How to Catch Fish

Now that you have everything you need and know how you use your rod and reel it’s time to hit the water and catch your first bass.

Detecting Fish Bites

Detecting a fish bite is not always easy. Bass don’t always hit baits like a train making it obvious. Sometimes it is very subtle and many bites can go unnoticed. The number one thing to detecting bites is to pay attention.

  1. The first thing to pay attention to is watching your line. If your bait is sitting on the bottom and your line starts moving there is a good chance a fish picked it up.
  2. Similarly, you should watch your rod tip. Your rod tip will have a normal bend when reeling in or working your bait. If you notice it bounce or bend in any way that that you haven’t noticed on other casts it could be a fish.
  3. The third this to pay attention to is the feel of the line. Your fishing line will transfer vibrations up it and can give you an idea of what your bait is doing. Again what you are looking for is a change in vibration that is different or you wouldn’t expect. For example, you may lift your rod tip up to hop your bait up off the bottom and if you don’t feel the bait hit the bottom then its likely a fish ate it when it popped up.

Detecting bites is easier on tight line however some lures or techniques require slacker line. When deciding how much slack to allow just make sure your hook set motion can remove all the slack. Learn more by reading out more in-depth guide on detecting fish bites.

How to set the Hook

If you detect a bite or think you did it is important to set the hook. Hook sets are free. If you don’t set the hook fish will often spit your bait right out of their mouth and you will lose them. To set the hook quickly lift your rod tip up or swing it to your side. This action will help remove any extra slack in the line and drive the hook into the fish’s lip or mouth. When setting the hook your rod will load up and help keep the hook pinned while you fight the fish in. To learn more read our in-depth hook setting guide.

How to Reel a Fish in

After setting the hook your rod will load up which means it is time to reel the fish in. Use the flex of the rod to absorb direction changes and steer the fish. When steering the fish try to keep them away from any cover that your line could get damaged by or tangled up in. Keep your line tight, allowing your line to go slack makes it easier for fish to spit out baits.

When the fish swims towards you reel in. When they are swimming away let your drag tire them out while using your rod to try and steer them. To learn more read our in-depth on fighting in fish.

How to Land a Fish

Landing a fish basically means getting them out of the water. Smaller fish can be simply lifted out of the water with your rod but larger fish a little more effort. There are two ways to land a bigger fish safely.

The first one requires that the fish is tired out and not still fighting. If this is the case then you can grab the fish by the lip and lift them out of the water. Be careful not to grab close to the hook especially if they are treble hooks. You don’t want to grab the fish and have them shake the hook into your hand.

The second option is using a net. A net is much safer and can land fish that are still fighting. To learn more read our in-depth fish landing guide.

Unhooking & Releasing Fish

After landing the fish it is important to get the fish unhooked and back in the water as quickly as possible if you are not keeping them. For removing hooks I recommend using some pliers. Pliers aren’t required but make it a bit safer and make it a lot easier to get hooks out that are deep in the fish’s mouth.

Once unhooked lower the fish back into the water so they can swim away. Avoid throwing or dropping them from long distances.

 

This guide is part of our larger how-to fish guide.