Your first fish

Most people who catch their first fish are very surprised by the feelings awakening in them when the line suddenly comes alive. For that is exactly what happens. The line comes alive, and it sends impulses directly to the brain. Which parts of the brain that get activated is beside the point, because it works. Your brain will never be the same again. And most people want to experience the magical sensation of being connected to something that’s alive.

So if you want to give yourself a gift, you should try to catch a fish. And if you’re already familiar with the wild rush of angling, you can maybe pass it on to someone who hasn’t tried it yet?

Getting started with angling can seem a bit complicated. But don’t be discouraged by all the technical terms, gear, and methods. Basically, all you need is a rod, a line, and a hook.

As for everything else, the quickest way to go from dreaming about your first fish to the magical feeling is by knowing someone who can help you. So before you run out to your nearest tackle shop to buy the basics, try to find out if anyone in your network has a fishing rod you can take for a spin.


5 quick steps

Quick start angling

  • Examine which fish you want to catch or which type of fishing you want to start
  • Buy the fishing license, and read the rules regarding the selected type of fishing
  • Find a nearby tackle shop, and choose a good fishing kit that fits your type of fishing
  • Choose a fishing spot, and plan your fishing trip
  • Go out and catch your first fish

Suitable fishing for the novice angler

Below, you can get inspiration for your first fishing trip. In Denmark, we have many different types of fishing that are suitable for the novice angler.

Catch fish from a boat

If you’re lucky enough to be on Zealand, opportunities are good for catching your first fish from a boat on Øresund. The experience of being on a real fishing boat is worth it in and of itself. But precisely because you’re on a boat, you have lots of assistance close by. Skipper wants to help, so you’ll quickly learn to handle the fishing gear. Skipper will also find the fish for you, and usually the angler next to you on the rocking boat is also happy to help. Fishing on Øresund varies a little over the seasons, and you can also plan your trip based on what you dream about catching. What about a beautiful cod? Or perhaps your first self-caught plaice?

Catch a garfish from the beach
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The garfish is a funny fish that swims from warmer waters to our shores in large shoals during early spring. They remain here as long as early fall, but chances of catching them are best in spring, because then they get very close to land in many areas. Pier heads and points that stretch toward the deeper water are very good spots for the novice angler. Because here you don’t have to invest in waders or particularly complex gear. If you have a fishing rod, reel and line, all you really need to invest in is what’s called lures. When you’re at the tackle shop anyway, you might as well ask if they can help you attach the so-called silk hooks. It sounds like hooks, but they’re actually threads of silk in which the garfish gets its beak entangled when it hunts your lure. Remember to reel it in at high speed for it to work. Simple and fun fishing – entirely without hooks, which also means less contact with the bottom weeds.

Catch a roach

In many lakes and watercourses, you can fish for free. This goes for many of the public waters. Here, you can try your hand at the type of fishing most people probably think of as angling: Looking at a float. Roach are common fish in many fresh waters. Very few eat them, but they’re still fun to catch. They like worms, but hardly any novice anglers share that enthusiasm for worms. Attaching a worm lies outside many people’s comfort zone. But you can easily settle for a vegetarian solution: All you need is a can of corn or a piece of toast. Don’t use a huge hook (size 8-12). Fix a small amount of toast or a kernel of corn to the hook, and you’re good to go. Lure the roach in by throwing some bread or corn near your fishing area. This type of fishing is called coarse fishing.

Catch a perch
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If you dare attempt to fish with worm, the method also applies to the perch, which is often found in lakes like the roach. The perch is a curious shoal fish, so if you want to try a type of fishing that’s a bit more active and requires a little extra, you could give spin fishing a shot.

For perch, a spinner is a safe choice. A spinner is a metal lure with a rotating metal blade that spins when you reel in. The spinner then sends vibrations into the water that attract the perch.

Another lure that’s good for perch is the jig. It’s a rubber lure that has a very lively movement through the water, plus it’s good for fishing very close to the bottom. No matter what you choose for the end of your line, the perch is an accessible and fun fish to catch.

Put and take

Lots of people catch their first fish in a put and take. The benefit of beginning your angling career here is that you know there are fish.

Be advised, however, that the trout released into these lakes are bred in captivity and thus haven’t learned about life in the wild. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be clever and cunning. Or so it may seem to the novice angler. For even though you can see them, there’s no guarantee they will bite. In the fishing lake, you can use a spinner as for perch fishing. You can also use your small float from the roach fishing. But a trout is substantially bigger than a roach, so be prepared for a fierce fight.


Coastal fishing

With more than 7,000 kilometers of coastline in Denmark, this kind of fishing is perfect for the novice angler.

What gear?

Tips for starting out

  • Be patient, and build up experience
  • The 10 first fishing trips are difficult
  • Join forces with an acquaintance or an association
  • Use social media or YouTube to learn techniques and methods

It’s difficult to play soccer in flip flops. It’s also difficult to fish with the wrong gear. So be sure to swing by the local tackle shop for guidance on the right gear. And yes, they need to make money on your buying gear, but they’re also interested in your getting the proper equipment for the type of fishing you dream about. A fishing kit consisting of a rod and reel with line is often easy and cheap to buy, but what then? Something needs to be at the end of the line. This is where the experts in the shop can help you. The same goes for the fishing kit itself. Investing a little extra in a proper fishing kit from the get-go will often pay dividends in the long run. That investment can then be exchanged for the joy of catching fish after fish without worrying so much about whether the gear will hold.


Bombarda float and spinning reel


Terminal tackle

  • Spoonbait – An imitation made from metal that you reel in and try to get the fish to bite on. On spoonbait, you tie the line on the end of the spoonbait.
  • Fly – The fly is made from feathers, hair, and synthetic materials that are tied to a hook, thus imitating a food option for the fish. The fly follows a fly line or a float so the water makes the fly’s material pulsate.
  • Line-thru lures – A lure or a wobbler, where you can guide the line through the bait and then tie on the hook.
  • Spinner – A metal lure with spinner blades that rotate when you reel it in.
  • Bombarda – An oblong float with snood on the end. You tie a fly or another small lure to the end that is reeled in after the bombarda float.

Fishing rods

Many different fishing rods exist, but as a novice, you should go for an all-round rod that can be used for a bit of everything. Fishing rods are measured in meters or feet. A nine-foot spinning rod that has a casting weight of up to 30 grams happens to be a great candidate for an all-round rod, which can be used for everything from perch to sea trout. Besides regular spinning rods, as most people attribute to angling, specialist rods for all sorts of fishing situations naturally exist. Kind of like the golfer who has different clubs.

The fishing reel and line

An ordinary fishing reel for spin fishing is available in many different price ranges, so be sure to choose a sensible reel that covers your needs. If you plan on fishing a lot, it makes sense to throw in a little extra money so you can get a reel that you can use for a long time.

But it’s not the reel alone that decides whether you’ll get a tangle-free fishing trip. You’ll also need fishing line on the reel. That line shouldn’t be too thick and rigid, because that would greatly increase the risk of entanglement. Again, seek council at the tackle shop. Even though it costs a little more, investing in good fishing line is definitely worth it. Who wants to face a massive line entanglement after two casts? Fishing line can either be made from synthetic materials that are thin and durable: so-called super lines or braided lines. They are more expensive than the alternative which is monofilament line. The latter is the classic, semi-transparent line. Both line types have their pros and cons. Fishing line is measured in millimeters, and a braided line of 0.15-0.17 millimeters or a monofilament line of 0.30 millimeters are appropriate for many forms of fishing.




Terminal tackle

Terminal tackle is an entire universe in itself. We have spinners, spoonbait, wobblers, floats, flies, line-thru, jigs, bombarda, etc. The different types of terminal tackle fit the different styles of fishing. As every angler has experienced, you build up your tackle box little by little as you explore new types of fishing. Terminal tackle also needs to fit your rod. This means that a spinning rod classified with a casting weight of 10-30 grams is suitable for casting terminal tackle weighing 10-30 grams.

The important fishing knots

If you master these two knots, you can fish for anything! Before going on your first fishing trip, practicing the knots is a good idea! It’s never fun for you or the fish if a bad knot bursts.


A clinch knot


A good all-round knot for tying fishing line to terminal tackle. In order to increase strength and get a dense knot, you can moisten it before tightening.

A loop

A good loop for gathering several lines, in accordance with the loop-to-loop principle. The loop is also good if you want your lure to hang loose on the end.

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Catch and release

The recommendation of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) regarding gentle treatment and release of fish.

To kill or not to kill

For many novice anglers, it’s a frightful joy getting the catch ashore or onto the deck of the tour boat.

Stowing the fish

  • Keep the fish cooled in a cooler bag, newspaper, etc.
  • Stow the fish in the water if you don’t have a cooler bag.
  • Clean the fish immediately if it’s stored on land.

Because now comes the serious part: The fish needs to be killed – quickly. Hit the fish hard on the head with something heavy. That will kill it. It may seem a bit violent, but it’s something you need to come to terms with as an angler if you want to bring a fish home for the dinner table.

But of course you don’t have to kill the fish in order to fish. Then you just have to realize that you can’t fish for just anything. For instance, if you fish for herring, garfish, or mackerel, you fish to catch food. Because they’re usually too frail to survive being released.

Conversely: If you fish for roach or perch, you can easily catch them without harming them needlessly. Just remember one thing: A fish shouldn’t be out of water too long, so try to remove the hook while it’s still in the water. Dehooking and handling the fish is easier if you have a net. With a net, it’s possible to let the fish remain in the surface of the water while you take care of the more difficult stuff. Thus a net is a good investment if you wish to practice catch and release.


Minimum size limits and closed seasons

Closed seasons

Read more about minimum size limits, closed seasons, and angler ethics.

Many species of fish live in Denmark, and they all have their challenges. Anglers fish to catch them, but anglers are also those who take best care of the fish. Around the country, anglers put in thousands of hours of volunteer work to aid the fish stocks.

Before you get started on fishing, you should familiarize yourself with the prevailing rules and minimum size limits that apply to the type of fishing that you’ve set your sights on.

Before you begin, it’s good to know a little about the following:

  • If you require the national fishing license.
  • About minimum size limits and closed seasons for the fish you want to catch.
  • How to handle fish that are to be released.
  • How to act near the fishing water.

It’s not always easy!

Fishing is not always easy, and all novice anglers will experience finding themselves in a situation that can spoil the otherwise pleasant atmosphere on a fishing trip. Below, you’ll see a list of situations you as a novice angler can expect. Situations many will experience until they hone their fishing skills somewhat.

  • Line entanglement and spending a lot of time untangling it.
  • Contact with rocks and seaweed due to fishing too slowly.
  • Lost fish or bites from not properly attaching the hook.
  • Losing your new terminal tackle to casting, seaweed, fish, etc.
  • Wet clothes from falling in the water or inappropriate attire.
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Be prepared

How do I avoid line entanglement?

Flip the bail arm with your hand right when the lure lands on the water, and reel in immediately. Always keep the line to the lure tight, and make sure the line gets on the spool correctly.

How do I avoid getting stuck in weeds?

When you’re at a new fishing spot, always start by reeling in quickly, until you get a feel for the depth. Always reel faster, and lift the rod tip, when the lure is close to you in order to avoid getting stuck on rocks and seaweed.

How do I avoid lost fish?

Keep the line tight, and maintain good contact to your terminal tackle when you reel in. If you get few bites, lift the rod while reeling in rapidly. Always fish with a tight brake, and then loosen it during the fight if necessary. You need to be able to draw line from the spool by pulling the line.

How do I avoid losing my new terminal tackle?

Know your fishing knots, and test them out at home before you begin fishing. Besides the knots, it’s also important that you don’t get stuck in seaweed, rocks, and such at the bottom. If you often hit the bottom, you’re fishing too slowly or with too heavy terminal tackle.

Avoid wet clothes and a dip in the water

Nothing is worse than getting wet and cold on a fishing trip. Remember to dress appropriately and to bring a good waterproof fishing jacket or rain coat. If you fish in waders, it’s important that you don’t wade in deep from the start. Begin in shallow water, and get used to moving around the water wearing waders. It can be difficult keeping your balance if you walk on slippery rocks, so take it easy at first.


P&T fishing

Put and take fishing can be a good entryway and start to your fishing career! Explore our exciting universe here:

Should I join an association?

Well, that’s a great idea! Because it happens to be the associations that manage the vast amount of volunteer work which for instance helps the sea trout in the rivers. And if you want to learn to fish in a river or a lake, that work is in many places essential.

All across Denmark, associations take care of the rivers and lakes. Once you join an association, you can also get assistance in order to reach the next steps of your fishing adventure. The association often has volunteers attached who help novice anglers settle in, and the association also arranges trips and activities, so you can get started right away.

If you want to fish in salt water, in fishing lakes, or in national fishing waters, you don’t need to join a local fishing association. Instead, you can join the Danish Association for Sport Fishing which represents the Danish anglers and a wide array of the Danish sport fishing associations. At the same time, you support the efforts to improve angling and increase the number of wild fish in Danish waters.


Sportsfiskeriets Hus


Læs mere

Find your sport fishing association

Read more about the Danish Association for Sport Fishing

Read more about water care