How To Fish: A Step-By-Step Guide For Beginners

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Learning how to fish isn’t hard. Start off by finding a good location. Get everything you need. Tie the right knots. Finally, use the right technique.

I’ve been fishing since I was 9. Combining my experience with 8 hours of research, I came up with this guide to help anybody start fishing.

Here’s everything you need to know before going fishing:

  • Finding A Good Fishing Spot
  • The First Thing You’ll Need
  • Fishing Gear
  • Tying Knots
  • Fishing Technique

Finding A Good Fishing Spot

Lakes are a great place to start with. My very first fishing trip was at a lake too. They’re home to lots of gamefish like bass, trout, and panfish. Most lakes also have great fishing spots like banks and docks. On top of that, lakes tend to be contain more fish that are ready to feed, meaning they’ll take the bait more easily. 

You can also start with rivers. Most of the time, anglers fishing in rivers will be targeting trout or salmon. If you’re looking to land salmon, then you should start with rivers instead of lakes. 

Of course, your best source of information for good fishing spots is your local fishermen. No matter how much you can learn about fishing, nothing beats experience. 

Sometimes, even with the best information you can find, it’s all theoretical, and untested. This means on rare occasions, fish won’t act like they’re supposed to, and you won’t find them where they’re supposed to be. Your local fishermen will know exactly which spots to fish in and how different fish act since they’ve walked the walk. 

Sometimes, you might have trouble finding local anglers, or don’t want the awkwardness. If that’s the case, you can use crowdsourced fishing apps that will do the job, like fishangler.com

The First Thing You’ll Need

Once you’ve found your ideal fishing spot, before you even start looking for gear, there’s one more thing you need – a fishing license.

Fishing licenses allow you to legally fish at a certain place. In some places, a fishing license isn’t required. Most of the time though, you’ll need a fishing license to avoid trouble with the authorities like the local wildlife department. If you’re not sure whether you need a fishing license, you can check with your local fishing store while getting your gear.

The good news is fishing licenses won’t break the bank. A one-day license should cost less than $20. If you’re going to go fishing regularly, you can get annual ones too, which usually cost $30-150. Annual ones are also, as you’ve noticed, way more worth the price.

Fishing Gear

Finally, we’re getting to the exciting part – fishing gear. 

When I first started out, I thought fishing was easy. I thought I just needed a fishing rod with a line, attach a worm to it, and then voila, I’d be ready to catch fish.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I thought. A great samurai must have a great sword to show his skills. Likewise, you need the right gear to fish properly.

To begin fishing, you’ll need to have 8 pieces of gear: 

  1. Rod and reel
  2. Line
  3. Tackle
  4. Bait or Fishing Lures
  5. Swivel
  6. Needle Nose Pliers
  7. Nail Clipper
  8. Tackle Box or Bag

The thing is, each piece of gear has many variations, and you might be overwhelmed. 

Choosing gear is paramount to success. If you get the wrong gear, you’ll run into many problems, and you’ll be wasting money.

For example, do you know whether to get monofilament fishing line, braided or fluorocarbon line? Did you know you’ll need different gear for freshwater and saltwater fish? Do you know when to use live bait and when to use artificial bait to attract fish?

Given how important this part is, I created an entire guide on it. Give it a good read before continuing here.

Tying Knots

Hopefully, you now have a good idea of what to get for your first time fishing. The next thing you’ll need to learn is tying knots. This is a skill that many beginners often neglect, because it’s boring, and seems trivial. This often causes their lines to snap when fighting with fish.

Don’t make this mistake. Take the time to learn 1 or 2 good knots and tie them properly. It’ll save you the pain of losing your very first catch to a shoddy knot. 

Fishing Technique

Finally, the hardest part is always the technique. Mainly, there are 3 parts to any fishing technique – casting, setting the hook, and finally reeling in your catch.

Casting

If you’ve read our guide on basic fishing gear, you should be using a spinning reel and spinning rod to catch fish at first. Later on, as you target bigger fish, you can progress to baitcasting gear which are better for big fish, but for now, spinning gear will do for smaller fish.

Casting with a spinning reel is fairly easy. 

First, leave about 15 cm (6 inches) of fishing line sticking out the tip of your fishing rod. All spinning reels will have a bail arm. You’ll need to flip this bail.

Afterward, simply swing your rod overhead behind you, and then cast it out above your head with all your force, as far as you can.

Once you’ve cast your line, reel it in until you see the slightest bend in your rod tip. This ensures your line is taut and you can feel when fish tug on it.

Setting the Hook

Setting the hook refers to getting the hook into the fish’s mouth after the fish bites on it. If your hook isn’t set properly, there will be little to no penetration in the fish’s mouth. This means it’ll be easy for the fish to break free from your hook.

When your bobber starts bobbing up and down, don’t set the hook until it’s completely submerged. Then, firmly pull the tip of your rod towards you so that your rod points towards the sky and is vertical.

Reeling in the Fish

This is the hardest part to get right. Reeling in the fish isn’t as simple as continuously spinning your reel. Here’s how you should reel in your line.

Once you’ve set the hook, your rod should now be vertical. Keep it that way. Then, start reeling in the fish until you feel it struggling. Then, hold it at this position until the tension decreases. Once you feel it decreasing, you can reel in your line again until you feel the tension again. Repeat this process to reel in the fish. If the tension doesn’t go down, release some line to prevent the line from breaking. 

Depending on which fish is on the end of your line, the amount of time you’ll need to tire the fish out will vary.

Once the fish has no more energy to fight, you’ll feel the tension in the line decrease significantly. At this point, you can freely reel your line in. There will also be times when before the fish tires out, you’ve already reeled it in.

Reeling the fish in will require practice. You might not get it right the first time, but don’t give up because practice makes perfect.

Extra Fishing Tips

Now that you’re all set to get started, check out our top 10 fishing tips to become an even better angler and catch more fish.

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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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