Spinning Outfit Is Angling’s Most Versatile Tool By Stan Fagerstrom
Have the good fortune to fish and write about it as long as I have and you’ll find yourself attempting to come up with answers to a great variety of questions. Some come up far more often than others.
One that I’ve heard again and again over the past half century goes something like this: “I’ve been invited to visit some good friends in New Zealand and Australia. I’ve heard both countries have darn good fishing. I don’t do any fly fishing, but I can handle both a level wind reel or a spinning outfit. They’ve asked me to bring just one rod and reel and I don’t know which one to take. Can you help me?
I know where the folks who have those questions are coming from because I’ve faced them myself. I felt the same way when I was invited on my first visit to New Zealand. I was delighted at the chance to go, but not knowing for sure what fishing gear to pack was really bugging me.
I eventually reached a decision. It’s one I’ve used a number of times when I’ve gone into areas I’d never fished before and wasn’t sure what I was up against. The decision has been a good one far more often than not.
Most of the time I've not been stuck with packing just one outfit, but many times I’ve been limited to only a couple. I've reached my own decisions in this regard. I don't care where my travels take me, the outfit I pack first is a spinning rod and an open-faced spinning reel. I know chances are great this set up will get me by under a variety of conditions.
No other fishing outfit matches the versatility of a good spinning outfit like the one pictured here.
Having made that choice doesn't mean I think a spinning outfit is always going to be the best choice to solve every problem I encounter. You can't, of course, use a lightweight spinning outfit for many kinds of Alaskan salmon fishing. I'd much rather have a casting rod and a level wind reel for most kinds of bass fishing. The same goes for drift fishing for steelhead. Be that as it may, day in and day out no single outfit does the variety of jobs that can be handled by a good quality spinning rig.
I've had experienced fishermen, some who have traveled extensively, attempt to tell me the only outfit worth carrying on a fishing adventure to New Zealand is a fly rod. Baloney! I've had occasion to fish in that beautiful counry almost daily for a month on two different occasions. On both trips I had opportunity to use my spinning outfit every bit as much as my fly rod if I chose to do so. You can, if you choose, do the same.
The thing that makes the spinning outfit such a wonderful tool is its versatility. Purchase extra spools for your spinning reel. Load one with four-pound line, another with six, a third with eight and a fourth with 10. Those four different line sizes let you cover a tremendous variety of fishing tasks.
You can slip the 4-pound test spool onto your spinning reel and throw tiny jigs in the 1/32nd-ounce class. Such tiny jigs, equipped with miniature curly tailed plastic worms, are among the most deadly of lures for panfish like crappie and bluegill. They also work well for some of the exotic species you find in other parts of the world.
Four-pound line also works just fine for lightweight trout fishing. You can troll with it. If you choose, you can use it to throw a floating bubble and a fly. I’m talking here about monofilament or fluorocarbon lines. We’ll talk about one of those fine diameter braids for spinning a bit later.
A spinning rod and reel is the first thing that goes into my rod case regardless of where my travels take me. I trolled a Flatfish with my spinning gear to take this dandy trout out of a lake in the Patagonia area of Argentina in South America.
I've had opportunity to spend a couple of days fishing with General Chuck Yeager, the famed test pilot. Here's another guy who has fished all over the place. One of his favorite angling adventures is hiking into the high Sierras for golden trout.
He often catches these beautiful trout with flies. On a fly rod? No way! He uses a lightweight spinning outfit and one of those casting bubbles I mentioned.
Yeager told me he has done the same thing on some of the top trout waters of Montana as well as in New Zealand and other parts of the world. "I can get way out there where the fish are with my spinning outfit," he says. "Often conditions wouldn't permit me to do that with any other kind of outfit."
I’ve listed some of the reasons why I think the spinning outfit is a good first choice but I’ve certainly not named them all. I’ll have more on the subject in my next column. Watch for it starting Jan. 1.
-To Be Continued-