First Time Fishing – Guidelines for Total Beginners

So you want to go fishing but you have not tried it before. You feel unprepared and anxious, for you will be doing something new. At the same time, you feel great, for you will be doing something exciting. Perhaps among the many questions, you ask yourself is: How shall I begin?

Many of those who want to start fishing ended up not fishing at all, for they do not know what to prepare, what to expect, and what to do during their first day. This article will help you go out of your comfort zone and be more knowledgeable about fishing. Remember, you do not need to spend a lot during your first day, so there is nothing to worry about or be hesitant about. What you need is courage and the idea of how you can make your fishing adventure more worthwhile!

Here are several questions frequently asked by beginning anglers and in this article, we answer them for you:

What are the things I need to prepare?

As someone who has not tried fishing before, you need to prepare a checklist to guide you on what to secure, bring, or purchase. The following are the things you would be needing to gear you up for your fishing adventure:

Fishing License

Depending on your age, you really need a fishing license or permits so that you could start fishing legally. Also, this could help you identify if the fish you desire to catch is in season. You don’t want to go fishing only to realize that you won’t be catching anything at all because you’re fishing during the wrongs season!

As you get your fishing license, you can also grab a copy of the fishing regulations to know what are the dos and don’ts in the place where you want to fish. This is very important for first-timers because they might not be familiar with the water yet.

Aside from the rules, the copy of the fishing regulation would also let you know if the fish you want to catch has a size limit, and how many of them you can keep per day.

Securing a fishing license would prevent you from getting into trouble with the authorities or paying some fines just because you do not know the law. Always put in mind that you will never be excused for your ignorance of the regulations.

Fishing Rod and Reel

You can never fish without these important gears. There are a lot of fishing rods and reels you can choose from, each of them has different features and accessories. These are important tools that you need for fishing and they contribute a lot to the success of your outdoor activity.

There are a lot of rods with great quality that comes at an affordable price, varying in length, capacity, number of ball bearings, and other features which may be unfamiliar to you at first. However, you do not need to worry, just tell the staff from the tackle shop what you want to fish, and they can suggest great fishing rods and reels for you.

Fishing Line

Like the fishing rod and reel, the type of fishing line you want to buy depends on the type of fish or the body of water. For example, you would want to use a 6- or 8-pound test monofilament fishing line if you are catching freshwater fish and a 10- or 12-pound test for those in saltwater.

Most often, your reel combo comes with a fishing line. Even if this is the case, you would still want to get a new one and change it because you have no idea how long it has been with the reel. Maybe it’s already brittle and is most likely to break when used. You can have a braid, monofilament, copolymer, or fluorocarbon fishing lines. You have all the options.

Baits and Lures

It’s important that you attract the fish you want to catch, and for this, you would be needing baits and lures. If you’re just starting, the most convenient bait could be live baits. Fish are more attracted to live, fresh baits than artificial lures.

While they bite on them, as a first-timer, you might not be able to catch them immediately. But don’t worry. You need to know how their biting feels like for this will help you know how to set up your hook properly. Some of the baits you can use are worms, nightcrawlers, minnows, or leeches, for they are easier to keep alive. Remember, you don’t want to dump the extra baits as soon as you’re done fishing, for there might be corresponding fines.

You can then use lures once you’ve mastered using baits. Like all other fishing tools, there are a lot of lures to choose from. Some lures are made if you want to catch fish lurking in the deep while some work best for fish that stay somewhere on the surface. Pay attention as well to the color of the lure you are choosing, for several lures are more appropriate depending on the body of water where you are fishing.

Other Gears

There are several other gears and accessories that you would need to be more prepared for your first fishing adventure. You would need bobbers, hooks, and fishing weights which you can simply ask from anyone in the tackle shop.

If you’re fishing on a boat, there are a lot of fishing kayaks available as well. Some kayaks are inflated, some are good for two people, and some have features that may suit your needs. Just check the features and identify which would work best for you.

If you’re fishing at night – because some fish species are abundant in the dark – you would need a head torch. These are necessary because you don’t want your hands carrying flashlights while they’re also holding fishing reels.

Of course, you need to be concerned about your safety, so bring anything necessary for your comfort and security, then you are ready to go!

How do I set up my bait?

Setting up your bait is one of the essentials in fishing. This makes sure that every tool you have prepared will be put into use properly. Without your knowledge of setting up your bait, you might not have a good catch. This process involves knotting, setting up the hook, line, and sinker, and identifying the tackle to be used.


Knowing how to set up your bait starts with knowing the knots to use. You can usually get a knot guide in the tackle store where you are buying some of the other tools, but it is also important that you practice knotting even without a guide.

For your clinch knot, pass your fishing line through the eye of the hook and, around the standing line, make five turns with the tag end. Afterward, slid the loose end of the line through the first loop you have formed. Finally, wet the line and slowly tighten the knot. This way, you will know that your bait is safe and secured. At home, if you have your time, you can practice using some other materials like a thread, yarn, or other strings.

Remember that knotting is very important as it helps you keep the hook on the line. If your knot is not done well, you might lose a lot of fish!

Setting up line, hook, and sinker

Aside from knowing the proper knot, you also need to learn about setting up the rod’s line, hook, and sinker. After trying on a fish hook, around six to twelve inches above the hook, attach one or a pair of sinkers. These sinkers provide the weight necessary to keep your lure or your bait down in the water. Aside from this, this would also prevent your lure and your bait from swinging toward the shore.

One important thing is the bobber. Without them, it would be difficult to know if a fish is biting your bait or your lure. When your bobber moves up and down in the water, you know that the fish you desire to catch is nibbling at the bait. Bobbers come in different shapes depending on the type of fish you want to catch, and some are attached to the fishing line with a spring clip, making it move up and down the line easily once a fish has bitten your hook.

Choosing the tackle

A spinning tackle is necessary to put your bait or your lure where your desired fish are. Through this, casting greater distances with much accuracy is possible, lures work effectively, fish in deeper water can be caught, and, more importantly, larger fish would be easier to handle.

Rods with pistol-like grips are more appropriate for beginning anglers, as the line can be easily released by simply pushing a button on the reel that is mounted on top of the handle of the rod.

How do I cast?

In casting, you need to follow several simple steps to make sure that you’re doing it right. For beginners, it’s best to follow the following:

Step 1. Place index finger and middle finger ahead of the reel while the other two fingers behind the reel. If you are right-handed, the handle of the spinning reel is on the left. Otherwise, it’s on the right.

Step 2. Make sure that the sinker or the bobber attached to the line is six to twelve inches from the rod tip.

Step 3. Using your crooked index finger, press the part of the line closest to the reel against the rod.

Step 4. Swing back the rod past your shoulder to throw the bait to the water.

Step 5. Quickly sweep the rod forward to release the line with your arms extended.

Follow these steps and you would be ready to go. It’s important that you take note of the reel you have, the measurement of the line, and the type of water where you are fishing.

Can I fish anytime and anywhere?

As a beginner, you might be impulsive when it comes to fishing. While this outdoor adventure is exciting, do not get too excited and go out immediately to fish. There are several things you need to remember when you go fishing, and this includes the time of the day, the season, and the weather condition. Remember that because fish are cold-blooded, it is best to fish when the sun is too harsh so that fish gather on the surface. This way, you can more likely catch them. Do a little research on the species of fish you desire to catch as well, as you want to know their behavior and how you could attract them with your bait.

Selecting the spot where you go fishing is important as well. You want to choose that which is familiar and safe. With this, you can use a handheld GPS to guide you. Again, knowing your fish species will help you know where they are most abundant. Some lurk in the murky water, while some can be found in the deep.

What are the safety measures to remember?

As a beginning angler, you need to know about important safety measures, for you might not be familiar with the place yet or the possible things that could happen as you fish.

  • If you are fishing on a boat, secure a life jacket.
  • Take note of the prohibited areas. Do not fish in these areas, for there might be wildlife and vegetation you are not allowed to disturb, or it would not be good for your safety.
  • Bring safety items like flashlights, water bottles, maps, or smartphones.
  • Wear a sunscreen to protect your skin as you may be exposed to so much sunlight when fishing.
  • Use insect repellants.

Now that you know all the basic things to prepare, you can start your fishing adventure with confidence! Remember, since it’s your first time, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just enjoy and seize the day!

3 thoughts on “First Time Fishing – Guidelines for Total Beginners”

  1. I like how many first-time fishers don’t prepare or know what to expect on the first day of fishing so they end up not going at all. My brother is thinking of buying catfish bait because he’s considering taking me to the lake behind his house to catch some fish to fry. I think it’s a good idea for us to consider buying bait from a reputable store that can help us catch as many fishes as possible so that we can have a good dinner.

  2. Thank you for telling me that I should have the required knowledge of setting up the bait I’ll be using in order to have a good catch. My friend wants to invite me on a Manitoba fishing trip this weekend and I initially want to say no because I know nothing about the sport. Still, I think it might be a good first experience for me, so I hope that the package he availed comes with a guide and tutorial for beginners like me.

  3. Having read this I believed it was really informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


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