Compact Fishing Gear Solutions
There is nothing more relaxing than a day out fishing. I love popping a topwater across a farm pond as the sun comes up or trying to get a few more casts in before the sun goes down. The fresh air and quiet is soothing to my soul. The thrill of hooking a monster bass and fighting it in is intoxicating. Let’s just say I love almost everything about fishing… almost.
The one thing I hate about fishing is all the gear I have to carry. Whether I am fishing from a boat or on the shore, I can barely carry everything that I need. I like to have two rods rigged up so I can switch if one lure isn’t working or if I break a line. I always must have a good net with me. I have lost too many big fish because I didn’t have a net handy.
Then there is everything else. I often bring multiple tackle boxes to cover all of the different lures I might want to use. There is extra line, weights, floats, stringers, pliers, line clippers, and any live bait I might want. It is frustrating to get all of this together for casual fishing. If I have any hiking to do to get to my spot, you can forget about it.
Unfortunately, my schedule is the other issue. I am often running around all day and just have a little window to pull over and wet a line during my lunch break or on the way home. There was a time when I was able to keep all of this gear in my truck, but not anymore. My vehicle is filled with car seats, groceries, and fast food trash. If only I had a compact fishing option that could stay in my vehicle or even in my hiking pack.
I found several of these options over the last several years, and I swear by all of them. These breakdown fishing rigs take up little space and keep your basic fishing supplies in one package. In this article, we will cover the three compact fishing solutions I use and why you might want to consider them as well.
The Pocket Fisherman
My first and still my favorite compact fishing rig is the Pocket Fisherman. My father grew up in the 50’s and said he had one just like mine, so they obviously are doing something right. This little setup looks like it is made of cheap plastic that would just fall apart. After lots of use, I can say this is absolutely not the case.
When folded up, the Pocket Fisherman is about nine inches long. It is small enough to fit in larger pockets, in a glove box, or you can even hang it off of your belt. The double rod folds out to increase the total length to about 18 inches long. It actually has two parallel rods working together to handle the weight of the fish without the line breaking.
There is a fully functional spin casting reel built into the handle. You can even adjust the drag on this setup for an ideal catch and release fishing experience. One of my favorite features is the cache in the handle. You can pop open a compartment to hold barbless hooks for fishing , weights, lures, and anything else small that might help you catch that monster bass.
In addition to how small this rig is, I was impressed by its functionality with larger fish. I have brought in several fish over five pounds with no issues. The line held, and I was able to fight the fish just like I would on a normal rod. The double rod structure really does a good job to cushion the line against the weight of the fish. This would be great for the fisherman on the go, or for a starter rod for a child.
There are two downsides that I have seen to the Pocket Fisherman. One is that the nut holding the reel pieces together tends to come loose over time. I just have to remember to tighten it periodically. The other is that getting distance and accuracy with such a short rod is tough. With some practice, I am accurate out to about 30 feet.
Despite the drawbacks, this is my favorite option for convenience fishing. I take one in my car or in my gear when I hike or camp. It is great for pulling over just to see if they are biting. There are also times I bring this rig as a second rod to save space, or as my primary rod if I just don’t want to mess with carrying all of the other junk I could bring.
The Telescopic Fishing Rod
I actually picked up this rig for my seven-year-old son but ended up using it just as much myself. As the product title suggests, this is a standard fishing rod and reel but the rod telescopes. You get a full-length medium weight rod that folds down to about 10 inches long. It has a built-in reel and drag system, but the release button is a trigger instead of a thumb button on the back of the reel. This has been easier for my son to work with.
The telescopic rod and reel is just as portable as the Pocket Fisherman, but the added length of a full rod makes it easier to cast accurately at long distances. I am fully able to use this setup the same way I would use a normal fishing rod. It has a compartment for lures and has an aluminum body with a fiberglass rod. These materials typically would last longer than the plastic body of the Pocket Fisherman.
The only downside that I have seen is that the rod does not want to stay fully extended. It does not lock into place like the Pocket Fisherman, so after a while it will try to fold up. You just need to pull it back out every few casts and it works fine. Because of this I like the Pocket Fisherman better for me, but my son likes his rig better.
Pocket Fishing Kits
There are a variety of pocket fishing kits you can buy to give yourself the option of fishing without any rod or reel. This is by far the most portable option as most of these kits are about the size of a mint tin. You can buy elaborate kits or basic kits, but I usually just make my own.
Inside a small tin, you will want a spool of fishing line at least 30 feet long. I like to load up a five pound test line so I can use it for lots of different types of fish. You will need some carp hooks of various sizes, and I like to have at least a few treble hooks in the mix. You can use these for snagging certain types of fish when it is legal. You should have a variety of different weights and floats. Finally, I like to have several smaller lures. Usually I have a few plastic worms, a few spoons, and a few rooster tails. I might throw in a deep diver or a topwater, but they tangle more and take up more space. This is really all you need to go fishing if you know how to hand line.
Hand lining is just fishing with a line, but no rod or reel. The best way to do this is to wrap your line around something round and smooth like a glass bottle or plastic bottle. Leave about four feet of line and tie on your lure. Hold the bottle in your left hand and swing the lure around underhanded with your right hand. You may have to add more weight to get the distance you want.
When you are ready, release the line with your right hand and hold out the bottle in front of you. The line will unspool until the lure hits the water. You then reel it back in by spooling it back onto the bottle. This will help keep the line from cutting into your hands as you pull it in, and will also keep the line from tangling. The biggest downside is lack of distance and accuracy with your casts.
If you love fishing as much as I do, you want to get as many casts as you can with minimal hassle. The freedom of keeping a compact fishing option in my car for quick trips is so much better than messing with all of that other gear. The smaller rods are less intimidating for children as well. I love that I can throw one of these rigs in my day pack or strap it to my belt. I can hike all day and take a break to fish if I happen to run across a good spot.
The biggest point I can emphasize is that these compact fishing setups are not just a gimmick. Each of these options surprised me with its functionality. I couldn’t believe that I could haul in a monster bass without these rods falling apart in my hands. While not everyone will actually use one of these options, they can be a good solution for a busy angler like myself.
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