How to Use a Fishing Rod for Beginners

Fishing Rod for Beginners

Published: July 15, 2021

Fishing is an activity that will also keep you fit by targeting your main muscle groups. It is a good workout that can increase your Vitamin D intake, improve your concentration and self-esteem, and reduce stress. Besides, it is a fun way to bond with your family and friends.

For beginner anglers, fishing may seem complicated. But don’t be discouraged because once you finally learned the basics, you’ll be able to reap the benefits.

To use a fishing rod, make sure you have a fishing license for the state you’ll be fishing in, gather a lot of information about the location, learn good fishing etiquette and the useful skills you will need to start catching fish. Read along and let us help you start your fishing adventure!


First steps:

  • Get a license
    You have to make sure you have a fishing license for the state you will be fishing in. These licenses are sold online or in fishing stores, and sometimes, you can also find them in convenience stores. The price depends on the state you’re traveling to and on where you reside, and is usually higher for non-residents.
  • Why do I need a fishing license?
    Purchasing a license will help protect fish population by limiting the amount of fish an angler can catch. Having a license will also help wildlife officials identify poachers, and the revenue generated from these license fees will fund management operations to maintain fisheries or fish breeding grounds.
  • Location
    It is best to gather information about where you can fish from another angler. We recommend talking to someone rather than consulting the internet, so that you will get the most current and comprehensive information about the location. On the other hand, there are lots of crowdsourcing apps that provide useful information on local spots. But in general, lakes are great for beginners as they often have a lot more hungry fish than a river.


Second step:

  • Learn good fishing etiquette

It is important to learn good fishing etiquette, especially when you are just starting out.

  • What is the fishing etiquette?
    1. Leave No Trace
      Minimize your presence’s impact by not littering. Observe your use of plastics and line to make sure that they do not end up in the water, and prevent damages to the waters or the habitat.
    1. Be a mindful launcher
      Prepare your boat or kayak for launching before moving onto the ramp, and once loaded, you have to quickly move away from the crowd. Finally, avoid blocking traffic.
    1. Pay attention to the wake
      Mind your wake, even if there are no wake laws in place. Pay attention and reduce your speed to be respectful. Keep in mind that how you act on the water affects how everybody perceives fishermen as a whole.
    1. Do not be a “bent rod” angler
      Give other anglers a wide space while on the water. Ask if it is okay to pass them or fish close by because pulling up on someone else’s area may lead to confrontation.
    1. Take care of your fish
      Taking care of the resource by not wasting it is a good fishing etiquette. Take only what you can eat, regardless of the limit. If in a tournament, take care of the fish by minimizing their time spent out of the water and use a quality landing net to not damage their slime coat.
    1. You are not the only one on the water
      Many people use the water for different reasons, whether for recreational boating, swimming, or just looking at the lake. So, you have to remember that their needs are just as important as yours.

Third step:

  • Gear

For beginners, a spinning reel and rod combo is a good option. Look for a reel and rod that are sold together so they will be easier to set up and you will not have to worry about compatibility.

After choosing the right cord and reel combo, you can choose lures and baits. You’ll also need some bobbers that sink or bob when something hits your line. Some other essentials you may need include a rubber net, needle-nose pliers to retrieve lures from a fish’s mouth, and a small tackle box to keep your lures and bait. Note that you will only need to expand your fishing needs as you gain experience.

Fourth step:

  • Learn useful skills
    • What are the basic fishing knots I need to know?
      1. Improved clinch knot
        This is the most important knot you have to learn to be able to attach your hook or lure to your line.

Improved clinch knot

      1. The palomar knot
        This is another option for you to connect your hook to the line. This knot is known for its strength and ease of tying.

Palomar Knot

      1. Double surgeon’s knot
        This knot is used to connect two pieces of line and can be used if you get snagged and need to create more line before attaching your hook.

Double surgeons knot

Fifth step:

  • Reading the water

It is also beneficial to know where fish may be hiding. This way, you can target them better. In lakes, fish are usually found around weeds and downed trees close by. They might also be near drops-off, which are easier to reach if you have a canoe or kayak. In rivers, fish may also be found in spaces that provide good cover, logjams, or overhanging banks.


Last step:

  • Catching your fish
  • Casting 

Using a spinning reel, start with about 6 inches of line out of the end of the rod, with the real just below your dominant hand. To cast, you need to flip the bail, hold the line with your finger, and bring the rod tip up and slightly behind you. Then, cast forward using your wrist and elbow. When your rod is vertical, release the line to send your lure flying. Once it is in the water, flip the bail back over, and begin reeling.


  • Hooking

There are two things you want to avoid when hooking a fish:

  1. Fish spitting out your lure
  2. Your line breaking under pressure (weight & power of the fish)

To prevent these from happening, you need to properly set your hook at the right time and it pressure into the mouth of the fish once it has bitten your bait/lure. When you see your bobber sink/jerk, you have to point your rod tip up, and then pull back with moderate pressure so that you can keep the lure in the fish’s mouth without ripping its lip. You need good timing to ensure that the lure is firmly set in the lip instead of deeper in its mouth.


  • Landing

When you’ve successfully hooked, played, and reeled in the fish, it is time to use the net to scoop it up while making sure to avoid letting it flop on the bank or rocks. Minimize harm after landing a fish by not squeezing its stomach nor touching its gills. And if you intend to release it back, try not to keep it out of the water for too long.

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