Basics of Fishing for Beginners: 7 Simple Steps to Get Started Fishing
Many people find it a tedious activity only old people like to do. But in reality, fishing is something everyone can enjoy.
But to truly get the most out of a fishing trip you’ll have to be well-prepared. And for that, there’s nothing better than going with all the vital information about fishing on your head ready to be used.
If you’re excited to start catching some fish out of the water – then reading our next steps will give you a decent idea. Care to find out? Then keep on reading!
Fishing For Beginners: A Guide to Fishing for the First Time
01. Understand First, Why You Want to Go for Fishing
At first, fishing seems boring. It’s okay, everyone thinks so because it looks like more waiting than action and that can be pretty annoying for some people.
But fishing is not only waiting for a fish to catch the bait so you can bring the fish home – there’s much more to it that you can enjoy either alone, with friends, or with family. Here we explain 3 reasons why fishing is more interesting than you thought:
(i) Relaxes Stress Out
Everyone hates working for five days a week, taking care of a family, having relationship issues, or just not having success in business as expected. And when any of that happens, there’s nothing better than a little escapade to take all the stress, sadness, or fury out of your mind.
Fishing can be that little escapade or reset button. Just by the fact that you’ll be closer to nature than in any other way, it is enough to say that fishing can give a fantastic time.
Being near the water always keeps your emotions grounded too. In fact, it is possibly one of the most therapeutic and relaxing things you can do. And in case of fishing doesn’t make it, you can always throw the rod to the side, get your shirt out and take a splash.
(ii) Physical & Mental Work
Apart from getting your mind out of a stressed state, it also gives your body a boost. Fishing can be fantastically physically-straining. You won’t get ripped or lean by doing so, but it still activates certain parts of your body and mind that working out alone does not tackle.
Just by having to learn how to make a knot is a sufficient physical and mental strain to get you out of your routine. The casting of a bait, learning how to reel fish out of the water, and handling the rod without losing the catch is something that takes more effort than expected – and that always helps.
Otherwise, you can just get an alone or peaceful time to reflect on your life and decisions. Well, at least just think of things a little clearer than if you were busy with life stuff. All of this can help you mentally and physically to make you feel better overall.
(iii) Fun with Family or Friends
You won’t have to take fishing too seriously either. It can also be tons of fun or just some time to bond with someone else.
The waiting on the fish to bite the line can take several minutes to hours. And that’s enough time to make conversation, jokes, to remember old memories, or just get updated on the life of someone else. Some businessmen even use fishing as a strategy to make deals more effectively, and it helps.
You can even use fishing as a dating strategy – and it wouldn’t be a bad choice. Just think of it as a fun time between the fun times of catching a fish. That’s enough to say that fishing is much more than just waiting.
Now that you know some of the most common reasons why fishing is so popular nowadays, it is time you decide whether any of them is enough for you.
Anyone can go fishing for a few hours. And it doesn’t have to be boring, as you know already. So, what are you waiting for? You plan for a family fishing adventure to understand how wnjoyable it is!
If you’re already decided that fishing is something you want to do – then keep reading to find out how!
02. Get a Fishing License
Okay, we went through all the reasons fishing is much more entertaining than it looks like. But before you get into it – be sure you get a fishing license.
You can skip this step if you are still thinking about it. Otherwise, you’ll want to know why it is so important to have one.
Remember, fishing is an activity that can damage entire ecosystems if done incorrectly. So, almost all governments in the world have restrictions for it.
While you can still fish on any place if you want, a fishing license keeps you out of trouble.
For example, some states in the US have certain regulations for specific species, so you’ll want to know which species those are. If you don’t know, then authorities will have all the right to stop your fishing if you don’t comply – even if it is by mistake.
So, before you go fishing, be sure to have your fishing license ready. Most of them are easy to get on fishing shops or online. It doesn’t take much to get one, so you better be prepared when it demands not more than a few bucks and minutes of your time.
If you are looking to become someone who takes fishing more seriously, you can sign up for annual licenses that are a little more expensive but give you a more extensive range and availability.
The best of getting the license is that you’ll learn what you can and cannot do. And that will be amazing to know if you want to stay free of trouble.
03. Get Familiar with the Fishing Types
Now that you’re entirely sure that you want to go fishing that you even got a license, it is time to learn how you can do so. The first thing to know is the fishing type you’ll want to embark on. Here are 6 to learn about:
Whenever you’re fishing in a river, lake, or stream located deep inland – then you’re very likely doing freshwater fishing.
This is the most common type of all for enthusiasts like you. Any water body that has enough space for fish to live in is a probable freshwater fishing spot.
You are likely to find small to medium-sized species. There are some large fish in some lakes and rivers, but they are usually not that common and hard to find.
If you don’t want to cast inland, then you go to the ocean. This is called saltwater fishing, and here you’ll find the largest fish you can think of.
Of course, this is a little harder than freshwater fishing and demands a boat. But the experience is more exciting and intimidating. If you’re a brave beginner, going fishing in the ocean will be an excellent experience to learn and get a taste of what fishing is all about.
If you’re fishing on a small bank on the beach, or just sitting on the shore waiting for fish in closed waters to bite – then you’re shore fishing.
This is pretty common for people who want to catch small to medium sized saltwater species. And for a beginner like you, this is an excellent choice too. Of course, it only demands you to get close to a beach.
For those who don’t want to hop on a boat, cast on a river or lake, or stay on the shore waiting for a bite – then they can always get into the ocean, lake, or stream in a kayak.
This is an excellent choice for those who have experience with kayaks and want to be closer to nature. It gives the same advantages of a boat but without having to make much noise or disturb waters.
The only problem is that you won’t have the chance to get big species. Otherwise, this is an exciting idea if you don’t have any problem to get some exercise while fishing.
If you live close to frozen lakes or rivers, you can always go ice fishing.
You have probably seen people doing so in movies or TV. Just open a hole in the frozen water and let the bait go in.
Of course, this is way trickier than any of the previous types of fishing. And surely, fish are not as active in freezing water as they are in other warmer waters. So, you’ll have to be more patient and go well-equipped with extra equipment to cut ice and resist the cold temperatures you’re likely to experience.
The good thing is that this is an experience you won’t forget easily. As a beginner, it can be awful, but it can also be fantastic. So don’t overlook this one.
We've also reviewed some ice fishing rod and reel combos, read this if you need to purchase one.
05. Learn About the Best Fish Species for Beginners
Reading some info about fishing spots is not enough. You’ll also need to know about the different species out there that will come handy as a beginner:
These are not like the giant Mola fish you’ll find on the ocean. They are instead the small sunfish you can find on rivers and ponds.
They are probably the easiest to get out of water. Without even trying, they will bite your hook and jump directly on your hand. Well, maybe not that easy, but as a beginner, you’ll find them more accessible to catch than any other.
You can catch one of these with a hook alone. But any small lure or bait works too.
If you don’t find sunfish, you may find Burbot. This is another easy species to get out of water.
They eat almost anything they see in front. So they can bite any lure or bait without problems.
You won’t find them as effortless as sunfish as they put some effort not to get caught. However, they are still weak fighters and tire quickly, so you won’t be challenged even as a beginner.
Among the most typical species out there, Perch is probably among the most aggressive too. This means they will grab the bait really fast. But as quick as they are, they also know how to put up a fight.
This is already an intermediate level, where beginners can start testing their fishing skills. They aren’t the hardest species, but they will still make it harder than previous fish.
Similar to Perch, Crappie bites almost anything. But they also put sort of a fight when trying to get them out of the water.
As a beginner, one of these can be ideal to start developing some fishing skills. And the best of all, they bite really fast, so you can test your fishing skills with them.
You can easily catch crappies by using a crappie fish finder.
Here, we start with the most challenging species. Trout is one of those for sure. You’ll find this species like brown trout and rainbow trout. Both are pretty much everywhere, so you can find them in big schools in lakes and rivers.
The only problem is that they’re intelligent. Getting a bite out of trout is not as easy as it is with many other species. You may need to look for very alluring baits if you want a fast bite. Otherwise, you may need to develop some patience.
Everyone knows bass for being the most popular type of fish for casting. People find them everywhere as well, and they grow enormous in some cases.
They are also aggressive, so you won’t have to spend hours to get a bite out of bass. But it is also an intelligent species, so they won’t fall for any bait or lure. You will need something enticing to get them to bite.
Once you get a bite, you’ll find them sort of awkward to handle. Being huge and squishy makes them hard to reel out of the water, especially if you are not experienced.
Once you have the basics tested and you’ve fished a few other species, then you can try getting bass.
These are among the most common along with bass. Catfish eat practically anything you put on the hook and fall for almost all types of baits. They don’t like lures too much but may still bite with the right one.
The only problem is that catfish is sneaky. It tends to be strong too, so reeling it out of water can take several minutes if the fish is big enough. For that, catfish is probably among the most difficult – mainly because they like to be in shallow water – so they’ll push hard to get there.
As a beginner, you won’t like a catfish to bite. But it can still be a great challenge if you want some action.
Get a catfish fish finder to catch catfish easily.
06. Prepare your Fishing Gear & Equipment
After reading all about fish species and places to go – then you’ll want to know what to bring. Here we explain all the crucial pieces of gear that you’ll need:
Fishing Rod & Reel
This is the most essential item of all. We recommend getting a spinning reel with fishing rod combo – it will save you a lot of time and effort as a beginner.
If you find a pretty good combo, you won’t have to make any set-up or adjust the piece. It will come almost ready to be used as soon as you get it.
However, you’ll have to take into account several things such as type of action of the rod, power in terms of pounds, the flex, the material, the design, and whether it comes with a cork or rubber handle.
Slow action is always ideal for beginners, as well as small power and cheap but durable material. After you get some experience, you can go for the fastest action, the best power, a complex design, and a cork handle for easy grip. At first, we recommend going small.
As for the reel, you’ll want to know it can host enough line for your needs. As a beginner, you won’t need more than 4000 size reel if you want to go both for small and medium-sized species. But most importantly, you’ll want it to fit your rod. Getting a combo will solve that factor.
Note: After fishing then must you have to clean and maintain your fishing reel, and do it very carefully.
The fishing line also comes in many sorts, so you should consider with care.
Overall, a beginner can handle a fishing line of 4 to 12 pounds without a problem. That would be enough for small and medium-sized fish in freshwater.
But if you’re going hard on saltwater fishing, you may need something that’s at least 15 pounds so you can be sure it can handle the strength of ocean species.
The weight or sinker is what you put close to the hook, so it sinks and looks more enticing to fish. Otherwise, the hook will just float close to the surface, and the animals may never see it.
There are tons of options to get, though. Some can be as close to a bait piece as you can imagine. Others will just look menacing to fish, and they will never get close.
We recommend bank sinkers, egg sinkers, and rubber cores for the best results. As a beginner, each one of these will come in pretty handy to keep your bait close to the fish.
Then you’ll want to know more about the different hooks. We recommend going for at least three or four hooks to your fishing trip. But if you’re looking for security, bring at least 5 hooks.
But it is not quantity that you should care about, but quality. And here’s where it gets a little hard because hooks come in many different shapes and sizes that you’ll want to be careful before picking.
For example, the most popular is the circle hook. It is like an unfinished circle with a secure grip on the tip that doesn’t let fish escape easily. You may also go for something more complex like a J-hook. Other options, such as treble, Kahle, and wire hooks are also ideal to consider.
Lastly, just make sure the hook is of the right size. As a beginner, you should look for nothing less than 6 and nothing more than 10 in size.
This is the floating ball that keeps the line from sinking completely. Along with the sinker or weight, this makes the lure or bait look more realistic. And without a doubt, it helps you keep the line in sight.
You should go for cork or plastic bobber. That would be enough as a starter.
Bait & Lures
Then, you’ll want some lure and bait for your line. This is what attracts fish more effectively. Otherwise, you may end up with a hook in the water and never get a single bite.
We recommend anything that looks enticing for fish depending on the species you’re going for. However, as a general rule, we recommend live worms and PowerBait as the perfect baits. They often come with scents that appeal to fish a lot.
For lures, plastic decoys with shiny colors are often great choices. Some even come with wing-like parts that look like insects which fish love to bite.
Just go for any of these, and that will be enough. Even as a beginner you will get some pretty effective bites soon.
Lastly, consider additional accessories that could make the whole experience better. We always recommend things like a rubber net where you can catch the fish as soon as they get out of water. Some pliers are also useful to get the hooks out of the fish mouths. And a tackle box helps to keep lures & bait handy.
Never forget about the first-aid kit when going fishing. You don’t know when a hook may end up in your fingers or body when casting. Especially as a beginner, bringing one of these is hugely necessary.
Also, try to bring the best clothing items possible. This is both for safety and convenience. There are different types of fishing life jackets. A good jacket with a life-saving vest can come in pretty handy. Fishing boots are also essential to keep your feet dry. And don’t forget about waders – they can also keep you dry entirely – even as a beginner.
Bring all these items to your fishing trip, and you’ll surely have a much better experience overall.
06. Learn Fishing Strategies & Methods
By now, you should be already well-equipped and with enough information about fishing to be confident about going on a trip.
But very likely you are still not ready. Why? Simply because catching a fish is not just about having the right equipment, knowing the different species, or having great confidence – it’s mostly about patience and skill.
In fact, getting a fish out of water is easier said than done. It takes practice, but you can always be more prepared if you read some strategies and methods beforehand.
So, here we are going to teach you with a few tips on how to get your first catch more easily:
Place the Line on the Reel
After you got your reel and line, you need to spool it up. This means getting the line on the reel, so it stays ready whenever you need to cast.
We recommend having at least 100 yards of line ready on the spool. For that, just follow these steps:
- Lay the rod on the floor, open the bail and tie the line around the spool using either an overhand or arbor knot. Make sure it is tight. Do this twice.
- Now, place your spool on the floor with the label facing up and the line still attached. Then start reeling the line into the spool slowly until it is nearly full or close to the rim of the spool. You won’t like to have too much or too little – just enough.
- Finish up by tightening up the line to the spool and cutting the line. You’ll be ready to tie up the line to the different points on the rod now.
Attach the Bobber
Once you have the line on the rod and reel ready to cast, then attach a bobber close to the end. Here’s how:
It should be about 8 to 16 inches away from the end, depending on how deep the body of water is.
For saltwater fishing, we recommend 16 inches away from the line. But for freshwater, 8 inches away is enough.
Attach the piece to the end and push it up until it is at the right level.
Attach the Hook
After placing the bobber, you’re ready to attach the hook. This is maybe the most crucial part of preparing your equipment – as with a loose hook, it may end up falling when fish bite. So, make sure it is tight. Here’s how:
Pass the line across the eye of the hook. Only an inch is enough to make a clinch knot. First, cover the hook by wrapping it up correctly.
Lubricate the line and try pulling the hook from it. Maintain your fingers away from the edge of the hook to prevent any unwanted situation.
If the hook doesn’t separate from the line, then you’ve successfully attached it.
Cast the Line with the Hook
Now that you have everything ready, it is time to cast the line. This is when fishing starts, so be careful around before doing anything. Concentrate, and you’ll be able to throw the line far.
Grab the rod tightly. You should be grabbing the handle with one hand, and the reel with the other. One of your reel’s hand fingers should be directly on the release button.
When you have the grip ready, then you are prepared to cast the line. Here, you should start by making a slight hip movement forward with your upper body backward. Do the same with the rod.
Then, quickly throw the line forward by swinging the rod fast until it reaches a 45-degree position. Don’t go lower than that. Use your wrist to make the swing and stop. You should click the release button, so the hook and the line are released.
If you did it well, then the bobber and the hook should be on the water already. For the best results, you should practice your throw at least one-hundred times.
After the hook and bobber are on the water, try to tense the line by reeling it in. The line should be tense enough so once fish bite the hook, there’s no space to run.
Finish up by looking for a comfortable place to sit or stand while the hook waits for a bite. Otherwise, repeat until the hook reaches far enough.
Reel the Fish Out
The next thing to know is how to reel the fish out of the water once they bite. And this is probably the more straightforward step to explain but the hardest to do.
Once a fish bites the hook, the bobber and rod will move. To make sure the hook is tightened inside the fish’s mouth – pull and jerk it for a few seconds. If the fish doesn’t swim away, it means the hook is ready to be reeled.
Here, you’ll need to start wiggling and pulling hard. Focus on reeling the line into the spool until the fish is out of water.
We recommend doing this in a comfy place with enough space to maneuver. You’ll want your feet to be firm, your knees bent, and your arms to move freely around.
You should focus on pulling hard enough but without going too hard. You may end up pulling the fish mouth entirely off the body which will leave a dead fish in the water and none for you to catch.
Finish up by catching the fish with the net or just grabbing it with your hand. Once you have it, you’ll feel proud.
Remove the Hook
But having a fish in your hands is not enough. You’ll have to get the hook out of the fish so you can later decide what to do with it.
Grab the fish with one hand and remove the hook with the other. Be careful not to damage the fish more than needed. Use pliers if needed.
For large fish, you can use a net, your legs, or help from another person. Here, removing the hook should be easier. But be careful around the fish mouth and teeth.
Let the Fish Go Back
Once you get the hook out, it is time to decide whether you want to keep the fish to eat later or to release it into the water.
Usually, when you go fishing, you’ll want to bring at least a few catches home. But overall, it is very likely you’ll catch one and then release it.
- Handle the fish with care. Don’t throw it to the water, which could cause a concussion or worse.
- Let it gently touch the surface of the water with both hands. Once the fish feels the water, he should start moving. Then, you can let it go.
To prevent any possible breathing damage to the fish, we recommend releasing the fish in the first 5 minutes after you catch it.
07. Look for the Perfect Spot and Fish!
With all the gear and equipment, info about fish and places, and a straightforward fishing strategy guide – it is time to sail on your next fishing trip. And for that, you’ll have just to find the perfect place and start your fishing.
If you know about the different types of fishing places, you can easily choose the one you prefer. We recommend browsing online for the best places close to your location. This will give you a much better idea of where you can go, which species you’ll find, and more.
Eventually, having the place figured out will give you a better idea of what to bring and how to prepare.
Then, you just need to choose a lovely time of the year where fish are spawning and get to the place with all your equipment. You’ll be ready to cast your line once you have the place figured out!
Remember that fishing takes some time to learn. It is not something you will master at first try – but it will always be fun.
Don’t take fishing like something that takes a lot of waiting time or something that is pure fun. It is a combination of both. And an activity that can give you lots of great memories.
After a few fishing trips and with enough practice, you can start finding it much more than a simple hobby.
So don’t spend more of your time and go fish now! With these simple tips, you’ll be prepared for anything!
Last Updated on January 4th, 2021