|>>|| No. 15565
The secret really is in reading the waters where you plan to fish. And just plenty of "local knowledge". Try to make out where your target species might gather (read up on it on the web or watch a few youtube videos for that purpose), and then your focus is going to be all on how to fool that species into thinking there isn't an angler on the other end of that juicy worm or maggot that's floating in front of them in the water. And if you are new to a fishing spot, always strike up a chat with a local next to you who is fishing there as well. Anglers tend to like helping out fellow anglers and don't normally see them as competition.
I've been on fishing holidays to places like Sri Lanka and the Caribbean, where often you have dirt poor locals, and all the fishing gear they own is a spool of nylon monofilament with a couple of hooks on it, or one battered old fishing rod with a creaky old reel. And I saw them pull 30-pound fish out of the water like it was nothing. While I, with my carbon fibre fishing rod and brand name reel worth a combined £120, with teflon monofilament for £10 a spool, often ended up going home with almost nothing.
>I would imagine a nice rod helps in the same way a high end guitar feels nicer to play or an expensive pan is more predictable to use
It does make the experience more fun. I maintan that your rod really doesn't have to be top of the line, depending on your target fish, nearly any mid-range rod will do. But your reel is where it's at, and where quality is going to make a big difference. A £15 reel from your local shop just tends to feel cheap and not well put together. The bearings will be low-grade, it will be "clickety", and it won't run as smoothly. I wouldn't trust a reel like that to withstand anything large and nasty that has taken your hook (a good size conger or catfish might end up being the ultimate test for your reel). Being that your hands will spend a great deal of time fidgeting with the reel, you really should invest in something proper.
My favourite reel for some time has been my Mitchell Avocet Salt 4000. It's a midsized eggbeater reel, but you can still reel in a 25-pound fish with it no problem. It runs incredibly smoothly, if well looked after (I completely strip it down and regrease it at the beginning of every season), and build quality is flawless. It runs for about £40 now, but I bought it new when it came out for almost £60.