Last modified on March 26th, 2022 at 8:40 am

Novice Fishing Guide: Essential Fishing Gear to Get Started

Fishing has been around for thousands of years, but the sport attracts newcomers each year. Many avid fishermen grew up on the water, fishing their entire lives. If you haven’t tried fishing before, it’s not too late to get in on the fun.

There is a seemingly endless supply of possible gear one can use for fishing. Modern technology has only added to this list, but some fishing gear is essential to participate in the sport. For first-time fishers, we’ve broken down the essential fishing gear you’ll need to get started.

Fishing Type

There are so many types of fishing. As a beginner, you might want to start with deciding which one suits you the best. There is freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing; there’s shore fishing and ice fishing; There’s even something called “urban fishing”. You’ll have to decide which one you will go for, according to the time and investment you want to put in.

Then there’s the type of fish you want to catch. That’s a whole different story that can change the game entirely, meaning that you can’t use the same equipment to catch every fish out there. If you’re completely new to this, you’ll have to do a little research on what types of fish live in your area and the proper gear for it.

Fishing License

Most states require a fishing license of some sort to legally go fishing in their waters. Different states have different requirements, and every body of water has different rules about how many fish you can catch, catch and release laws, and other regulations.

Check out the fishing laws in your state before you plan your first fishing trip, and be sure to obey the state’s rules and regulations for fishing.

Fishing Rod

You can’t go fishing without a rod! Depending on what type of fishing you plan to do, where you’re fishing, and what fish you hope to catch, there are many rods to choose from. Factors like size, material, strength, responsiveness, action, and taper can all influence your choice of fishing rod.

Choosing the type of fishing rod you need involves picking the right material. Graphite rods are perfect for catching delicate fish because they’re lightweight and durable. A more cost-effective fishing rod is fiberglass, with good corrosion resistance. On the other hand, carbon and bamboo fishing rods are portable and durable.

For those who are just starting out and don’t know enough about all of those factors to make an informed decision, aim for a medium strength, medium sized rod to get started. Most anglers say that your rod should be a little less than a foot taller than your height.

When picking a rod you’ll also need to think about how it pairs with your reel. If you’re going for a casting reel then you’ll need to go for a casting rod, and likewise, if you’ve got a spinning reel then your best bet is to match it with a spinning rod. The differences can be subtle but important, have a great deep dive on spinning vs casting rods that I highly recommend checking out if you are unsure which you need.

Fishing Reel

Without a reel, your fishing rod is pretty much useless. Spinning reels are the easiest to cast, making them a common choice for first timers. Much like your fishing rod, however, your reel really depends on what kind of fishing you’re doing. Surf fishing may require a different reel from fishing in a boat, fly fishing, or ice fishing.

Research the best type of reel for your preferred type of fishing, the body of water, and the fish you hope to catch. Invest in a strong reel that won’t break – reels are essential, but cheaper reels can break easily due to the elements or when fighting a strong fish.

Fishing Line

Of course, your rod and reel have to work together with fishing line to be able to do anything out on the water. Fishing line is an absolute necessity to cast bait and lures and pull fish back in. New reels often come with some line, but you should get extra regardless: fishing line can tangle and break, especially if you’re inexperienced at casting.

There are a few different types of fishing line: monofilament, braided, or fluorocarbon, and each comes in various sizes, strengths, weights, colors, and are produced by different brands. Your choice of line depends on the type of fishing, water conditions, and the type of fish you’re looking for. In general, use tougher, stronger line for rough water conditions, and use thinner, clear line when fishing in calm, clear waters.


Tackle is what you attach to the end of your fishing line, and it attracts and hooks your fish. There are many different pieces of tackle that you definitely need, and some pieces that are dependant on where and how you’re fishing. Some essentials include hooks, bait, lures, swivels, bobbers, and sinkers or weights.

The kind of fish you hope to catch will determine if you should use live bait or artificial lures, and what types of bait or lures you choose from there. A tackle box is a good investment as well to keep all of your tackle organized, especially to keep sharp items look hooks from causing harm.

Pliers, Scissors, Knife

These are some basic tools that you likely already have in your home. Needle-nosed pliers are necessary to take hooks out of fish once you’ve caught them; using your hands could result in you getting cut on the hook or the fish’s teeth. Scissors or a knife could both work to cut fishing line once you’ve made a catch.

There are multi-use tools that probably include all of these necessities in one. A nice Swiss Army knife will probably do the job if it includes pliers, and can also save space so you don’t have to pack a toolbox worth of supplies. These tools are useful to have out on the water, and totally necessary once you’ve made a catch. For complete fishing experience try catch & cook survival fishing kit which includes Cherry, Maple, or Walnut Handreel, a Leather Reel Cover, a pair of Mitten Scissors.

Fishing Hat & Sunglasses

Even if the weather is chilly or overcast, you should bring a hat and sunglasses. The hat is important to protect your face, neck, and ears from the sun – you can get burnt even on overcast days. The best fishing hats have UPF protection to save you from sunburn and its worse health effects over time.

Sunglasses are needed to protect your eyes from the sun, especially when you’re searching for fish or casting line. You definitely want to be able to see what you’re doing when handling sharp objects. You should also always wear sunscreen while fishing to prevent sunburn and protect your skin from the dangers of UV rays.


A cooler isn’t at the top of the list of necessities, but you’ll probably need one. It’s vital to pack drinking water to stay hydrated while spending long days fishing, and a cooler will keep your water cold. You’ll also need somewhere to keep your fish once you make a catch, unless you’re practicing catch-and-release fishing.

A cooler is also useful if you’re fishing with live bait, to keep the bait cold and fresh before use. You can choose coolers of all sizes and quality depending on your needs. YETI coolers are a popular choice among fishermen, although they can be pricey.

First Aid Kit

Finally, you should always pack a first aid kit when you’re fishing. If you’re out on the water in a boat, a first aid kit may be necessary since you can’t get help right away in case of an accident. With sharp objects like hooks, knives, pliers, and more, it’s important to have some basic first aid supplies with you to stay safe.

Once you’ve gathered these essentials, you’re ready for your first fishing trip! Bring an experienced angler out with you to show you the ropes, and enjoy your new hobby.