5 Fishing Tips for Beginners
Whether we were 10 or 35 years old, most of us remember the feeling of catching our first fish. The wiggle of the first bite, followed by a persistent tug at the end of the line, all leading up to the thrill of pulling a fish out of the water, is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. To help you with your first catch, we’ve put together a list of some of the must-knows for your angling adventure.
Why You Will Love Fishing
While there’s no clear date of conception, we know that recreational fishing has been a practice for centuries. The earliest reference to the sport pops up in an essay from 1496, but recreational fishing, as done today, became extremely popular in the mid-1600s.
From saltwater to freshwater, fly to offshore fishing, there’s endless amounts of fun to be had in the world of angling. Recreational fishing is done in many ways, including with a net, spear, or hand gathering, but the most common way is with a hook and line.
Because fish are all over the world, it means you can fish all over the world, too. With the exception of some mountain lakes, you can find fish in almost any body of water. Popular freshwater species to target include crappie, bass, and salmon. Popular saltwater fish include redfish, flounder, and marlin. Be sure to check fishing regulations in your area before heading out.
Fishing Tips For Beginners
Here are some essential fishing tips to keep in mind if you are just starting out.
1/Fishing Gear Tips
The first step to fishing success is to acquire the right gear. This can be a daunting process, but with the help of these tips and your local sporting goods store, you’ll be all set for your first catch.
- Splurge for Quality Products: Like many things in life, quality comes at a higher price tag. If you’re planning on making fishing a regular part of your recreational activities, it’s totally worth it to spend a little more on rods, reels, tackle gear, etc. that will last throughout the years. Always look for products that are made with durable, heavy-duty material.
- Don’t Forget the Outerwear: Fishing is an outdoor activity and often involves slick, slippery surfaces. Prepare yourself for the weather conditions with a good pair of boots with lots of traction, a waterproof jacket, and a pair of waders, if you want to give fly fishing a go.
- Ask an Expert: There’s only so much research you can do on your own. If you’re dead set on getting the perfect gear the first time, your best bet is to ask for personal recommendations from friends who fish regularly. Any sporting goods store employee can also guide you in the right direction; make sure you let them know you’re a beginner, so they can find the products that are best suited for your needs.
- Consider Your Watercraft (or Lack Thereof): Among the long list of considerations to keep in mind when shopping for new gear, is to consider the importance of your potential angling circumstances. Will you be mainly fishing from a boat? A dock? A frozen lake? This will have an effect on the gear you choose.
2/Fishing Tackle Tips
The next step on your journey to fishing success is to look at your tackle box. Filling up your gear supply with the best products is important, but here are a couple of other considerations:
- Choose the Right Line: There are several different styles of fishing line, each with qualities that make it an attractive pick, depending on your angling style. As a beginner, you may be steered towards a clear monofilament, a fairly inexpensive, flexible line. While it’s a good starting point for a novice, consider choosing a braided line instead. It’s super durable, strong, and sensitive.
- Switch Out Your Hooks: Once you have a couple of fishing trips under your belt, you may notice that your hooks have begun to dull and they’re not as effective as they were right out of the package. Rather than trying to sharpen the same hooks over and over again, keep a stash of fresh ones that you can switch out easily. This will save you some much needed time and energy.
- Stay Organized: Organization may feel like an unnecessary afterthought, but just wait until you’re in the middle of a lake and you can’t find the piece of gear you need in your mess of things. Invest in a compact, multi-compartment tackle box. This will help you sort your gear from most to least needed and keep everything in a handy, easy-to-find spot.
- Maintain Your Line: Line that doesn’t get any maintenance can snap easily, which is super frustrating, especially if you have a fish at the end of it. Because the end of your line gets the most wear and tear from underwater structures, fish teeth, etc. Lenny Rudrow from Boat U.S. recommends cutting the last five feet off after a couple of trips to prevent a potential breakage.
3. Fishing Rod Tips
Arguably, the most important part of your fishing gear is your rod. Without a rod, there’s little connection between you and your catch, so picking out the correct one is vital. Keep the following in mind:
- Get a Spinning Rod: Spinning rods are the go-to choice for beginners because they are super easy in terms of usability and they’re very effective. This is the style of rod that will be best for targeting small to medium-sized fish in the range of five to seven pounds. They come in a variety of lengths, but a six-foot rod is the best style for a newbie.
- Think Materials: Graphite, fiberglass, composite, oh my! There are many considerations to make when it comes to the material of your rod. Graphite is super sensitive but not as durable as other choices. Fiberglass and composite are both very durable, but not as sensitive. A fiberglass and graphite composite is usually a good bet, as it has the sensitivity, but won’t break under the pressure of a large catch.
- Become Personal With Your Rod: There are many styles of rods on the market, but all will include the basic features, including guides, ferrules, reel seat, etc. Getting to know your rod and how to put it together and take it apart will get you one step further to success.
- When in Doubt, Go for Trusted Brands: If you’re still not sure where to turn for your first rod, there are many companies that are well-loved within the angling community that consistently produce high-quality products that should be your first pick. Brands like UglyStick, Shimano, and Shakespeare shouldn’t let you down.
4. Fishing Reel Tips
After you’ve acquired the perfect rod, it’s time to think about your reel. Don’t underestimate the value of a reel, as it will have the most effects on your casting. Here are a couple of tips and tricks:
- Try a Spinning Reel First: With a spinning rod, you’ll want to use a spinning reel. These reels are the perfect choice for novice anglers, as they can be both right or left-handed, and they’re easy to mount and set up on the bottom of a rod. These reels are the best choice for hunting smaller fish (what you’ll start out with as a beginner), and they handle small bait and lures really well.
- Acquaint Yourself With the Drag system: The drag is an element of the reel that allows friction to be added to the line, allowing for a little less give in casting and reeling in, which is particularly useful in a fight with a large fish. Go for a rod with a disc drag system, as it provides the smoothest drag, and it’s easy to find. The drag system may not be something you play with on your first trip, but it’s important to learn how to use it for future angling endeavors.
- Maintain Your Reel: Once you’ve purchased a reel, it’s important to provide it with the TLC it deserves. Doing a little maintenance every once in a while can have great effects on the longevity of the product. If you’re planning on fishing in saltwater, this is even more important. After every use, give it a good rinse with clean fresh water, and after a few uses, it’s worth it to take it apart and give a more thorough bath with a gentle soap. Follow up with some lubricant and you’ll be ready to go.
5. Fishing Lure Tips
Last but not least, don’t forget the bait! Lure fishing is the most popular among novices and experts alike. Give yourself the best chance at a catch by practicing the following tips:
- Learn What the Fish Like: Don’t be afraid to purchase a couple of different lures for your first fishing trip. Ask your local sporting goods store employee about the fish in the area you’ll be searching for, and they’ll likely give you a couple of recommendations on the best lures to attract them. Great, versatile options include metal spoons, jigs, and crankbaits. Try out one for an hour and if you’re not getting any bites, switch it up!
- Match Your Action to the Lure: Because lures are created to imitate a fish’s natural prey, it’s important that you mimic the swimming patterns of the prey you’re presenting. For example, with a football jig made to look like a crustacean, you’ll want to drag it along the bottom rather than wiggle it near the surface. Some fish are smarter than you think.
- Try Out Live Bait: Don’t underestimate the power of a worm. Sometimes live bait does work best thanks to its natural scent and motion. If you choose to use live bait, just make sure to keep it in good shape before use. Fish are less likely to chase a half-dead bait.
- Keep ‘em Clean: After use in saltwater or mucky freshwater, make sure you give all of your lures a good rinse to keep them in good shape. If you’ve used lures with hair, like bucktails or skirts, comb them out to prevent them from tangling-- they’ll be much less effective in the water if they’re tangled up because the hair can’t move as freely.
When Is Tthe Best Time To Go Fishing?
There’s no great answer to this question, as many hardcore anglers will go out any time of the day, any time of the year, and find themselves a couple of big fish. But for a beginner, generally, the best seasons to head out to the water will be during the late spring and early fall and summertime.
During the summer, the best time of day to go out is in the late evening or early morning, as fish will be feeding on the bugs and critters that are active. In spring and fall, dusk is your best bet.
If you dare to take the journey out into the winter weather for fishing, you can definitely still find fish, but it will be tougher. If you’re dead-set on starting in January, try out ice fishing! Many anglers love getting their toes cold at the chance of a massive catch on a frozen lake.
Now that you’re armed with some of the necessary knowledge for angling success, get out there! The fish are calling. Aside from acquiring gear, remember that confidence is key. That first cast might be a little scary, but put a little heart into it, and you’ll be just fine. Happy fishing!