How Much Does It Cost To Start Fishing?

So, you want to get into fishing, but you don’t want to sacrifice a lot of money to do so after hearing that some of your buddies spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on fishing gear. Or, you have never really known about fishing and it just seems like something you want to try out with your friends, or family, or just by yourself, but you really don’t know how much it costs to be able to go.

Most people who have got into fishing has either done so by having their parents take them out the first time, or their friends ask them to go out and they have an extra rod and reel that they can use.When it comes time to gear up yourself, you have no idea how much it will actually be to get started. Do you really have to spend a ton of money on something fishing just to try it, or can you do it on the cheap? 

The honest answer is, that fishing can be expensive. But if this is your first time, and you are just trying it out to see if you like it, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars.You can probably get a nice rod and reel combo, and some tackle for under $100 dollars. Keep in mind that you really need to know what type of fish you want to catch before heading over to the store because that can make your costs vary, but just a little.

Start with Buying a Fishing Rod

If you are just starting out, and you really want to just get into the sport, you can find a nice entry-level rod and reel (like the one linked below) for around $20 to $40 bucks on Amazon or your local outdoor store. What you really need to worry about though is what type of fish you want to catch.

If you are just wanting to run to the lake and are looking to catch trout, stick to an ultralight rod so you can see and feel when the fish bite. If you are wanting to catch bass, well, you might want to stick with something a bit more heavy duty like a medium rod.

If you have gone out with your buddies and really love to fish and want to get a rod that will last you a while and is pretty versatile, you can pick up a great rod for $60 to $100 bucks, and it is going to stand the test of time.

What to Know About Reels

A reel is the next thing you are going to need, and you cannot get by without it. A rod and reel are staples for fishing because a reel is how you are going to get your line out in the water, and back from the water, and also how you are going to bring a fish to shore when you land it.

Reels come in all different shapes and sizes, but if you picked up an ultralight rod, you can stick to a 1000 series reel for under $50 bucks. If you are bass fishing, a 2000 series reel might cost you a little bit more but is geared more for bigger fish.

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Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so if you do buy a cheaper set up just to try it out, if you love fishing, and know you want to stick with it, you will want to upgrade to a rod with better action and power, so you can really feel the fish bite. It was night and day after I traded up in rods and reels, and couldn’t believe how much smoother my reel was, and how much I could actually feel in the rod.

If you want to keep it super simple, just stick with a basic rod and reel combo you can find at the local outdoor store or Amazon.

Basic Tackle Needed to Start Fishing

There is some basics to tackle that you are going to need, and you really won’t be able to fish without because they are a staple for actually catching fish. Those things are going to be:

  • Hooks: What actually “hooks” and catches the fish, and keeps it on your line.

  • Sinkers: Gets your bait to the bottom of the water where the fish are. Some baits don’t sink, so you have to make them sink with weights.

  • Line: You can’t catch fish without a fishing line, so this is a MUST HAVE for fishing. Depending on what type of fish you want to catch you will need different line weights. A four to six-pound test is great for trout, and an eight to twelve-pound test is great for bass.

  • Bobbers: Bobbers are great if you are going to fish for a type of fish where it just requires you to put bait on your line and let it sit out there until a fish bites. The bobber will submerge underwater when a fish is hooked or biting your bait.

  • Swivels: Swivels are a must have for lures, and makes it so you don’t have to keep trying new knots for each lure you switch out. Fish are picky, so they don’t always bite one bait, so you may have to switch up lures, and that is where a swivel is a must-have.

As long as you have those things in your bag when you go, you can get your line out into the water, and down to the bottom where the fish are. If you are missing just one of those things, you are going to have a long day of no bites on the lake.

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Buying Bait

There are TONS of different baits out there, and they can run from a few dollars a pack to over ten dollars a pack, so you need to have at least a couple of different types in your gear before you go. 

Bait Specifically for Trout

  • Salmon Eggs: This is the jar of little red balls that you bait on a hook. Very simple bait that usually won’t get ripped from your hook if you cast improperly and is very good for trout fishing.

  • Power Bait: Power Bait makes great stuff for fishing. They have a bait that comes in a variety of colors and looks like putty. Basically, you pinch some out of a jar and mold it around your hook and toss it out, but you have to be careful that you don’t cast too hard or the bait will go flying off and you will be fishing with an empty hook.

  • Lures: Lures are really good for trout, and are also good for anyone who wants to fish and not just leave their bait in the water. This bait is for casting and reeling very quickly, so you are always doing something.

Bait Specifically for Bass

If you are fishing for bass, you may want to try lures or soft plastics. Here is a couple of different things you may want to have in your gear for bass fishing:

  • Straight Worms: Worms are great for fishing bass and are usually only a few dollars a pack, but they can get pricey depending on the length and if they have a scent to them. These worms are usually fished on a drop shot or whacky rig and are long and straight.

  • Curly tail Worms: Curly tale worms have a hook-shaped bend in the tail, and when you pull the bait in, it spins around making the bait move differently. These baits are also only a few dollars a pack usually, and come in a variety of colors.

  • Shad and Brush Hogs: These are soft plastic baits that look like fish or crawfish to mimic a real creature swimming or crawling on the bottom of the water. These are very effective baits and are pretty reasonably priced.

  • Lures: There are a TON of different lures for bass fishing. You can get topwater, swimbaits, crankbaits, jerk baits, frogs, and so much more. If you really want to try some lures, I would go for a topwater, and a swimbait, but be careful because these lures can be rather pricey and start at around $8 dollars a lure and go up way higher in price.

Remember, you don’t have to go buy $100 dollars worth of bait, but you should spend $10 or $15 dollars and buy three or four different types of bait in case the fish are only wanting to bite a certain thing that day.

Having some variety, even if it is a small variety is going to be good for you, I promise. The sky is the limit on baits, and if you really do enjoy fishing after your first few times, you can always go buy a few more baits in different sizes and colors.

Make Sure You Have a Fishing License

A fishing license is a MUST and is the law for you to have when fishing. If you really don’t want to spend the $30 to $40 bucks on a year pass because you don’t know if you will like the sport, you can try these two options instead:

  • Free Fishing Days: Some states have a couple of free fishing days throughout the year. California usually has two, but be sure to check with fish and game before you go out. You can check their website, or give them a call and they can tell you.

  • Daily or Weekly Pass: Some states allow you to buy a week pass instead of a yearly pass in case you don’t know if you will need it for the whole year. This is another thing you will want to check out with fish and game.

  • Private Lakes and Campgrounds: Some private campgrounds have lakes only for people staying there, and often have passes for sale to fish at. Prices vary from place to place but it’s usually under $20 dollars for a couple of days of fishing. This is perfect for a person wanting to go out and try fishing for a few days to see if they like it.

If you really don’t know if you will like the sport, wait for a free fishing day if your state has those, or buy a pass where you can fish for a week to try it out, and if you want to go more, you can buy the yearly license. Always check with your local Fish and Game in your state, and see if they have free fishing days and temporary passes for sale. Check out a full list of all state’s fish and game websites HERE on our site.


Fishing does not have to be an expensive sport to get into. If you are really starting out for your first time, you can really get away with a rod, reel, fishing pass, and some bait and tackle for very little money. It really depends on how you feel about it, and if you have ever tried it before.

You can spend very little, or a lot of money on different setups, so it is good if you stick with the middle of the road when first starting out. This way if you like it, you don’t have to upgrade right away, and if you don’t really like it, you can try to recoup some of your money by selling your gear on Craigslist or eBay.

2 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost To Start Fishing?”

    • Hi!
      It all depends on what type of fishing you want to learn and what state you are in. If you do not mind telling me what state you live in, and what type of fishing you want to dive into (trout, bass, fly fishing, etc…) I would love to try and find something to help you!
      We are working on an introductory course in freshwater fishing that we will be giving out soon!


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