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Whether you're considering taking up fishing for the first time, or aren't new to the sport and would just like some fishing tips, we've curated the ultimate list for you.
That's right - 25 fishing tips that get right to the point on the best ways to fish, from those who enjoy nothing more than a day out on the water.
First of all, you need to figure out what kind of fishing you want to do. Do you want to catch bass, perch, or catfish? Do you want to fish in freshwater lakes, saltwater seas, or down through the ice?
Get an idea of what types of fish and water you will be dealing with in the area you want to fish. This will determine what equipment and planning you'll need.
Fishing is easier (which generally means it's more fun) with the right equipment. Different types of fishing require different kinds of rods, weights of line, hook shapes, and lure styles.
Once you've determined your fishing style, browse our huge selection of fishing gear to find everything you'll need.
All bait is not created equal. Learn what kinds of bait your target fish like. Fish won't bite if they're not digging your bait.
Well-organized fishing gear makes life easier. Sensible packing means toting fewer bags to the water, and all your gear is easy to access when you get there. Bags designed specifically for bait and tackle make this a breeze.
You do need to be licensed to fish in the United States. Rules and fees vary by state. Conveniently, you can apply online.
Read up on the laws where you will be fishing. Find out which fish are okay to catch and keep. See if there are any restrictions on equipment you can use or how many fish you can keep.
You need more than a rod, reel, and hook to have a good fishing day. Some other essentials to bring include:
The time of day when the tide begins its shift from high to low tide is considered the best time to fish. Use a solunar calendar to see when this will occur on your fishing day.
Many fish will be less active under the hot midday sun and will do most of their feeding in the morning and evening. If you must go out midday, aim for a day when it will be overcast.
Get familiar with how your equipment works before you head out on the water. Practice preparing your fishing pole beforehand so you won't have to waste precious fishing time learning how. If you are afraid of forgetting a step, consider bringing laminated instructions with you for reference.
Like most aspects of fishing, techniques will vary depending on the type of fishing you do. Get advice from seasoned fishing enthusiasts and read up on your target fishing style.
As with most activities, you will do most of your learning "in the field." Still, a little basic knowledge to start off with never hurts.
The right knot can make a big difference. A knot needs to be strong enough to hold on when you set a hook or reel in. Different types of knots will make different types of lures "swim" differently.
Fish will be attracted to your lures only if they move through the water correctly. "Swim" your lure through the water like the fish your targets would naturally try to catch and eat.
The less suspicious you can make your lures, the better. If you use soft baits, consider ones that look realistic. If you end up in a pinch using plain ones, you can use a marker to decorate them to look like real baitfish.
Circle hooks have become a popular hook choice. Their shape makes them less likely to be swallowed by fish, which can damage the gills and internal organs. This also makes for easier removal of the hook. Circle hooks are preferable for catch-and-release.
Circle hooks are preferable for catch-and-release.
If you are stream or river fishing, try casting on the edge of the current or in the area where two streams converge. Fish tend to like these spots. You will generally want to avoid super-shallow water.
You can't expect that a fish is going to grab your line the instant you cast it. Patience is an important part of fishing. Part of the enjoyment is in the anticipation.
If you are truly striking out in your current spot, try fan casting. Send out a few casts to the left, then out front, then to the right (around you in the shape of a fan, basically). You may hit a better spot without having to relocate.
"Setting the hook" refers to successfully hooking a fish. This is done by quickly lifting the tip of your rod when you get a bite. Doing this correctly requires finesse and practice.
If you set the hook too soon or too softly, the fish might get away. If you set it too late or too aggressively, the fish may swallow the hook or it could even rip out of their mouth. With circle hooks, this is less of a concern.
When a fish is hooked, their first instinct is to swim away. When you get a bite, don't fight to reel in immediately. If you give the fish a moment or two to swim and tire themselves out, they will be easier to reel in.
Landing nets give you more control, and also reduce the likelihood of your taking a hook to the hand. Using the net to scoop your fish out of the water eliminates the possibility of it throwing the hook and swimming off at the last minute. You'll get fish out of the water faster this way, which is beneficial for catch-and-release as well as for speed in getting your next line out.
The sooner you release non-keepers back into the water, the better. Use wet hands or gloves to handle the fish, never a towel (which removes their protective slimy coating). Tossing fish back in headfirst will help them regain their breathing faster.
When using live bait in very cold or icy water, clip the tails first. This will make the baitfish move more slowly, and they will be easier for slow-moving cold water fish to catch.
Maybe the fish you were targeting are nowhere to be found today. Maybe the water in this spot is more shallow than you had anticipated.
Be willing to adapt your fishing plans. Try a different bait to catch the fish that are in the vicinity. Find a spot further down the river and try there.
The possibilities are endless, and the thrill of the hunt can be part of the fun.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun with fishing! Don't worry about competition or fully stocking your freezer.
Enjoy being outdoors. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Your fishing confidence and skills will only grow as you gain experience.