Fishing, much like camping, is an activity where learning the basics is easy but mastering it can be quite challenging. The key to success is learning from other fishermen who have gone before you.
From choosing the right fishing tackle to knowing where to fish and what type of fish to catch, there are plenty of things to consider before heading out onto the water. With these nine fishing pro tips, you can hopefully establish and improve your fishing skills to set you on the path to becoming a great angler.
A fishing rod is a pole with a line attached to the end of it. There are different kinds of fishing rods varying in length, diameter, weight, flexibility, and strength. The most common materials used for rods are graphite, fiberglass, bamboo, and wood.
A spinning reel is attached to a rod and used to store your line. Similar to fishing rods, spinning reels also come in many different shapes and sizes. Smaller models are better suited for younger kids and novice anglers since they're easy to handle, while larger reels are better for experienced anglers, who cast longer distances and fight larger fish.
You'll want to purchase a spinning reel and rod combo as it will give you everything you need to start fishing without having to buy individual items. Since you'll most likely be spending the majority of your time fishing in shallow freshwater (where casting distance isn't much of an issue), consider purchasing a shorter rod. That way, it's easier to transport and stow in your car's trunk.
The best tip for choosing a fishing rod and reel is to not break the bank. Get yourself a fishing rod that meets your needs and fits your budget. You can always upgrade later on.
You can't expect to catch a fish without a lure and bait. When deciding which lure to use, you should determine what kind of fish you'd like to catch. Some lures work best for specific species such as bass, walleye, or trout, whereas others target a wider variety of fish like perch, carp, or catfish.
For those just starting out, it's better to stick with one of the following lures due to their simplicity, effectiveness, and reliability:
If you want to attract larger fish, you'll need heavier tackle. Larger lures such as minnows, worms, and crickets are effective baits for largemouth bass. Many fishermen enjoy casting soft plastics over hard plastic jigs, as soft plastics are more flexible and you can fish them deeper and closer to the top of the water's surface.
You can't hook a fish without a line! There are three main types of fishing lines:
Getting good at casting is a skill that every angler must perfect to get their lure as close as possible to the fish. If you're just starting out fishing, a spinning reel is a good choice as it's easy to use. Casting only requires winding up the reel and throwing the lure. Here's how:
A "fish finder" is a simple device you can attach to your line that uses radar to help discover fish. Based on its range, it will show you exactly where those fish are. If there's a high concentration of fish in your proximity, you have a better chance of getting a bite. You can get a decent and affordable fish finder like the Garmin Striker 4 with GPS for $120, whereas a high-end fish finder like the Humminbird HELIX 5 will run around $300.
The most important thing you can do when fishing is gently and slowly reel in the fish. If done properly, you will catch the fish without pulling too hard or jerking the rod. This will allow you to set the hook firmly and smoothly, ensuring you don't lose the fish.
If you're planning to catch and release your fish, keep in mind the following tips:
If the fish isn't moving, try shaking it lightly. If it doesn't move even after shaking, it's likely dead. After checking whether the fish is alive or dead, carefully place it into the water. Don't drop it directly into the water, though. Instead, hold the fish by the tail and slowly lower it into the water. Once it reaches the bottom, let go of the fish.
There are several fish species that are easier to catch than others. The largemouth bass is the most commonly caught fish, followed closely by bluegill. Both of those species are aggressive and bite right away. You'll have to be quick if you want to land either one.
Flounder is another excellent saltwater option. These fish are small, plentiful and tend to stay close to the shore and near piers.
Similarly, freshwater trout is a good beginner's fish as they too are fairly easy to catch and abundant near piers. Not to mention they taste fantastic and have a good amount of meat to them.
While you can read and apply the tips listed here, every angler will make mistakes when it comes to fishing. One common mistake is not checking the weather forecast prior to heading out to deep water. No one wants a surprise storm to ruin their fishing trip, but more importantly, rough waters can be dangerous for even experienced fishermen. Even if the forecast looks good, it's always wise to check for any last-minute updates or changes in wind speed and direction before setting off outdoors.
So before you cast your line, make sure you've checked the weather report for a safe and successful day of fishing. After all, there's nothing worse than a soggy sandwich and a capsized boat!