Fishing Basics

girl holding her first fish

Tips for Beginning Anglers

Note: "Learn more" links you to more detailed pages taken from our "Take Me Fishing": A Basic Guide for the Beginning Anglermedia download(PDF 1.5 MB). These are in .pdf format and include illustrations and more instructions. Younger anglers will enjoy our Junior Angler Activity Bookmedia download(PDF 192.1 KB).


You can fish without spending a lot of money on equipment, or you can shop to your heart's content! Remember that you can borrow equipment from one of our Tackle Loaner sites.

What the basic angler needs are:

  1. Fishing Rod
  2. Fishing Line
    • Use monofilament fishing line. It's rated by strength. Start out with an 8 or 10 pound test.
  3. Tackle
    • Casting plugs help you practice casting in your yard. Tie these weights on the end of your line. You "cast" to swing your fishing line out to land at a certain spot in the water.
    • Hooks come in several sizes. Long hooks like #6 hold worms and are good for catching bass or catfish. Hooks such as #8 and #10 hold worms or crickets and are good for bluegill and other panfish. Small #12 hooks can hold salmon eggs for catching trout.
    • Bobbers and Sinkers help you control where your bait hangs in the water. Some fish like to feed near the top of the water, some in the middle, and some, like catfish, like the bottom. You want your bait to be where the fish feeds. The bobber floats on top of the water and holds your hook and bait off the bottom of the water. It also bobs to alert you when a fish is nibbling on your bait. Sinkers are metal weights that clamp onto your fishing line near the hook. Sinkers help control your line under the water so it hangs where you want it. Split-shot sinkers are popular, and are little gray metal balls that are squeezed on to the fishing line.
    • Pliers help you squeeze the sinkers on your fishing line and help you get the fish hook out of the fish's mouth.
  4. Bait and Lures
    • Bait is what the fish will bite.
    • Many people have success with bait from the kitchen, such as:
      • bread, cheese, bits of hot dogs
    • Below are some favorite live baits.
      • Crappie: Minnows
      • White Bass: Minnows
      • Sunfish: Worms
      • Black Bass: Worms
      • Catfish: Worms or Stinkbait
      • Sunfish: Crickets
      • Trout: Salmon eggs
    • Lures get the fish's attention. There are many types of colorful or shiny lures to use instead of live bait to catch a fish.
    • Learn more about baits and lures. media download(PDF 105 KB)

Fishing Skills

Learn more about how to cast media download(PDF 100.7 KB)
Learn more about knot-tying media download(PDF 76.4 KB)
Take an Angler Education Class
Watch the "Take Me Fishing" videos

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