Freshwater Fishing Gear For Beginners

A Helpful List of Gear to Get You Started

January 2024 Feature Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) Web Exclusive

No matter how advanced someone becomes with a skill or hobby, we all start out as beginners. Fishing is one of those sports that can seem intimidating at first as there are so many factors to consider—gear, location, technique, fish behavior, weather, temperature, tides—but the best advice for all beginners is to keep it simple. There are a few basic things you’ll need to get started. Here’s a list that encompasses essential freshwater fishing equipment for beginners.


Rod and reel. For your first setup, go for a pre-spooled, pre-assembled rod and reel combo. A 1000 to 3000 size spinning reel affixed to a 7-foot medium action rod is a great setup to learn with.

Fishing line. If you buy a rod and reel setup that comes pre-spooled, you won’t need to worry about picking out your own fishing line for now.

Tackle. Tackle is the fun part about selecting freshwater fishing equipment for beginners. Bait hooks, lures, soft plastic baits—these fish candies will entice your favorite species into biting. Ask your local bait and tackle shop what works best for the species or water body you’re fishing and they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Knot tying book. To start, learn one basic line-to-tackle knot that you can rely on. You can also find many free videos online.

Line cutters. Fishing can require a lot of knot-tying. Use line cutters for trimming excess line. For an easy hack, you can also use fingernail clippers or household scissors.

Dehooker or pliers. Essential freshwater fishing gear for beginners, a dehooking tool will help you remove the hook from the fish’s mouth easily and without harm.

A fishing license. Every state has their own licensing requirements. Be sure to get your fishing license and know the local fishing regulations before you hit the water.

If you’re just learning how to fish, there are also many free resources available online including even more freshwater fishing equipment for beginners. Research is valuable, but the important part is that you get outside and have fun fishing!

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