Just like any new hobby, there is a learning curve to taking up the sport of fishing. So whether you are thinking about taking up fishing, are new to the sport, or have fished casually but are ready to get more serious, Fin & Field has put together this list of fishing tips to help you take your fishing adventures to the next level.
Unlike generations past, modern fishermen have one of the greatest resources ever available to fishermen. Information. As someone new to the port make sure you take full advantage of the internet, cell phones, apps, and the huge number of fishing shows that are being produced. If you are new to the sport or looking to take your fishing to the next level you can use the plethora of information available to you to learn about fish behavior, seasons, locations, techniques, casting tips, fishing knots, general rigging, gear reviews, current fish reports, and SO much more. The total volume of fishing related content on the internet is overwhelming. So narrow your research to your local fishing and local species.
2. Practice Basic Skills
To spend a day actually fishing rather than trying to fish you need to become proficient in a few basic skills. Luckily you can practice these skills un the comfort of your own home or in nearby fields or ponds. When you can’t fish you can look up how-to videos and practice knots. A good starter list of knots to practice would be the improved clinch, palomar, uni, and the surgeon’s knot. Depending on your specific location and fishing options your list of knots to practice may change and that is where research comes in! Another skill to practice is casting. Spinning, conventional, fly… no matter how you will fish you need to be a proficient caster. There are a ton of how-to videos that will help you learn the fundamentals of casting. When you can’t fish you can still find a field, casting club, or open space nearby to practice casting hookless lures. Make sure you don’t spend all your time on distance casts, accuracy is actually the more useful skill. A final skill that you should practice is swimming your lures. Every lure works a little differently and HOW you fish it matters greatly. You want the lure to be as enticing as possible and to that end you need to practice giving your lures the correct action. Head to some clear water so you can see the action of the lure as you fish it. Pools and clear ponds work great. Practice and practice until working the lure is second nature.
3. Know the Weather
One thing experienced fishermen have in common is a sense for the weather. Your mastery of your local weather is important to the success of your fishing trip and it is also an important safety factor too. Weather Underground, Fish Weather, Accuweather, and NOAA are good places to start. You should also get familiar with your local micro weather patterns. How does a rising or falling barometric pressure affect the weather? Where are the high and low pressure zones and what does that mean? Is the forecast stable or changing? You will be a more successful angler if you know when the weather is fishable, when it isn’t safe, and what patterns make the fish the most active. Advanced Fishing Tips: in addition to the weather pay attention to the moon phase and tides. You might be surprised by the effects that they have on your local fishing.
4. Make Mistakes
So you have done your research on your local fishing scene, practiced some basic skills, now it is time to get out and fish! Don’t worry about doing everything perfectly, and don’t worry about doing things exactly like other people. Be fearless, the worst thing that will happen is that you wont catch fish. But if you stay home you wont catch any fish either. Being new to the sport actually gives you an advantage, you don’t have any preconceived notions of what will work and what wont. You are totally free to make mistakes. Advanced Fishing Tips: try a large variety of techniques, invent new ones if it seems like a good idea, and start to narrow down your own fishing style. More than a few beginners have discovered amazing new techniques this way.
5. Keep it Local
Another resource for inexperienced and experiences anglers alike is the local tackle shop. Online research is great, but it has limitations. The best way to tap into the knowledge at local shops is to give them some business and swap a fish story or two. Let them know you are a beginner and feel free to ask questions. You may even end up with an invitation to fish with someone who can show you the ropes. One of the best ways to learn to fish is to watch someone who has mastered the sport.
6. Get the right Gear
There is a good proverb says “it’s a poor craftsman that blames his tools”. You don’t need the latest and greatest fishing gear to catch fish and expensive gear wont help you catch more fish. That said, using rods, reels, line, and terminal tackle that is appropriate for the fish and techniques you are using will make a big difference. The right gear will make fishing more comfortable and enjoyable. How do you make sure you buy the right gear? Your online research is a great starting point but so is your local tackle shop. These days fishing rods and reels come in all shapes and sizes to fit anglers of all shapes and sizes. Going to your local shop and handling the gear is a great way to make sure you purchase gear that feels comfortable in your hands.
7. Care for your Gear
Even budget or modestly priced gear represents an investment in your new hobby, so take care of it. Taking care of your things in general is a good idea, nobody likes to waste money re-buying something they failed to maintain. Beyond the financial aspect though, if your fishing gear isn’t well maintained you cant go fishing! And if you do go fishing, you do NOT want your equipment to fail when you finally hook a trophy. Rinse saltwater and fish scales off of rods and reels to prevent rust and corrosion. Make sure reels are cleaned and lubed and that the drags are functioning smoothly. Make sure the line on your reels is in good condition and not old and brittle. Make sure your terminal tackle is well organized and that hooks are sharp and rust free. Advanced Fishing Tips: a trophy fish will expose any weak link in your gear!
8. Keep it Legal
Every state has its own laws that govern fishing. As a beginner, make sure you know where you can fish, when you can fish, how you can fish, what fish you can keep, and what licenses are needed. Every state has a website you can visit and learn the information for yourself. Fishing with an experienced angler who knows the rules is also a good way to learn. Just remember, ignorance of the laws is not an excuse to be found in violation of fish and game laws, you will be ticketed and find either way. Here is a state by state list of resources published on Fin & Field. Beyond avoiding a ticket, anglers should follow the laws in order to protect our fisheries. Fish and game laws are designed to make sure fishing remains a viable sport for all of the future generations.
9. Safety First
Fishing adventures take place outdoors. Sometimes you are fishing an urban pond, or a well known beach. Other times you are in the back country or far offshore. No matter where your adventures take you, safety is your first priority. It trumps catching fish, having fun, and everything else. Anyone who spends time outdoors should know how to administer basic first aid and have a plan to call for help in the case of an emergency. Be mindful of the weather, wild animals, and risky behavior that may lead to injury. At Fin & Field we are big fans of going on adventures, but we are bigger fans of making it home!
10. Fish with a Pro
One way for new anglers to majorly shorten the learning curve is to hire a pro. A professional fishing guide is like an encyclopedia of fishing information and for the most part they love to share with beginners. Bringing new people into the sport and improving the skill level of their clients is something every fishing guide at Fin & Field is passionate about. They probably wont give you their secret spots, but they will teach you how to fish and even how to scout around for your own fishing holes. Hiring a local fishing guide or charter boat is a great way to learn about your local fishing, improve your skills, learn new techniques, test out new gear, and learn how to comply with local laws. Fin & Field makes it easy to find, compare, and book a fishing guide. Start your search here!
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