It wasn’t that long ago I was struggling to catch my first fish. I went all over the internet and tried to find as much information as I could on just catching a fish. To make it easy for you I’ve put together this post to show you how to catch your first fish. I’m going to walk you through everything you’re going to need, from gear, bait, and some accessories that is going to make your experience a lot better and a lot easier for you when you do finally get out on the water.
What gear do I need to start fishing?
The first thing that you need before you even step out onto the water is going to be a fishing license. Go onto your state’s fish and wildlife website and you’ll see where you can buy a fishing license if you want to buy it in person. You’ll see rules and regulations and creel limits. Some states have applications that help you find bodies of water to fish, maps, and what type of fish are in those bodies of water. Just make sure you know the regulations before you go so that you don’t get yourself in trouble, You don’t get anybody else in trouble, and you just have a good time out on the water.
Setting up your rod & reel
Now the next thing you’re going to need is a rod and reel. You can go to anywhere where they sell fishing tackle, and you’re going to find some combos that have the rod and reel already.
What I recommend if this is your first time going fishing is to get a medium powered spinning combo. That gives you the versatility of being able to fish for smaller panfish, and also for bass and larger fish. Sometimes you can find some that have line already on the reel. Those are pretty easy to set up. You just unwrapped the line and run it through the guides.
If you happen to buy one without line on it, then your next purchase is going to be some line. I recommend something you can fish different lures on. 6 lbs test mono is a great middle ground. Versatile enough to catch small fish and throw light lures, strong enough to handle a bigger bite. You’re also going to want to learn how to put line on your spinning reel, so go check that blog post where I walk you through the whole process.
Terminal tackle is a term for things like, weights, hooks, bobbers and floats. You’re going to want to pick some of this up too.
I recommend starting with some size 4 Aberdeen hooks. It’s a good size bait holder hook and you’re going to be able to catch a variety of fish. You can use these hooks on several kinds of live bait like night crawlers, minnows, and even use them on soft plastics took. All you need to do to tie on a hook is to tie a Palomar knot. You can learn that one and other easy fishing knots for beginners on my blog post.
Weights & Sinkers
Weights and sinkers help you cast your bait out farther because it’s helping pull line off your reel. It also helps keep your lure down in the water and in the strike zone of feeding fish. If you’re using an Aberdeen hook with some worms you’re going to need some help casting.
I recommend using a variety pack of split-shot sinkers or pinch on sinkers. These are super easy to use weights. They come in various sizes to help you adjust your weight as you need to depending on the depth of your water, wind conditions, target fish species, or lure that you are using.
Now for the sinker, you’re going to want to pinch this anywhere between a foot to two feet above your hook. But my rule of thumb is to put it between my hook and my float.
Floats & Bobbers
Floats or bobbers are a must if you’re just starting out. They help keep your bait off the bottom and present your lure vertically from the bank. But more importantly they are strike indicators. Basically what that means is if a fish is even pecking at your bait, you’re going to be able to see it because the float you are using is going to move. If a fish takes your bait, the bobber will sink down and that lets you know it’s time to set the hook.
I have a few different bobbers I like to use. The classic white and red ones are always readily available and those are fine. I prefer the assorted size pack in case I need to size up or size down my bobber size. I also like to use trout magnet floats. They are tiny, highly visible and are easy to see even at the furthest distances. My current favorite are the Mule Peg Floats. They are highly visible and come in two different sizes. These are my go-to right now.
To set up your float you’ll either clip it on to your line, run it through your line, or peg it to your line. Pretty easy and you’ll know which method you will use based on the float you buy. You’re going to want to set up your float so that your lure drops to your preferred depth. If you’re sighing in 8 ft of water, you’re going to set your bobber up so that you have less than 8 ft of line underneath it. I normally start as shallow and then raise my float as I need to so that I can find the fish.
I usually go with night crawlers or some mealworms. Basically take a look around, see what they’re biting. You can get minnows, you can get other things. If you’re going saltwater, you can do shrimp, things like that, but just some kind of live bait is going to be your best bet to getting on a fish. I also recommend using bread. If you’re at a body of water where you see people feeding fish with bread, use bread. They will bite your hook and you’ll have some fun.
If you’re using night crawlers I would thread a little piece on, enough so that a little bit is hanging below the hook. If you’re using mealworms, just load it up as best you can with a couple. Minnows you can nose hook those. There are several ways to rig live bait.
Fishing accessories are not a requirement, but they definitely make your time on the water a lot easier.
I think a good set of pliers is one of the most important accessories. Now, you can just use your standard set of pliers from a big box store, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. However a good pair of fishing pliers is nice to have than a standard set of pliers.
My favorite set of pliers are KastKing pliers. You don’t need to buy super expensive pliers. And in fact, these aren’t that expensive, but the reason I like these is because they have split rings on there in case you ever need to deal with replacing trebles, they have a line cutter right here, and it’s very versatile. It’s got a holster that you can put it in and you can clip this on your belt and have it on you all times.
The reason why this is important, this is for two things. First, when you’re putting on your split shot, you want to use pliers to pinch on your split shot. That way it’s secured. It’s not going to slip off or fall down to your bait. You’re pretty much squared away there.
The other reason is if you hook a fish real deep, you’re going to want to use some pliers to get some leverage and make sure that you get the hook out of the fish and get that fish in the water, if you’re not keeping the fish.
Another accessory is if you get some standard pliers is some line cutters. You can use scissors, nail clippers, or a knife, but I like fishing line cutters. My favorite line cutters are Boomerang Snips. They are durable, small and able to cut any type of line I have. Great tool if you need something to cut line for whatever reason.
How to catch your first fish
Now to catch your first fish might take a lot of patience, but it is possible especially if you’re throwing live bait. When you cast your lure out make sure you’re giving your bait enough time. I always like to do a 5-10 second count before I reel in my bobber. When I do reel in my bobber I only reel it in a foot or two and then wait again. If you’re not getting a hit within 10 seconds there is a chance there is no fish there.
You can slow down more and wait a little longer, but I like to fish a little fast and with live bait you can get away with it. Now if you need help learning to cast your lure and want to see what a bobber being hit looks like, go check out my video linked below!
How to put line on your spinning reel
So that’s really all you need. It’s a very simple rig, bobber, weight, hook with a worm on it. If you want to catch a bigger fish, you can put a bigger hook on it, put some more worm on it, rig it a little differently and you’ll catch some bigger fish.
If you catch anything tag me on instagram so I can see what you get into!
Ramon ContrerasAdult onset hunter and angler trying to learn new skills and making mistakes along the way.
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