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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

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