Saltwater Fishing for Beginners

Saltwater fishing typically gets transitioned by a fisherman after fishing in freshwater lakes and rivers. But not always. Beginner anglers can still start in saltwater and find success.

Saltwater fishing is the most popular form of fishing in the world. It has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and millions of people fish in saltwater regularly. This article will give you the basics of getting started fishing in the ocean, and it will help you learn some great tips to help you catch more saltwater fish.

Saltwater Fishing For Beginners: How To Catch Fish In Saltwater
  • Saltwater fishing basics
  • What gear to use in saltwater
  • Easiest fish to catch when fishing in saltwater
  • Where you should start fishing as a beginner in saltwater
  • Best eating inshore saltwater fish

What fishing gear do you need for saltwater fishing

Saltwater fishing gear is not as simple as freshwater fishing, but it is still relatively straightforward. Saltwater contains salt that quickly corrodes metal if left unprotected. To protect the metal from corrosion, you will need to either coat it with a protective product or use some other type of equipment.

In addition, saltwater is corrosive and can cause rust spots on your reel and rods. To prevent this, fishermen recommend keeping the equipment in a dry environment such as a garage or shed.

Saltwater fishing is not for beginners, but it can be if you target the right fish and location.

Saltwater rods and reels


Fishing rods and reels are often designed for saltwater fishing. Lightweight reels and rods designed for saltwater can easily be used in freshwater applications but not the other way around in many cases. Why? Because saltwater reels are built to withstand the punishment the salt will deliver to your fishing gear.

I recommend a medium-light or medium-heavy spinning rod with a 4000 size reel if you are starting saltwater fishing. This should be large enough when spooled with a 15-pound test braid to catch most inshore species of saltwater fish. And, you can easily cast a live bait or lure with this setup.

Offshore rods will need to be larger, but we recommend a lighter setup to get started for the beginner.


Spinning reels and baitcasting reels are the two most common saltwater fishing reels. For beginners, we recommend a spinning reel as they are easier to cast in most conditions like wind and are built strong, and will last you a long time if you purchase the right reel.

Fishing line

Saltwater Fishing Line: There are many different types and sizes of saltwater fishing lines. The kind of fishing you are doing will depend on the line you should use.

The reel and rod will determine the proper pound test you should use, but monofilament or braid would be a decision.

For beginners, both types of the line have benefits. However, we suggest using braid to cast further, is more robust, doesn’t loop up as much, and can withstand longer spool times before changing the line.

Fishing bait (Fake and live)

Saltwater fish will eat both fake and live baits. For beginners purchasing live shrimp from a local bait and tackle store is one of the easiest ways to use live bait. Shrimp are eaten by almost every saltwater fish and can be kept alive using a simple bucket and aerator system.

Depending on your location, you can even use small hooks and a small split shot style weight to catch smaller baitfish with the shrimp. Like pinfish or grunts, these baitfish make excellent live bait to catch saltwater species like redfish, trout, snook, bluefish, and other gamefish that can be found closer to shore.

Lures and jigs work excellent both inshore and offshore

There are countless lures, jigs, and other types of saltwater baits that you can choose from that you can use and catch fish in saltwater. For beginner saltwater fishermen, we will explain a few of the ones that you should have in your tackle box to get started.

  1. Spoon: A spoon is a simple bait that you can use to catch a variety of saltwater fish by simply casting the spoon out and reeling it in. The spoon is designed to wobble and flash, making it an excellent bait for beginners to use.
  2. Bucktail Jig: Bucktail jigs will catch everything in both saltwater and freshwater and is artificial bait you should have in your box. These baits are great for fishing in all types of depths and catching all kinds of fish. Tipping a bucktail with a shrimp is also an excellent way to see species like sheepsheads and other fish that eat crabs and shrimps that might not eat a regular bucktail.
  3. Original Rapala: Everyone should have the original Rapala in their tackle box. This bait is responsible for catching thousands of fish in saltwater and freshwater. It is easily used by simply retrieving it for beginners.
  4. Yo-ZURI Crystal Minnow: Yo-ZURI makes excellent baits, and the crystal minnow is a perfect replica of small baitfish that live in the ocean.

Pro Tip: Live Bait

Live bait works great for beginners in saltwater fishing. Live shrimp will catch almost any inshore saltwater species and can be used both live or cut up on a jig.

Types of saltwater fishing

There are different types of saltwater fishing you can get into. However, these are the most common types of saltwater fishing :

Inshore saltwater fishing

Inshore saltwater fishing consists of fishing closer and shallower to shore versus offshore saltwater fishing. This is because inshore fishing can be done with lighter rods and reels, and the fish species tend to be smaller.

Live bait like pilchards, pinfish, mullet, and other live bait can be used to catch all types of inshore species such as:

  • Snook
  • Sheepshead
  • Trout
  • Redfish
  • Black drum
  • Bluefish
  • Bonefish
  • Tarpon
  • and more

Inshore fishing in saltwater can be more accessible than offshore simply because a boat is unnecessary. Places like inlets, beaches, and piers make an excellent place for beginner saltwater fishermen.

Offshore Saltwater fishing

Offshore fishing requires a boat and is done farther offshore in the ocean. Gear is typically larger and heavier in order to hook and catch offshore species successfully. The same types of bait that you would use inshore would work great offshore. Live mullet, pilchard, pinfish, ballyhoo, and other white baits work great offshore and can catch species like:

  • Mai Mai
  • Sailfish
  • Kingfish
  • Tuna
  • Grouper
  • Snapper
  • and more

Best places for beginners to start inshore fishing

Beaches are a great place to start saltwater fishing, along with piers and fishing bridges on saltwater. These allow the beginner fisherman to fish for species like sheepsheads and other types of fish that can be caught with light gear and shrimp.

Beaches during fall months on the east coast of Florida can be some of the best saltwater fishing for a wide variety of fish. Mullet make the annual migration from north to south in the fall months, and almost every type of fish is within casting range right from the beach.

LocationType of fishGear needed
PierSnook, shark, sheepshead, flounder, bluefish, trout, tarpon, mackerel, whiting, pompano, and moreLight tackle all the way up to heavy-duty spinning and plug setups. Should have a landing net, pliers, weights, lures, hooks, jigs, leader.
BridgeSnook, shark, sheepshead, flounder, bluefish, trout, tarpon, mackerel, whiting, pompano, goliath grouper, snapper, and moreLight tackle all the way up to heavy-duty spinning and plug setups. Should have a landing net, pliers, weights, lures, hooks, jigs, leader.
BeachSnook, tarpon, whiting, drum, flounder, pompano, barracuda, and moreLight-tackle to medium tackle spinning or plug rod and reels. Lures, jigs, cast-net, pliers, sunglasses to sight fish. bait bucket.

Proper clothing when fishing

Like any other outdoor activity, fishing requires you to be in the elements. If you have not heard it before, we will tell you to try not to wear cotton when fishing. It provides limited insulation when wet, takes a long time to dry, and absorbs moisture quickly.

Look to wear long-sleeved fishing-style shirts with a built-in SPF rating that helps protect your skin from the sun and elements while keeping you comfortable and cool.

Make sure also to bring a hat, sunscreen, and lip balm as long exposure to the sun can tire you out and cause a nasty sunburn.

Fishing license for inshore fishing

Regardless of where you fish, odds are if you are an adult, you will have a fishing license for both saltwater and freshwater. You will probably need a separate fishing license for fresh and salt.

Depending on the state you are in when fishing, you should check with your local tackle store to find out what type of license you will be required to have on you when fishing.

What are some excellent inshore fish to eat?

Snook: (When in season) These fish have to be in season, be within the legal slot limit, and you must possess a snook stamp and license. These fish are excellent table fare and are white meat fish that can be fried, grilled, panned, seared, or put in the oven.

Redfish: Redfish meat is a slight reddish hue in color meat that makes excellent table fare. This fish is perfect on the grill or blackened.

Sheepshead: Sheepshead can be caught with shrimp’s or small crabs the easiest. Sheepshead is very good to eat and easy to catch when fishing around structure like seawalls, docks, or bridges.

Pompano: One of our favorite fish to eat, pompano is an excellent tasting fish that we love to grill whole. Based with a little lemon and butter and you’ll be hooked. These fish can be caught on pompano jigs, sand flees, shrimp, and small crabs along beaches in certain months.

Flounder: Flounder is another popular fish that is caught inshore and is excellent baked. Flounder will eat small bait fish, shrimp, jigs, and small crabs regularly.

Mangrove snapper: Snapper like mangrove are very popular around piers, bridges, and docks that the beginner saltwater fisherman can easily catch. Use smaller size 1/0 hooks tipped with shrimp for easy catching.

Frequently asked questions about saltwater fishing for beginners

What is the easiest fish to catch in saltwater? We probably think mangrove snapper are some of the easiest fish to catch in saltwater simply because they tend to hang around the structure a beginner will most likely be fishing on. Bridges, pier, and docks. And they school up so catching more than one should not be a problem.

Best saltwater live bait for beginner fisherman? Live shrimp simply because you can purchase them at most bait and tackle stores, they stay alive easily in a small bucket with an aerator, and most inshore species will eat them.

What is a good inshore saltwater size fishing rod and reel for beginners? Look for a size 5000 reel and a medium-heavy fast action rod. This size rod is light enough to cast and catch almost any inshore fish species.

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