As simple as it may look, setting up a fishing rod could be as confusing as solving a Rubik’s cube.
Different rigs and tactics can differ majorly depending on which species you are targeting.
Luckily, there is a baseline to follow on how to set up a fishing rod as a beginner, and once you get it down, you can expand your setup to be more tailored to your needs.
Setting up a fishing rod can be summarised in 3 simple steps: spool the line on the reel, attach the lure and set the spool, and drag.
Assuming the rod is assembled already, you’ll be ready to fish once you complete these three steps.
This article looks at how you set up a basic fishing rod in a few simple steps.
Lining the reel on your fishing rod
Spooling a line on your reel is a simple concept but can cause many problems if not done correctly.
Here are seven quick steps for correctly putting a line onto your fishing reel.
- First, take the end of the line off the spool and feed it through the eyes of the rod from the tip to the reel.
- Next, feed the line through the line guide of a baitcaster or under the bell for a spinning reel.
- Use a slip knot to secure it to the spool itself. Make sure the knot is small and low profile to avoid creating a bulge once you have spooled the line on the reel.
- After you’ve secured the line to the spool, you will now reel on the line until the spool is full.
- Put the spool of line in a spooling vice or hand it to someone to apply a small amount of tension when reeling.
- Hold the spool so that the line is coming off the top of the spool to decrease the chances of twisting later.
- Once the reel is full, spool off a rod’s length of line from the tip of the rod so that it will not retreat down the eyes of the rod.
And there you have it – your reel should be adequately lined and ready to be attached to your rod.
Attach your reel to your fishing rod
This is a pretty simple step to complete.
Your fishing rod will have a grip slot for your reel to attach to.
There will be too small brackets with a slot to fit the bottom and top end of the reel attachment arm to the rod.
On the handle, you’ll see a ring that you can twist around, and as you do, it either moves up or down the handle.
This is where you attach your reel.
Slot your reel in the bottom slot and then adjust the grip ring at the top to give you room to fit it in, then slot the top end in too and twist to tighten the reel to the rod.
There you go!
How do you set up a fishing hook and weight?
This is how I often fish around where I live.
We have some nice coastal and harbor spots where you can pick up a good leather jacket or a bream by fishing with a weight, the right size hook, and a bit of bait. Bream tend to go for almost any scrap of food around here!
A simple fishing hook and weight is a good beginner fishing setup.
The way I typically set this up is one of a couple of ways:
- Use a simple drop shot rig
- This is just a weight that has a hole going right through it that you can thread the line through.
- Get the end of the line and thread it through the weight.
- Then, tie a hook to the end of the line.
- The hook acts as the weight-stopper, and gravity keeps the weight fairly close to the hook.
The great thing about this beginner fishing setup is that when you cast out and the weight sinks, the bait lies on the bottom waiting for a fish to take it.
And because it’s a running weight (i.e. the line runs through it), when the fish strikes and takes the bait, it can swim off a little with the bait and get the bait completely in its mouth.
2. Use a simple rig with a triple-ring swivel
I use this often because it is so simple and helps avoid tangles. It’s straightforward to set up, and easy for beginners.
- Tie your line to one of the rings of the swivel – this becomes the ‘top’ ring essentially.
- Then get a separate length of line and tie a hook to one end.
- Tie the other end of the line with the hook to one of the swivel rings.
- Then get another length of line and attach either a pyramid, dipsey, diamond weight to the end.
- Tie the other end to the last available swivel of the three.
- Then bait up and you’re ready to go!
Check out this resource with lots of rig ideas and drawings to help you see how to rig them up properly.
Attaching a Lure to your fishing rod
Tying a lure to the line is an overlooked process in setting up a reel.
An improper knot will eventually turn into heartbreak once you have hooked a fish.
While there are hundreds of knots that are used to attach the lure, the two most popular ones are the improved clinch and the Palomar knot.
There are many different variations to these two knots, but you will be able to tie them both effectively with a bit of research and practice.
An improved clinch knot is best used when throwing swimming baits such as crankbaits, jerk baits, or plastic swimbaits.
This knot is also best for throwing topwater lures or frogs.
A Palomar knot is best for lures such as jigs, spinnerbaits, or Texas rigs.
When tying either of these two knots, make sure to leave enough of the tag end out so that it will not pull back through the knot.
A good tip for tying a strong knot is to wet it with saliva before tightening it.
Once your lure is attached, hook it to the hook keeper or one of the eyes so that your hook is secure until use.
Setting the Spool and Drag on your beginner fishing reel
When setting up a baitcaster, it is very important that you set the spool tension to your casting style and the weight of the lure.
If the spool is set too loose, you will be picking out backlashes all day long. If the spool tension is too tight, you will not be able to cast far.
The best way to set the spool is by starting with it tightened down and loosening it between cast until it to where you can cast as far as you need without resulting in a backlash.
Setting the drag takes more experience to fine-tune but can be generally set fairly easily.
The best way to set it is to pull the line with your hand off the reel and tighten the drag until you feel as if the line is going to break or you can no longer pull it with your hand.
The drag will ensure that you will not break the line when fighting a fish.
How to Set Up a Fishing Rod for Beginners. Summary.
After acquiring all the gear you need, you should now know how to set up a fishing rod for beginners.
Just spool the line on your reel, attach the lure, and set the spool and drag, and you should be able to make adjustments as you go.
A fishing rod setup should be specific to whatever you are fishing, but you can change whatever you need to fit your personal preference with this baseline.