9 Fishing Tips For Beginners

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.

1. Choose Your Fishing Rod and Reel

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.

2. Choose Your Lure and Bait

Next, you will need lures to attract the fish. When deciding which lure to use, you should determine the types of fish that 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 go with the following lures due to their simplicity, effectiveness, and reliability.

Inline spinners

Inline spinners have one or more blades attached to the lure which emulate bait fish by emitting flashes and vibrations throughout the water. They have three hooks, so when a fish bites, it will almost certainly hook itself. These lures are simple to cast and retrieve which are great for beginners.

Once the spinner hits the water, let it sink for a second, give it a tug to get it spinning, and reel it back in to you.

Spoons

Spoon lures are made from either metal or shell and are shaped like the bowl of a spoon. Instead of spinning, these flutter and dart around like a wounded bait fish.

Crankbaits

Crankbaits are designed to allow you to control how deep they dive below the water's surface. Ideally, you want the floating ones that, upon retrieval, will dive to a specific depth. Once again, just cast and retrieve the bait. Vary your retrieve speed and flip the rod to make the bait dart.

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.

3. Choose Your Fishing Line

You can't hook a fish without a line! There are three main types of fishing lines; monofilament, braided, and fluorocarbon. Each offer different benefits and drawbacks.

Monofilament is the cheapest option, but it is also the least flexible. Braided is slightly more expensive, but it is very durable. Fluorocarbon is the most costly option, but it is extremely strong and flexible.

4. Learn How To Cast

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:

  • Start with 6 inches (152mm) of line on the rod
  • Maintain the reel under your dominant hand
  • Your spinning reel has a bail that stops your line from spooling out, and you can flip this bail with your finger while holding the line
  • To cast, slowly raise the rod's tip above and behind you
  • Cast the rod forward with your wrist and elbow, pushing the bait into the air towards your fishing target
  • Flip the bail back when your lure hits the water and begin reeling to attract fish

5. Buy a Fishfinder

Fishfinder 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 is a high concentration of fish in your proximity, you have a better chance of getting a bite. You can get a decent Fishfinder like the Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5′′ GPS for about $100. While a high-end Fishfinder like the Humminbird HELIX 5 might cost around $250.

6. Know How To Reel in Fish

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.

7. Know How To Release a Fish

If you're planning to catch and release your fish, keep in mind the following tips:

Make sure your hands are clean and dry. If you release a fish with wet hands or gloves, you could end up hurting yourself from the fish's spikes. Additionally, ensure your hands don't touch the fish you're about to release; the slime covering a living fish's skin can cause irritation.

Before releasing the fish, check whether it's dead or alive. You can do this by gently poking the fish's gills with your finger. If it doesn't react, it's probably already dead. However, if the fish does react, it's still alive, and you need to release it immediately before you kill it.

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.

8. Decide Which Type of Fish You'd Like to Catch

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.

9. Be Aware of Common Pitfalls

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!

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