Food, Health/Life, Leisure/Sport, Travel

How to catch fish: beginner’s guide to gear, technique and tips

how to catch fish

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Outlines how to catch fish, first steps into rods, lines and accessories, where to look for fish, and basic casting and landing techniques for beginners.

Fishing is an extremely versatile sport that uses very different techniques and methods. This leisure activity has a long tradition, especially in coastal areas, where you can find suitable spots for fishing on holidays or short trips. Away from the coast, the fish are found in lakes or rivers: Note that strict legal regulations may apply in some areas.

Catching your own food is self-fulfilling and in harmony with the environment. You no longer have to wonder whether the fish is really fresh and where it comes from. When you learn how to catch fish, along the way you will learn a lot about fish and their habitat.

In addition, fishing helps to recover from everyday stress. There is something meditative about waiting in the fresh air by a calm lake in the morning for the fish to take a bite. No people around you, just peace and nature. Many anglers also like to go longer distances to fish in special locations or even in other countries. So you get to know many places.

But before casting a line, there are a few planning steps that should be made. 

If you want to fish, you often need a fishing license and/or a fishing permit. In the states, different regulations and exceptions apply to these two documents. For example, there is sometimes a special pass for holidaymakers, which is often limited in time, but generally the holder does not have to take an exam for it. It is best to find out more about the legal subtleties from the responsible fisheries authority or the municipalities where you want to fish.

Also note the minimum sizes and closed seasons for fish: If your caught fish is too small, you have to release it again. In addition, some species may not be fished all year round.

Where to find fish

Think about the places where fishing really makes sense as one of the basic steps in how to catch fish. It is interesting to consider where most of the fish are. Many fish can be found under sunken branches in still lakes. Predatory fish in particular feel particularly at home in these regions. The main reasons for this are that they offer a place to hide. 

Another promising place is bushes. Insects and other small animals often fall off these so that the aquatic animals have quick access to food. Therefore, place a natural bait in the appropriate places. Usually it is then relatively quick to achieve success. There are also interesting options at the stream inlets. The fish visit these places especially in summer.

Methods and equipment

Depending on what fish you want to catch, you can use an arsenal of effective methods: you can do surf fishing, marine fishing, boat fishing, ice fishing and more. But basically, you always need similar equipment for fishing. This usually includes a rod, a fishing reel, a line and a bait or a hook. This equipment can vary depending on the fish and location, so for successful sea fishing on a boat you need different gear than for fishing in a pond or lake.

Make sure you have the right equipment

Depending on the type of fish, you will need different equipment. For example, a rod needs a different casting weight for a zander than for a trout. To fish for perch or pike, ideally you use different bait than for a roach.

Fishing rods

There are a few things to consider when buying a fishing rod. Different fishing rods are suitable depending on the type of fish. The rods differ in their bending curve and casting weight . The casting weight is a parameter that you can use to determine the maximum weight of the bait. You shouldn’t exceed the casting weight with bait and rig too much, otherwise your rod could break.

The reel and line

But there is more to a fishing rod than just the rod. The fishing reel to which the line is attached is also integrated. The line is pulled from the reel and passed through the rings on the rod. A stationary roller with a brake is recommended for beginners. This gives you more control over the line with less practice. You also need a suitable line and hook.

Try different fishing lines

With a braided line, the rod movements can be easily transferred to the fish. However, they absorb a lot of moisture and can even burst if the temperature is too cold. Monofilament fishing lines do not require any special knots and are not sensitive to temperature. To do this, however, they need a little more leadership skills. Try different fishing lines and see which one suits your fishing style best.

The bait

There are many different types of bait . A distinction is made between the living and the artificial. Live baits are mainly maggots and worms. Several maggots are usually attached to a hook at the same time. Live fish as bait are prohibited. The “blinker” is recommended for beginners on artificial baits. It imitates an injured fish with staggering movements and is therefore a good choice for fishing for predatory fish.

You shouldn’t buy equipment online for your first fishing trip. Go to a fishing shop for  advice. There you will find out all the details about the right fishing rod and an expert is available to answer any questions.

The right accessories

You won’t see an angler with just one line of fishing rod. There is a lot more to it:

  1. pose that will help you identify the position of the bait and the bite of a fish.
  2. net to get the fish out of the water.
  3. bat to stun the fish.
  4. tape measure to measure the fish after it is caught.
  5. sharp knife to kill the fish.
  6. Food to attract the fish.
  7. rod holder that holds the fishing rod so you don’t have to hold it in your hand all the time.

How to catch fish: preparation and technique

Before you start, you should prepare everything. Put your rod holder in the ground near the shore and place your net next to it. Prepare your bait and food. Ready-made feed is mixed with water. When it’s firm enough, throw some of the food in the water and let it work.

Then you prepare your fishing rod. Put the rod together and pull the line through the rings. Attach the lure to the line and tie the hook’s leader line to the main line. When your fishing rod is ready, you can attach the bait to the hook and get started.

Pay attention to the leader line

The hook is not attached to the main line of the fishing rod. Each hook comes with its own leader line that connects to the main line. The leader line should be weaker than the main line. Because if the line breaks, only the leader line breaks. This can happen if the fish is too heavy or the fishing rod is held incorrectly. If the leader line is too strong, the main line can break with it.

Casting techniques

Depending on where and what you are fishing, you will have to cast your line in different ways. The pendulum cast is the most common throwing technique that is mainly used when there is little space. The rod is held above the water rather than thrown, while a small arm movement creates the distance.

The overhead cast is used when you want to cast the bait far and you have a lot of space both in front of you and behind you. To do this, take the rod between the middle and ring fingers at the height of the roll. Release the brake, straighten the rod, and lift it diagonally above your head. When you’re ready, swing the rod forward and let the hook and bait fly.

In some situations you need the underhand cast, for example if you are fishing on a bank and cannot get the bait into the water with a pendulum throw because a bush is growing there. When throwing the bait from below, the bait is drawn in far and thrown sideways under the bush.

Pulling the fish in

When a fish has bitten, you have to slowly pull in the line with the reel. Continue to pull the line in slowly until you can clearly feel the fish on the hook. Then you go for it. Keeping the rod up, pull the line in quickly and explosively. Pull the fish so close to the bank that you can catch it with the net.

How to catch fish: Tips for success

In addition to the right fishing route or the right bait, there are a few very basic tips that can help you in how to catch fish. 

Make sure your hands are clean

The fish are deterred by smells: Before you touch bait, route or line, your hands should be free from perfumed care products such as hand creams, deodorants or the like.

Everyone can learn to fish, but every beginning is difficult. To make your first steps in fishing easier, we’ve put together a few tips for you.

Fish eat at the bottom

Fish can be lured to the surface of the water, but they tend to stay on the bottom and on the bank. There they eat. That’s why you should test how deep the water is. Then you can better align your bait with the bottom. To examine the depth of the water, you will need to attach a piece of solder to the fish hook. When you then throw your fishing rod into the water, you can tell from the plumb line when the bottom has been reached. You can then use the pose to calculate how deep the water is.

Bring a towel

Your hands will usually get wet when fishing. This can be particularly annoying in the colder months, as you catch cold so quickly.  However, it is often particularly nice to fish in the fresh air during this time. Therefore, always take a towel with you when fishing to keep your hands dry and to dry your fishing gear.


Practice is important when fishing.  At some point, the entire process should happen automatically, without you having to concentrate. To start with, an experienced fisherman should look over your shoulder. This way you will be better informed about your mistakes and maybe even get a few tips along the way.

Start with a target fish or a target technique

To learn how to fish effectively, you shouldn’t start fishing all over the place. Orientate yourself to a certain fishing technique or a target fish. This will make you more familiar with the technique and it will become a routine faster. When you have had some successful first experiences, you can try your hand at larger or more difficult fish.

Take a cooler bag

To keep the fish really fresh, you should bring a cooler bag. You can also wrap the fish in damp cloths and take them with you, but nothing keeps the fish as fresh as a cool box, especially in summer.

Exercise patience

There are two reasons why patience is so important in fishing. For one thing, it just takes a fish to bite. Especially at the beginning, you shouldn’t lose hope too quickly. On the other hand, you do not immediately master fishing perfectly. You can only gain real practical experience when you already have your fishing license and you can get down to business.

Fishing is a science in itself. There are many rules and laws to be observed before you can finally cast your fishing rod. But the effort is worth it. That’s the reason fishing is popular with so many people.

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