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Fishing Terminal Tackle : Basics for Beginners

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What is terminal tackle? While a fishing tackle is the equipment used by fishermen or anglers for fishing, fishing terminal tackle refers to the gear that’s attached to the end of a fishing line. Remember, artificial lures and live baits don’t qualify as terminal tackles. Did you know the hook is considered to be the first fishing terminal tackle to have ever been used.

Several historical records have been found on the usage of fishing hooks, dating back to almost 7000 B.C. It was also placed among ‘Forbes’ top twenty tools in the ‘history of man’, back in 2005! But, the hook isn’t the only terminal tackle tool, it includes other items like swivel, snap, split ring, float, sinker (weights), leader etc.

The basic styles of fishing terminal tackle are sinker-above, sinker-below, and no sinker or floated. All the others are variations of these three. Depending on the fishing conditions, you can choose suitable fishing terminal tackle. Keeping in mind fishing for beginners, here are the basics of how to use terminal tackles.

Fishing Terminal Tackle Basics


Probably, the most common terminal tackle that is used in fishing is the hook. Whether you’re using an artificial lure or live bait, it’s the hook that you rely on to deliver the final blow. Some of the things to keep in mind when using hooks: make sure that you use a hook in proportion to the bait/lure being used to make the presentation look natural.

types of fishing hooks

Higher the number of the hook, smaller the size (1-largest, 32-smallest). If fraction system is used, higher the number, larger the hook (1/0-smallest, 19/00-largest). Also, check whether the hook is sharp enough and sharpen it regularly using a sharpening stone or hook file. If you want hooks that never dull away, you may use the slightly expensive, chemically sharpened ones.

Wide range of fishing hook styles are available; single hook or bait holder hook, which is the most popular type; treble hook – one eye with three fused hooks, mainly used for artificial lures; and the double hook, which is least used. Double hooks are mainly attached to artificial flies, crankbaits, and weed-less lures.


A snap is used to join the line with the artificial lure and helps add movement to the lure. It is a thin metal connector which comes in varying designs and strengths. Snaps also have a great application of helping change the lures quickly without having to tie and untying the line to different lures again and again.

Fishing terminal tackle Snap


Swivel is a connector that joins the fishing line to the hook, fishing line to lures, or is a part of a fishing rig. Usually it is made of metal, with a ball-shaped middle and two rings on both sides also called the heads or the eyes. The line is tied to one ring while the hook is attached to the other. However, there is more to the swivel than just being a pivoting joint. The main purpose of the equipment is to avoid twisting of the line, while retrieving the prey. There are many types of swivels, but the two most common are:

Barrel swivel

The basic barrel swivel comprises a nickel-plated brass barrel that has been moulded around brass pins with formed heads and eyes. It’s comparatively cheaper and comes in different shapes and sizes. However, their biggest disadvantage is their failure to turn due to excessive friction under heavy loads like when trolling deep-diving plugs or long battles with big fish and even when bait fishing in strong currents. Their best use is in freshwater fishing where the wear and tear is not expected to be much.

Barrel Swivel

Ball Bearing Swivel

The ball-bearing swivel has stainless-steel ball bearings positioned between its spindle and body, enabling the swivel to rotate freely. This also avoids any type of unnecessary twists, even when there’s heavy load. It is best suited for saltwater fishing e.g. trolling a fish from a boat or while targeting big fish from the shore or anchored boat.

Ball Bearing Swivel ball bearing swivel split view

Snap Swivel

A combination of snap and a swivel. A useful item when you want the best of both worlds together i.e. prevention of line twisting as well as easy changing of lures. A combination is better than connecting individual swivel with a snap as the strengths of the individual items could differ as compared to a combination.

Snap Swivel

Split rings

A split ring is used to make movements with a lure. Similar to a snap, a split ring has the line tied to the ring and not to the lure itself. Also they serve as connectors for the belly and tail end hooks of an artificial lure. Apart from this, split rings can help in the movement of lures; and in comparison to snaps, they are stronger and more durable. Mostly, while buying lures, you may find split rings attached to them. But it is advisable to buy good quality split rings separately and fix them manually as the ones which come by default with the lures are mostly low in quality.

ffishing terminal tackle split rings


This item is used to increase the rate of sink, anchoring ability, and casting distance of a lure or bait. A sinker is usually made from lead and steel, available in different shapes, sizes, and applications. However, you can go environment-friendly by choosing sinkers made from steel, tungsten-nickel alloy, tin, or bismuth.

Usually, sinkers are chosen on the basis of fishing conditions such as the water body, the depth of fishing, and type of fish. For example, bullet sinkers are used for bass fishing, claw sinkers are mostly used while fishing in spots with strong currents as well as for surf fishing, and pyramid sinkers are used for bottom fishing.

Sinkers can be used two ways: one, attaching the sinker to the line by pinching and having it tied to the line directly or twisted with the use of a rubber insert. The other way is called sliding, wherein the fishing line slides through the weight from an eyelet or hole.

Fishing Sinkers

Bobbers or Floats

A bobber or float is also is used in the float fishing technique and is one of the most useful fishing equipment. Unlike the sinker, a bobber is lightweight and will float once the bait has been cast, hence making it visible to the angler. It is usually attached to line at a certain distance above the hook with the bait and helps keep the presentation suspended in water. The distance depends on the depth at which the fish is being targeted above the bottom of the water body. The bobber serves as a bite indicator by going down in the water indicating the fish has taken the bait and is moving and it time for the angler to quickly set the hook.

 fishing bobbers or floats
Bobbers Source

Some bobbers can have added weight enabling the angler to cast the bait much farther. You’ll be interested to know that bobbers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Lighted or glowing bobbers for night-time fishing, fixed bobbers with a snap or spring lock for fishing in shallow waters, and slip bobbers through which the fishing line passes is used for deep water fishing.

Here are some popular bobbers – Round Attached, Weighted Spring Attached, Large Bait Slip, Lighted Slip, Glow Slip, Antenna Slip, Waggler Slip, and Shy/Light Bite Slip.


In simple words, a leader is a piece of wire that connects the fishing line to your bait, lure, or hook. Though it may seem rather insignificant, it is an important angling tool. Leaders are used for two reasons, to provide protection against the sharp edges of teeth, rocks, or reef, as well as to deceive the fish.

Leaders make it difficult for the fishes to see the line that is connecting your bait or lure. This in turn, increases you chances of catching them. Two types of leaders are mainly preferred –

Monofilament Leader

Monofilament Leader is abrasion resistant; hence it’s mostly suited for bait-fishing, deep water jigging, and trolling. Also, because it is shock resistant, it can also be used while tackling small or medium-sized fish. This type of leader is best for shallow water fishing rather than deep water fishing, because of its high water absorption and stretch factors (that can cause reduced sensitivity and loose knots).

monofilament fishing line

You can find Monofilament Leaders in green, red, yellow, blue, fluorescent, and clear colors, and varying degrees of abrasion resistance, flexibility, and stiffness. However monofilament leaders have some disadvantages due to their material and should take the necessary steps in maintaining the sensitive Monofilament Leaders.

Fluorocarbon Leader

Fluorocarbon Filament Leader is probably the toughest leader. It is almost undetectable to the fish due to its light refractive index same as water; hence, deceiving fishes with this leader would be easy, even in clear waters. Also, it’s stronger and less stretchable than the Monofilament Leader, and is resistant to wear and tear by the sun.

Fluorocarbon fishing leader

Additionally, it is non-absorbing (no water absorption) and will not weaken with repeated use. Therefore, it can be used for all types fishing, especially against the big and aggressive ones.

Terminal Tackle in Fishing Rigs

Hooks, snaps, swivels, leaders and sinkers can be combined together in different styles which are known as fishing rigs. A Fishing rig is a setup at the end of the line offering different types of presentation suitable for different situations and target fish while bait fishing.

Some of the common fishing rigs include:

  • Basic Bobber Rig for still fishing (good for beginners), to catch crapple, small fish, panfish, or perch;
  • Sliding Sinker Rig for bottom fishing, for fishing catfish, trout, flounder, sting ray, striped bass, or redfish;
  • 3-Way Fishing Rig for bottom fishing as well as surf fishing;
  • Two-Hook Bottom Rig or Spreader Rig, one of the best rigs that can be used to catch all kinds of fish .

A Beginner’s Tackle Kit

A beginner’s tackle kit should contain hooks, swivels, snaps, split rings, sinkers, bobbers, and leaders. While hooks and leaders are must-haves, you can change between bobbers and sinkers depending on the type of water body, conditions, and the type of fish you are planning to catch. The swivel will give you an added advantage, making the retrieval part of the fishing procedure easier.

As a beginner, you have to create a small collection of different shapes and sizes of fishing terminal tackle in your tackle box, depending on the type of fishing possible in your area so that you are all set whenever you want to go fishing.

Now you know what are the different type of fishing terminal tackle and how to use it. With these fishing tackle basics, you’re all set to go out there and get the best catches. After a few outings, you’ll be amongst those excellent anglers who know everything about fishing tackles and the types of fishing tackles to be used.

Do leave your feedback in the comments below and tell us about the type of terminal tackle you use.

You can also check out our other articles: Fishing & Aquatic Science: Adrian Pinder and Saltwater Fishing 101 – Spinning, Bait Fishing, Surf Fishing, Popping, Jigging, Trolling .

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