Fishing Basics – Everything A Beginner Should Know About Fishing

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The first step to becoming an expert angler is to get your fishing basics right.

After fishing for 21 years, looking back, if I didn’t get my fishing basics right, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far.

This article aims to help you get the basics of fishing down. Here’s everything you’ll be learning:

  • The First Thing You’ll Need – A fishing License
  • Introduction To The Gear
  • Finding A Fishing Spot
  • Knowing The Right Times To Go Fishing
  • How To Fish

The First Thing You’ll Need – A fishing License

I initially thought of including this with the fishing gear, because you’ll be getting it along with the fishing equipment at your local fishing store. The thing is, you’ll no doubt be excited about choosing your fishing equipment for the first time. It’s often too easy to get caught up in all that excitement and forget about the license. 

A fishing license is basically a piece of plastic that will allow you to fish legally without getting into trouble with the wildlife department. A century ago, you could fish anywhere you wanted. Nowadays, without that piece of plastic, instead of fishing, you’ll be the new fish in prison.

If you’re really lucky, you might not need a license. In most places, the wildlife department will declare that you need a fishing license, but as always, there are exceptions, albeit very few. If you’re not sure whether you’ll need one, you can always check with your local tackle shop. If you need one, just grab it along with your fishing tackle. If you don’t, that’s one less cost for you. 

Fishing licenses are pretty affordable. Annual ones usually go for $30-150, and one-day ones should cost less than $20. If you’re going to go fishing often, make sure to get the annual ones, which are way more worth the price.

Introduction To The Gear

Fishing is simple. You cast your line out into the water. You reel it in when a fish takes the bait. Finally, you remove the fish from the hook. Without the right fishing equipment though, this simple process becomes impossible. Here’s all the gear you must have:

  • Rod and Reel
  • Line
  • Tackle
  • Bait or Lure
  • Swivel
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Nail Clipper
  • Tackle Box or Bag
  • Fish Finder (Optional)
  • Sunblock (Optional)

Ok, now go get your gear.

Just kidding. You may know what you need for fishing, but each piece of gear has so many variations, each serving a different purpose.  

Getting the wrong type of each gear could be disastrous. It’s sort of like getting the wrong parts for your car. Your car may still run, but it won’t run optimally. 

Similarly, when fishing, sure you could get any fishing rod, and thread a random line through the rod tip. Chances are, you’ll still be able to fish with it. However, you’d probably have a much easier time and be more comfortable fishing if you had the right fishing line, with a rod matching your height. 

To make sure you end up with the right gear, I’ve created a guide detailing all the fishing tackle you’ll need for your very first fishing trip. You can read it here.

Finding A Fishing Spot

After you get your gear, the next step will be to find a good fishing spot. If your fishing spot has no fish, you won’t catch any. It doesn’t matter if you have the best gear in the world if there aren’t any fish around. The good news is, fish are plentiful and can be found in many places. 

Fishing is mainly categorized into saltwater and freshwater fishing.

Freshwater consists of ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

Saltwater consists of tidal inlets, marshes, saltwater streams and fishing piers.

As long as you’re in one of these places, there will be fish to be caught.

Knowing The Right Times To Go Fishing

Beginners often overlook this aspect, and it’s perfectly understandable. 

When I first started out fishing, I thought that timing didn’t matter. In fact, I didn’t even know timing mattered. The idea that timing will affect fish’s behaviour does seem far-fetched at first, until you understand the reasoning behind it.

Imagine you now need to catch a chicken for your dinner tonight. What would you do? Logically, you would want to get as close to it as possible, and then jump on it right? You would probably also want it to be as dark as possible so that the chicken won’t be able to see you coming.

Likewise, most fish will feed at dawn or dusk, when light levels are the lowest. As such, most of the time, dawn and dusk will the best times to go fishing.

If you want to know how to choose the exact best timing to go fishing though, there are a lot more factors to consider. Listing them all out would take a whole article, so that’s exactly what I did. You can read the article here. 

How To Fish

Finally, you’ll need to know how to use the gear to actually fish. There are a few fishing techniques, but here’s the easiest one.

There are a few parts to this. Firstly, you’ll need to set up the gear. You’ll need to attach your sinkers, bobber, hook and bait to the line as shown in the picture above. 

Once you’re ready, leave about 15 cm of line (can vary depending on how far you want to cast) at the end of your fishing rod. Swing your line behind you over your head. Then, swing it forward overhead as hard as you can, like throwing a baseball.

Once your hook is in the water, reel in your line until you see a very slight bend at the tip of your rod. This is to ensure the line is taut so you’ll be able to see the line move when a fish tugs on it.

Next, hold your rod at a 45 degrees angle (or put it in your rod holder) until you see a tug on your fishing line. Once you see the tug, firmly pull your rod towards you in one motion until it’s vertical to the ground and pointing upwards. This is to set the hook and get it into the fish’s lip.

From here on, start reeling your line in until you feel a lot of tension, then hold it there until the tension loosens. Then, reel in the line again until you feel the tension again and repeat the process until you reel in the fish. If the tension doesn’t loosen, release some line and repeat the same thing. Eventually, there might come a point where you feel the tension is a lot lesser. When you feel this, it means the fish has no more energy to fight. From here on, you can reel in the fish all the way without stopping.

That’s all there is to the fishing technique.

Note that this is merely one of the simplest fishing techniques I know. There are countless other fishing skills, like trolling. I’m merely sharing with you one of the simplest fishing skills.

What You Can Do Now

There you have it. 

By now, you should know what you need for fishing, where to go, what time to go, and how to fish. 

If you’re looking for further fishing tips to catch more fish, check out our top 10 tips for fishing. These fishing tips won’t just help you catch more fish, but improve your fishing experience too.

With that, may the tides be ever in your favour.

Photo of author


Reuben went on his first fishing trip when he was 9. That's when he fell in love with fishing. When he's not fishing, he's searching for new gear and ways to fish better.

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