Photo credit: Samo Trebizan / Adobe Stock
A Beginner’s Guide to Fishing
February 14, 2019
It’s easy to understand the appeal of fishing once you spend an afternoon on the water. Fishing not only gives you an excuse to enjoy the great outdoors, it also offers a unique combination of relaxation and excitement. But if you’ve never fished on your own before, you probably don’t know what equipment you need or how to set everything up.
Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated. Read on to learn the best way to find a fishing location, the equipment you’ll need, and how to set up a fishing pole.
Where Do You Go?
Start every fishing trip by deciding where you want to go—the most important decision you’ll make. Freshwater ponds and reservoirs are best for beginners. Check with your state’s Fish & Wildlife Department or the Department of Natural Resources, as most publish a list of fishing spots on their website.
Familiarize yourself with the common species in the lake, as well as the local laws, limits, and regulations. You’ll almost always need to obtain a fishing license. You may also need to purchase a habitat stamp in some locations.
What Kind of Gear Do You Need?
The simplest way to get the equipment you need is to purchase a starter kit. Most sporting goods stores carry several different versions. They contain everything you need, including a rod, reel, fishing line, and an assortment of tackle.
But if you’d rather do things yourself, just start with the following:
- Rod and Reel: Advanced anglers often purchase a rod and reel separately, but beginners should purchase a pre-matched rod-and-reel “combo.” A 6- to 8-foot long, medium-powered spinning combo will work in most circumstances.
- Fishing Line: You’ll find what seems like an infinite number of fishing lines on the market, but don’t get bogged down in the minutiae until you have some experience. Just pick a moderately priced 6- to 8-pound-test monofilament line.
- Hooks and Other Tackle: You’ll need three basic types of tackle to get started. This includes a box of No. 8 or No. 10 circle hooks, a few clip-on bobbers, and an assortment of small sinkers.
- Bait: Skilled anglers often use artificial lures to catch fish, but beginners will have better luck using live bait. A variety of options are available, but don’t overthink it: Worms and crickets almost always work.
In addition to the basic equipment listed above, bring a good multitool—you’ll find it helpful for cutting lines and removing hooks. You’ll also want some type of tackle box or bag to keep everything organized.
What to Wear: Fishing Apparel and Eyewear
You don’t have to wear anything fancy to go fishing. All you need are some lightweight clothes that’ll protect you from the elements, including:
- Shorts and a moisture-wicking T-shirt for breathable comfort.
- If it’s chilly, swap the shorts for jeans and throw on a windbreaker.
- A ball cap to help protect your head from the sun and keep your hair out of your way.
- Flip-flops are fine for fishing piers and sandy shores.
- Hiking boots are better for fishing from a rocky riverbank.
- A pair of polarized sunglasses for better visibility and proper sun protection.
- Sunglasses straps to keep your shades onshore.
Not only will polarized sunglasses help protect your eyes from the sun, sand, and spray, but also—most importantly—they’ll help you see beneath the water surface. This means you’ll find it easier to spot fish swimming underwater, as well as submerged rocks and logs, which often attract fish.
How to Set Up a Fishing Pole: Quick and Easy Steps
Rigging your fishing pole is one of the most intimidating steps for beginning anglers, but it’s an easy skill to learn. Just follow the three-step process described below and you’ll be dragging fish from the water in no time.
- Tie a sinker or bobber about 2 to 5 feet above the end of your line. Use a sinker if you want to keep the bait near the bottom; use a bobber if you want to keep your bait closer to the surface.
- Tie a hook onto the end of your line. Anglers use dozens of different knots, but the improved clinch knot or Palomar knot will work for now.
- Thread your cricket or worm onto the hook. Try to conceal as much of the hook inside the bait as possible while keeping the hook tip exposed.
That’s all there is to it. Now, cast your line out and hang on!
Get Out There and Put These Tips into Practice
The most important thing to do when learning to fish is to simply get out on the water and practice. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn each time you spend a few hours on the water. Also, be sure to talk to other anglers you encounter—most will be happy to share some of their secrets with newcomers.
Written by Ben Team for Knockaround