Each month I field a question from a reader and answer it as best I can, focusing on those inquiries and responses that I believe will be of general benefit or interest. I recently received this email from Mark in Texas, who asks: “I’m just getting started in fishing shallow saltwater. What’s the biggest mistake you see novice anglers make?”
There are quite a few mistakes made by novice anglers – and I made most of them myself when I was getting started. The single biggest? Tough to choose, but I’d say the tendency to use tackle that’s too heavy for the job. I believe this stems from uninitiated anglers (many of them with freshwater pedigrees) assuming that saltwater species are bigger and tougher than their sweetwater counterparts, so it’s natural that beefy tackle should be used. While that logic holds up well when pursuing offshore species, heavy-duty rods and reels and big clunky lures make for short and inaccurate casts and loud presentations in the shallows. Saltwater game fish are nothing if not wary, so subtle, accurate and lifelike presentations are critical. And with so many well-crafted rods on the market and the advent of ultra-strong, super-thin braided line, subduing big saltwater fish on modest-sized tackle is not just possible, it’s preferable. Keep your line and tackle on the lighter side, and you’ll fool more fish and have far more fun catching them.