How To Get Started Fishing in 10 Simple Steps

By Debbie Hanson

Jul 19, 2016

With just a few pieces of basic gear, you'll be reeling in fish and making new memories in no time. 

There is no better time than the present to get started fishing. Fishing is a great way to spend time outdoors with your friends and family while learning new skills. With just a few pieces of basic gear, you'll be reeling in fish and making new memories in no time.

Step 1. Purchase a fishing license

Before you get started fishing, you will need to purchase a fishing license in the state where you plan to fish. You can even purchase your fishing license online and go fishing that same day.

Step 2. Learn to identify the fish species that inhabit your state waters. 

Learning how to identify the species you catch is a requirement. When you know how to properly identify the fish you catch, you will be able to accurately refer to any size limits, bag limits, or other fishing regulations pertaining to a particular species.

Step 3. Locate a good fishing spot.

Use the places to boat and fish map or top family spots list to select your location. If the location is near you, and you have time stop by the spot in advance of your actual fishing trip to confirm access points, areas of potential structure, or fish activity, it can be helpful.

Step 4. Assemble your fising gear and tackle.

Keep in mind that you don't need a lot of tackle or gear to get started fishing. Use this basic list of fishing essentials for beginners:

  • Rod and reel combo
  • Small tackle box with divided trays
  • Spool of monofilament fishing line (6- or 8-pound test for freshwater fishing)
  • Round plastic bobbers
  • Split shot weights
  • Assortment of hooks in various sizes (size 2 for small bait to size 3/0 for bigger bait)
  • Pliers (to remove hooks)
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors (to cut line or leader)

Step 5. Learn and practice a couple of simple fishing knots.

Learn one line joining knot and one lure or rig knot. Two good knots to start with are the double-uni knot (line joining knot) and the improved clinch knot (for tying your leader to your fishing hook).

Step 6. Check your state fishing regulations and bring a copy along on your fishing trip.

You will need to know what the fishing laws or regulations are for the species you catch. Fishing regulations are put into place in order to protect our fish populations and waterways for future generations to enjoy.

Step 7. Get some live bait. 

You can either purchase live bait from a bait or tackle shop or get your own live bait. Live worms, crickets or minnows are good baits to use for freshwater fishing.

Step 8. Head to your fishing spot and bait your hook.

Since you have already researched good fishing spots in the area, you know exactly where you want to go to have your first fishing experience. Once you arrive, unload your gear and bait your hook with the live bait that you brought along. Don't forget to use the appropriate sized hook for the type of bait you are using.

Step 9. Cast your line our into the water.

If you are using a plastic bobber, you may need to adjust the placement of your bobber on your fishing line depending on the depth of the water in order to get your bait at the appropriate position in the water column.

Step 10. Wait for a bite.

If you are fishing with circle hooks, remember that you don't need to jerk your rod upwards to set the hook, all you have to do it reel. If you are using standard hooks, then you will need to set the hook by raising your fishing rod into the air quickly. You have your first fish on the line now, how exciting!

Now that you know how to get started fishing, be sure to learn how to properly release the fish you catch. You won't want to keep all of the fish you catch, so knowing how to release your fish so that it has the best chance for survival is very important. 

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.