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Help with learning to fish

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Hey all,

So we never really fished much as kids, did the occasional fishing during bucks parties growing up etc.

I now have kids of my own and didn't want them to miss out - long story short we are now hooked ;). We have been having a ball down at the lake trying to catch redfin and carp etc. Def has been a learning experience for me and has been a lot of fun. 

We use a rod holder and got a little bell to put on the end (need to keep an eye on the kids so found this was the best). This is a really noob question, what should I do when I get a bite?.  So hear the bell ring, go pick up that rod and wait for the fish to bite again and try and set the hook when I feel it bite? or should I let it hit a couple of times, with the bell going nuts, before picking up (how i have currently been doing it)

reason I am asking is we have been getting a lot of bites, one or two hits and then nothing. I am switching up my hooks to size 2 circle hooks and will keep worms but will use smaller ones (think I was also having to much tail dangling that was getting hit instead of the hook)

Sorry for the long post....it's been doing my head in thinking about it :P

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Hi fishlearner. I can help you out with your questions mate. Bait fishing is about patience. Prepare your gear add bait and cast in to a likely spot. Those bells are a good idea for alerting you to a bite, especially if ur doing something else like supervising ur kids. If you are fishing on or near the bottom this is what NORMALLY happens (but not always). A fish will find your bait and pick it up to taste it. If it likes what it is tasting it will usually come back and pick the bait up again, this time swimming away with your bait. Your rod will start to bend and stay bent as the fish swims away with the bait. This is when you strike to set the hook into the fishes mouth. It is important to have the drag set on the reel so that a big fish can pull line off the reel and the line won't break.

Another good way to fish for Redfin and Carp is with a float but this method really needs your attention as the float is the indicator of when a fish is biting. If you want information on this aspect of fishing let me know and I'll explain the set up and how to go about it.

Worms, shrimp and maggots are good live baits for Redfin and Carp. If fishing for Carp bread and corn kernels are good baits. Good luck, bn

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 The biggest tip I can give you is to start reading up, if you want to learn about fishing its something your not going to doin a week, its something that takes years to build up your knowledge & skills

One of the things I wish I learn earlier was to be more specific in what I wanted to target species wise, then understand their usual habitats, the baits/lures they go for & how to set rigs for them.


There are some rigs that are sort of universal like a paternoster rig, you can catch a quite a few species this way, but for example you only really use it in deeper water say 7mtres + 

Some fish like to feel no weight or tension on the line at all so for those types you fish its best not to use a sinker & open the bail arm & feed line out by hand & if the fish takes it then let it run for say 3-5mtrs.


Anyway its an endless book & you keep on learning, have a look around for some books like this, it will talk about rigs, species etc.

Good luck.


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  • 2 weeks later...

great to hear someone getting into the obsession of fishing too. I always learned from very young, my dad comes from London so he did a lot of freshwater and canal fishing growing up, he therefore taught us to fish first using small quill floats, its a really good way to hone your skills because its both visual and textile.

You can catch a lot of fish on a simple rig with a float, small hook and a split-shot to keep your float upright. With that said, I find it hard to get good floats in Australia so have them shipped over, the idea here is that a fish will come up and bump your bait or peck at it, which will make the float bobble, once a fish takes more of it the float will be pulled under the water and thats when you can gently strike and set the hook, I have been teaching my 5 year old son like this is salt water lakes and lagoons. The main trick here is making sure you have quality line and the float set right, you want to keep as much tension on the line as possible, slack and curled line means you will miss more fish than you will get, keeping the line not tight but not super slack means the fish will mostly set the hook themselves, its a really rewarding way to fish and easy to teach kids, catching a carp that way is super fun.

The second way I learned to fish was lure fishing, my Dad and I would go to NZ a lot and all over NSW search for trout with lures, the key here is learning to cast correctly, My dad taught me this on trips to NZ we would stop at a park or big open space and he would just tie a ball sinker on the end of the line and have me cast it out onto the grass and retrieve it, simple and hassle free way to practice.

Bait fishing with a standard sinker, hook swivel setup was what we used for boat or beach fishing, not a lot to it, put your bait on, cast it and wait.

One thing I would stress here and something that bugs me beyond belief is people being taught to hold the rod in their left hand when they are right handed. The real is a crank and lever, meaning that it does not require your strength, the ratio of the reel is usually printed on the box, one crank turns it around 5 or more times, you definitely need to learn to fight a fish with the rod and not the reel. The rod is designed to be an extension of your arm, the reel is there to help you retrieve the line. 

Holding your rod in your strong arm helps you with casting as well as easily transitioning from cast to retrieval and fishing without having to change hands. It also helps with casting as you will cast with your stronger hand like throwing a ball. You do most things better with your preferred arm and that applies here, so first thing I do when. buy them is switch over the reel handle........... /rant

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If you're using circle hooks DO NOT strike. When the rod "loads" up it has taken your bait then begin to wind in.


The key difference between using traditional “J” hook patterns and circle hook patterns is that you don’t strike to set the hook when using a circle hook rig. Basically, in the majority of situations you just let the fish hook itself. Initially, it can be hard to resist that natural instinct to set the hook, but once you’ve caught a few fish on circle hooks not striking becomes second nature. By not striking what you are doing is allowing the circle hook to position in the jaw hinge as the fish swims away with the bait.

When game fishing with lever drag overhead outfits it’s a relatively simple process to slowly ease the drag lever up as the fish runs away with the bait until the rod is fully loaded up. For freshwater, estuarine or inshore bait fishing the best option is often to simply let the rod load up in the rod holder as the fish takes the bait then pick up the outfit and slowly wind into the fish. Just don’t fall for the macho trap of striking wildly at the fish as all this will achieve is ripping the circle hook out of the fish’s mouth before it has had a chance to locate in the jaw hinge.

Once you get into the routine of easing the pressure on slowly, you will find that hook up rates with circle hooks are bloody good. Many experienced anglers claim improved catch rates on jumping fish such as billfish, barramundi and tarpon using circle hooks over traditional “J” hook patterns. Results indicate that once a circle hook is located in the fish’s mouth it’s actually more difficult for them to throw the hook while jumping than when using traditional “J” hook patterns.

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Hey Fishlearner,

This is my first post here. I started fishing about 3 years ago when my kids got interested (blame Jeremy Wade). We have had a lot of fun since.  I'd recommend going out without your kids and having a play around with different rigs and techniques. This will give you confidence in both your skills and fishing spots that will make trips with your children more successful. Being a relative noob I'm a bit apprehensive about giving you technical fishing advice but can give you a few tips on what worked for me.

Firstly depending on where you live fishing for carp and reddies can be fairly seasonal. I live in the ACT and find it is much easier to get my kids onto fish between November to April. Over the cooler months if my kids are keen to wet a line I will hit the coast or head up the mountains and target trout. You can still get reddies and carp in winter but the bites are way less frequent which is not what you want for young children.

When targeting carp I've found the key is small hooks, burley and patience.  I've  got way more action once I moved down to size 8 (egg) hooks. I leave the drag right off. The carp will hook themselves. I let them take a run, slowly tighten the drag until I'm breaking even and hand the rod to one of the kids. For bait I use a single corn kernel. For burley creamed corn mixed with oats or bran seems to work. It usually takes 45 minutes to an 1 hour for the burley to bring on the first bite. My kids have lost a fair few fish landing them. The key is to ease the fish onto the bank rather than lift them. A better option is to bring a landing net. You can get another child to net the fish.

When targeting redfin have you considered using lures. From about age 5 kids are more than capable of casting. They do snag up and tangle a lot but I think you will find you will catch a lot of small fish this way.  You can cover more water and the kids will be constantly engaged. Have a chat to your local tackle shop about what lures to use. My kid's goto are blades and small soft plastics.


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  • 1 year later...

G-day guys!


Cheers for all the comments and advice (sorry it has taken me so long to write back). Have kept going at it and been having some great fun! It’s been amazing watching the kids get better at fishing. Down at the coast off the wharf they are now able to cast and hook up their own fish!

We haven’t tried floats yet and will get the little fellas onto some lures! 

Cheers guys

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