The only tackle you really need.

Serious anglers usually have tackle boxes loaded with a shiny assortment of lures, but the beauty is you can catch plenty of fish with a hook, sinker, bobber and bait. To make things even easier, you can buy Zebco fishing kits which come with everything you need except bait.

Line

We’ve got you covered. Most Zebco reels come pre-spooled with the right line for the size of the reel (measured in weight it takes to break, e.g. 6 lb. test, 10 lb. test).

Hook

For panfish, go with a small, light wire hook (also called an Aberdeen) or a bait holder hook. For bigger fish like bass or catfish, choose a larger octopus hook. Tie it on with an easy, all-purpose knot, the Improved Clinch Knot.

Bobber

To a kid (or a kid at heart) there’s nothing more exciting than watching a fish pull your bobber under. Clip on styles are the easiest. Just clip it on your line and adjust your depth so the bait is about 1-2 feet above the bottom. Choose an appropriate size for the fish you’re after.

Sinker

Get a small assortment of split-shot sinkers in various sizes (again, the smaller the hook and bobber, the smaller the sinker). Clip on your line between your bobber and hook about 6-12 inches up from your hook. Adjust the amount of weight until your bobber sits upright in the water.

Bait

Worms

While it’s pretty old school, you can catch just about any kind of fish on a “crawler”. You can also cut them into smaller pieces to conserve your bait. Grub worms can work nicely, too.

Minnows

Baitfish form the primary diet of many fish, so they can be hard to beat for getting bites. Again, match the size to the fish you’re after. Choose “crappie minnows” for panfish and fatheads or shiners for larger game fish.

Leeches

If you can get over the gross factor, leeches are a convenient bait option. They’re sold at most bait shops, are easier to keep alive than minnows and their wiggling action can entice bites from many fish, especially walleyes. They work best in summer.

Artificial Bait

For minimal mess and hassle, buy some artificial trout, panfish or catfish bait (often sold in chunks, pellets or dough form). They’re usually made with biodegradable fish attractant. And they won’t wiggle out of your hands while putting them on your hook.

Crickets

Especially popular in the Southeast, crickets are a great way to ring panfishes’ dinner bell. Just hook them behind the head (not too deeply) on a light wire hook, make a gentle cast and let the action begin.

Jigs

Panfish are often such aggressive feeders, you can catch them without any bait at all. Just choose a jig dressed out to imitate small baitfish or insects, cast it out there and retrieve slowly while occasionally twitching your rod tip to start a feeding frenzy.
Some images provided by takemefishing.org.

Don’t forget your fishing license!

Getting a fishing license isn’t just a legality, it’s also the right thing to do. States use money from fishing licenses to support fish stocking programs, provide angler education and protect our waterways for future generations. So make sure you have the appropriate licenses and understand the local, state or federal fishing regulations before you go fishing. Remember, some states have a limited season on certain fish species (making it illegal to fish for those species during some of the year). In most states, children under the age of 16 don’t need a license but adults will. Find complete details about fishing licenses and regulations in your state.