A Beginners Guide to Fishing: Fishing Gear

How to Catch More Fish 

When you first decide to go fishing, deciding what gear to buy can feel very daunting. We often have people in our store ask us, "what do I need to start fishing?" We decided to put together a $100 tackle box with everything you need to start fishing as a beginner. This basic tackle box will have everything you need regardless of the types of fish, fishing from the dock for sunfish, or bass fishing on the lake.

Fishing License

Before you can head out to the water, if you are 18 and over or under 65 years old, you need an Outdoors Card and License to fish. You can get these on-line or at approved retailers or participating Service Ontario locations. If you are under 18 or older than 64, you are exempt and able to fish without a license.

Tackle Box

Fishing tackle boxes are a must for every angler to help store and organize fishing gear. Tackle boxes can be quite elaborate, but for beginners, we recommend the Calcutta 3600 Tackle Trays. Calcutta Tackle Trays come in a package of three. Each tray has a simple, clear box with adjustable dividers inside to help keep everything organized. These trays have heavy-duty hinges to keep the lid closed tightly. This means it is strong enough to hold baits and lures, needle nose pliers, and any first aid kit essentials. These tackle trays fit easily inside a backpack or tackle bag and are therefore easy to store.

Calcutta clear fishing tackle storage trays


There are many types of hooks. The best hook to use will change depending on the type of fishing or what species of fish you are trying to catch. They vary in shape, material, point, barb, and eye type. In a basic tackle box, we suggest at least three kinds of hooks: Jig Heads, Carlisle hooks, and baitholders. These three hooks are what we believe are the best fishing hooks for beginners to have in their tackle box.

Jig Headschatreuse and green jig head with red fishing hook

The round head of the jig is weighted which helps your bait drift downward. Fishers use them in combination with plastic worms or live minnows. There are many types of jig heads, but for a beginner, the best kind to buy are round jig heads like the Shur Strike Jigheads (1/4 and 1/8). These jig heads are designed for freshwater fishing and are great for beginners casting off the dock during summer.

Baitholdersbasic baitholder fishing hooks with small barbs on shaft to help keep bait in place.

Every fisher needs to have some basic baitholders in their tackle box. These hooks have an extra barb on the shank to make sure your bait stays put. They're great for live bait, but the additional barbs can be hard on a fish's gills, so this style of hook is less useful if you are planning to catch and release. We like the Snelled Baitholders from Lake and Stream.

 A snell is a special knot that keeps your hook firmly attached to your fishing line. A Snell knot reduces drag and keeps the hook correctly angled as it travels through the water. Pre-snelled hooks have clear line with a loop at the end - perfect for attaching to swivel snaps on your fishing line.

Carlisle Hookscarslile hook with a long shank and a snelled leader fishing hook

Carlisle hooks from Mustad have a long shank and single barbed tip. Their long shanks make them easy to grip and remove from a fish's mouth. These hooks are great if you plan on doing catch and release. These lines come with snelled leaders which means they are super easy to swap out when combined with swivel snaps.

Swivel Snaps

 Swivel Snaps are a helpful piece of equipment that makes it easy to switch out the gear on your line. The small ring ties onto the fishing line and then instead of having to tie and untie gear each time you want to switch to something new, the small interlock snap allows easy removal and attachment of different hooks and lures. We recommend the DFS Ball Bearing Swivel with interlock snap (size 1)


Depending on what fish species you're chasing, topwater lures might be a better option than live bait. Some fish can be picky when it comes to artificial bait so lures have become quite advanced in recent years. Most lures will come in a variety of colours or subtle styles. It's important to experiment with different colours and styles of lures to find out exactly what the fish are interested in that day.

Soft Plastic Bait

Soft Plastic Bait like Mister Twister 3" Meenys mimic live bait as they move through the water. They're great for casting, which in other words means fishing from the dock is the perfect place to use bait like this. Combined with Jig Heads, soft plastic bait will sink while still fluttering convincingly for all the nearby fish. This type of lure is great for rainbow trout who love bright colours and wriggling movements. Find trout in cold lakes or rivers.


Spinners are a type of lure with metal 'blades' attached to the wire of the lure. As the lure moves through the water, the blade spins creating flashes of light and vibrations to attract fish. There are a wide variety of spinners, but we recommend the Mepps Black Fury for fishers just starting out. The Black Fury lures are perfect for shallow/mid-depth fishing, which makes them a great choice for bass. In the springtime, bass spend time in shallow, still water like the banks of lakes.

Most basic spinners use treble hooks. What are treble hooks? They are three hooks combined with a single eye. Therefore, no matter which angle the fish attacks from, the hook is in position to catch that fish!


If you're looking to bring in some bigger fish like walleye, pike, or large-mouth bass, then a spoon may be your best bet! Spoons are concave, and the curve creates a wobble as the lure moves through the water. It's important to move at a steady pace as you wheel in a spoon. Otherwise, the wobbling motion is affected. We suggest the Len Thompson Original no 0 5/8oz yellow and red diamond-patterned spoon.

Bobberssnap on bobbers in two sizes and colours for fishing

Bobbers are useful when fishing with 'smelly' bait; this can be either live bait or scented plastic bait. The two main ways to attract fish are with movement or scent. When you fish with a bobber, you throw your line in and leave it in one place, letting the scent travel through the water. Bobbers make sure the bait stays off the bottom, preventing snags and tangles while you wait for the fish to follow the smell back to your hook. Bobbers are brightly coloured, making them easy to track in the water. Attach your bobber 1-2 feet up your line so that your bait hangs neatly below it. You can also use small Split Shot Sinker to your line to ensure the bait hangs down below the bobber.

We suggest having a couple of sizes of bobbers. Select one that floats well with your hook and bait attached. We like the Eagle Claw Snap-on Floats since snap-ons are slip bobbers that easily detach from your line without the need to remove your hook or lure.

Sinkerssplit shot sinkers fishing line weights

When you're fishing in deep water, it's important to use a sinker. We like the Eagle Claw Bass Casting Sinkers. The rounded edges of these tear-dropped shaped sinkers make them less likely to snag in the weeds. A sinker helps the lure drop down to deeper water levels, but they're also useful when fishing from shore. A sinker can help combat against windy conditions, letting you cast your line exactly where you want.

assorted sizes of bass fishing sinkers


In addition to your basic tackle, there are some useful tools that you should keep with your box. It is always useful to keep a pair of needle nose pliers or a multi-tool with your tackle. It makes attaching split shot sinkers to your line or gripping a slippery fishhook easier. If you plan on keeping the fish you catch, we recommend also investing in a fillet knife. There are many useful tools that avid fisherscan buy. For example, we like the Buck Knives Fishing Nippers; they are a useful little line cutter tool that also has a hook sharpener and lure adjuster built-in.

In addition to all the tackle that you'll need to start fishing, we also have a wide assortment of fishing rods and reels for sale. If you need more advice for picking out fishing gear, give us a call or send us an email! We'd love to hear from you.

Basic Tackle Box Shopping List:

Additional Useful Tools: