Success to fishing is no tall tale

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 20, 2002

Every sport has a list of necessary equipment.

For track, you need a good pair of running shoes.

For tennis, you need a racket and tennis balls.

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Fishing is no exception.

Every angler, from the novice to the pro, needs a fishing rod, a reel, fishing line and some lures.

But what should you consider when purchasing fishing equipment? How do you know what you need? How much should you spend? Who do you ask? How do you avoid being swindled?

Don Hanson, owner of White Whale Fishing and Archery in Austin has some answers. "The best way to buy tackle is to go to people who do a lot of serious fishing. Find an authority, not an expert, and ask what they use and recommend," he says.

And never be swayed by flashy advertising. "The fishing industry is selling the perception, not the value. That's the most important thing to remember when buying tackle," says Hanson. "The fishing industry got rich selling to people looking for magic bullets. Be a smart shopper. Know the difference in quality and the difference in price."

Instead, he says look at the workmanship and quality of materials when purchasing equipment.

One exception, he says, is open-faced spinning reels. "They'll all cast the same if the spool is filled to the proper level with line."

"However, with casting reels, it's crucial to buy ones that are a higher quality if you want good casting ability," he explains. "There are huge differences in the bearings, workmanship, and the materials and that relates to the smoothness of casting. With casting reels, generally, the more you spend, the longer they last."

Even with heavy use, a high-end casting reel probably can last 20 years, Hanson says. "So, even if it costs $170, in the long run, it's a much better investment," he explains.

Fishing rods are a different story. "It's ludicrous to pay more than $100 for a rod. There are some rods that are a great value in the $40 to $90 range," he says.

Lures also tend to be overpriced and overrated, Hanson says. "Companies have come out with a myriad of colors and styles in the last couple of years and it can be overwhelming. I would say the effectiveness is generally way overrated."

Even the new lures have some appeal, in Hanson's opinion. "I do like some of the new packaging that gives specific information about the depth and condition under which the lures work well," he says.

According to Hanson, other good investments for the serious angler are topographical maps of lakes and rivers that he or she frequents and "a really, really good raincoat. A complete suit, top and bottom, runs for around $250, but that's still the best investment when it comes time to use it. A hat that covers the ears, nose and as much of the neck as possible is also a good idea nowadays."

Most of all, he says people should "use a lot of discretion when purchasing fishing tackle. Don't be so quick and impulsive. Talk to the authorities who fish a lot. Avoid baubles."

After all, it's the quality of the equipment that matters, no matter what your sport.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at :mailto: