Fishing 101: Basic Techniques & the Fishing Gear Used for Them

guy with fishing rod

Fishing is a pretty straightforward sport, right? You only need to sit by the bank or on a boat and wait for something to bite. There’s nothing complicated about that. Or so you think. The truth is, there are many different fishing techniques and fishing gear used to perform them. And when you’re a beginner, it’s important to be aware of their characteristics so that you know which technique will work best for you.

Handline Fishing

handline fishing

Handline fishing is the most primitive fishing technique which is still practised by indigenous people. It involves the use of a single fishing line held in the hands. The line can have attachments such as jigs, sinkers, tackles and hooks. Even though it’s primitive, this technique is for experienced fishers only. The most popular method is to sink the tackle to the bottom of a shallow body of water and to start jigging. It can be done from a boat and from the shore alike.



Equally as ancient, but technically more sophisticated, angling is any fishing with an angle (hook) attached to a line that is manipulated by a fishing rod. This fits the most typical image of a fisherman. Usually, the fishing gear for angling includes a rod, a reel, a line, different hooks and live or artificial baits and lures.

Offshore/Saltwater Fishing

saltwater fishing

Fish in open water are bigger and meaner, some are even considered game fish, like marlin. To catch them you need professional fishing gear starting with a robust spinning rod and reel that won’t break under the pressure. The common wisdom is to go for a 2 metre, medium-weight rod that has a line that can withstand heavier weights. Logistics of offshore fishing include blue water worthy ships and the whole ordeal is one big adventure. It includes additional steps like landing fish on a boat and rigging baits for specific fish, so to gain some experience you can start by fishing in inshore saltwater.


fly fishing

You need a special fly-rod for this type of fishing. This technique uses a standard fishing tackle except for the fly that is used as a lure – hence the name fly-fishing. This type of fishing doesn’t involve a live fly, but rather an artificially-made one. Since this technique is performed with flies, the tackle is lightweight. Fly-fishing is mostly used for catching salmon, carp, trout and panfish in mountain streams. Every decent online fishing tackle store has a wide selection of fly-fishing gear.

Ice Fishing

ice fishing

Ice fishing provides a unique and age-old fishing experience. It’s performed via a dug-out hole in a frozen lake or river that’s deemed safe enough. The fishing gear that is required is practically the same as for angling, the main difference being – you do not cast your line, you just drop it down. Baits come in the form of maggots, leeches, wax worms and minnows. Ice fishing also requires wearing protective and warm clothing, boots with cleats and lost of snow.



A sharp pointed stick is perhaps the world’s oldest fishing gear. Spearfishing was practiced in shallow rivers and streams as far back as we can go. It’s only recently that it has become associated with harpoons and whaling. The fishing equipment today includes sophisticated elastic powered spears. There are even spears powered by compressed gas, pneumatic and mechanical. Since spearfishing is typically done underwater, a lot of diving accessories are required also: a wetsuit, snorkels, fins, diving masks, gloves, socks.

Just not that fishing while diving is illegal at some locations. And even when it’s legal, spearfishing involves a special code of conduct. So, if you decide to have a go with this method, check the rules and regulations first.

Casting Fishing Nets

casting fishing net

Fresh fish was a market commodity even before money was used for the exchange of goods. To satisfy the great demand for fish people started employing a variety of nets to catch fish. They were practically woven grid-like structures made from grasses or fibrous plant material. In time, cotton and artificial polyamides became the standard, even though nets from natural materials are easy to find today as well.

Casting fishing nets and catching fish in bulk can be performed in two ways- you either trap fish to the inside of a net, or make them bite a bait within the net and stay hooked on it. When it comes to gear used for this technique, the terminology is unlimited: seine nets, trawls, traps, gillnets, entangling nets, purse seine, long lines, drag net, drift net etc.

Unusual and Rare Fishing Methods

cormorant fishing

Human ingenuity is limitless. There are some methods that are really old but have remained in use to this very day. Cormorant fishing is one such practice. It is done by inserting a ring on the neck of the bird. The cormorant uses its instincts to catch a fish, however, when they try to swallow it, the ring prevents them from doing so. They are left with no choice but to bring the fish back to the fisherman.

Some fish have permanent habits that have to do with their biological makeup. They are particularly vulnerable during the peak of their reproductive cycles. Catfish, in the Southern US are caught by sticking a hand into a catfish hole, even today.

Tradition rules the day every August in the Scottish village of Palnackie. Flatfish is caught by stamping on them. The method is known as flounder tramping and is performed every year.