a display of fly-fishing flies

Gearing up for fishing

If you’re just getting started fishing, or you want to try a new kind of fishing, you’ll need a rod, reel and some tackle. To help you get started, we’ve put together some fishing outfits for trout, panfish (bluegill, crappie, pumpkin seed, sunfish), bass, steelhead, walleye, salmon and sturgeon.

Selecting the right rod, reel and tackle for freshwater species

Consider these a starting point. There are lots of other alternatives - talk to eight different anglers about what they use to catch trout and you're likely to get eight different answers, based on their experiences and personal preferences. None of them are wrong, just different.

So here are our suggestions for getting started. All purpose starter outfits for:

Trout, bass, panfish

  • Rod: 5.5 feet long, medium action
  • Reel: spincast or spinning
  • Line: 6-12 pound monofilament
  • Basic lures and tackle: #7 snap swivel, size 8 bait hook, #5 lead split shot, bobber, PowerBait, worms
  • Other lures to consider: many kinds of natural and synthetic baits, spinners, spoons, jigs, poppers. If you want to try using flies, put on a clear bobber (the weight will help you cast) and tied a fly on below it.

Also suitable for many bass fishing situations. Here are some of our favorite rigs for bass and other warmwater species.

Light trout and panfish

  • Rod: 5 feet long, ultra-light action
  • Reel: spinning
  • Line: 2-6 pound monofilament
  • Basic lures and tackle: 1/8-1/4 oz. spinners or spoons
  • Other lures to consider: many kinds of natural and synthetic baits, spinners, spoons crappie jigs, poppers, flies (see the method described above).

Larger bass

  • Rod: 6.5 feet long, medium action
  • Reel: baitcasting or spinning
  • Line: 6-15 pound monofilament
  • Basic lures and tackle: 3/8 oz. jig with weed guard
  • Other lures to consider: many kinds of natural and synthetic baits such as worms, spinnerbaits, poppers, crankbaits. Try different styles of rigging your synthetic baits -- wacky rig, Texas rig, etc,

Also suitable for trout and panfish.

Trout, panfish, and bass fly-fishing

  • Rod: 9 feet long, 5-weight, medium/fast action
  • Reel: fly reel
  • Line: weight forward floating
  • Basic lures and tackle: 7.5 foot, 4x leader, wooly bugger (streamer)
  • Other lures to consider: wet flies, nymphs, dry flies, small poppers

All-purpose steelhead

  • Rod: 8.5 feet long, medium/heavy action
  • Reel: baitcasting 
  • Line: 8-12 pound monofilament
  • Basic lures and tackle: #5 spinner
  • Other lures to consider: plugs, steelhead jigs

Steelhead jig fishing

  • Rod: 10' 9" feet long, light/medium action
  • Reel: spinning
  • Line: 6-10 pound monofilament
  • Basic lures and tackle: 3/8 oz. swivel weight, 1/8 oz. jig, 1/2 oz. West Coast slip bobber, bobber stops
  • Other lures to consider: spinners

Steelhead fly-fishing with single-handed rod

  • Rod: 9 feet long, 8-weight, medium/fast action
  • Reel: fly reel
  • Line: weight forward floating for an 8-weight rod
  • Basic lures and tackle: 9 foot, 12-pound leader, steelhead wet fly
  • Other lures to consider: steelhead nymphs, skating (dry) flies

Steelhead fly-fishing, two-handed rod (Spey)

  • Rod: 14 feet long, 9-weight, fast action
  • Reel: fly reel large enough to accommodate spey line
  • Line: Skagit spey line for a 9-weight
  • Basic lures and tackle: 15 foot sinking tip, 3 foot 12-pound leader, stinger-style winter steelhead fly
  • Sinking tip is effective for winter steelhead. Change to a floating tip for summer fish.

All-purpose salmon

  • Rod: 9.5 feet long, medium to heavy action
  • Reel: level wind
  • Line: 15-30 pound braided
  • Basic lures and tackle: spreader bar, 5-8 oz. dropper, spin 'n glo, #2 octopus hook baited with artificial salmon eggs
  • Other lures to consider: spinners, plugs, wobblers

All-purpose sturgeon

  • Rod: 7 feet long, heavy action
  • Reel: level wind
  • Line: 25-40 pound braided
  • Lure and tackle: barrel slider with 5-8 oz. weight, 6/0 hook
  • Baits: smelt, squid, anchovies, sand shrimp

All-purpose walleye

  • Rod: 8.5 feet long, heavy action
  • Reel: spinning
  • Line: 12-30 pound monofilament
  • Basic lures and tackle: bottom dragger weight system, wedding ring baited with worm
  • Other lures to consider: walleye harness

a small image of the Gearing Up flyer

Download a pdf of this article 

Explore Related Articles

Blue Lake
Where to fish

Let's go fishing! Not enough time? Think again. If you live in the greater Portland area, there are a number of places...

How to fish

Steelhead have been called the ultimate game fish. These elusive and challenging fish can test an angler’s patience and persistence...

Luger Pond
Where to fish

The granite peaks of Oregon’s Blue and Wallowa Mountains form the backdrop for many of this zone’s glacier-carved lakes and...