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Are you jealous of your friend's time on the water? Fishing is relaxing, and it allows you to spend time surrounded by the beauty of nature.

If you're on the outside looking in, it's not too late to learn the hobby yourself! Even beginners can enjoy casting a line and spending time with a rod and reel.

Here are some fishing basics to get you started, 9 tips and tricks to ease you into the art of fishing.

1. It's Easy to Check and Acquire a License

If it's your first time fishing, you'll need to look up the laws surrounding fishing in your area. Some territories don't require one but double-check your local ordinances just to make sure.

Licencing restrictions in the USA varies from state to state. In most states within the US, anyone over the age of 16 must obtain a fishing licence.

For fishing forecasts and finding the perfect spot to fish, this app has everything you need. Check out https://fishbrain.com/.

Or for more information on licensing in the US visit the Fish & Wildlife website

Here are some popular fish species to target in the US:

  • Small Mouth Bass
  • Large Mouth Bass
  • Pike
  • Crappy
  • Walleye
  • Catfish

Just to name a few.

2. Learn the Unwritten Rules

While fishing in the USA or somewhere else, anglers follow certain etiquette rules. While they aren't written down in law somewhere, there are still social guidelines to help you treat other anglers with respect.

When someone is fishing near you, give them plenty of space. At least 45/50 feet is a good guideline to follow, but if it's not crowded, you can spread out and leave up to 150 feet between you.

It's also a general rule that you shouldn't keep more than you can eat. Throw back the ones that are too small or that you won't eat.

Treat your surroundings with respect. Don't disturb the natural area more than you have to and always take your trash away with you, preventing it ending up in our environment.

3. Fishing Basics: Terminology

If you're just getting started, you may be overwhelmed by the multitude of resources and books on fishing for beginners. Stick to the very basics, like learning a few terms and practising your cast. 

Here are some fishing words you should know:

  • Action: How much your rod will bend. Less flexible rods for more experienced anglers will have a faster action.
  • Bail: Metal piece of your reel that keeps the line from tangling.
  • Barb: Triangular shape, slightly back from the point of the hook and prevents the hook from releasing catch while fighting a fish.
  • Swivels: Great way of joining line to line. Also prevents the line from twisting back up onto the reel.
  • Sinkers: Helps to keep your bait in the zone, during tidal/ wind activity. Also helps you cast further.

4. Get the Right Equipment

If you've asked the question, "What do I need to go fishing?" you're on the right track. Gather a few things like a rod and reel, fishing line, weights, hooks, and lures. You may also want a few swivels (more below) and snaps, a way to hook lures and equipment to your line without tying new knots. It saves time and patience.

Make sure you get quality products from companies that care. Hook-Eze wants to make tying those pesky knots easier, as well as keep you safe. When companies care, they put time into creating truly irreplaceable tools.

Some people struggle to thread through the eye of a hook, here is a handy tool for threading your line. No glasses needed. Check out the Magnifeye Hook Threader on our website.

Always use recommended sunscreen for your area. Make sure to avoid sunscreen on hands and equipment, as the fish can smell a foreign chemical and will usually avoid it. This can greatly affect your chances of catching a fish.

5. Need Help Grabbing a Fish?

Fish are really slippery. If you've never been fishing before, you may think it's gross to grab with your bare hands. You also may have a hard time hanging onto it.

Lip Grippers are a great product that solves that issue. Also the Hook Remover Tool is a quick, safe and easy way to release the hook from the fish’s mouth, great for catch and release. Find easy tools for fishing in our online shop.

6. Trim Your Hooks

Swapping out a single hook instead of a treble can ruin some lures. Instead, keep the balance of the lure and make it easier to unhook a fish when you trim your hooks.

You'll have less trouble getting the hook out of the fish's mouth when you only have to remove one of the three hooks. A typical fish hook isn't just a curve with a sharp end. It has a barb on the end, described in the list of terms above, that prevents the hook from slipping back out of the fish's mouth.

The barb makes sure the fish doesn't get away. However, three barbs on a treble hook can feel impossible to get out of the fish's mouth. Save yourself the trouble by snipping the two barbs off before you cast.

Another way to make removing hooks easier is to simply flatten the barb. Be sure to keep tension on the line when the fish is attached.

7. Avoid Tangles

Even if you're meticulous with your fishing line, you can still end up with tangles by accident. A great tip is to flip the bail manually after you cast. The bail flips over on its own after you start to turn the handle on the reel, and in the meantime, it will help prevent the wind from making horrible knots in your line.

A swivel can help prevent tangles, too. It's a metal joint with a metal loop on each end that turns as the lure or fish turns and twists. It allows the line to stay mostly straight, instead of twisting with the lure on the end.

8. Fishing Can Be Messy

Quite often fishing can be messy, especially when using bait fish. Bait fish sometimes requires chopping up and doesn’t hold to the hook as well as other bait such as squid, which is less slippery or smelly and is harder to get off the hook.

If you plan on keeping your catch, the fish will more than likely need to be scaled, gutted, and filleted before cooking and eating. This may turn some people off; however, this is all a part of fishing and eating your catch. If you don’t plan on eating your fish, please release it safely, gently, and unharmed.

For tips on cleaning your fish, visit this tutorial on cleaning a fish.

9. Not All Fishing Is Created Equal

Fly fishing in a river uses totally different techniques than fishing on a lake with a rod and reel.

A variety of fish live in saltwater and freshwater. You use different strategies when you're hoping to catch certain types of fish. There are also techniques like spearfishing, noodling for catfish, and trapping.

You may want to find a mentor who can help you learn the specific type of fishing you're interested in. Anglers love to share their wisdom (and stories).

Getting Started

Learning the fishing basics starts here, with ideas like checking the legal restrictions and making sure you have the right tools. Whether you've never been fishing before or you're only a few months into your new hobby, these tips can help you get more comfortable with the sport and enjoy some relaxing days on the water.

For more help with beginner fishing tips, check out the rest of our website!