What Equipment Do I Need to Start Fishing? [Answered!]

What Equipment Do I Need to Start Fishing A set of fishing tackle on a table

Purchasing everything you need to begin fishing may seem like an incredibly difficult task. 

Magazines and social media have the perception that you need boatloads of gear and tackle boxes jammed full of lures. 

For an experienced, species-specific angler, this may be the case. 

As for the beginner, you only need a few main components to get you started in landing some fish. 

Before asking yourself, ‘What do I need to start fishing?’, narrow down on what your exact goal is as far as species, expectations, and your prior knowledge of the sport. 

This article will help any true beginner understand the bare minimum they need to start catching some fish!

Are you looking for the top beginner fishing rod and reel combo? Click here for our extensive guide.

First you need a Rod and Reel to start fishing

Aside from the classic cane pole fishing tactic, any kind of fishing you are going to be doing will require a rod and reel set up. 

The fishing rod

The size of the rod and reel are essential depending on what fish you are targeting. 

A good rule of thumb is to pair a light to ultralight with small species such as panfish, medium to medium-heavy for fish like bass and walleye, and heavy rods for catfish and other large-sized fish. 

For beginners, I often recommend a simple spinning rod, about 6-7ft, and the action/power around the mid-range so that your first rod is versatile across different fishing environments.

Read more here on choosing the right size rod for you.

The fishing reel

This can be a baitcaster style reel, spinning reel, or the simple push-button spincast reel. 

The simplest reel to use is the spincast reel, which has a button mechanism you push with your thumb, and it’s designed to avoid tangles that can often be an annoyance with spinning and baitcasting reels.

Secondly, you have a spinning reel. This is the type of reel I have always used and I find it the easiest. 

Practice a little with it, learn the knack and you’ll be set up for an easy life of fishing. 

Baitcasters are a little more specific in how they work and are a bit trickier to operate. 

These reels require practice, so be sure you have the time and patience to put in to learning how this reel works from day one.

Rod and reel combos

A rod and reel combo are an excellent option for beginners since it can be somewhat confusing knowing which style and size reel fit on which rod. 

These come ready matched with the right rod and reel together. Balance is important – you don’t want a reel that is too small or large for the rod. 

Arguably the most important component of your fishing arsenal, a rod and reel is a must-have if you want to begin fishing. 

Fishing Tackle for beginners

Lures, hooks, sinkers, swivels, and other fishing tackle components are all specific to what you are fishing for. 

Some combo rods and reels come as a deal and you can get a lot of tackle provided with them – again an awesome starting place for the beginner angler.

As you’re looking for what equipment a beginner needs to start fishing, a combo rod and reel might help jumpstart you into the sport.

How do I know what fishing line to use?

How do I know what fishing line to use Different coloured fishing line

The fishing line should be carefully chosen. 

Just like the rod weight mentioned above, try to pair the fish you are targeting with the strength of the line. 

If you have a line that is too strong for the rod, as soon as a decent sized fish takes your lure or bait, your rod  or reel is at risk of breaking.

Line comes in three types:

Braided line

This type of line is very slim yet very strong. It’s made of multiple braids of material that when combined create a robust line. 

The advantages are: its strength.

The disadvantages are: it is usually more expensive, and the fish are more likely to spot the line because it is solid material, not translucent.

Monofilament line

This is the choice for beginners. It’s cheaper and very versatile. I often go for monofilament when I’m fishing. 

The type of fishing I do doesn’t require me to have something as strong as braided line and I’ve caught many decent fish on monofilament. 

The line is not as strong as braid, yet it is translucent, so its more difficult for fish to see the line in the water (but not as much as fluorocarbon). 

The line also provides a little flexibility to it. 

So if you get hit by a big fish, you have a little extra give in the line as well as the rod – to make sure you don’t lose a prize catch when it thrashes back away from you.

The advantages are: it’s translucent and difficult for fish to see, it’s cheap and flexible.

The disadvantages are: it can easily be damaged by rocks and structures that weaken the line. 

Which means you have to replace the line on the reel more often.


I typically use this line when fishing with lures or plastic ‘jellies’ as they call them here around me. 

This is because the fluorocarbon line is almost transparent. 

It’s much more difficult for fish to spot in the water, meaning whatever lure or jig you’re using looks more realistic as it swims through the water. 

A little more expensive than monocarbon line, but fluorocarbon is worth it for particular types of fishing. 

What should be in a basic tackle box?

What should be in a basic tackle box A box full of fishing lures.

The best beginner fishing lures

As a beginner fisherman, you cannot go wrong with casting a plastic jig on a lead jig head. 

This lure is highly effective and targets many species and is a very fun and active form of fishing. 

Some people love just aligning a bait out and sitting waiting for a bite, but if you get a bit bored like me, then you’ll love fishing with a jig. 

The other option for a lure is a hard bodied lure or a spinning lure. 

These often replicate bait fish and mimic the way they swim through the water. 

You can even get lures that swim like they are injured fish, or fish hopping along the surface of the water, which is great for predatory fish like bass. 

Sets of lures that come with lots of variety are a great choice because you can try the different styles and find what you enjoy most.

Don’t just get one set of hooks!

Unless you are using an artificial lure that already has hooks on it, you will need multiple hooks in different sizes to tie to the end of your line. 

It’s pretty simple, but as a beginner you just need to remember that the hook size you choose will be determined by what bait you are using, and what size fish is likely to strike it. 

A hook too big will not fit in the mouth of a smaller fish.

And a hook too small will not hold the bait you need to target larger fish.

Hooks come in multiple sizes, so have a look at the size rating that is printed on the packet. Even better, if you are in your local fishing  store, ask the attendant – who is most likely a highly experienced angler themselves.

And buy multiple weight sizes!

How do you get your bait to sink to the bottom where the big bottom-dwelling monsters swim? 

You’ll need some sinkers. It’s wise to invest in an assortment of sinkers that again can be used for different bait sizes, fish you are targeting, and casting distances. 

As with matching a reel to a rod, you want a good balance. 

Avoid tying a weight that is too heavy for your rod and bends the end too much – you’ll lose sensitivity and won’t feel the bite of the fish. 

You’ll also risk breaking your rod when casting or retrieving when a fish is on.

Using the right sinker weight ensures that your bait gets to the bottom and isn’t too heavily affected by the current. 

But where to put all your fishing tackle?

Take it from me, one of the wisest investments you can make is a well designed tackle box. 

I’ve cycled through many different types until landing on the right design.

Ideally you want one with multiple compartments that you can store the different bits in for easy access. 

I’ve spent so many hours at the waterside trying to untangle tackle or find the right hook – sometimes it ruins the fishing trip, because you waste so much time trying to find stuff. 

To limit the confusion of which hooks, sinkers, and other pieces of tackle, it would be wise to invest in a fully loaded assortment tackle box. 

Something like this fishing tackle box on Amazon is a great option starting out. Not too pricey with all the compartments you need. 

What other fishing gear does a beginner need? Make life easy!

There are more components of fishing gear that aren’t classified as a need but will make your life much easier if you bring it along. 

What other fishing gear does a beginner need (1)

Fishing eyewear – spot more fish!

Polarized sunglasses are an excellent addition to your fishing gear. Polarized shades will knock the glare off the water and allow you to spot fish and structure below the surface much easier. 

Land your fish more often! Get a fishing net

A net is also a very important piece you should bring along. An extendable net like this one on Amazon could be the difference between landing fish and not!

If you are either on the shore or in a boat, you don’t want to run the risk of losing the fish of a lifetime because you do not have a net. 

What tools do you need when you go fishing? Make life easy!

Tools such as pliers, snips, and clippers go a long way when fishing as well. 

Pliers serve many functions, such as removing the hook from a fish, pinching a sinker on your line, and needing any hook or wire that must be repaired. 

Snips and clippers help mainly when cutting off a lure or removing the tag end of a knot. If you bring clippers or snips, your teeth will certainly thank you. 

As noted earlier, these items are not completely necessary when wanting to start fishing; they will make your trip much more manageable. 

Be comfortable while fishing!

You will thank me for this suggestion.

Buy a seat for your fishing trip.

You’ll be spending hours out by the water and standing on your feet or sitting on the cold ground ‘aint great after even 1 hour.

Get a convenient stool like this one to rest your butt and your feet.

I love this style of fishing seat, which is hugely popular because it collapses and basically takes up no space, so easy to transport and store.

Don’t forget to check out our guide on the top fishing rod and reel for beginners [CLICK].

What Equipment Do I Need to Start Fishing? Summary

Lastly, the most important thing that you will need is a fishing license. 

Unless you are 65 years or older, all states require that you hold a state issued license. 

Other regulations may require you to bring a signed map of the lake or tags for certain species of fish. 

As most in-state fishing licenses are very affordable, buying it will ensure that the fishery will be there for generations to come. 

So, when asking yourself, ‘What equipment do I need to start fishing?’take only what you need.

Don’t overload yourself with so much gear that you are more concerned about lugging everything around instead of simply fishing. 

After attaining a rod and reel, fishing line, an assortment of tackle, and a fishing license, you should have everything you need to begin fishing.