Learning How To Fish: A Handbook (2022)

Table of Contents

    Introduction: You’ve Got A Bite

    1.Introduction You’ve Got A Bite


    Fishing has been around for centuries and it was one of the first sources of protein for humans. Nowadays, many people use it merely for entertainment purposes.


    There is a lot of evidence to indicate that fishing is the best hobby in the world, as it offers up a wide range of benefits for you to enjoy. 


    Another great fact about fishing is that you don’t actually need that much equipment to take with you. Some people go with minimal gear, a fishing license, and some snacks for the journey – that’s it!


    There are many types of fishing that you can specialize in, such as fly fishing, bait fishing, and fly fishing. 


    Everyone prefers different types of fishing to others, so it might take you a few weeks to find your favorite. However, today we’re just going to be focusing on fishing for beginners.


    More often than not you’ll begin learning the basics of fishing with bait. So, today we’re looking at how to begin bait fishing. 


    When picking up a new hobby you will want to immerse yourself in the world of it, which is what we’re going to take you through today.


    We’ll be covering why fishing is so great, what gear you’ll need to get started, a step-by-step guide for beginners, as well as much more. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get the ball reeling!

    Why Should You Start Fishing? 

    2.Why Should You Start Fishing

    Many people think that fishing is a fun sport and hobby, and they’re not wrong. It is a great way to get out in nature and spend some time with yourself or your friends.


    However, did you know that there are also mental, emotional, and physical benefits as well?


    Fishing can be extremely therapeutic when you need it to be. Below we’re going to look at how fishing can benefit you in more ways than you first thought possible. 


    2.Mental BenefitsFishing has been known to reduce stress, which is the first reason why it is great for mental health.


    Being near a body of water can lower anxiety and calm the mind.


    Many people use fishing to soothe the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other mental illnesses.


    Another way that fishing can help you mentally is that it can improve your concentration.


    While you might switch off while waiting for a catch, being in nature is enough to improve how your brain works and concentrates on things around you. So, regularly fishing can help you to focus more on a daily basis.


    1.Emotional BenefitsFishing helps you emotionally in a number of ways as well.


    You can get together with friends and fish or join an angling club and meet new people.


    Connecting with new or old friends can be great for your emotional wellbeing and communication skills.


    Alternatively, fishing alone allows you to connect more with yourself and work on your inner peace.


    It can also help to improve your self-esteem and how you view yourself. When you’re fishing you should set a list of goals to achieve and tick them off every time you complete one.


    Fishing is an excellent hobby to set goals with because you can fish at any age, so you won’t be under time constraints to complete them. 


    Once you complete a personal goal, perhaps you beat your personal best for the size of bass, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment.


    If you ever get to talk to an angler about their first catch, watch how their eyes light up when they recall the most impressive moment of theirs to date. 


    Fishing can make you very proud of yourself, which is exactly what some people need out of it.


    If you feel down on yourself, you can remember back to when you felt that accomplishment and feel impressed with yourself all over again. Fishing is a great way to boost your self-esteem. 


    3.Physical BenefitsFinally, fishing is also great for your physical health. For starters, fishing works all of your main muscle groups and gets them moving.


    These include your heart and lungs, promoting good cardiovascular health.


    Walking from your car to your fishing spot requires an aerobic workout, and the weight of your gear intensifies the difficulty.

    Once you’re at your fishing spot, setting up and casting out requires strength and can help to work your muscles. Larger fish also require a workout to reel them in and pick them up for a photo. You can burn up to 550 calories with just an hour of fishing!   


    Another physical benefit is that fishing increases your vitamin D intake. As vitamin D comes primarily from the sun and being outside, you can top up on your vitamin D without even noticing it.


    This vitamin boosts your immune system and can be seen to fight symptoms of depression. 

    Fishing Gear: What You’ll Need To Get Started   

    3.Fishing Gear What You’ll Need To Get Started

    We mentioned earlier that you won’t need much gear at all to go fishing, but this is not always the case for everyone. Some people prefer to carry limited amounts of equipment while others like to be prepared for anything and everything.


    Below we’re going to be looking at all of the gear that you can get for fishing, starting with the essentials.

    Fishing license  

    4.Fishing licenseBefore you even think about going fishing, you need to make sure that you have a current fishing license.

    Your license needs to be suitable for the state that you’ll be fishing in, so don’t assume that you can fish wherever you like if you haven’t checked beforehand. 


    You can buy a fishing license easily online or inside fishing shops.


    Sometimes you can purchase them in convenience stores, but it’s not always certain. You’re better off checking online as you know that you’ll be able to apply for one. Fishing licenses aren’t too expensive, but the price depends on where you’re buying them. 


    You can also purchase an annual license if you know that you’ll want to go fishing more than once.


    Annual licenses are better value for the money and they allow you an entire year to go fishing without having to worry about a license again. Just remember to check it’s still valid every time you are about to go fishing so that it’s not unknowingly void.  

    Fishing rod and reel  

    5.Fishing rod and reelNow that you have a license you’re able to go fishing safely, you can begin gathering your other supplies.


    It goes without saying that you’ll need a fishing rod and reel.


    A fishing rod is a thin pole that allows your line and bait to reach further out in the water. 


    Fish are clever creatures that won’t often come near the edge of the water as they know danger is lurking. Your fishing rod allows you to cast bait out where the fish consider a safe zone and will bite much more easily. 


    Fishing rods are made from a material such as fiberglass or graphite, which is durable yet flexible enough to cast out well. The type of rod you opt for depends on the type of fishing that you’re going to embark on. 


    Beginners should use a medium strength rod so that you can use it for lots of different types of fish. The responsiveness of the rod should also be good enough that you can easily feel the fish bite, and the ideal length will be around 11.8 inches longer than how tall you are. 


    As you progress you can switch up your rod if you need a different one to achieve your personal goals. Coming to the fishing reel, this is a mechanism that attaches to the rod that helps you draw your line back in from the water. 


    You can often find a good high-quality fishing rod and reel combo so that you don’t have to purchase both pieces of equipment separately. 

    Fishing line  

    6.Fishing lineThe fishing line is another essential that you need when you’re wanting to go fishing.


    The line is what allows the fish to be reeled back towards the shore, so fishing without it makes the entire process obsolete. 


    Some fishing reels come with some lines already installed, but this is not always the best quality.

    Fishing lines are particularly susceptible to tangling and breaking, so you should bring enough for spares. 


    The fishing line is classified by strength and weight, as well as castability, elasticity, and visibility. Where you’re planning on fishing will determine what line you need.


    If you’re going to be fishing in rough waters you will need a hardier line, and if the water is murky you’ll need good visibility. 


    7.HooksHooks often come in packs of various sizes so that you always have a hook for the occasion.


    They are used at the end of the fishing line and get caught in the fish’s mouth once it nibbles on your bait.


    There are many types of hooks to choose from, including single and double, depending on the size of fish you’re planning to catch. 


    You attach the hooks to the fishing line with specialized knots that we’ll look at later in our article.


    We’d recommend getting a variety of hooks so that you can easily change the size whenever you need to. 


    8.Bait LuresBait is what attaches to the hooks and attracts the fish to your line.

    Live bait is always considered best as that is what fish are most attracted to, but you can also opt for different types of bait if you’re squeamish. 


    Worms and minnows are considered the best bait, but different fish all have their own unique appetites.


    If you’re trying to catch a rare fish you might benefit from researching what they respond to best. You can purchase bait at fishing stores or find it lying around your home.


    Cheaper alternatives to live bait are corn, marshmallows, pieces of hotdog, or squished pieces of bread. You can also find worms in your back garden for free bait. 


    Moving into things that you don’t necessarily need but will benefit from when fishing, lures are a great way to help the fish find your hook. Lures are similar to the bait but they are fake and plastic. They look like real fish and are good for people who don’t fancy touching live worms.


    Lures are also good for keeping fish unsuspecting in any water condition. For example, a bright fish in murky water might draw suspicion, so you use a dark lure in darker waters. You can also keep lures in case you run out of living bait mid-fish. 


    9.BobbersBobbers float on top of the water and allow you to see when your bait has been nibbled by a fish.


    These are particularly helpful for people who don’t have a very responsive fishing rod.


    While the fish nibbles at the bait, the bobber will bob up and down on the water. 


    However, once the bait has been taken the bobber should sink underwater, signaling to you that it is time to reel it in.


    Again, bobbers are not necessary for your fishing journey, but they certainly help beginners learn the feel of a fish bite.


    10.SinkersSinkers allow your line to stabilize as the hook and bait sink deeper.


    They can come in different shapes and weights, and you can choose these factors depending on how deep you want the bait to go.


    These are very helpful when you’re fishing for deepwater fish.


    Make sure that you purchase a whole load and take a handful with you fishing as you’re likely to lose more than you’re expecting. 


    11.SwivelsSwivels prevent your line from spinning and getting twisted from prolonged use of baits and lures.

    They attach to your line and bait to connect the two so that the bait can move freely without ruining your line. 

    Swivels are easy to use and can be a lifesaver when you have little patience for a fishing line that keeps breaking, but they are not the most durable themselves.


    Make sure that you have more than one with you in case the original breaks. 

    Needle nose pliers  

    12.Needle nose pliersThese pliers can be used for removing hooks from the fish that you catch.


    They’re not always needed and you can do it with your fingers, but some fishermen have been bitten by this – literally.


    Fish with sharp teeth can bite when you’re trying to remove the hook from their mouths, so be careful. 

    First aid kit  

    We don’t want to worry about getting hurt on a fishing trip, but it always pays to be prepared. Taking a first aid kit with you ensures that you are prepared for everything.


    Some bandaids, medical tape, antibacterial cream, and bandages will be enough to tide you over if you injure yourself, so don’t take too much with you that it weighs you down.

    Sun protection

    13.Sun protectionYou’re going to be exposed to the sun for a long time during a fishing trip, so you need to make sure that you’re comfortable and protected from the harmful UV rays.

    Although the sun can offer beneficial vitamin D and warmth, it is also rather dangerous when you’re not prepared. 

    Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are best used while you’re fishing.


    They won’t disturb your hobby but they’ll be silently protecting you in the background.


    Sun protection is one of the things that many people overlook when they’re fishing, so make sure that you don’t. 

    Tying Knots: Knots That You’ll Need To Fish  

    4.Tying Knots Knots That You’ll Need To Fish

    Fishing requires you to know a lot of knots. Sure, you can tie two pieces of line together with a basic knot that you learned when you were a child, but this is by no means the best way to go about it. When you really dive into the world of fishing, there are over 60 knots for you to learn and use. 


    However, today we’re going to stick to five that we think every beginner should know. These will help you with every problem that you might encounter during a fishing trip, so get your practice line and get to learning! 

    Palomar knot 

    14.Palomar knotBest for braided fishing line, the Palomar knot is great for tying swivels, hooks, and snap links. You can use it on any line; however, it is not exclusive to braided lines. 

    How to:

    1. Double your line over so that there is a loop at the end. 
    2. Push the loop through your hook. 
    3. Take the loop around the end of the hook.
    4. Pull on the line to tighten the knot. 
    5. Trim any loose ends. 

    Improved clinch knot

    15.Improved clinch knotAnother knot that can be used for tying a line to a hook, the improved clinch knot is one of the most used knots in fishing. 


    How to:

    1. Push your line through the hook and wrap the end of the line around the rest of line five to seven times. 
    2. Thread the loose end through the loop closest to the hook. 
    3. Push the loose end through the loose section of the line that was left from step two. 
    4. Pull both ends of the line until the knot is tight. 
    5. Trim any extra line. 

    Blood knot  

    16.Blood knotUse the blood knot to tie two ends of the line together. This is particularly helpful if you have a line that has snapped and you want to tie the two ends together again. 

    How to:

    1. Put both of the lines ends together for several inches. 
    2. Wrap one piece of line around the other at least five times. 
    3. Wrap the other piece of line around the first piece of line. 
    4. Make sure that the two ends are tucked in between the two pieces of the line. 
    5. Pull from each piece of the line until the knot is tight and the line is in one piece again. 

    Double surgeon’s loop

    17.Double surgeon’s loopMost fishermen use the double surgeon’s loop for forming a loop at the end of a piece of line. This is one of the easiest and quickest methods of creating a loop that is sure not to come undone. 

    How to:

    1. Take the wire and double it up before tying a loose single overhand knot. 
    2. Pass the end loop through the middle of the overhand knot. 
    3. Moisten the knot before tightening it. 

    Turle knot

    18.Turle knotThe turle knot is best for typing a smaller hook to a thin piece of line. While the Palomar or improved clinch knot might work as well, the turle knot is generally more popular. 

    How to:

    1. Thread the line through the hook and loosely tie a double overhand knot. 
    2. Take the open-loop and pass it over the hook.
    3. Tighten the knot so that the loop tightens around the eye of the hook. 


    Let’s Get Fishing: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners  

    5.Let’s Get Fishing A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

    So, now we know the basics of fishing and what we need to take with us. But how do you actually go about fishing?


    The sport sounds a lot more simplistic than it is. Don’t get us wrong, all of the techniques will become second nature to you before long – but you have to learn them first! 

    Finding the perfect spot  

    19.Finding the perfect spotWhile you might have your fishing license and all of your gear, do you know where the best place to fish around you is?


    You can find these spots online, but we would recommend heading to a fishing store and asking an avid angler.


    They’ll always be able to tell you some of the best spots for beginners. 


    The internet could also be outdated and lead you to the wrong places.


    What once was a thriving fishing location turns out to be a dried up hole by the time you get there.


    Another method is to join an angling club as there will be more experienced leaders who know the best places to visit. 

    Learning your etiquette 

    20.Learning your etiquetteYou might not know this already, but fishermen should always follow a set of strict rules unless you want to be judged by other anglers.


    You should always be respectful of others, the environment, and the fish that you catch. 


    For example, you shouldn’t set up right next to another angler who was there before you.


    You are disturbing their way of doing things and taking away from their catches.


    Remain at least 60 feet away from other fishermen, but put more space between you if there are not many people around. 


    There are regulations for certain waters that explain how you can only catch and release in certain areas, so make sure you read up on the area beforehand.


    You should also understand and adhere to the Leave No Trace principles. Another unspoken rule is that you should not catch and take home more fish than you can eat.


    To sum up: don’t be rude, refrain from leaving your mess around, and don’t get greedy. Following these simple rules will ensure that you and other anglers get on well. 

    Setting up your rod

    21.Setting up your rodNow that you’re at your chosen area and you know the etiquette to stick to, you need to set up your rod so that you can get to catch some fish!


    Make sure that you practice how to put the rod together at home before its first use.


    This way you won’t look like a beginner to everyone else. 


    Piece the rod together and attach the reel. Your reel should already have a line on it, but now you’ll need to attach the line to the rest of the rod.


    Lift the bale arm on the reel and pull the end of the line. Thread the line through the guides along the fishing rod.


    The guides are small hoops that are in a line all the way up the rod. 


    Once the line is all the way at the top of the rod, close the bale arm again. Now you need to attach your hook and bait.


    You can attach the hook with one of the knots that we looked at above, and the bait will be pushed onto the tip of the hook.


    You can also choose if you’re going to attach a lure to your line or not. If the answer is yes, make sure to check the visibility of the water and what the weather is doing.


    Bright lures are best for clear waters and darker lures are better for murky water. If you’re not attaching a lure, you can begin casting out and trying to catch your first fish!

    Casting out  

    22.Casting outNow that you’ve got your gear sorted, you can cast your line out and begin waiting for a bite.


    If you have a spinning reel, casting is very simple and doesn’t require much thought. Simply wind it up and throw your hook as far into the water as you can.


    Leave around 10 inches of line out of the top of your fishing rod, holding it so that the reel is below your favored hand. 


    A spinning reel will have a bail that prevents any wire from coming out of the reel when you don’t want it to.


    To cast out you will need to stop this bail from working, so flip it and hold the line steady with your finger instead.


    Bring the rod tip upright and behind you (not too much, though!) before using your wrist to flick the rod back in front of you. 


    As the rod is perfectly vertical you will need to simultaneously release your finger that was holding the line.


    This will send the hook or lure flying towards the water. Once you’ve finished casting you should flip the bail back on so that the line is contained.


    Start reeling your line to your chosen position and wait for your bait to catch a fish’s eye. 

    Hooking a fish  

    23.Hooking a fishHooking a fish seems simple enough, but there are a few things that you should be cautious of.


    The first is that your catch could outsmart you and spit your bait back out before the hook latches onto them.


    The second is that the line needs to be strong enough to withstand the weight of a struggling fish.


    The good news is that these issues can be avoided by setting the hook properly.


    You’ll need to do this at the exact right time when the fish has bitten your bait, so it can take a bit of practice to get it right.


    Essentially, you need to be able to see under the water. As this is impossible without a camera, you need to get good at understanding the rod. 


    When your bobber sinks or you feel a bite with your rod, point the tip of the rod upward and pull back with a moderate amount of pressure.


    This will allow the hook to remain in the lip of the fish without ripping the flesh. If you get the timing just right the hook will be set in the lip rather than any further into the mouth. 


    Now that the fish is hooked, you should not rush to reel it back to shore as this could break the line. Instead, you need the fish to use all of its energy before you can see what you have caught.


    ‘Playing’ the fish might be long-winded but definitely worth the wait. Just try to keep the fish on the line while it’s busy using up all its energy. 


    We’ve made that seem rather simple, but when put into practice hooking a fish can be rather difficult. For this reason, we’ve come up with a few more tips for you to follow. 

    • Make sure that your line doesn’t have too much slack
    • It will take a few uses to properly understand your reel’s drag system


    The smaller your reel is, the better it is at catching small fish. That;’s not to say that you won’t be able to catch a large fish with your beginner rod, but if you want to catch the biggest fish out there you will need a larger reel. 

    Landing your catch

    24.Landing your catchIf you’ve done all of the above steps correctly and have a tired out fish on its way to the shore, get ready to see your first catch!


    A net is almost always favorable here, but don’t worry if you don’t have one to hand.


    Nets can help you to scoop the fish out of the water and avoid damaging the fish. 


    However, if you don’t have a net you’ll just have to get closer to the water so that you can lift it up before it starts flailing on the shore.


    Handle your fish carefully – don’t press on its gills or squeeze its stomach hard.


    If you want to release it back into the water, don’t keep it out for longer than you’d be able to hold your breath. 

    A Brief Guide On Fish: Should You Eat it?  

    6.A Brief Guide On Fish Should You Eat it

    If you’re fishing for your dinner tonight, you might want to think about the decision you’re making before rushing into cooking the fish.


    If you’re fishing in polluted waters, the fish you’re about to eat might be full of pollution and chemicals that could be hazardous to your health.


    Moreover, eating polluted fish could cause birth defects, cancer, and other health problems. 


    You might be thinking: ‘but the water looked clean so it can’t have been polluted!’, but you could be wrong. It can be very difficult to know whether or not a body of water is polluted.


    However, there are ways for you to find out whether the fish are safe to eat or not. Some waters have signs around them warning anglers of the harmful water, so look out for these. 


    If you see no signs but you’re still dubious, you can call the local health or environmental protection department.


    They should be able to tell you if there are any warnings for your chosen fishing spot. Alternatively, you can ask local fishing shops if they know about any advisories. 


    Some fish have a higher risk of being dangerously polluted than others. Older fish almost always have more chemicals within them, so try and stick to eating the young fish wherever possible.


    Fatty fish are also at higher risk, so stay away from these wherever possible. 


    It is possible for you to clean the fish and remove some of the chemical pollutants. No matter how you’re going to cook it, you need to know how to properly clean and gut a fish.


    To remove as many of the chemicals as possible, you should remove and discard the head, kidneys, liver, and guts right away. 


    You should also remove as much of the fat and the skin as you can before you cook it. Finally, cleaning and dressing the fish as soon as possible is best to avoid consuming too many of the original pollutants. 


    Cooking your fish properly can also help to reduce the risks of eating contaminated fish. Cooking it so that the fat drains away will remove toxins that are stored in the fish.


    While it might be tempting to use the drippings as additional flavor, discard them right away as they might have higher levels of toxins than your cooked fish. 


    Following the correct precautions can allow you to avoid the toxins and chemical pollutants that are sometimes found in fish.


    There can also be high levels of mercury in fish which needs to be lowered before you can eat it safely. Alternatively, you can simply fish in uncontaminated waters by asking the right people where the safe waters are.  

    Conclusion: Hook, Line & Sinker!

    7.Conclusion Hook, Line & Sinker!

    And that concludes our handbook to learning how to fish. You should now feel much more excited and ready to get out there and find your new favorite hobby.


    There are so many benefits that come with fishing, and they all help your health and wellbeing. 


    Fishing is a great way to meet new people or take some time to yourself. It can be incredibly therapeutic and relaxing.


    It has been shown to reduce symptoms of many mental health issues and give you a self-esteem boost every time you catch something. Not to mention you can get a great full-body workout from it! 


    Before you hop in the car and head to the closest body of water, you will need to gather some essential supplies.


    A fishing license is needed and easily attainable, and you might even choose an annual license so you can go as many times as you’d like. 


    You’ll also need a fishing rod, reel, line, and some bait. This is the most basic and minimalistic list of equipment that you could take.


    However, there are plenty of other accessories that will enhance your trip and make fishing much easier. 


    Once you’ve chosen all of the gear you want to bring with you, your next task is to learn the basic knots that you’ll need.


    You never know when your line is going to snap or you’ll need to create a loop at the end of the line, so knots are a vital part of fishing. Moreover, you need to be able to tie your hook to the line. 


    There is more to fishing than meets the eye, but that is what makes it so dynamic and interesting. If it were as simple as casting out and reeling a fish back in right away, we’d all get bored!


    Instead, it will take a few tries to master all of the different aspects of fishing. 


    Once you get the hang of casting out properly, you’ll then be tasked with learning how to set your hook correctly after a bite. One thing to learn right away; however, is the etiquette that you should follow as an angler.


    Treating others, the environment, and the fish well will go a long way in getting other anglers respect. 


    Feel free to eat your catch for your dinner, but make sure you know the risks of consuming fish from polluted waters.


    You should always try to find a body of water that is safe to fish from, but there are ways to reduce the toxins in the fish. Proper care, cleanliness, and cooking can protect you from potential health risks. 

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    Caleb Cole

    I grew up in Montana, spent my free time camping, hunting and fishing. I began writing as a side hobby while camping. Very happy to be working with the guys here at Outdoor Command and look forward to providing best in class outdoors content for you.