You may have recently discovered just how much fun freshwater fishing can be, or maybe some recent saltwater fishing excitement has got you hooked on the sport, but no matter how and where you fish there are some basic fishing tips for beginners that all anglers need to know.
Are you ready to catch more fish while you’re casting, enjoy trolling triumph, and have a blast while bottom fishing? Of course you are—and keeping these 10 top tips in mind will help make it happen.
10 Tips on How to Fish for Beginners
- Match your lure to the water color.
- Choose your lure shapes and sizes that let you "match the hatch."
- Get fishing gear that appropriately size to the fish you're pursuing.
- If you are trolling, make sure your lures are swimming in a lifelike manner.
- Choose your fishing line wisely.
- Fish early, and fish late.
- Be conscious of the tides and currents.
- Always use new hooks and/or sharpen your old hooks.
- Use a scale to set your reel's drag.
- Do your pre-fishing research.
Explore All-Purpose Fishing Boats
1. Fishing Lure Colors
Match your lure color to the water color. You never know exactly what color lures the fish will prefer on any given day so you should always try changing color when you’re not catching, but as a general rule of thumb, start out by choosing lures that match the water’s color.
- In green water, lime or chartreuse is usually a top pick.
- In clear water, reach for white or pearl.
- And in tannic-stained water, root-beer is often going to prove productive.
2. Fishing Lure Shapes & Sizes
Choose lure shapes and sizes that let you “match the hatch.” When predators are feeding on a school of small, thin fish like anchovies, a small, thin spoon that’s the same shape and size as those baitfish will often prove deadly — but a five-inch lure with a wide body may well go untouched.
Profile and length are usually the key features in this regard, because your quarry may well be focused on the shape and size of the prevailing bait and ignore other offerings.
3. The Right Size Fishing Gear
Get fishing gear that’s sized appropriately to the fish you’re pursuing, and don’t try to get one-size-fits-all rods and reels. The 12-pound-class casting reel you love using for bass is simply too heavy for tossing the tiny jigs and spinners that black crappie like to hit, and the four-pound-class ultralight that’s ideal for casting micro-jigs to those crappie can’t handle a big largemouth bass . Middle-of-the-road gear won’t be ideal for either task. Rather than trying to make do, get gear that’s sized for the species you’re targeting.
Saltwater Fishing Gear: 10 Essentials for Anglers
If you try trolling (motoring along slowly while you tow lures behind the boat), before deploying the lines hold your lures next to the boat and watch them to be sure they’re swimming in a lifelike manner. If they look lethargic, try speeding up a bit.
Conversely, if they seem spastic pull the throttle back a notch. This will help you set the most effective boat speed, while also ensuring that you don’t accidentally set out a lure that’s fouled, damaged, or not swimming properly.
5. Fishing Line
There are countless types and brands of fishing line on the market, so be careful to choose wisely. Read Saltwater Fishing Lines and Freshwater Fishing Tackle , to get the low-down on the different varieties you’ll be choosing from.
As a general rule of thumb, remember that braid lines have very high sensitivity and great hook-setting power so they’re ideal for fishing with lures, while monofilament line has less sensitivity and stretches a bit so it’s ideal for when fish are nibbling on baits.
6. Best Time of the Day for Fishing
Fish early, and fish late. Many species of fish bite best right at dawn and dusk, in ambient sunlight. During the mid-day hours cloud cover can make for better fishing, and in direct sunlight (especially during the heat of summer) look for areas with shade. Fish often seek out shade when it’s hot and sunny and become more active during the cool hours of the day, just as you or I might.
Best Time to Go Fishing: Saltwater & Freshwater Guide
7. Tides & Currents
Along with time of day, if you’re fishing in saltwater be sure to consider the tides and currents when you decide when to go fishing. The ebbing and flowing of the tides has a huge impact on how, when, and where saltwater fish feed. Check out The Secrets of Tide Fishing , to learn more about this topic.
8. Sharp Hooks
Always use new hooks and/or sharpen your old hooks. It sounds like simple common sense— because it is—but countless people go fishing every day with old, dull hooks. Will they catch a few fish? Maybe. But there’s no doubt they’d catch a whole lot more if they made sure each and every hook they’re using was as sharp as the day it was made.
9. Reel Drag
Use a scale to set your reel’s drag. The drag allows a fish to take line instead of pulling against it until it breaks, and having it set properly is critical. Truth be told most people just give a tug on the line until it “feels right.” That’s a poor substitute for tying your line to a hand scale and setting the drag to one third of the line’s rated breaking strength, which is generally considered the ideal.
10. Do Your Research
Do your pre-fishing research. Different methods of fishing all have their own subtleties and there are countless tips and tricks specific to one species of fish or method of fishing, as opposed to another. Check out these articles on fishing tips, to learn more.
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