Rick Bramwell mug

Rick Bramwell

Working in the fishing department at Cabela’s has opened my eyes to how many folks need the help and guidance from those of us who take fishing serious.

A couple with two kids came in with two spinning outfits. The rigs were cheap and the reels too large. They didn’t have enough line, and one had the line threaded through the small hook keeper at the base of the rod.

“This thing just won’t cast very far,” the man said.

One reel had no switch to allow the owner to reverse the handle. It was just about worthless.

I know these folks left with the right equipment, but they need a mentor and a lot more advice and “hands-on” instruction than I can give during a short encounter.

Another guy came to me with new rod and reel in hand asking me to spool line. You buy the line and Cabela’s will remove the old line and spool the new — a free service, but you must buy the line. Anyhow, I asked the fellow if he intended to match that rod and reel. Indeed. Trouble was, the spinning reel would not work on the casting rod. He simply did not know.

Even I don’t have all the bases covered. I know little about catching catfish, walleye, northern pike or muskie. Same goes for fly fishing or deep sea pursuits.

Cabela’s had two “Kid’s Days” last weekend. Volunteering was a high school bass club with a couple of their pro mentors. On the backside of Cabela’s is a pond where the youth were given the opportunity to catch fish.

When one kid caught a fish, a volunteer would hand it to me. Another volunteer distracted the next kid so I could put the bluegill on his or her hook and cast it out. One fish was landed by three different kids.

The youngsters really get excited to see the stuffed animals and the large fish aquarium. The wolves, cougars and bears surely must expand their imaginations and inhabit their dreams.

I stopped a guy leaving the fishing department and told him “I can’t let you buy that.” He was going to Canada with buddies to fish for walleye and smallmouth bass with a too large spinning reel, fiberglass rod and 30-pound test line.

I demonstrate the sensitivity of a rod by having the customer touch the rod tip to my larynx while I speak. With a good graphite rod, they will feel the vibration in the handle.

“I’m going to show this trick to my friends,” the northbound angler said.

We found an outfit that would work, and I spooled the reel with Berkley braided line. We put back a couple of lures and chose others. I think the guy will catch a lot of fish.

I’ve learned that most people do not have a good understanding of how to spool a reel and tie knots. We had a guy just showing the kids and parents how to tie various knots.

Terminal tackle, lures for different applications; rods, reels, and line to match the varied baits and methods — all this is a daunting task for the novice.

The best advice I can give a beginner is to find a friend who fishes a lot and go with them. It is the responsibility of experienced anglers to share their knowledge. In fact, I have learned a lot from some of my customers.