What is Saltwater Tackle?

Ken Black

Saltwater tackle is equipment specifically used for saltwater fishing, whether it be bait, lures or other types of gear. In many cases, there may not be much difference between freshwater and saltwater tackle, and much of it could be used in either situation. In other cases, there could be substantial differences, depending on the location and type of fish being sought.

Squid can be used as bait for saltwater fishing.
Squid can be used as bait for saltwater fishing.

For example, most freshwater fishing is done for species that usually do not have teeth and are less than 15 pounds (7 kg), and anglers usually do not have to deal with sharp formations such as barnacles and coral and corrosive water. In saltwater fishing, all of those things could be considerations. Therefore, saltwater tackle is made to help deal with some of those issues. Tackle made for freshwater simply will not hold up under some of these conditions.

A commercial fishing boat.
A commercial fishing boat.

One of the first things people may notice about saltwater tackle is that it is usually bigger than that which is used for freshwater fishing, with the poles being stiffer and thicker to take on larger fish. The line can be much thicker and rated for much higher weights. Even the hooks can be thicker to prevent fish from biting through them or breaking them in some other fashion.

Most lures included in saltwater tackle may be a little different as well. For example, a variety of spoons and topwaters are used in saltwater. While these are also used in freshwater fishing, the size is one of the major differences, at least in some cases.

While spinning and baitcasting reels are often used in saltwater fishing, there are other types of reels, often called big game reels, used to go after certain species of saltwater fish. These reels do not place a premium on casting, but rather on keeping the line in place when fighting larger fish. A spinning reel would be no contest against some of the bigger saltwater species.

The ability of saltwater tackle to stand up to harsher fishing conditions is one of the reasons why many find it necessary to switch when going to saltwater. For example, steel leaders, generally considered a nuisance and unnecessary in freshwater fishing, are considered by many to be requirements with saltwater fishing. This is because the line is so easily cut on a number of objects when fishing in saltwater.

The bait used is another aspect of saltwater tackle that is different. Whether it is cut bait or live bait, fishing for saltwater fish requires different types of baits than freshwater fishing. Saltwater shad and shrimp are common choices, as well as squid and sand fleas. Live baits are preferred by some species, but cut baits, which are often easier to deal with, can also be used to catch a number of different types of fish.

Saltwater fishermen must deal with sharp formations like coral.
Saltwater fishermen must deal with sharp formations like coral.

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