By Ron Brooks
I’ve been fishing for over 60 years. I was taught the basics by my father and as I grew up, I fished. Of course it helped to have a fishing family and to live in an area where fishing was the major activity. But I didn’t learn to fish way back when and then was just suddenly able to fish. I learned over a long period of time. In fact, I’m still learning.
Learn the BasicsWe can all learn the basics of how to fish, and that’s the perfect place to start. There are a number of articles and sites that will teach things like how to hold a rod and reel and how to rig your tackle.
But being able to catch fish is a lot more complicated than simply learning to fish! Anyone can put a hook and line in the water. It takes a lot more knowledge to put that hook and line in the right place at the right time with the right bait.
Practice Fishing before You GoYes, you read it right. You do need to practice if you plan to improve your fishing skills. And you need to practice before you ever get to the water.
- Learn to Cast
Learning to cast your rod and reel is the first and perhaps the best thing you can do to make your fishing more successful. For new anglers, a spinning rod and reel combination is by far the easiest outfit to masterTake your rod and reel into your yard. Tie a sinker or weight on the end of your line and start casting to some targets on the ground in your yard. Put a towel or a flower pot on the ground and practice casting to it. As you improve, move farther away from the target and practice some more. And finally when you have practiced and can actually put that sinker where you want it, practice some more!
An important part of your fishing is being able to rig your tackle. Things like using the right knot, the right hook, and putting your terminal tackle together properly will make an important difference. Knots have to hold; hooks have to be the right size. Too many times new anglers loose fish to a knot that came “untied”. Granny knots just won’t do!Go to our Knot Tying page and finds some knots and practice tying them! I use about three different knots in my fishing: the Palomar knot; the improved clinch knot; and, the double surgeon’s knot. There are other knots that I use, but these three will give every new angler some basics to learn. And, they won’t come untied when you are fighting a fish, assuming you have tied them properly! So, once again, the idea here is to practice, practice, practice! I use the .90 diameter yard trimmer string when I teach people how to tie a knot. It is big and bulky, but also easy for them to follow. Try some of your own trimmer string to practice your knots. When you have one down, go to your fishing line and practice with it.
Learn While You FishI learn something literally every time I fish. Having fished for so long, I don’t learn a lot about how to handle my equipment, but I do learn something about fishing on every trip. It may be what a particular fish did when striking my bait. Or, it may be something as simple as where a drop-off or ledge is located under the water. It doesn’t seem like we are learning, but on every trip, we are learning something that we did not know before. I realized a long time ago that every trip is a learning experience, so I began keeping track of things I learned.
Keep a Fishing LogThe best way to keep up with all that you learn while fishing is to keep a log. I used to take a note pad and jot down words to jog my memory when I got home. Then after all the fish are cleaned and the boat is put away, I would go in and begin adding to my fishing log: where did I fish; what was the tide; the weather; the water temperature; wind direction – literally everything I could remember I put in my log.
Now technology has helped me do all of this. I can record things on my smart phone while I’m fishing, and when I get home, my fishing log is on the computer. I can filter and search to come up with different scenarios. If I’m going tomorrow and I have the weather forecast, I can search my log for a similar day with similar weather and tides, and find out what I caught, when and where I caught it and what bait I used.
Bottom LineJust like every day in our lives where we experience new things and learn from them, we do the same thing when we fish. Grab a fish the wrong way when you are removing the hook, and you are likely to get a fin in your hand. Odds are you won’t grab the fish that way again! Learning just took place. Make a point of keeping up with what you learn and make sure you practice the basics. Your fishing will soon turn to catching!