The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Fishing for the Total Beginner

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Depending on how you go about it, fishing can be considered a sport or just an outdoor hobby. Starting to fish as a hobby can be relatively cheap, but can also get pretty expensive the further you get into it.

What will you need to get into fishing? A rod with a reel and some fishing line with a hook attached to the end. Rods and reels can usually be bought together and the reel will have a fishing line on it. For beginners, a lure can bring good results. Another option is to put a hook and bobber on the line and try your luck with bait.

Fishing Basics

Fishing is a great activity to do with friends, family, or just alone. There are a few certain mental requirements before you should consider fishing, though. Be aware that to catch fish, you will be using a barbed hook that will pierce the fish’s mouth.

This can sometimes be bloody, so it will take a little to get used to. Sometimes the fish will swallow the hook before it gets stuck. This can be especially brutal for the fish and can be somewhat disturbing.

But down to the basics. Fishing is done with a rod, the stick that directs the line and absorbs some of the stress, the reel, which holds the line and is the way to bring it back in, and the line, which has the hooks and other accessories on it. The end means of fishing is to get a fish out of the water via hook and line.

Buying the Right Equipment

Fishing, like most other hobbies, will require you to put down a little bit of money before starting. The gear can get expensive the more you get into fishing, but staring off, you shouldn’t spend over $100 before catching a few fish.

Rod and Reel Combo

The rod and reels you should look for as your first rod will not be the best rods, but that’s ok. Beginners usually don’t know what to feel for when fishing to determine if the rod and reel are ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ That’s just something that is learned over time.

Buying the rod and reel together in a spin combo is a good way to go. Usually, there is some kind of deal on the combo, so they can run for around $70 or $80 together. A quick easy choice would be the Cadence Spinning Combo which can be found on for $79.99.


The combo does not come with line, so you will need to buy line. Monofilament line can be found at any store with a fishing department or if it has a few shelves dedicated to fishing supplies. If you go to a physical store, look for 8 or 6 lb weight monofilament line. You can buy 400 yards of line for about $5.00.

On, there is the SeaKnight Blade Monofilament Fishing Line selling for $8.89 and has 547 yards of line on it. This brand has very strong lines and is 100% nylon.

The nylon is very resistant to abrasion under the water’s surface. There is a lot of things in the water that the line could get snagged on. Since it has a high level of abrasion resistance, the line will most likely not break or snap when rubbing up against it.


The next piece of equipment is very cheap when bought in bulk, but fishing being how it is, it won’t seem like you have that many. Hooks are continuously lost through the fishing experience, so buying a solid number of hooks can help you stay out on the water longer.

I recommend getting size 4 or 5 treble hooks and then a few size 5 single hooks. The treble hooks are good for baits, while the singles can be decorated with plastics and other fake baits.

Another good thing to buy is a lure that most every fisherman has in his/her tackle box. The Rapala Jigging Lure has a place in many fishermen’s hearts because it works so well. Buying one of these for $10 can be very beneficial.

Bobbers and Floats

A good starting bobber and a personal favorite of mine are the Eagle Claw Bobbers. These classics still work very well and are very visible and sensitive.

The Eagle Claw Bobbers will work well with both the treble hooks and the single hooks if used correctly. Bobbers don’t work the best with lures, so please don’t try to use them together.

Before You Go Out

After buying your equipment and the things that you think will work for you but before you head out to go fishing, there are a few things that you will need to do. Buy a fishing license, get your setups together, and learn what you’re doing.

Fishing License

Fishing Licenses are required in most states for adults, but there are a few exceptions. Anyone 16 or under might not have to buy a fishing license. In some states, like California and Florida, 16-year olds and younger do not have to buy a fishing license.

There are also some states that exempt seniors over the age of 65 to having to have a license. Not every state has these rules, so be sure to check online about your specific state.

There also tags and bag limits when looking at the legal side of fishing. A tag is something that says that you are allowed to catch a certain type of fish. There are some very popular fish that are targeted especially and need that extra layer of protection.

Buying a specific tag doesn’t mean that you’re just giving the government $20 to do whatever with. That money goes to the hatcheries and other facilities whose goals are to help those popular fish stay alive longer and to not go extinct.

Bag limitations mean that there is a limit to the number of fish that you are able to take home with you. For example, if the bag limit for salmon was 5, you would only be able to catch 5 salmon and take them home.

Catch and release is a different story. The only limits on catch and release are the times of the year, the baits and chums allowed, and sometimes a ban on using barbed hooks.

Set Ups

Now that you have your equipment and the license, let’s get everything set up! Your rod and reel should be connected already. If not, unscrew the knob on the rod until there is a space to slip up the reel into the small openings under the knobs.

Once this is set up, you’re going to want to spool your rod. The easiest way I’ve found is as following:

  1. Flip the bail open
  2. Tie the end of the line to the reel (the other side of the line is still attached to the spool it was bought on)
  3. Start to coil the line around by hand
  4. Once there is a significant amount on the reel, have someone else hold the spool of line tight as you begin reeling in with the reel mechanism.
  5. Keep on doing this until you have filled the reel up with line. You will still have a lot of line left, most likely.
  6. Once it is filled, cut the line, make sure it is under the bail, and feed it through the ringlets along the underbelly of the rod until it comes out the top.

At the end of the line tie a swivel. This will help with switching over lines and will make sure that you won’t lose more line than necessary if your line breaks or you get a nasty snag.

Treble Set Up

The treble hook, in this circumstance, will have bait placed on it and be suspended by the bobber in the water. Cut a piece of line that is about a foot long and tie the treble hook to one end. On the other, tie a swivel clip so that you can clip it to the swivel on the end of the line connected to the reel.

Single Set up with Plastics

The single hooks will be attached the same way as the treble hooks, but after tying the hook and the swivel clip on, place a plastic bait on the end in either of these ways:

Image result for soft plastic bait set up

The hook pierces the head of the bait, and then again about an inch down. It keeps the bait straight, just now it has a hook in it. Once it goes in the water, the bait will still have the same action, but it will be able to catch fish.

Image result for soft plastic bait set up

Another way to rig up your fake bait is by using the Carolina rig. The hook goes straight through the plastic and only exits once it is about halfway down the bait. This method has the barbed hook exposed, which is more appealing to some fishermen.

After the swivel and clip, attach some weights to the end. Keep them on the reel side of the swivel to make sure that you will not lose those too if the line decides to snap.


The lure is the easiest set up out of the three, making it a popular choice when fishing. The line can be tied straight to the lure, but since we will want to use other types of hooks, tie the lure to a leader and then to a swivel clip.

How to Fish

The set up is complete, but expect to do more work online at the water. There is usually constant maintenance required when fishing for any amount of time.

Treble Hook

To fish with a treble hook and bait, the only thing that you’ll need to do is put the bait onto your hook, and then attach a bobber to the reel side of your line. If it’s on the leader, there’s a chance that you could lose it in a good fight or a nasty snag.

Cast out gently the hook and bobber into the stream and let it drift down the river. Try to land the hook at the edges of currents, as the fish will be waiting just outside of the currents looking in for a floating piece of food.

As you watch the line, make sure it is slack enough to move away from you, but also taut enough to be able to set the hook properly. Watch the bobber for any movement. If it ducks under the surface, yank back on the rod to set the hook and reel in to get a feel for the fish. If the fish is fighting back too hard, then let the fish take some line and tire it out.

Once it stops fighting, start reeling in until it starts fighting hard again. Make sure to keep tension on the line at all times, or else there’s a chance that the fish could slip away. However, if there is too much tension, then there’s the chance of the line being ripped out of the fish’s mouth and it will get away.

Single with Plastics

The set up is very similar to the treble and bait set up. The bobber is attached to the reel side of the line and is cast out in either the sides of the current to attract fish, or is placed in an eddy.

Fish stay in slower waters because they want to perserve their energy. But at the same time, they know that all of the food will be in the currents, so they stick close.

Plastics are usually a little bigger, so they will be more attractive to the bigger fish deeper in the water. Change the distance of the bobber from the hook accordingly.

If you don’t want to use the bobber with the plastics, try skipping the fake bait along the bottom of the river. Try little hops at first, but then try out a variety of different movements as you try to see what works best for the fish that you want to catch.

There is always the chance that your lure will get snagged on the bottom of the river. This is the reason that you bought many single hooks and plastic baits. Because they’re so cheap, they are easily replaced.

Don’t worry about leaving them, though. These days, companies make sure that the plastics are biodegradable. The lures are a bit harder to make biodegradable, as they’re usually metal.


Lures are very action-oriented. There is a constant motion with these. After casting out, there is motion as you reel in at varying speeds and the changes in wrist flicks. Lures are a favorite to many people because of how active it is. There is a lot of technique to lures, but the live thing about that it is not necessary to catch fish with the lure.

Once the lure is attached to the line, cast it out past the location that you want to fish. Lures work best if they are moving when reaching the place that you want to fish.

Drag the lure through the area and you should be able to get a bite or two. Since there is no bobber, the only strike indicator will be the tip of your rod and the feel it will have when the fish is hooked.

Once the fish is hooked, give it a little tug upwards to make sure the hooks are set appropriately. Fighting a fish like this is better in my opinion because with lures, there is usually more than one hook, meaning that the chances of the fish getting away or breaking free are smaller. The only worry of mine, at least, is the fear that my knots will break


Here’s a quick guide to tying knots so that the fish can’t break them:

Improved Clinch Knot

Image result for fishing knots

Palomar Knot

Related Questions:

Is it better to go fishing in a river or a lake? For a beginner, they will probably have better luck in a lake. Find a small neighborhood pond or a reservoir stocked with fish. Here, the fish will tend to be less smart and will bite more often. Rivers are a different type of fishing that takes a little more knowledge on how to fish.

What should I put in my tackle box? Put in all of the lures that you will want to use on your fishing trip. It is usually a good idea to put in some regular hooks and some baits to accompany them. Add some small weights and bobbers to the mix as well to get everything that you would need to catch fish.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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