15 Fishing Tips for Beginners

1. Learn How to CAst

Learn how to cast a spinning rod and a bait caster accurately – most times you'll need to put the bait with in a few feet of the strike zone where a poor casting results in missed opportunities and also lost lures.

When using plastic baits like worms, Senkos or craws, don’t jerk - I see this happen all the time, beginning anglers have a hard time distinguishing between a bite and a snag resulting in the bait moved from the strike zone.

The best way to determine a bite is to hold the rod steady with a little tension and see if there is a pulsation, if so then jerk. When using plastics bass will usually hold on to the bait for a couple seconds – enough time to figure if it’s a fish or a snag.

2. Use Cheap Lures to Be Brave

In order to maximize success, never use lures or rigs that you’re afraid to lose while fishing. If you’re fishing lures that you worry about losing, you’ll never put them in danger, where the fish live, and where they can work for you. Cheap lures fished in the right areas work better than expensive lures fished in “safe zones”. 

3. Confidence is Key

My best tip for beginners is in regards to confidence. You should always have 200% confidence in what your throwing, confidence is key to helping someone successfully fishing a new bait. Always think, this next cast I am going to catch that 5 pounder!

4. Learn Your Lures

When using a new lure it will take some time to get the hang of it and develop confidence in it. A good way to do this is to go fishing with only that lure. This forces you to use that bait and learn how to work it to catch fish.

5. Be Prepared

The most important tip I can give anyone is to be prepared for anything when going fishing. You never know what the fish are going to do. You never know what lures they want, you never know what the weather is going to do and how its going to affect the fish. The more prepared you are, the better chance you have of being a successful fishermen. 

6.  Saltwater vs Freshwater

So it is pretty obvious to most, the differences between freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing, but there are some scientific points to consider in addition to simply the “Lake vs. Ocean” comparison. 

Freshwater fishing is when a fisherman fishes in a body of water that has less than 0.05% salinity. It is different than saltwater fishing because the species of fish are entirely different. Except some fish like Salmon, who are born in freshwater, spend a few years at sea, and then return to spawn in the same freshwater body of water they were born in. 

One thing to keep in mind is that lakes, like ponds, rivers and all other bodies of water will have creel limits. A creel limit is the amount of fish and/or size of fish you’re allowed to remove from that lake per day. 

If you are like me, and live inland you don’t always get the opportunity to saltwater fish, but the alternative can be just as fun and rewarding! 

7. Freshwater Fishing Tips

  • Map It – When fishing in a freshwater lake or pond you’ll want to get a topographical map of that body of water. This will let you know what and where the different depths of the lake or pond are. Along with that it may also show you locations of sunken man-made fish cribs. 
  • Bait Matters! – The best type of bait is live bait! Worms, minnows, wax worms and soft shell (crayfish) are good ways to start. You will want to use the live bait is best for the species of fish you’re trying to catch. Some other types of live bait that are also used are leeches and frogs or anything else live you think the fish will go for! Artificial bait works also, with the popular options being spinners and crank baits. 
  • Check the Water Temp – The majority of freshwater fish species have specific water temperature and weather that they prefer. The hotter it gets outside the deeper you’ll need to fish. Fish tend to like cool temperatures and will move to deeper, cooler water as the temperature outside rises. During dusk and dawn, fish will come to more shallow water to feed. You’ll want to research the specific fish you’re trying to catch to figure out the best times and water depths to catch them.
  • Keep those hands clean! – When fishing in water with little salinity you’ll really want to make sure you keep your hands clean. Fish have a great sense of smell and any foreign scent on your bait or lures can turn them off. 
  • Other Essentials – Aside from obviously needing a rod and reel, other things that you will eventually need would be a tackle box, needle- nose pliers, a net, and perhaps an ice chest. Also a nice pair of polarized sunglasses will not only block the UV rays from the sun and the sun's glare on the water, but they will help you to see a little better into the water to locate fish. 

8. Safety Information 

  • Safety first! – Growing up in Florida I can say, look out for Gators as tip numero uno! Especially if you are in the south and are using a small boat or canoe. 
  • You always need to have the proper fishing license and/or stamps, if you’re caught fishing without them you could be in hot water.
  • If you are going to wade in a river, pond, or lake make sure to use a wader belt to prevent water from rushing into your waders. If in a boat, grab a life jacket. It is always good to have handy and necessary by law in most places. Lastly, don’t forget to drink plenty of water and apply the sun screen. 

9. Lake Fishing Tips 

  • Inlets and Outlets and Hang out Spots – Like humans, fish like specific temperatures and will generally hang around areas of a lake that they find comfortable. Places where water enters or drains from a lake will generally be much cooler and favorable to fish. Bait fish like to hang around these areas, along with the giant fish that eat them.
  • Find Sunken Junk and Treasures – Fish like to hang around structures that make them feel safe and that provide the opportunity to ambush other fish. Structures such as sunken trees, branches and man made fish habitats are a great place to fish. It’s a safe haven, or so they think… kind of how coral is in saltwater. 
  • The Wind is on Your Side – On days with a strong breeze you can expect the bait fish to get pushed closer to shore, meaning the big fish will come closer to shore to feed. Watch for drift lines and follow them, they will lead to bait fish, which will lead to the big fish you are looking for.
  • Scout for Weeds – A lot of big fish, like northern pike and largemouth bass like to stalk their prey from a nice cozy weed bed. Locate some weed beds in the lake your fishing in and try getting your bait and/or lure in that area to see if you can coax a fish to bite. The weed beds that lead to deeper water and create a break line are the best spots! 

10. Keep it Cheap

Remember, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on fishing gear. Freshwater fishing should be fun, easy, and affordable. About 90% of the tackle on the market is meant to attract the fisherman, not the fish.

11. Practice Your Cast

I would suggest that beginners practice casting before going fishing. This way they are making quality casts on the water and, hopefully, catch quality fish!

12. Use the Right Bait

Be aware of what fish you are trying to catch and what kind of bait attracts them. Catfish, for example, respond to raw chicken liver while bream fish like insects like crickets. The wrong bait could mean a very long unfruitful day, not the way you want to start when embarking on this beautiful endeavor!

13. Clean Up

The most important thing you can do is remember to take EVERYTHING with you when you leave - every gum wrapper, cigarette butt, bait container, beer can, soda bottle and hook package - that you carried with you. Being respectful of the places you fish, the people that are fishing there and the people that own or maintain the land is the single most important thing you can do.

14. Use the Right Knot for Your Line

Here is a knot tying tip that will help all anglers; with braided line, the best knot to use is a palomar knot. With fluorocarbon, a palomar is the worst knot you can tie because it burns itself as it cinches down and will break easily. Use an improved clinch knot with fluorocarbon. With monofilament, you can use either knot.

15. Use a Multi-Purpose Lure

One of the most durable and multi-purpose lures on the market, the StingRay Grub® from Mann’s catches all fish species and under all types of conditions. No other soft plastic bait produces a more erratic or natural swimming motion, depending on the type of rigging and retrieve. 

For fish busting the surface, cast it out and hold the rod tip up letting it break the surface of the water. This method of keeping the bait high also works when casting over weed lines or exposed stumps or tree tops. Although not weedless, it is very difficult to snag the StingRay Grub during retrieve. 

The lure darts and dives based on retrieval speed and the raising and lowering of the rod tip. Rip it off the bottom with quick, steady retrieves. Slowly bounce it on the bottom. Vertically jig it in deeper water. You can fish the StingRay Grub nearly any way you choose and consistently limit out on fish.

Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted bass love it, as do speckled trout, redfish, and walleye, pike, even big slab crappie. Strike very quickly as the fish usually hits this bait on the downfall. The grub is also very effective at hopping over lily pads with no weight a weedless hook setup.

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15 Fishing Tips For Beginners

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