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Let the Barbless Vacation Begin

The family vacation occupies a special place in American heritage. Millions of us every year continue that rich tradition by loading up the car and heading out on the highway. Often the destination of these trips is one of the great National Parks scattered across the United States. With all those trips looming in the near future, now is a great time to discuss packing some basic family-oriented fishing gear.

A quick visit to your local sporting goods store should get you all you need. To start, you’ll need some rods and reels. These are almost always sold as combos with the line already on the spool and a rod attached, so there’s no setup involved. For casual fishing, the spincast reel is the champion for ease of use. With its fully enclosed spool, a spincast rod is easy to identify. Using a spincast is as easy as mashing the lever on the back while casting forward. For children, spincast is definitely the way to go.

The next rod and reel combo to consider is the spinning reel. Spinning reels have an exposed spool of line on the front of the reel. These reels require a little more dexterity to operate. First, using your non-casting hand, you have to flip over the wire loop (the bail) in front of the spool to release the line. Then you need to hold the line against the rod using the index finger of your casting hand. Your finger pressure is the only thing preventing the line from coming off the spool. Casting involves releasing the line from your finger. Since there’s less friction involved in the design, a spinning reel it easier to cast further. To retrieve the line, all you have to do is turn the handle, which flips the bail over, grab the line and wind it back onto the spool. Using a spinning reel is a little more involved than a spincast reel, but it doesn’t take long to master the skills needed. With a little practice, older kids should have no problem using a spinning rod and reel.

Of course, you can’t catch fish without lures. Since vacation is a family activity and safety is a concern, it’s highly recommended you select at least a few barbless lures. These lures provide all the fun of fishing without the worry that can come when using barbed hooks around children. A few years ago, you would have made your own barbless lures by flattening the barbs with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Today, the wide selection of barbless lures available makes that manual step unnecessary. From topwater poppers to diving baits, there’s a barbless lure for nearly any fishing situation.

Finally, you’ll need to attach your lure to your line. There are two ways to do that. You can tie the line directly to the lure or you can tie it to a snap swivel. For ease of use, a snap swivel is preferable, because it makes switching lures easy and you’ll only have to tie a knot once. Also, some lures perform better in the water when used with a snap swivel. Whichever method you use, you will need to learn the tried and true Clinch Knot. If you’re knot challenged, no worries, the clinch knot is simple to tie and completely reliable.

With some basic skills and a modest amount of gear, your family vacation can include excursions to some of America’s finest outdoor locations and fishing memories that will last a lifetime.