I remember when I first went fishing more than 50 years ago. I fondly remember the long, heavy cane pole with a reel that didn't work taped to the pole and a couple of guides and a tip on the pole along with heavy braided line to which was attached a big bobber, a long-shanked gold hook and a couple of splitshot. I also distinctly remember the magic of watching the bobber go down and shortly after the thrill of holding in my hand a bluegill or bullhead or sometimes a largemouth bass. Simple times and simple fishing, and fun. A while later when I got my first graphite rod and spinning reel and monofilament line, I thought the days of simple fishing were over. I was wrong and I'm glad I was wrong.

A couple of years ago I was re-introduced to fishing with a long rod and a short piece of line. The rod was much different than the rod I used those many years ago: it was telescopic and very lightweight. There was no reel or guides, just a tip that a length of strong but extremely lightweight line maybe thirty inches long was tied to. Also, there was no bobber, just a tiny Fire-fly jig and small minnow or piece of Impulse plastic. We moved slowly and quietly through the rushes and shallow vegetation dipping our little jigs into pockets and near clumps of vegetation. Frequently we would see our jig eaten by a crappie, bluegill, or yellow bass. And every time we saw that happen, there was that moment of excitement and magic that I hope never goes away. We were kind of reliving our childhoods, and we were having a wonderful time doing so.

Clear Lake Fishing

Fishing educator and expert angler Mike Frisch swings one aboard. Notice the long rod Mike's using.​

The wonderful thing about fishing is that it can be whatever we want it to be. To many, fishing is owning a couple of rod/reel combinations and one tacklebox with some jigs, crankbaits, an in-line spinner or two, and a couple of other favorite lure types. The angler that this sort of fishing appeals to enjoys his/her style of fishing, and that's great.

There are other anglers who have many more rods and reels and several tackleboxes each dedicated to a particular lure type. This angler has a box just for walleye jigs, another box just for bass jigs, others for other types of baits. The angler that this sort of fishing appeals to enjoys his/her fishing, and that's great.

There are times though, when it's not a bad thing and can actually be very productive to just take a couple of rods and reels and commit to a very basic style of fishing, especially when a new angler, regardless of age, is being introduced to fishing. Keep it simple, catch some fish, get that new angler introduced to and excited about going fishing. When they get hooked on fishing, and they will if the first couple of trips are pleasant, then we can add techniques and other pieces of equipment to the arsenal.

Clear Lake Crappie

Mike Frisch took this nice crappie in shallow water with a long rod and short line combo.​

That long rod and short line technique is great for walking on docks, dipping the jig ahead of you along the dock posts and such. It's inexpensive, it's simple, and it's productive.

Since that day over 50 years ago when I first started fishing with what is now an ancient rod, our equipment has improved so much, and so has our fishing. We're now catching more and bigger fish of many different species. The opportunity for a memorable fishing trip is better now than ever. However, we still have to start somewhere, and when it comes to fishing, much of the time, simple fishing is the best way to start fishing.

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