Compared to freshwater fishing, tackle used for saltwater fishing encompasses a much wider spectrum in terms of size, style and application. Many of the rods, reels, lines, lures and terminal tackle (hooks, sinkers, swivels, etc.) used in freshwater fishing are also suitable for light saltwater use. However, due to the size of many saltwater fish, as well as the harsh marine environments to which it is exposed, the majority of saltwater tackle is bigger, heavier and more durable in nature.
Rods will vary in length and strength, ranging from typical 6-foot, medium-action rods one may use for freshwater bass fishing, to extra-long 12-foot models used for surf fishing; as well as stout boat rods and trolling rods so strong and heavy that theyre capable of handling fish weighing several hundred pounds. Additionally, handle shapes and lengths, reel seats and line guides on many saltwater rods differ dramatically from their freshwater counterparts due to the heavier demands placed on them.
Reels for saltwater fishing reflect the same broad range of sizes, style and function as saltwater rods. Those used for light saltwater duty dont differ much from heavier freshwater reels. But because bigger fish require the storage of more and heavier line, and because big saltwater fish will put greater stress on reel hardware, saltwater reels are generally much bigger with more complex construction and stronger materials.
Lines will range from conventional monofilament nylon to wire or lead-core line to thick, braided line and the newer microfilaments and fused lines. Typical line strengths (pound test) used in most freshwater fishing will range only from 2- to 25-pound test, but those used for salt water cover a much broader scale, anywhere from 8- to 130-pound test. A separate break strength classification exists with many of the lines used in saltwater. The International Game Fish Associations official line classes are 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 20, 30, 50, 80 and 130 pounds lines in each class are virtually guaranteed to break at the designated strength to ensure the validity of world line class records.
Lures include spoons, jigs, jigging spoons, plugs (surface, diving and sinking) and a wide array of lures that are used only for offshore trolling. Given the sheer number of different game fish found in salt water, there are comparatively fewer styles of artificial lures than are found in freshwater fishing. However, each style of lure will generally appeal to a large number of different game fish.
Hooks and weights (sinkers), as with all items of saltwater tackle, range from relatively small to extremely large with a diverse mixture of sizes, styles and purposes. Hook size and style are usually determined by the size of bait being used and the size of the fish being pursued, and many times the manner in which a particular fish consumes its food. Weight selection is determined by factors such as depth needed, casting distance required, wind or current strength, line weight and whether the angler is casting, trolling or drifting.