New and Complete Helpful How to Fishing for Beginners

How_to_fishing_for_beginners_featured boy fishing on dock

Fishing has been around since the dawn of man, but fishing for beginners can be a challenge nowadays with all the available options.

Been into Bass Pro Shops and looked down the fishing isles? How do you choose with so many options? What is good, what is bad and what is not right for you?
Been there questioning yourself?
Sure you have. We all have.
With the many different fishing styles available, learning how to decide which can be difficult. Determine what kind of fish you are targeting and how you like to fish. This determines what style of fishing you will enjoy and the items you will need.

So What is the best reel and rod combination to learn fishing for beginners?

Simple answer, the Zebco 33 and a 7 feet, medium Ugly stick with a medium handle.
If you are a beginner to fishing, you have no idea what I said.
So let me explain further.

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Most of us remember fishing with our dad or grandpa, as they taught us what it meant to fish by way of cane pole fish.
Cane pole fishing is exactly what it sounds like. A bamboo pole with a string or line tied to the tip. Followed by a cork, then a weighted sinker and hook.
A very simple and primitive way to fish.
You were taught this way because is that it’s the simplest way to fish.
You have minimal gear and it’s easy for anybody to learn.
But, there are several other styles of fishing that you should know about.
Let’s start all the way back to the beginning of history.

The different ways our ancient ancestors used to catch fish.


children spearfishing how to fishing for beginners 
The ancient way of catching fish was with a spear or gig.
This method uses a long shaft with a spear, knife, sharp sticks or forked gig attached to the end of the stick or shaft.
Done in shallow water, so you can walk up to the fish quietly without spooking them to get your chance.
You sneak up on the fish by using your eyes to sight fish and them stab them in the water before they can swim away.
This ancient method of fishing is a little tricky taking a little more skill, effort, and patience.
Spearfishing in modern times has changed quite a bit.
snorkel spearfishing underwater how to fishing for beginners 
Now we have spearguns, this is the exact one my buddy uses.
Spearguns work under a constant tension rubber band system, so they work like a gun and you then shoot the fish.
Spearfishing nowadays is hunting fish underwater through snorkeling or scuba gear. This allows you to be in their environment getting you within close proximity of the fish.
This is a very popular method a fishing today.

Net or Trap Fishing

Nets Are still used today for catching Baitfish.
The cast net I use can be found here on Amazon, and I love it. 
Cast nets, that are on about every boat today, catch small fish (baitfish) which you use as bait for larger fish.
castnet sunset how to fishing for beginners
In ancient times, however, our ancestors would use nets, made by hand, and walk around in shallow waters corraling fish. The nets would touch the bottom to keep the fish from being able to swim below the net.
As you direct the fish, you begin to close the nets in a circular motion, until the fish are caught by eliminating the water to swim in. This method is still used today in a lot of different countries.
The same concept as the corral net is being used on big commercial fishing boats to this day.
Trap Fishing is still going today as it was in ancient times. This method works by building a cage with an internal cone shape pointing into the cage.
One end of a cone has a large opening, followed down by a smaller opening creating a funnel.
This funnel pushes fish into a cage which has bait in it.
The fish will swim through the large opening of the funnel, squeezing their body through the smaller end to get to the bait.
Once Inside the Cage, the fish cannot swim back up the funnel due to the small opening they squeezed through to get in.
This method is still used in a lot of countries throughout the world today.
As for here in the United States, we still use this method to catch bait fish, saltwater, pond fish, and crabs alike.

Handline fishing.

Handline fishing is as ancient as spearfishing.
A very simple way of fishing, with minimal gear, used today by many Bushcraft survivalist (find out more about handling with The 2018 Ultimate Guide for Beginner Bushcraft) because of its simplistic and ease-of-use tactic on fishing.
Handlining takes only a few item:
1. a spool of line
2. a weight of some sort
3. A hook
4. some bait or lure.
That’s it.
This is a very effective way of fishing and very simple to do.
As kids, we used to handline fish all the time.
Here’s how it goes.
Handline spool and line control.
You can use the same spool it comes on when you buy it, or you can re-spool it on to whatever you would like to hold the line.
The line end of the line will consist of a weight of some sort, usually a sinker, and the baited hook tied to the end. (insert a link to knot tying)
Bait usually consist of worms, crickets, bugs, bread balls and even pieces of hot dog (this is what we used all the time).
Anything that you can think of can be bait, even some artificial bait lures can be used.
To begin fishing, spool off some line, pulling out extra line approximately 10 to 12 ft or more if necessary. You can either loop very loose in your hand, or you can loop in front of you on the ground.
Casting a handline.
In your right hand, (if you’re right-handed) hold the line and spin it around in a circle, like if you were going to be throwing a rock with a sling.
At the precise moment, when your arm extends in front of your body, release the line from your right hand (the one swinging) allowing the bait to go out into the water.
Once the bait is in the water, hold the line tight in your right hand so you can feel if a fish tries to take the bait.
You call this “getting a bite”. The fish is biting the bait.
As you begin feeling small tugs on the line, firmly grip the line and pull back as quickly as you can. This will cause the hook to set into the fish’s mouth.
Hang on because it’s about to get fun.
How to Retrieve while Handlining.
To Reel the fish in, just start pulling in the line, hand-over-hand, until the fish is in your hands.
Word of caution, it is wise to sometimes use gloves when hand line fishing. The reason for this is a fish can put a lot of tension or tensile strength into the line. The line becomes thinner causing burns or even cut into your skin if not careful. If you are going to be handlining, gloves are a good idea.

Technology Changed fishing with the invention of the Rod and Reel Fishing.

What is Cane pole fishing?

One of the simplest ways to fish, still done in modern days, is fishing with a cane pole.

What is a cane pole?

A bamboo rod, usually in lengths between 6 feet all the way up to 12 foot, with double that length in line, attached to the tip. A better way to attach the line is shown in the video, but this is the basic concept.
This method of fishing is popular with freshwater fishing, designed to catch smaller panfish species.
In the middle of the of the line, rests a cork or floating device, a weighted sinker, a hook that you tie on at the end of the line.
In early days, the cork was made out of a wine cork.
You would use an awl or nail to run a hole through the middle of the cork, from top to bottom, running the line through the middle of the hole.
Then place a toothpick through the hole at the top of the cork. This will press against the line, stopping the cork from sliding up and down the line.

Modern corks have changed.

Now they have spring-loaded clamps to allow adjustments to line depth, and some are battery operated to allow fishing at night. All different shapes and sizes for all types of applications.
Another function is to adjust the desired depth you would like the bait to float above the bottom where you are fishing.
For example, if you are fishing in a pond with a depth of 6 feet, you would move the cork 3 feet up the line from the hook making the bait float in the middle of the water column.
This allows you to fish at the depths where the fish are.

How to Cast a Cane Pole.

Once you have baited the hook and set cork line depth, swing the baited hook in a pendulum motion in front of you as far as you can and lower the rod tip.
Once the bait hits the water, the bait floats around waiting for a fish to take a bite.
The cork is a floating guide to alert you when the fish is biting the baited hook. Once the fish begins to bite, trying to remove the bait from the hook, the cork will bob up and down in the water rapidly.
But, when the fish bites and tries to swim away with the bait, the cork will disappear under water.
This is when you set your hook.
Pull up quick on the cane pole, raising the tip to pull the line out of the water. By doing this motion you will embed the sharp point of the hook into the fish’s mouth allowing the hook to set and then begin to pull the fish out of the water.
That is how you cane pole fish.

The dawn of the Reel and Rod that changed everything.

According to Wikipedia:  Fishing reels first appeared in England around 1650, a time of growing interest in fly fishing.
Fishing change drastically with the invention of the reel.
The reel added an advantage to fishing with rod or cane pole as before.
With the invention of the reel, it allows the angler (the name of person fishing), to now use the reel as a winch to retrieve line more quick and efficient than as before trying to pull it in by hand.
With the reel attached to the rod, this also gives the advantage of having more line attached to the rod, unlike as before with the cane pole. Instead of having 12-24 feet of line, you now can have 120 yards of line.
This Advantage allows you to be able to cast out your baited hook further than before. The further the retrieve from your position, the more access you get to more fish, because of the extra area that you’ll be covering.

What is Fly Fishing?

fly fishing beach how to fishing for beginners 
The picture above is my fly fishing outfit Orvis Encounter 8wt click for the best price here on Amazon.
As the technology of fishing advanced so did knowledge of what fish eat.
Designing the bait the fish would eat was now in effect introducing the art known as Fly Tying.
Tying fly is the art of making your own bait that mimics the natural bugs found in the fish’s environment that they would normally eat. Example, the stream trout, and the mayfly.

The parts of a fly fishing reel and rod outfit (or setup)

The fly fishing rod, fly fishing reel, floating fly line, backing, leader, tippet and fly bait.
Attach the reel at the base of the rod, usually below the cork handle.
The reel has a spool with backing, really thin braided line, that attaches to the floating line, a thick plasticky line. The fly line is then attached to a monofilament leader, in the length of about 9 feet. Attached to the leader, is about 3 feet of tippet also made of monofilament. The tippet then has the fly bait tied to it in various style knots.
This is a simple basic setup and terminology on a fly fishing reel and rod outfit.
Earlier fly rods look a lot like cane poles, with a reel attached at the bottom.
But, today’s gear is more advanced with the use of graphite and fiberglass, with even some in carbon fiber.
The concept is still the same, as you have a pole and line attached to a reel.
Fly fishing reels are a simple concept with minimal parts.
They have an arbor (spool), which is the part that puts the line on the reel, a casing which holds the arbor in place.
A handle, on the side of the arbor, to retrieve the line or crank.
A center shaft that the arbor slides onto, attached to some disc wheels, that cause friction known as drag, which you can adjust manually.
Setting the drag is friction the reel puts on the spool so that the fish can’t take line freely off the spool.
When you are retrieving line by reeling, you add resistance against the fish. As the fish is pulling back it is also adding resistance.
Whoever is the least resistant looses, which in most instances usually ends up being the fisherman.
Reels have an added advantage by allowing more drag to be set to slow line speed down and coming off the reel.
Want to go deeper into the art of Fly Fishing? GOOD!
Read our in-depth article about Fly Fishing for Beginners here: How to Fly Fishing for Beginners Made Simple

How to use a fly fishing rod.

In its basic form, for someone who is right-handed, hold the base of the rod, above the reel in your right hand. With your left hand pull out 20 – 30 yards of line and let it loop on the ground in front of you.
Holding line in your right index finger, mash the line against the base of the fishing rod. Hold another piece of the line, down below your right index finger, off to the left side in the fingertips your left hand, above-the-line looped on the ground.
Now slowly pull the rod behind your head, over your right shoulder to a 2 o’clock position and quickly bring it forward to the 10 o’clock position.
With forward motion of the rod, it will begin to pull the line out of the tip of the rod. That is called loading the line.
The forward and backward motions of the cast are called the front cast and back cast.
You will do this twice, which is called false casting, as you do not let the fly or tip of the line touch the water in front of you or ground behind you.
Loading the line, which means the increased weight of the line due to gravity, gives the fly the speed it needs to take flight and propel out into the water.
On the last forward cast, as the rod tip is heading back to 10 o’clock, release your right index finger off of the line held to the rod handle and your left fingertips holding the remaining line to send the bait out into the water.
Read more about the art of casting for beginners is our article here : How to Cast Your New Fly Rod the Easy Way

How to Strip or the Retrieve your line.

When the bait is in front of you in the water, begin pulling the line back in with your left hand. Your right-hand index finger is again lightly pressed against cork handle of the rod to control your line during retrieval.
This method of line retrieval is called stripping.
While stripping the fly line back to you, allow it to coil up in front of you, as when you were making your cast.
You can alter the variation and speed of how you strip the line back to you. These slight variations make your bait move through the water in erratic, mimicking a wounded baitfish.
As you are stripping the line in your retrieve, take mention how the line feels as it’s moving through the water. If you are lucky enough to entice a fish to bite your fly, you will feel slight tugs or you may even see the fish coming after the bait.
At this point of the bite, the way to make the hook set is to hold tightly the line in your left hand, which is retrieving the line and slightly bring up the rod tip. These two motions together, cause tension against the fish as they’re trying to swim away, causing the hook to bury in its mouth.
With the fish trying to swim off, allow the line coil in front of you to tightened up around the spool. Grab ahold of the reel handle because the fight is on.
To retrieve line using the reel, crank the handle with your left hand in a down counter-clockwise motion.
Slightly pull up on the rod to add more tension and continue to reel the line back in until the fish is in your hands or landed. That is the simple method of fly fishing. We have not even scratched the surface of the Art of Fly Fishing but will have more in-depth articles coming soon to further the journey into the sport.

The Introduction of the Conventional rod and reel combo.

Baitcasters and How They Differ.

baitcaster reel fishing for beginners
Photo Courtesy of Rachel Tilson Photography
The baitcaster type ( I personally have this reel and love it)of a reel is low profile. What that means is there easier to hold in your hand for longer periods of time. For instance, most professional bass tournament anglers (term used for the person fishing) will use a baitcaster because you will be holding that reel in their hand all day long.
The type of fishing this real is designed for is why it’s held for long periods of time. These types of fishing consist of flipping, pitching, cranking, drop shot, bumping the bottom as well as a few other different styles or combinations thereof.
What makes the Baitcaster different?
The low profile reel is more of an oval shape, with an open face to the reel spool, meaning you can see straight to the line. The crank is a larger handle on the outside makes for quicker line retrieval.
Casting a baitcaster is a little tricky to learn, but once you figure out the method, you can cast your lure a really far distance.
There are a lot of settings that come with a baitcaster reel.
Features like drag tensions settings, ball bearings in different ratios, anti-backlash automatic braking systems, and many others.
With all these different options available to the reel, makes for a lot of small moving parts making it work.
Meaning maintenance is more involved as seen below.
baitcaster maintenance fishing for beginners
Reel Maintenance courtesy of Erik Tilson – Professional Bass Angler

How the rod selections Differ?

Casting rods come in all different shapes and sizes.
A flipping stick can range all the way to ten feet in length, as Carolina rig poles can be as short as six and a half feet. You will see more line guides (the metal rings protruding off the rod) on a casting rod to keep better control of the line.
Depending on the style of rod, will determine how many and what size the guides will be used.
Each Rod comes with its own tip flexibility and weight scale from light, medium to heavy. Each of these weights gives the rod a different feel, action, and strength to a particular fishing style. They also come with different style handles. For example pistol grip, medium, large, and telescopic.
As you can see you can get really customized when it comes to baitcasting reels and rods.

How to cast a baitcaster.

On the baitcasting reel, there will be a button in the middle of the spool. Usually toward the back of the reel or sometimes a button off to the side on the right-hand side of the reel.
This is to release the lock on the spool, which is what your line connects to.
Releasing the lock allows the spool to free spin during the cast, excelling line-out of the rod tip.
If right-handed, press the spool lock release button and allow your bait to pull about ten inches of line from the rod tip.
Then stop the free spinning of the spool with your right thumb.
Holding your thumb on the spool of line, just off to the right side of the spool (with light pressure) hold this pool from freely spinning.
Holding the bottom of the rod with your left hand, slowly move the rod back behind you into a two o’clock position.
Once in this position quickly move your hands over your shoulder to a ten o’clock position, but just slightly before hitting ten o’clock, release your thumb off of the spool, not completely but enough to feel the line coming off the spool on your thumb.
This is “thumb braking”, not to be confused with “breaking your thumb”. A little comic relief.
“Thumb braking” allows the line to move out of the spool during your cast but not so fast that you get a backlash in your line.
What a backlash is is your line looking like a bird’s nest in your spool. This is a bad thing.
I have spent many full trips fishing trying to pick out backlashes. It is always a good idea to bring a knife or small scissors just in case you need to cut out the line to remove the backlash.
Casting a baitcaster is a little tricky so it will take some practice, but do not get frustrated or discouraged. Just keep practicing.

How to Reel back or Retrieve your Line.

Once the line leaves the rod tip and the bait are in the water you must decide how you were going to retrieve the bait.
Each type of lure requires different actions in to make it work properly. We will just assume that you’re using something very simple like a spinnerbait.
This is the exact Spinnerbait I use and love. Click here to check for the cheapest price on Amazon.
Spinnerbaits are pretty easy to use and it’s pretty standard go-to bait for most bass fisherman.
When the spinnerbait hits the water, begin reeling on the crank, handle off to the right-hand side of the reel.
Usually going in a clockwise motion, begin reeling your bait back to you into the boat or land where your fishing.
With a spinnerbait, it’s just as simple as reeling it in and letting the bait do all the work.
Make sure to notice how the bait feels as you are reeling it back to you so you will notice a difference when you get a bite.
How to know if you are getting a bite?
1. You will feel like something is thumping on the end of the rod tip.
2. You will feel the rod tip get super heavy.
Heavy means that a fish grabbed your bait and is swimming in the opposite direction.

How to Set the Hook on a Baitcaster?

When you feel either of the two, point pull back quick on the rod to set the hook inside the fish’s mouth and begin reeling.
Hold on because the fight is about to take place.
Remember to keep reeling slow and keep your rod tip down.
The drag system needs to be set right on your reel to work as the brake, keeping the fish from pulling the line out off your spool.
Continue to turn the crank of the reel in a clockwise motion until the fish is in your hands or landed.

Spinning Reels and How they Function.

spinning reel fishing for beginners
Spinning reels are much like the baitcasters, yet, they look completely different and operation is easier.
A spinning reel(This is my spinning reel of choice) has a big open spool sitting on top of the reel body and a crank handle that can be either left or right depending on which side you want it to be on. It’s adjustable, unlike the baitcaster.
Another feature that sets it apart from other reels is the metal line feeder that sticks out of the reel called the bail.
The reason is that spinning reels are easier to clean and maintain than baitcasters.

Why Spinning Rod selection is Different from Baitcaster.

You do not have as many choices with spinning rods( I personally use this spinning rod on all my spinning gear) as you do with baitcasting rods.
They are pretty much the same shape, but, you can get them in different lengths starting from 6 feet to 12 feet depending on the type of fishing you will do. They also come in two or three pieces to make traveling and storage easier.
large surf spinning how to fishing for beginners
The larger length spinning rods you use for beach surf fishing because you can cast a mile with them.
Well maybe not a mile but you can sling bait a long way away with a 12 feet rod.
[Tweet “Large rods hold large reels. Large reels catch LARGE fish. LARGE FISH take large tackle and gear.”]
This is a great infographic that shows different rod selections.

Source: Blog

How to cast a spinning reel and Rod.

If right-handed, place the rod in your right, position to allow your index finger to be placed on the top foam pad, just above the reel seat (where the reel attaches to the rod).
With your left hand, flip over the bail (the big wire wrap around thing on top of the reel spool) of the spinning reel to unlock the spool. The bail will lock into an upright position.
With your index finger of your right-hand, pinch a piece of the line against the top foam pad.
Begin your backcast over your shoulder with your left-hand holding bottom. Continue your backcast over your shoulder until you reach the two o’clock position.
Now quickly bring your hands holding the rod back over your shoulder in front of you to the ten o’clock position. This will create a loaded rod tip, creating the force needed to launch the bait or lure into the water.
Before getting to ten o’clock, release your index finger and line as the line goes shooting through the rod tip placing your bait in the water.

How to Retrieve Line with Spinning Reel.

In the water, begin reeling the line back by cranking the handle clockwise. The type of retrieve you use depends on the type of bait you tied to your line.
Some retrieves are slow or fast, while some you stall or snap the rod tip to get the bait to dance in the water.
Normally a right-handed person would have the crank of the reel, pointing towards their left hand. For example, you would hold the rod in your right hand and reel with your left hand on spinning gear.
It is completely opposite when it comes to fishing with a baitcaster. With a baitcaster, you fish holding the reel and rod with your left hand, as you crank the reel with your right if you’re right-handed.

The Hookset is the same for Spinning Reel. 

As the line is being retrieved and you begin to feel like something is thumping the end of the rod, or the rod tip gets super heavy, you got a bite and you need to set the hook.
Set the hook by holding the crank of the reel and pulling back on the rod handle.
Hold on because it is about to get fun. Make sure to reel slow, take your time and watch your drag. If your line is coming off the reel fast, then you need to tighten the drag to add some resistance to the fish.
Setting the drag for the spinning reel is the knob at the top of the spool. Determining the type of fish, strength, and size, you may need to either loosen or tighten the drag while fighting the fish. When your “tighten” the drag you add more resistance or slow down how much of the line the fish can pull off the spool. When you “loosen” the drag, you give the fish less resistance allowing the line to be able to come off the spool easier.
Why would you loosen the drag, You might ask?
When fish are really strong and you are adding more tension by fighting back against the fish, you will increase the pressure on the line. Too much pressure will cause the line to break and you will lose the fish. Not a good day.
Monitoring your line tension and drag settings is crucial when fighting big fish.
Continue to fight the fish, cranking the reel and keeping your own tip down to avoid the line breaking or fish getting off. Remember to allow the fish to wear itself out and do not try to muscle it in or you risk breaking the line due to intense line pressure.

Why Closed Face Spincast Reel is the best Beginner Choice.

 kid spincast reel how to fishing for beginners
The closed face spincast reel is the most common beginner reel that most people start off with, especially kids. My dad bought me a Zebco 33, with a pistol grip rod, when I was younger, to learn how to fish. They are one of the easiest and simplest reels to use.
I have a friend whose grandfather used to fish bass tournaments with Zebco 33 and a pistol grip rod. They’re the most versatile, all-around rod and reel that has stood the test of time.
Closed face means that you cannot see the internal parts or the spool. There is a dome-shaped cap that screws over the top of the spool and gears of the reel. With a hole at the top, the line feeds out as you cast.
The operation is very simple.
You have a large button on the back of the reel, and a hand crank on the right side to retrieve the line.

How to Cast your Spincast Reel.

To cast this reel, you push the button and release the button.
Press and hold the button, bring your hands over your shoulder back to two o’clock.
Then quickly bring your hands back over your shoulder to ten o’clock, releasing the button just before your hands extend in front of you.
Once you release the button, the line in the spool becomes free. The weight of the sinker and baited hook slings the line out to its greatest length into the water.

How to Retrieve a Spincast Reel.

Once the bait is in the water, turn the hand crank on the reel in a clockwise motion and it will lock the line back into place to begin your retrieve.
As you reel in the line, you would do it just as if you were using a baitcaster reel and rod. Left-hand holding the rod, while you turn the hand crank with the right hand.
Continue to crank in the clockwise motion to retrieve the line and your bait. Again, determining on what bait you are using determines how you will reel in the line.
Remember, the action of the bait is what causes the fish to bite. Entice the fish with the correct retrieval actions for that lure and fish cannot resist.
We will be going deeper into fishing lures and tactics in future articles.

How to Set the Hook on a Spincast Reel.

As your retrieving line, if you feel something at the end of the line or the rod tip get super heavy you may have a bite. While holding the reel rod in your left hand and right hand on the crank, pull back on the rod to set the hook in the fish’s mouth.
The drag setting on the closed face spincast reel is usually on the left-hand side, near your left thumb while holding the reel.
It is a small gear, like a wheel, that protrudes out of the side of the reel cover.
You will need to tighten or loosen the drag depending on the strength of the fish.
The fight is on and you need to work the fish slowly and tire the fish so you can land the fish.
The Zebco 33 comborod and reel setup together, are the most versatile reel because you can catch just about any fish in size with it. This is why most kids and beginners usually start with this type of reel. With its simplistic operation and maintenance, it’s a no-brainer why it is a beginner’s go to reel.
I still find myself using my kid’s every now and then.

In Conclusion.

You can see that there are endless style variations and gear setups that go into fishing. This is only just scratching the surface of the art of fishing.
We will be diving deeper into each one of these sections with more detail explaining the ins and outs of gear, tactics and many other factors that go into each style of fishing.
This is the ultimate guide for beginners to see which style of fishing that you may embark and dive deeper into.
As said before, this is just the beginning of fishing for beginners, only scratching the surface of this worldwide popular art and sport.
  •  What style is your favorite and why?

  • Do you use more than one style?

  • What is your favorite gear to fish with?

Leave your comments below and let’s have a conversation.


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