Lately I’ve noticed a trend when I log into Facebook or Instagram. I see countless ads for the “pen fishing Rod”. It’s basically a pocket-sized fishing rod that you can supposedly take with you anywhere. Every time I see this ad I chuckle a little at the thought of buying one. I want to give you my advice on the very best portable fishing rig there is. This is what I personally use to fish after work at retention ponds and small bodies of water located all over my commute home. By always having these items with me I’m always ready to hit the water no matter where i find myself.
Finding the right size rod
First, no one is going to be walking around every second of the day. Almost every person I know drives to work daily. So we can skip over the thought of needing a rod small enough to fit in your pocket. What I use is a system small enough to fit in anyones car trunk, tool box, or behind your seat if you drive a single cab pickup truck. Everything I use can be purchased for WELL under 50$ and will allow you to catch just about anything.
I keep two fishing rods rigged up and ready to fish. On one I keep a rapala lure and on the other I keep a beetle spin. By doing this I can allow my wife, my son, or one of my friends to fish with me at any moment. Having an extra pole will automatically make you your child’s biggest hero when you pull it out on the ride home from school at a small stream and start reeling in big bream.
I also keep a small tackle box tray that keeps my lures organized and neat, as well as bug spray and a thermacell. Theres nothing worse than finding a great new fishing spot and battling mosquitos the whole time while trying to catch a few fish.
Zebco 33 & 502 micro rods
My rods I choose to use are the Zebco micro series combos. Zebco manufactures both the 33 and the 502 series rod and reel combo in a micro configuration. I own both and use them every time I go fishing, even when I take my boat out and have room for bigger rods. The control when casting and ease of use is incredible with these two combos. My favorite of the two is the micro 502. It casts farther than the 33 micro which gives me more range.
Which do I prefer
The 33 is not a bad caster but I can get around 20 more feet with the same effort when casting with the 502. Both of these rods are great options and you will not be disappointed with either one. Both can be bought online with 2 day shipping from Amazon for less than 25$.To check the price and availability of the Zebco 502 click HERE and see how affordable it is from Amazon. The Zebco 33 micro is also a great option and can be found HERE. The 33 is eligible for Prime so you can get free shipping. Both will work great for fishing anywhere and these are what I keep rigged up in my tool box at all times.
Both combos are 5ft rod length and come pre spooled with 4lb fishing line. When I first purchased my micro rods I made the mistake of putting heavier line in one of them and was very disappointed. Heavy line will bind up in the small reel and will completely destroy your casting distance. Just keep the 4lb line that comes with the combo. I have caught big bream and bass on mine without any issue. As long as you use your drag properly to keep your catch from pulling directly against your fishing line, you will NOT lose fish due to a broken line.
Small tackle boxes
For carrying various lures and bobbers, I use a simple tackle box insert tray. You don’t need a full size tackle box to keep with you daily. One tray will hold everything required for years of fishing and you won’t be tempted to take it out of your vehicle and put it in your boat. Remember, the key is being ready to fish on a whim when you see a viable fishing spot. The Plano tackle box tray can be bought for around 5$ and will carry plenty of tackle for any fishing situation. It has adjustable inserts so you can vary the size of your slots depending on how big the item is you want to bring with you. Click HERE to check it out. I also bought this through Amazon because it’s cheaper than buying from an actual sporting goods store and will be at your door step before your next weekend off.
My favorite lures to keep in my Plano tray are Rapala Ultralight Minnows. They are sized perfectly to match the micro rods I use and will attract a huge selection of fish commonly found in small ponds and streams. I’ve caught bream, spec, catfish, and bass all on these lures and I HIGHLY recommend them. The black and silver color work the most consistently in any water condition because it matches the coloration of an actual small minnow. When the water is very dark the brightly Chartreuse ones can also bring more bites. I have tried almost all the variations but these two are the ones I’ve had the most luck with and if you only buy 2 these are the ones I would choose. They have two small treble hooks that almost guarantee a hook up even if the fish is has a small mouth and misses the strike.
How to use ultra-light lures
The best way to use this lure is to cast it out as far as possible around an area the provides cover for fish and let it sit for 10-30 seconds before beginning to reel it in. The rapala minnow floats on the water until you begin reeling it in. I’ve gotten the majority of my bites in the wait time before reeling . This wait gives time for the fish to respond to the presence of the lure. I often see people cast a lure and as soon as it hits the water begin to reel. Don’t do this! Give the fish time to react to your bait. During the wait time I often give my rod a very minor “twitch” to cause a little movement in the lure which will give you amazing top water hits by more aggressive fish and on a day when they are feeding hard you can spend all your time catching fish just hitting your rapala on the top of the water.
If 30 seconds of so of letting it sit and twitching your minnow there are no takers, begin reeling your lure just fast enough to pull it under the surface. The faster you reel the deeper it will dive. I seem to have better luck when retrieving it just fast enough to bring it 1-2 inches below the surface as it more closely mimics a small minnow swimming. This technique when used accurately is almost guaranteed to produce bites. Try it out and let me know what your results are in the comment section. I enjoy hearing others experiences with these great lures.
Have a live bait option
I also keep regular Mustad number 6 hooks, small bobbers and very small lead split shot in my kit for using live bait. Remember, bigger hooks will prevent you from catching the majority of smaller pan fish but using smaller hooks will not prevent you from catching bigger fish. So, use smaller hooks to catch MORE fish in general. Also, bigger bobbers will scare away fish when you cast to the water. Using tiny styrofoam bobbers will give you plenty of bouyancy but not cause as much disturbance in the water when you make a cast, thereby allowing you to catch MORE fish.
Having these three items will give you the opportunity to use live baits you can find wherever you fish. By looking under logs and the underside of bigger live leaves you can often find caterpillars, crickets, worms, and various insects that will always perform better than artificial lures. This is not always an option if you’re fishing in an urban area that may not have a lot of natural bait nearby. but by having these three items in your tool kit, when the opportunity presents itself you will be ready to capitalize!
Best beetle spin
Another great artificial lure I use often is a beetle spin. These come in countless color variations and sizes and are also very affordable. For 10$ you can buy a huge assortment and will have options to test at each fishing hole so you can find the best one to catch the most fish. I find more natural colors like brown and dark green work the best but I’ve caught a number of fish just experimenting with bright orange and yellow also. They are very durable and will last a while. They are also relatively weedless compared to the rapala minnow. So if your pond has a lot of Lilly pads or underwater debris, they can allow you to cast into heavier cover and not get hung up.
Change it up
Beetle spins are also different because they sink to the bottom. By switching up between the rapala and a beetle spin, you will reach a greater number of fish who may be feeding at different depths depending on water temperature and time of day. I find there is no set rule for which one to use, just try both at every fishing hole and see what is working at that time. I normally use a 1/8 oz because they seem to bring in more fish compared to the larger 1/4oz lure. But both are great options for almost any type of fish.
Everything I have accumulated in my truck fishing kit can be purchased very inexpensively and will allow you to fish more often.
Spend the best $50 of your life
You can add anything you like to your portable fishing kit, but these items should be the foundation you use to build upon. With these three different bait types in a few different colors, you will have plenty of options for any situation. So next time you’re beside a body of water and the fish are hammering the local bug population, you don’t have to miss out on it. Just walk to your vehicle and grab your portable fishing kit and make some memories.