My inspiration for this feature article has come from the continual stream of questions that I field regarding fishing tackle. So many people want to know what the best rod is, or the best reel, or the best combination for under $100, etc. The truth of the matter is that I use what I like, and do not spend hours each day walking around in tackle stores playing with the latest tackle to be released.
Occasionally a tackle company will send me something new to write a review on, or provide some constructive criticism on, or even just to photograph for their promotional use so I get to try a few new products from time to time. I have a few sponsors that will send me something new when it comes out to put through its paces, but that's about as far as it goes.
Just recently I was in need of a new fishing rod, so I went into Adventure Camping and Compleat Angler in Wangaratta, grabbed Drew Taylor from behind the counter and got him to show me what he had that suited my needs. As a result I ended up buying a Shimano BalistiX Pro Trout rod worth about $100.
I never even handled any other rods as Drew steered me in the direction I needed to go and sold me a rod that was appropriate. Where possible, I encourage people to buy in-store rather than online. It might be a little bit more expensive, but that extra cost pays the wages of the bloke with the knowledge that is going to help you buy the right gear for your needs.
Anyhow, here are a few pieces of fishing tackle, or related equipment that stand out in my book that I just cannot fish without. Here, in no particular order, is a list of the top 10 products that I use recommend:
These days light braided line is all the rage but I have tried it, and had too many tangles.
I have tried several different brands of monofilament line, and braid/fusion lines and always return to Maxima Ultragreen. 4lb is my favourite as it is the best for casting, however 6lb is pretty good too.
Light braided line is the most over-promoted, over-rated piece of tackle in the fishing industry. If you are chasing trout or redfin, it is hard to go past light Maxima Ultragreen. Ultragreen even outperforms other varieties of Maxima fishing line (such as Chameleon, Treazure etc). It untangles easier than any other line, has fantastic known strength and has enough stretch in it to help keep those airborne trout on the line.
Back in the early 1990s I bought my very first Shimano Stradic. It was a 1000 sized Aero Stradic with two handles and was the bee's knees. Several years later I upgraded to an FJ model Stradic, then another FJ Stradic, and then when the Ci4 model Stradic was released I purchased one as soon as it hit the shelves. After losing that I purchased another one before upgrading to the Ci4+ late last year.
In the 20 or more years that I have been using Shimano Stradic reels, I have never had any problems other than wearing out the automatic bail flipper. The Ci4 range has a repairable bail flipper now, although I have not worn any of mine out yet. I have tried and used different models of reels, but I keep going back to the Shimano Stradic. The 6:1 gear ratio makes it great to use in fast waterways, and they just never conk out.
A few years back Strike Tiger sent me some soft plastics to have a play with. While the range of plastics was great, it was the tiny 1" nymph that really jumped out at me.
These natural looking small soft plastics work well on trout in high traffic areas where the trout have become educated and cunning. They have the ability to draw wary trout back multiple times to keep striking the soft plastic and are a real standout in the world of trout lures. They mimic small natural nymphs that make up a large part of the trout’s diet, which is why they look so much more natural than other plastics.
Years ago the Celta was all the rage. The Celta is still a great trout spinner, however it has had to take a back seat to the dynamite Super Vibrax bladed spinner. These little spinners come in a variety of colours, and are heavy for their compact size, which aids maximum casting distance. Best of all they are tough as old gumboots, and they do not bend!
After a while the paint will get scratched off just like most other similar spinners, but that's about it. I have caught tonnes of trout on the Super Vibrax range of bladed spinners, with the fluorescent colours working a treat on redfin, and the gold and copper colours being dynamite on trout. These spinners are a must have for any stream trout angler.
I am not sure whether I am famous, infamous or notorious for wearing my gumboots, but for whatever reason I am certainly well known for it, and with good reason. In winter they keep the water out; in summer they keep the snakes out. All year round they crush blackberries with ease, and best of all they do not shrink when they dry out causing blisters next time I put them on (unlike leather work-boots).
In summer I must look like a real dill walking along the river bank in my shorts and gumboots. But, I can walk through long thick grass with extra confidence, allowing me to get to harder to reach places.
However, some snakes can strike high, particularly the eastern brown snake, so gumboots do not offer 100% protection. Nevertheless, they do offer much more protection than a standard work boot. I rarely walk a stream, or the banks of the river without my tough Blundstone gumboots on.
These plastic fish grips are so much better than their metal counterparts that it is not funny. They are lighter to carry, (ideal for backpack fishing) some glow in the dark, they float and are very easy to use. These are a fantastic fishing item with no substitute.
I have a Victorian DEPI brag mat. I choose this mat as it is smaller and more compact than many others. It doesn't really matter what sort it is, but carrying a brag mat is a must, especially if you are a catch and release fisher.
Don't release a decent fish and then spend the rest of your life guessing! I estimate most cod sized up to around 50cm, but as they get a bit bigger I start to measure them.
Tape measures are great for measuring fish, but do not standout very well in the photo when you are ‘bragging’.
I do not know if they have a brand name, or are just a BCF product. The black telescopic Y-shaped fishing rod holder, like a portable forked stick, has a sharp point and can be pushed in to almost any ground.
The sticks have a brightly coloured Y section at the top making them easy to spot in low light and are a very handy accessory for any bait angler. They're only about $5 a shot, give or take a little bit – so simple yet so handy and effective.
You simply cannot go Murray cod fishing without a pair of pliers. It is a good idea to carry one around with you for any type of fishing because you never know when you may need them.
Murray cod are a very powerful fish, and one tail kick while you are trying to unhook a cod can see a hook driven straight into your finger. I have made several trips to the hospital to have some seriously unguided hooks removed. I watched Brett Corked try and unhook a Murray cod about 60cm long one evening without using pliers. The fish kicked, the back hook from the Oar-Gee landed in the back of Brett's hand so badly that it required a hospital trip to get it out.
Pliers with wire cutters are the best. I remember getting a hook stuck in my index finger one evening. It went straight through some loose skin and out the other side. Because of the wire cutters I was able to cut the point and barb completely off and reverse the hook back through my finger. I bled for ages, but I was able to keep fishing once I covered it with a waterproof Band-aid.
There are a whole heap of Murray cod lures these days. The market has literally been flooded by large hardbody lures for this species. Koolabungs are great, the giant A.C. Invaders work a treat, and the tried and proven Oar-Gee lures work very well, however there will always be a place in my tackle box for the old faithful No. 1 StumpJumper. They are cheap to buy, readily available at most tackle stores, come in a wide range of colours, and most importantly THEY CATCH FISH!
These lures have been around for a very long time. I remember reading about them in magazines way back when I was still living at home with my parents in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
They were once hand crafted out of timber, but demand for them got too great as they are such a great lure and now they are moulded plastic, and most likely made in Asia somewhere. Despite this, they are still every bit as effective as a Murray cod catching lures as they ever were and quite easily make my list of top 10 greatest fishing assets.Reads: 2658