If you’re just getting started in fishing, welcome to an amazing sport/hobby! Fishing is both exhilarating and completely relaxing. You probably have a million questions! Here are several tips I wish someone had told me when I first got started fishing. I find myself repeating these to my kids as they’ve gotten started.
Don’t wind your lure in too much
Pretty much every beginning angler does this. Generally you have a lure on the end of your line, and you might have a sinker or something a little further up. It’s common when starting to fish to not know where to stop your line before your next cast. Remember, the weight of your lure is what propels your line out. So, you need the lure to be a few feet away from the tip of your rod in order to generate momentum and speed as you whip your cast forward. If you wind your lure right up tight to the last eyelet, you’ll also risk getting it stuck to the point you have to set your handle-end down and pull it out before you can resume. For average fishing rods of 5-8 feet in length, remember, just give yourself a few feet… 2-4′ is generally good. You’ll develop a feel for what works best with practice, and much depends on your exact rod and lure setup.
Don’t use too much worm
The common practice of a beginner is to buy a couple dozen crawlers, some hooks, sinkers, and bobbers, and head to your local lake to fish from shore. This is awesome! Some of my best memories as a kid are of me and my little brother getting dropped off by mom for a few hours to fish our town’s lake while she ran errands. The mistake comes when you bait-up. Don’t use the whole worm! Break it in half, maybe even a third. You’re probably just going to be fishing for small, warmwater gamefish like perch, bluegill, sunfish, or crappie. Put on a small, number 6 hook, and a third of a crawler. Too much worm gives the fish a chance to steal your bait easily, without getting hooked.
They have to be really aggressive to take in much more than that, and if they are, you run the risk of the fish sucking it down completely. This could make it difficult to release safely, if you wish to do so. For this reason, some bodies of water restrict fishing to use of artificial lures only.
If catching fish continually was the common result of fishing, it would be called catching, not fishing. Relax. Breathe. Sit down and enjoy the moment! Fishing is about much more than catching fish. It’s an escape from our everyday stresses. It’s a chance to break away and enjoy what Ma Nature has provided. Enjoy the journey of fishing, and focus less on the destination of landing a lunker. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it when you catch a big one. Make sure you enjoy the times when you’re not. There will be far more of those.
Pay Close Attention to What Works and What Doesn’t
Fishing gives you a lot of time with your own thoughts. Most of the time, you won’t be catching anything. A good angler is always paying close attention to conditions so that success, when it comes, is less accidental the next time. What time is it? How deep are you fishing? What’s the water temperature? What’s the wind and weather like? Fish are very sensitive to barometric pressure and changing conditions. By paying close attention to what’s going on around you, not only do you become a better steward of the land, you begin to pickup on patterns that can at times be repeated.
Use a Light Setup
As I mentioned in the section about worm size, most of the fish beginners will be targeting are going to be on the smaller scale. For this reason, it’s wise to use a light setup. By light setup, I mean lightweight line, small hooks, and a short, light-action fishing rod. It will also help you feel the action better, which makes it more fun! You really don’t need more than 4 or 6 pound test line when starting out with basic hook and worm fishing for small gamefish. Lines that are too thick spook fish and make them shy away from biting. Hooks that are too large will be seen and not bitten. Many beginners think they have no chance of a big fish if they use a light setup, but that’s not true. Countless large fish have been caught on small, lightweight rods. Just check out this 6.5 pound largemouth my daughter caught on her little, pink Ugly Stik with just 6 pound test line!
When in doubt, go with the Natural Look!
When you walk into a fishing tackle store, you will be completely overwhelmed with options! Remember, you can break down the things that fish eat into a few very basic categories; insects, minnows/small fish, crustaceans (crayfish, shrimp), and invertebrates (worms & such). Pretty much any fishing lure on the wall for sale is going to be claiming to imitate one of those things. In most cases, you’ll never beat the real thing, so where it makes sense, just use live bait. That might mean a hook and worm, or a small jighead with a minnow, or even a crayfish on a hook. The tackle stores will have a million varieties of colors of all these baits, and most aim to catch the fisherman vs the fish. Think simple. Fish usually look silver or gold, maybe some green in there. Worms are generally brown, tan, reddish, or other “earthy” colors. Bright, crazy colors can work, but when you’re starting out, pick lures that either are or look like the real thing in size and color, and you’ll be off to a good start. Here are some basic artificial lures I would suggest to help you start populating your ever-growing tackle box.
- Rapalas (aka minnow baits or crankbaits) – get a couple small to medium (3-5″), gold and silver Rapalas.
- Spinners – get a few silver bladed and gold bladed Mepp’s spinners or Panther Martins
- Gary Yamamoto 5″ senko worms and 4/0 Gamakatsu hooks – these catch bass! They come in a million colors… usually you can’t go wrong with something in green, natural or purple