Fishing for Beginners (What You Really Need to Know)

Fishing is a fantastic sport that everyone should experience. We want to help ensure that your time out on the lake is the best it can be. Our comprehensive guide to fishing for beginners will provide all the information you need to make a smooth transition on the water.

Fishing 101: Fishing Basics for the Beginner Fisherman

Fishing can be a very rewarding experience, however, it does require the proper gear and a little planning. But don’t worry we will provide everything you need to start fishing the right way.

This guide on fishing for beginners we will go over the most common types of fishing gear from reels to rods, lures to line, as well as fishing tips for beginners. We feel this guide will provide the confidence you need for your next fishing adventure.

What beginner fisherman should know

This guide will cover the following:

  • What equipment beginners should have
  • The best bait to use to catch fish
  • Tips to help increase catching fish for beginners
You Should
Should Not
  • Plan ahead
  • Know what species of fish you want to catch
  • Have the correct fishing tackle
  • Go with an experienced angler
  • Have fun
  • Expect to master casting
  • Get frustrated

What do Beginner Fisherman Need for Equipment?

To start fishing you do not need much equipment to get going. For the beginner fisherman that would want to fish from the bank to get started you simply would need the following gear:

  • Fishing rod and reel
  • Fishing line
  • Fishing hook or artificial bait
  • Landing net (But not necessary)
  • Fishing license if your state requires it.

What’s the Easiest Fish to Catch?

Largemouth bass: easy to catch and good to eat; can be caught in freshwater or saltwater environments. When fishing for largemouth bass, use a small jig with a light sinker attached below it, or use an artificial shrimp imitating the color and shape of a largemouth bass strike zone placed near the bank or structure where you’re fishing. Another option is a fake lizard or frog jig.

Bluegills: can be found in any freshwater body but are more common in warm weather areas near the shoreline; use a fishing lure with a smaller hook and lighter line to catch these fish. When fishing for bluegills, cast into shallow water and feel around the bottom for rocks, roots, or other obstructions that could create noise as the baitfish feed; when jerking your bait towards the bank or structure, give it a slight “twang” to imitate schooling fish behavior.

Crappie: can commonly be found in any freshwater environment but tend to congregate near structures such as dams or weirs; use artificial lures that resemble different types of baitfish.

Common Mistakes by Beginner Fisherman

Common mistakes that many new beginner fishermen make are using fishing gear that is not matched to the fish they want to catch. Specially bait and hooks.

Some of the easiest fish to catch, like sunfish, often need smaller hooks, lines, and baits to catch these types of fish successfully. Unfortunately, beginner fishermen tend to use larger hooks and bait to get fish to bite.

When fishing for sunfish, remember to use a light line in the six and eight-pound test class with small hooks and small pieces of bait like live worms or bread to increase your chances of catching.

  • Beginner Common mistakes:
  • Improper line test
  • Too large of hooks for smaller fish species
  • Not using the right bait
  • Not fishing in the right places during the correct times

How to Choose a Fishing Rod

Your fishing rod is one of the essential aspects of fishing. The rod and reel are used to get your bait out into the water and reel in the fish once hooked.

For beginners, we recommend a lighter setup to start. These light setups are designed with more delicate lines and smaller baits and are easier to use than larger heavier rods.

With that said, you should understand the different types of fishing rods and reels that are made.

ReelGood for:Bad for:
SpincastingThese are the simplest types of reels for beginners to use and are the most affordable in price. They are good for catching smaller fish like sunfish, small trout, small bass, etc.Catching larger fish, casting far, not a good drag system, does not last long.
Spinning Easy for beginners and seasoned pros to use. Both are great in salt and freshwater. Can work both with small baits or larger lures depending on models. Great drag systems on most models.Super heavy saltwater fishing with really large fish.
BaitcastingWell built and lightweight that can handle all types of baits in both fresh and saltwater. Can cast long distances with the right line.The hardest reel to cast for beginners can be expensive.

How to Match the Right Line With Your Reel

Matching the right line to your reel is essential for a few reasons. For one, if you use a too heavy line, the reel and rod will not cast properly and result in tangles and no fish being caught. It will also lead to frustration when out fishing.

Every reel has a recommended pound test of line that the reel should be used with. For smaller reels like spin casting and spinning reels, you can typically find that you will be using the line that is rated from 6 lbs. test to 10 lbs. test lines. To learn more about fishing lines, let’s keep reading below.

Fishing Line for Beginners

Fishing lines come in a few different materials, but we will explain the two most popular types—monofilament and braid lines.

To spool your reel, run the line through your rod guides and tie a double knot to your spool while the bail is open. Fresh monofilament will curl to its original circumference from the spool you purchased, which is typically twice the size of the rim of your reel’s spool.

The line will pool out to its original shape when you open the bail to cast. Always spool a bit less than full.” this will help with casting.

How to Tie a Knot

As a beginner fisherman, you need to understand at least and know how to tie one knot. Knot tying is essential in securing your hook onto the fishing line. However, there are some very easy knots that anyone can learn to tie, even kids.

Choosing the Right Bait

Choosing the right baits will make all the difference when you fish. When just starting, you should look to use easy-to-use tricks that do not require special techniques to use. Baits like a fake worm are easy to fish and are proven to catch bass.

Spinnerbaits are another great choice and can be cast out and reeled in slowly. Spinnerbaits are versatile at catching a lot of species of freshwater fish.

Small plastic jigs are another excellent bait for small sunfish and other species like crappie. These jigs can be cast out, and move your rod tip up and down to make the jig dance.

Live bait works great for beginners.

For beginner fishermen, using live bait like worms, crickets, or small baitfish makes fishing easier. However, you can catch more fish like this, but you also need to cast out the live bait and wait for a bite to happen.

Catching shiner is something you can get into as you fish more.

A quick trip to your local tackle store in your area will allow you to purchase live shiners, minnows, crickets, or worms in most cases.

How to Know you are Getting a Bite?

So, how do you know when a fish is taking your bait? For beginners, that can be difficult to know when you are not using a float or using live bait like small baitfish, and you do not know what to look for.

When using a boober, it’s typically easier to know when you are getting a bite; if you are using a live worm or bread or another type of bait that will not move the float, you can easily know when you are getting a bite because the float will either start to move or go underwater. So when this happens, you know you are getting a bite.

The easiest way to tell you’re getting a bite when using live bait is to pay attention to your line. Live bait can swim with your bait, but your line will peel off quicker when an actual bite happens. 

You can also slowly lift the rod, and if it feels heavy and continues to pull, you have a bite.

Setting the Hook

After you feel a bite, in order to hook a fish, you need to set the hook. Setting the hook is when a fish takes your bait, and you quickly sweep the rod up to allow the hook to penetrate the fish’s mouth and hook it.

For smaller fish like panfish and crappie, you do not need to set the hook really hard as you would a largemouth bass. The mouths of certain fish are thinking, and setting the hook hard will result in fewer hookups.

Wait until you feel the weight of a fish before setting the hook. You want to reel in any slack line before setting the hook for best results.

Setting the hook will also depend on the type of hook you are using.

J hooks should allow for a hook set. However, if you use a circle hook, you do not set the hook but simply reel until the fish and line come together tight. Here is a good article on the difference between hooks.

How to Reel in a Fish

Reeling in a fish is the fun part. Here are a few basic things to remember. First, make sure your drag is set so that it is not too tight, and when a fish runs, the line can go out as well. 

You want to make sure your drag is not too loose or too tight. A good set drag will tire out a fish when it makes a run.

Next, always remember to keep your rod bent with no slack in the line. Slack is when you stop reeling, and the fish is not making the rod bend. 

This can result in hooks coming undone in the fish’s mouth resulting in lost fish.

Releasing a fish

Now that you have successfully caught a fish, it’s time to release it if you will not keep it to eat. If you are going to keep a fish to eat, you should make sure you understand bag limits and how large or small a fish must be to legally possess it.

For the fish you will release, you should be sure to hold the fish so you support the entire body and do not keep the fish out of the water for too long.

Gently replace the fish in the water so it can swim away. For larger fish like bass, be sure to cradle the belly with one hand while you hold the fish’s mouth with the other.

If you need to hold the fish in the water for a few seconds to regain its strength, it is intelligent to ensure it swims away healthy.

Don’t forget your fishing license.

Do not forget to check with your local tackle store or online in your state to see if you need a fishing license. 

Most states require that you have a fishing license to fish legally. 

These are typically purchased online and can be done for relatively cheap, and most will be for a year long.

Fishing guide: Hiring a guide is also a fun and educational way to learn more about fishing. Guides know the water they fish on better than most and are eager to help beginner fishermen catch more fish. 

Youtube:  Youtube is a great resource for fishing. You can learn how-to-tie knows, rigs, and more on this platform.

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