The world of fishing is constantly changing. New technology is released every year, and new tactics for catching America’s favorite game fish are developed almost daily. However, the basics always stay the same.
I’ve been fishing for a long time, and I’ve got plenty of knowledge to share. So, why not share that information in the form of a comprehensive beginner’s guide?
This article is going to cover the different types of fishing, gear, and techniques that make up the fishing world. I won’t get too in-depth. This is supposed to appeal to new guys, but professional fishermen might learn a thing or two, too.
Everybody learns to fish in their own way, but I believe that it’s best to have a solid understanding of the basic equipment before anyone heads out to catch the big one. In this section, I’m going to talk about one of the most fundamental pieces of fishing. It determines what type of rod you’ll use, and it determines what you use in terms of tackle. I’m talking about reels.
Spincast reels are the type of reels that nearly everybody’s daddy bought them as a kid. The Zebco 33 is the most famous spincast reel out there, and it’s the best example of this reel type.
Technologically speaking, spincast reels are essentially spinning reels with a metal or polymer cover protecting the spools. They’re activated by a button, and it’s hard to tangle them up.
These are perfect for kids and beginners, but they tend to be limited in use for more advanced fishermen. Spincast reels typically don’t have a lot of drag power, and they don’t tend to be sensitive enough for lightweight baits.
I definitely don’t recommend using these types of reels for saltwater fishing or game fishing, but they’re known for being able to handle bluegill and bass fairly well, and they aren’t hard to use. I think it’s best to use these at creeks and small farm ponds.
Spinning reels are the most commonly used reels around. They’re not as easy to use as spincast reels, but they’re nowhere near as difficult to use as baitcasting reels.
Casual fishermen can get away with using a spinning reel for almost anything in bodies of fresh water. They’re fairly flexible, and they aren’t really bad at anything besides casting the largest baits available.
Avid fishermen will usually want to reserve their spinning reels for lightweight baits. The open face and freely releasing spool allow spinning reels to cast lightweight baits very far distances with ease.
I don’t suggest using spinning reels for saltwater fishing due to the amount of monster-sized fish that can bite, but there are saltwater fishing reels that are perfectly capable of handling powerful ocean fish. I would typically only consider using them in the shallower shores, though.
It’s also worth noting that spinning reels require special rods. They are mounted underneath the rod, and they won’t work on casting rods that are designed to hold the reel towards the user. Both spincast and baitcasting reels can be used on casting rods.
I like to consider baitcasting reels the big boy toys of the fishing world. They’re expensive, they’re annoying to learn how to use, and they’re extremely powerful. These aren’t the type of reels that I’d take out to my local pond for bluegill. These are what I’d use to catch the fish of a lifetime.
Baitcasters are difficult to get used to because they have a freely spinning spool that is mounted horizontally. The spool has to be manually held before casting, and it has to be manually slowed during every cast. If it isn’t slowed properly, the spool will tangle, and it can take hours to unravel.
However, baitcasters are far more powerful than spinning and spincast reels. They can wench fish out of the deepest mud pockets without screeching, and they can throw the heaviest catfish rigs with ease.
With the proper amount of effort put into learning how to use them, baitcasters can become a fishermen’s best friend once they move on to catching bigger fish. I recommend waiting to use them until you’re able to cast a spinning reel perfectly, though.
Rods come in a variety of different types, and each type is good at fishing a specific way. This section is going to go over the specific types of rods. Before I get started on specifics, you should know that rods are separated into two different classes. One of type of rod is used for spinning reels, and the other is used for baitcasters and spincast reels. All of the different types that I’m about to discuss are available in both spinning and casting varieties.
Ultra-Light And Light
These are the rods that can make a common bluegill feel like an adult bass. They aren’t really strong enough to be practical for larger fish, but they’re great for throwing really small baits for sunfish and crappie.
These aren’t great for saltwater fishing. Saltwater fish will typically overpower these thin rods. However, they’re perfect for fishing small park ponds and farm ponds. Some fishermen like to test their skills by catching trophy-quality catfish on ultra-light rods. I don’t recommend that amateurs try that, though.
I don’t recommend using baitcasters with these types of rods. They’ll usually throw off the rod’s balance, and the extra power isn’t really necessary for the types of fish that these rods are best for. Spinning reels will work extremely well with these because they allow small baits to be thrown far distances, but a spincast reel will work just as well.
Medium rods are the bread and butter of the fishing world. They work great for catching the majority of fish species, and the majority of big box stores carry high-quality medium rods. They can also accept reels of varying power levels without having their balance thrown off too horribly.
As I said, these rods can handle the majority of fish. They’re great for catching just about any freshwater fish, and they can perform well in the shallow parts of the ocean. However, they don’t usually have the power necessary to rip trophy bass out of thick weed beds. That’s why I believe that these are great for casual fishermen to learn with, and they still have a place in a professional’s boat for certain situations.
Medium-Heavy And Heavy Rods
These are the big boy rods in the fishing world. They are strong enough to rip trophy bass out of thick weed beds, and certain models can handle some of the ocean’s biggest fish.
I feel that these are rods that are best used by more advanced fishermen. The majority of new fishermen aren’t going to be chasing trophy bass and huge catfish. They’re also the main rods that I’d suggest using a baitcaster reel with. Which, in my last section, I mentioned was an advanced piece of gear.
If there’s ever a reason for a casual fisherman to use a heavy rod, I suggest using heavy baits with it. These rods are horrible at throwing smaller baits, and they’re too powerful to make small fish fights interesting. They can easily catapult a bluegill across a pond if one bites. They handle large swimbaits and weighted rigs exceptionally well, though.
Where to Fish
There are many different places to fish in the United States. Each type of spot will require different techniques, and each spot will have vastly different types of fish in them.
Local lakes are the most common places that people fish in. They’re publicly accessible, and they tend to be fairly easy to fish. They also tend to have a large variety of species to target.
I suggest starting out at these spots if a small and private pond isn’t available. There’s usually plenty of room for everyone, and it’s usually not difficult to walk away with a decent catch.
The best types of rods to use in these areas are usually medium rods and medium-heavy rods. Baitcasting reels are usually overkill, but they’ll work just fine for targeting large catfish and bass. I suggest a high-quality spinning reel, though. Local lakes usually have a diverse ecosystem, and spinning reels are more flexible than bulky baitcasters.
A lot of fishermen look at pay lakes like they’re an easy way out. They’re stocked with large fish, and they’re usually overpopulated. So, it’s extremely easy to walk away with a great catch with every visit.
However, these lakes require a payment to enter, and they often charge for each fish that is caught and kept. Pay lakes can be a great way to have a fun day with the kids, but they’re not very challenging, and the expenses involved can be a major deterrent.
Farm ponds are exactly what they sound like. They’re little irrigation ponds in the middle of a farmer’s land. They can be great fishing spots, but they require the land owner’s permission to fish.
I highly recommend fishing a farm pond if it’s a possibility, but it’s often just as easy to go to a local lake, and there is usually a more diverse ecosystem in local lakes. However, you can’t beat the size and power of a nice bass from a farm pond. They’re usually left alone, and they can get fairly large.
Beach fishing is harder for a lot of people to do because it obviously requires access to a beach that isn’t filled with half-naked swimmers. However, it opens up a lot of different possibilities for fishermen.
The ocean has a diverse ecosystem, and the shallow shores of beaches don’t usually have monster fish in them. So, it’s typically safe to use common equipment at the beach. I recommend buying a reel that is protected from the corrosive salt present in the ocean, but fishing at a beach is pretty much like fishing any other body of water.
A boat is necessary for deep-sea fishing, and it can be dangerous at times. However, it’s one of the most rewarding types of fishing, and I highly recommend that everyone try it at least once.
Deep-sea fishing provides the opportunity to catch massive fish, and the fish that typically bite put up a lot harder fights than freshwater fish. Special equipment is required for deep-sea fishing, and safety should always be a top priority.
How to fish
How you fish is completely up to you. I prefer to use a combination of spinning and casting gear with medium-sized baits. However, you can also fish by simply throwing in a line with a worm on the hook. There are countless methods for using live bait and artificial baits, but the main principle is the same for all of them. Make the bait look like fish food.
When it comes to artificial baits, I find it best to experiment with different retrieval patterns for each bait. If one bait doesn’t work after trying all of the different retrieval methods possible, just switch it out for a different bait.
Live bait is a lot simpler to use, but it can be costly. The bait obviously isn’t reusable, and it has a short shelf life. The most basic live bait rig is the simple worm rig. A hook is tied to the end of the line, a splitshot is attached to the line about 6 inches up from the hook, and a bobber is clipped onto the line. Then, a worm is threaded onto the hook. After that, it’s just a matter of waiting for a fish to bite.
Larger fish will require more complex rigs and different baits, but the principle is the same, and once you know how to use a basic rig effectively, I’m confident that you’ll learn how to use more complex rigs very quickly.
The world of fishing encompasses many different styles and many different pieces of equipment. However, the basic techniques and principles always stay the same. It requires patience, a decent understanding of the basic gear, and a desire to learn. It isn’t complex, though. After all, it’s as easy as throwing a line in the water. What you add on to that principle is up to you.