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Why so Many Different Sizes of Fishing Gear?

By Don Stokes

In this blog, collector Don Stokes talks about the many different styles and sizes of fishing gear! Be sure to check out our new exhibit, Gone Fishin’, which features many pieces from Don’s personal collection. 

From coast to coast, it seems Canada has fishing pretty well everywhere. The terrain might be different up top and the fish that live below it might seem wildly different depending upon where you live, but we seem to have developed tackle and techniques to handle it all. But still the question arises as to why do we need such a range of size, let alone style?

 Being the second largest country in the world, we have developed or introduced so many ways and means to catch fish. Back in the day, we went from weirs and spears to nets and jigging all, of which varied greatly depending upon where you were in our great country. This eventually became so well liked, people started to enjoy it so much, it became known as sports-fishing and developed into a lifestyle sport. For me, it became part of my career.

Don with a wooden fishing reel from his collection.

As a general guideline, the size of the fish often has the single biggest effect in determining what and how something is targeted. So for example, if you want to fish a small stream, it is by and large usually inhabited by smaller fish. This means using smaller baits, rods, line and the like.

 Taking it up a notch, a larger body of water be it lakes or rivers can be a safe bet to generally hold something a bit bigger. This means one often goes to something midsized or larger, longer be it rod, reel, line, lure. This increases range, and can help increase opportunity. Seasonally it can also help big time, when one begins to get a rough idea of where and when fish move and what they may feed on or be enticed to bite.

Rod and Gun cover, one of many currently on display at the Museum

What about the great big stuff? Here it often gets fairly specific. In places like the Fraser River, if one really wants a chance to have a shot a catching an 8 – 10 ft plus sturgeon, this means going much bigger. Bigger is truly generally regarded as better and has even begun to factor in better quality faster release strategies, which despite me mentioning the Fraser River, also directly affects things locally in the Bay of Quinte. A well thought out outfit be it for walleye, bass or salmon can make a huge difference.  

 And the really big stuff? Here it comes down to a couple of primary uses in Canada as it relates to how fishing has evolved. Inland sees some heavy action, larger reels and short stout rods developed mainly for lake trout or say trolling for muskellunge and larger northern pike. In the ocean, this means halibut, salmon and more, with some depths for halibut being 180-300 ft. This requires a lot of heavy line and a whole lot of patience when one gets one on. It changed with the introduction of downriggers, but by and large this still holds true.

How this affects your own fishing or collecting may very well want to reflect on where you live or like to fish. Choosing something that makes sense, can take a peek at history and tweek it with having a look at some of the latest and greatest. They all have a story, waiting to be told or unfolded for yourself.

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