Bank Fishing: Taking the Mystery Out of Your Tackle Box
By: Shaye Baker
When I’m fishing from the bank, I typically have very limited gear available. I don’t want to have to lug 3 or 4 rods around a pond or down a creek. I’m going to try to pick one rod, reel, and line combination that I can do a whole lot with. That seems obvious, but it isn’t easy to really narrow down that perfect setup.
On the same note, I want to have several lure options and whatever tools I might need, but don’t want to be hauling around 5 tackle boxes. So, it’s important to find a way to have what I need handy, without feeling like a pack mule all day.
Picking the Right Rod, Reel, and Line
I’m a big fan of braided line, which is great for topwater because it floats, but not good for crankbaits and worms fished in clear water. Fluorocarbon line is good for those presentations, but sinks so it’s not good for topwater. So, even though I rarely fish with monofilament in a boat, I would likely choose 15- pound test monofilament above the other two lines to use if I was only going to take one rod to fish with from the bank. Mono floats, so it works well with topwater lures. But it’s also fairly transparent, so it works well too with subsurface baits like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and Texas rigs in clear water scenarios.
For the rod and reel, I personally like a baitcaster. Nothing wrong too though with taking a spinning reel if that’s what you’re more comfortable with or an enclosed reel like a Zebco 33. But again, it all comes down to being able to do the most with the least for me, so a baitcaster combo is a ticket in my book.
Choosing a good mid-range gear ratio reel like a 7:1 gives me something that can again do a lot, versus the more technique-specific 5:1 and 8:1 gear ratio reels. Then pairing that reel with a 7-foot medium-heavy action rod is best. You can use this combo, spooled with the 15- pound test monofilament to throw everything from a topwater to a Texas rig and ensure that you have a combo sufficient for 90% of the techniques you might want to try from the bank.
Tackle Bag and Tools
When gathering the lures and few tools you’ll need to take, a nice tackle bag is super handy. Sometimes, I’ll fish from shore with a simple plastic box or two. But if I’m really going to spend a few hours fishing from the bank, having a tackle bag or a backpack with a strap that I can comfortably carry a fair amount of tackle and tools with is really nice. If I want to pause and fish for a few minutes, I can set the bag down, and if I want to fish on the move, I can.
Some of the basic tools you may want to bring are needle nose, side cutters, scissors, and maybe even a wacky tool to rig your wacky rigs. It’s not even necessary really to bring all these tools, as a good set of needles nose pliers will have cutting edges near where they hinge. The needle nose being the most basic and necessary of all the tools in my opinion, in case you need to get a hook out of a fish, your bag, or yourself. A good multi-tool like a Leatherman can come in really handy as well (or a set of split ring pliers like you see here can be used for several tasks).
As for the lures, it’s largely dependent on where and when you’re fishing. Obviously, some baits are only applicable to certain times of the year. I wouldn’t take 5 topwaters for instance to fish a pond in December. But you’ll almost always want to have lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, a few jigs, and the hooks and weights necessary to rig a few Texas rigs. Too though, it’s good to keep in mind that there’s not that much of a difference between a Texas rig and a shakyhead.
If I was going to fish from the bank and knew I’d only be taking one rod (and would have to tie and re-tie a bunch), I’d likely substitute a shakyhead in place of a Texas rig for instance because it requires taking slightly less gear and takes slightly less time to rig. Fishing from the bank is often about making the most you can out of the least, so that applies to being efficient with time as well. I often try to exhaust a technique before swapping lures, so I don’t find myself having to waste a lot of time re-rigging.
Learning to take all you may need without taking too much is a fine art. As you fish from the bank more and more, you’ll refine the process by eliminating the things you rarely use and adding the things you often miss. But the most important thing is really dialing in a rod, reel, and line combo that works extremely well for your skillset and preferred styles of fishing. Pick what you can do the most with. Then grab a comfortable tackle bag that’s not too heavy to carry all day, a few tools, and a good selection of baits and you’re ready to get out there and get after it!