Updated on April 18, 2022
Conventional tackle is the standard equipment most anglers take with them from inland lakes to the Continental Shelf. The utility of conventional gear is second to none, with a single setup capable of catching a variety of fish across different environments. Here’s everything you need to know about fishing with conventional tackle.
The three most popular types of fishing reels are spinning, bait casting, and conventional. Spinning reels spin line around a stationary spool while reeling. During a cast, the line is able to freely spool off, allowing for more distance than any other reel. Baitcasting and conventional reels both use rotating spools to reel in line, which is aided by line guides. The difference between the two is usually how much line they hold and their construction.
Baitcasting reels are designed to have exceptional casting distance and fast retrieve, while conventional reels are designed for strength, line capacity, and angler comfort. Baitcasting reels are usually used to cast for small to medium fish in inland and inshore waters. Conventional reels are typically used for trolling lakes and offshore waters to catch the largest fish.
Conventional fishing rods are common rods consisting of a handle, tapered shaft, and eyelets. These rods are versatile, capable of targeting a wide range of fish species in a variety of environments. Conventional fishing rods are general purpose and typically range from five to seven feet long.
Spinning rods are used with spinning reels and feature enlarged eyelets that allow lines to spool off the reel during a cast without getting tangled. Bait casting rods are used with bait casting reels, which have very small eyelets because the line comes off the reel with very little slack. There are also conventional rods made for heavy conventional reels and typically have reinforced eyelets, handles, and reel mounts, making them ideal for targeting larger fish like tuna and sharks.
Longer rods are generally capable of casting further while shorter rods are more maneuverable. Rod weight, sometimes called “rod power” refers to the resistance or spring of a rod when it’s flexed. This usually depends on the size and strength of the target species with rods typically ranging from light to heavy. Rod action describes how the rod bends as force is applied. Fast action rods bend progressively from the tip down the rod while slow action rods bend throughout the rod in a crescent shape.
While conventional reels are usually seen on offshore boats, these reels can be used to cast lures and bait just like a bait caster. Instead of a button like you would find on a bait casting reel, conventional reels have a lever that unlocks the spool and allows it to spool off line. Place your thumb on the spool and slide the lever to allow the reel to free spool. As you swing the rod around on your cast keep your thumb securely on the spool until you reach the release point, then let off and let your thumb barely ride just above the rotating spool. Your thumb is the release and emergency brake while casting a conventional reel. To reduce how much you use your thumb to slow or stop the spool make sure your spool brake or spool tensioning system is properly adjusted for the weight of your lure.
The different combinations of rod and reel allow anglers to be as specific or general in application as they want. If you are looking to purchase new gear consider hiring a fishing charter where you will be able to ask the guide for their opinion while also using proven gear.