Top 6 Reasons Why You're Not Catching Fish

Written by Peter Lechner
Updated October 3, 2022

Fishing is a peaceful and enjoyable hobby that numerous people share. Those who enjoy fishing are happy to catch a fish of generous size on their fishing trips. People of all ages and genders can enjoy and learn how to fish correctly.

One of the most significant downsides to fishing is not catching fish. Countless people spend more time sitting around than catching any fish. If you are one of those people, you are probably wondering, “why can’t I catch fish?” 

This article will discuss the top six reasons why you’re not catching fish.

1. Not Covering Enough Water

There are a lot of fishers who are guilty of fishing too slowly. While leisurely fishing is a fun hobby, it can impact the amount of fish you end up catching. Increasing your fishing outcome will require expanding on the amount of water you cover.

Every pond or lake is going to have its limits. You will want to cover as much water as possible. A lot of fishers will park their boats in one spot for the entirety of their fishing trip. But once fish have caught on to the fishers, they are likely to leave the area. 

Covering more water also allows you to capture fish of different species and sizes. You never know what is lurking at the bottom of your local lake. But you won’t be able to capture the variety of fish if you refuse to move from your favorite spot.

Ideally, you will want to set a goal to cover as much water as you can on your trip. If the fish aren’t biting in one area after a little bit, start moving onto another area. You can always circle back to the previous area if you want to. But by consistently moving, you can get a good feel for the fish in the area.

There is a fine line between not covering enough water and moving too quickly. Part of fishing is also patience, as well as strategy. Covering enough water is essential. But try to avoid overlooking important clues on how many fish are in the area. 

2. Trying New Techniques at the Wrong Times

Man holding a trout he caught fishing

There are a wide variety of fishing techniques. These fishing techniques can include knotting, baiting, casting, and much more. Practicing these techniques is a great way to help you improve your fishing skills. 

However, there is a time and a place to start practicing your techniques. If you plan to enter into a fishing tournament, you won’t want to start practicing in the middle of a tournament. If there is pressure on you to provide fish for dinner, you won’t want to try out a new skill during that fishing trip. 

Fishing as a hobby allows you to practice new techniques freely. But fishing for sport or putting food on the table requires a goal to be met. To meet that goal, you will want to be confident and efficient. 

Fishers should practice all of their new techniques on leisurely fishing trips. You can even practice specific fishing techniques at home. But if you are entering into any situation that involves pressure, you will want to feel confident. The best way to feel confident in your skills is to practice them at the appropriate times. 

Of course, not everyone has the goal of entering a tournament. But there are still inappropriate times to practice a skill even as a leisurely fisherman. You can make a game of practicing fishing with your family. If you have a pond or a lake in your backyard, you can practice techniques on the weekend. 

It is also important to recognize which fishing techniques will apply the best to you. While certain techniques may seem cool, they also may only work for certain types of fish. Get a good feel for your location and the kind of fish that the location brings. You can apply this information to the techniques that you pick up. 

3. Having No Set Plan

a goal without a plan is just a wish quote fishingrefined

One of the biggest mistakes that fishers make is that they do not develop a plan for their fishing trip. Fishing with your friends is one thing, but a game plan is necessary if you are fishing for sport. 

Fishing is a fairly broad concept for the most part. As a result, there are many ways that you can go about fishing. The location, season, and weather can all play a part in how a fishing trip will plan out. Setting out for a fishing trip with no plan in place is a great way to end up not catching any fish. 

Your plans do not have to be extravagant or long. You will want details, but your plan does not have to be perfect. Mostly, you will want a guide on where you are going and what you are doing. The plan that you create also does not have to fit a formula. Your plan should be unique to your own goals for the day.

For example, if your goal for the day is to practice your technique, you will want to create a plan on where you are going. What will you need? Are you going to shallow or deep water? Are there trees around? 

Likewise, if your goal is to catch at least three fish, you will need to create a plan for that goal. Are you going to a river, lake, or pond? How many people are going? Are you fishing from a boat or a dock? Which areas are you planning to fish in? How long are you planning to fish in those areas?

Fleshing out the crucial details of a plan is an excellent way to ensure the plan is successful. You don’t have to load your plan with a lot of details. Too many details can cause a plan to become confusing. But you don’t want your plan to be too vague, either. 

4. Having a Bad Fishing Line and Knots

A man using a pair of pliers to fix the tangled fishing line

Another one of the biggest mistakes that fishers make is how they handle their fishing lines and knots.

Learning how to tie a knot and use a line properly are things that may require practice. The knot that you tie needs to match the line you are using. If the knot is not suitable for your line, your knot will likely end up breaking. At the same time, the right knot can also break. This damage occurs when you do not tie the knot correctly. 

Different knots and lines have different strengths. You can easily snap your line if you exceed the line or knot strength. In these cases, having to replace the line can take up valuable time. Even worse, a line breaking can ruin the entire fishing trip. 

As a result, having inferior lines and knots is a great way to not catch any fish. But to improve the amount of fish you catch, you need to start with the basics. Many fishers unfortunately do not spend enough time practicing the basics. While your knots and lines may be just fine, they can likely be better. 

A good way to improve your knot tying skills is to practice. You can practice with friends and family members on your leisurely trips. Even veteran fishers can stand to brush up on their knot-tying skills. 

5. Not Working on Improving Skills

The biggest reason you are not catching fish is that you are likely not working enough to improve.

Fishing does not have to be a lifestyle. But those who treat the activity like a part-time hobby are going to get part-time results. There is nothing wrong with fishing for fun. But if you are looking to improve the amount of fish you catch, you need to work on your skills.

There is a lot more nuance and technique that comes into play when fishing than many people realize. The best way to be a good fisher is to capture and work on those techniques. Patience, practice, and hard work are some of the most significant factors to being a good fisher. 

While some people luck out on their trips, the amount of fish you catch usually relates to how you approach the trip.

If you are someone who enters into fishing trips, you will want to work on improvement. Even long-time fishers need to work on improving their skills. There is no end goal for being the greatest fisher. Fishing goals are personal to each individual. Some people want to catch one fish every trip, and some people won’t settle for less than ten. 

But those who leave fishing trips and tournaments thinking that they did everything right are often wrong. You can be proud of your accomplishments, and you should be. But no matter how great you are, you can always look for little things to improve on.

6. Not Rigging Up Properly For A Particular Species

Marine life is advanced and evolved. Catching fish isn't as simple as tying a knot and casting out your rig. Each species has their own distinct way of behaving. Behavior among the same species may even be distinctly different depending on where they are. It's important to know what waters you're fishing in and what fish loom under the surface there.

Based on what kind of species you'll encounter, you have to cater your fishing technique and rig the particular scenario. Species like pike are known to be aggressive and prey on anything they come upon while other species are more weary. By doing your due research from home, you know what to expect when you reach your fishing location so you can prepare the best techniques to use for the species that live in that territory.

To get started, here are some species-specific 101 guides you'll likely find useful:


Overall, fishing is a sport and activity that requires a lot of technique. Doing the wrong things (or not doing the right things) can negatively affect your outcome. Taking a look at the six tips above can help you reflect on the reasons why you’re not catching fish. 

Written by Peter Lechner
Managing Editor
Updated October 3, 2022
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