Common Equipment for Bait Fishing
Swim feeders will be essential if you're doing much river fishing, and there are all manner of types and designs. I would suggest a few open-ended swim feeders, together with a few closed swim feeders of various weights. You might want to go as light as 3/4 of an ounce (20g) and up to about 2 1/2 ounces (70g) if you're fishing a big river, or it's in flood. Once again, a reputable brand is important because swim feeders do take an awful amount of bashing and can break up.
Hooks are, of course, essential, and I'd advise you to buy eyed hooks with a wide selection between sizes 4 and about 18. The higher the number, the smaller the hook — an 18 will be used for a maggot or two, while the 4 can easily take a great lump of bread or a couple of lobworms. The numbers ascend in twos, so in all you'll probably buy around about 8 packets. Make sure that you only buy the best. Like your line, the hook is an absolutely critical part of your tackle, and if it bends open, the fish will be lost. Look for hooks that are either barbless or have micro-barbs: this will make unhooking your first fish much easier, and if that hook should get into your own finger, then it will slip out relatively painlessly.
You'll also need a box of split shot — never use lead these days for fear of harming wildfowl — some swivels for attaching a hook length to your main line, and, importantly, a pair of forceps. These are invaluable tools for unhooking a fish that has swallowed a bait a little deeply.
You'll also need a landing net. This is because it isn't a good idea to swing any fish, let alone a big one, straight onto the bank. Choose one with a decent-sized frame and very soft mesh, and do remember that you don't always have to take a fish out of the water once it's in the net. In many instances, you can crouch down over the net, unhook the fish, and let it go straight back without ever breaking surface. You might want to buy a set of weighing scales. However, I feel that many people weigh too many fish without thinking whether it's really necessary or not. Weighing fish simply increases the stress that they're already experiencing.
You'll need a bag of some sort to carry all this gear in; this is often incorporated into a box if you feel the need to sit down when you're at the waterside. Alternatively, a small, light stool will fit the bill.
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