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10 Fishing Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Guilty of one of these fishing mistakes?


Fishing can be the most fun and rewarding sport in the world, but it can also be a frustrating experience if you can’t seem to land a single bite.

RELATED: Bass Fishing Tactics to Use As Soon As the Ice Melts

If you’ve gone home empty-handed from a fishing trip recently, one of these 10 common fishing mistakes might be to blame.

View the slideshow and try to avoid these fishing mistakes in the future.

Using worn line

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Perhaps the most common fishing mistake is made by anglers who put old, worn out fishing line on their reel and expect to get results. A fish may well bite the line, especially if you’re using a good lure, bait, or fly, but the lure will be wasted without strong and fresh fishing line to back it up.

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If you’ve ever lost a monster bass or some other type of game fish due to a snapped piece of line, you know how important it is to only use the freshest, highest quality braid or monofilament in your box.

Using hooks inappropriate to the task at hand

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You will quickly notice a theme with this list in that most of the common fishing mistakes have little to do with the angler and everything to do with their gear.

As beginning anglers quickly learn, not every fishing hook is created equal. On the contrary, there are big hooks, small hooks, medium hooks, and hooks in different shapes and designs. Before you head out to fish, decide what you want to catch and pick a hook size and design that is appropriate for the game.

RELATED: 10 Best Fishing Hook Brands

In addition, make sure you aren’t dealing with rusty, dull, or gut-covered hooks in an effort to save money. If you’re fishing with a dull hook, you’re going to lose more than you save.

Using the wrong rods and reels

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Just as all hooks are not created equal, not all rods and reels are interchangeable. Some rod and reel combinations simply won’t work, and it goes without saying that you’re not going to go ice fishing or fly fishing with the same gear you use for regular bait casting.

The same thing goes for each individual style of fishing; the rod and reel used for small trout will be different than the one used for large catfish. Keep an arsenal of rods and reels for the different types of fishing – and the different types of fish – you pursue, and look for recommendations on which rods to match with your reels and vice versa.

Not using enough fishing line

Photo via Field & Stream

An expensive rod and reel combination is a most coveted prize for many anglers, the kind of item we yearn to see on birthdays and Christmases, and the kind of item that draws our attention in stores or during Internet shopping sessions.

However, just as weak fishing line can handicap a perfectly good baiting solution, a line-related mistake can render even the best rods and reels useless to the strength of the fish. Fishing reels come with recommendations on how much line you should spool before casting, but whether in an attempt to preserve line and save money or just to make do on a shortage of fishing line, many amateur anglers make the mistake of under-spooling their reel. If you do this, you aren’t giving yourself enough line to fight anything but the smallest fish, and you may lose your line and your fish as a result. Better to come out swinging with a full spool of line and make more frequent trips to the store to replenish.

Fly fishing without learning the flies

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One of the greatest joys of the fly fishing sport is learning about all the different fly designs and memorizing each based on the fish it was designed to catch.

RELATED: 10 Essential Flies for Trout That Simply Can’t Be Beat

If you take time to learn the flies, you will be able to find great successes and understand why so many people love fly fishing. If you’re not willing to take the time, stick with another type of fishing.

Slack lining

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Another thing that first-time anglers learn very quickly is just how easily a bit of slack in the fishing line can kill their chances of landing a fish. A slack line during a battle with a hooked fish can have a variety of outcomes, from the fish throwing the hook or snapping the line and swimming away to the fish tangling itself up in its struggle to escape.

None of these outcomes are good, so make a note to keep your line taut at all times.

Handling the fish barehanded

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It’s a less obvious mistake than most of the entries on this list, but a failure to wear properly padded fishing gloves can actually be one of the most costly and painful fishing error of all.

A fish being pulled from a hook after an hour-long battle may be exhausted from the fight, but it may still lash out at you in one last play for self-defense, and that can lead to some nasty injuries if you’re not wearing proper protection. Add sharp fins and other prickly bits of fish skin and scales, and an angler without gloves can get pretty cut up – and potentially end up with infected wounds – thanks to a rowdy fish.

Failing to listen to the guide

If you’re on vacation and want to get some fishing time in, the best way is often to charter a boat or hire a guide to take you around the local waters and expose you to the best fishing the area has to offer.

Unfortunately, many big-headed fishing veterans think they know everything and opt to either skip the guided fishing tour entirely or to consistently ignore the guide’s advice on the boat. As a rule of thumb, if you’re in an unfamiliar territory, there’s no shame in acknowledging that a local knows more than you.

Wasting time

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Sure, a fishing trip with the guys can be a great time for you to kick back, relax, drink a few beers, and tell stories, but never lose sight of why you are on the trip in the first place. You’re there to fish, so by all means enjoy the company, but make sure you’re actually getting down to business at the same time.

Changing lures at the drop of a hat

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It’s one of the curses of a full tackle box that you feel like you should be using as many different lures and baiting solutions on a fishing trip as you can. This isn’t the case. Changing lures frequently involves repeatedly taking your line out of the water, making the change, and then casting once more.

RELATED: 5 Must Have Hard Baits for 2014

This can spook fish and send them swimming away or can result in you missing fish by simply not having your hook in the water enough. Our advice? Pick a lure and stick with it. Fishing requires patience, and eventually, you’ll get a bite.

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10 Fishing Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make