01, 2019

Learn to tackle new lakes like MLF pros.

See More Fishing How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.