A medium-light weight spinning rod between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 feet long is a good all-around choice for fishermen who want to pursue a variety of fish. However, for panfish and small trout, you may want to opt for a more sensitive ultralight rod; likewise, if you are targeting species like muskie or catfish, you may want a sturdier rod.
Spin-casting reels come in two forms: open and closed-faced. Closed-faced reels have a cap that covers the spool around which the line is wrapped, as opposed to an open-faced reel, where the line and spool are exposed. The reel should be matched to the size of the rod you are using. For a medium weight spinning rod choose a reel designed to handle 8 to 12 pound-test line.
Clear monofilament line comes in a variety of strengths referred to as pound-test. Eight pound-test line is usually adequate for most fishing situations.
If you are fishing with live bait, purchase an assortment of hooks in sizes that range from No. 6 to No. 10. When practicing catch-and-release, flatten the barbs on your hooks to minimize the harm done to fish once they have been hooked.
Sinkers allow you to get you bait right down to the fish and keep your bait from floating on the surface. Beginners should buy a variety pack of split shot sinkers, which are small, round weights that can be clamped onto your line with a needle-nose pliers.
Bobbers are floats you attach to your line that allow you to set the depth at which you want to present your bait to the fish. Bobbers also indicate when you have a fish on the line by dropping below the water's surface once a fish has taken your bait. In general, round bobbers are less sensitive to strikes than more slender, pencil-shaped slip bobbers.
A tackle box allows you to conveniently organize and transport your tackle and bait when you go fishing. A small, plastic tackle box that can accommodate a basic assortment of tackle is a good choice for beginners.
Having a net on hand will prevent you from losing a trophy fish when you try to haul it into the boat or onto the shore. A net also allows you to quickly and safely land a hooked fish, which increases its chances of survival when it is released back into the water.