Minimalist fishing is my favorite pastime – well, fishing in general really, but since I’ve been introduced to a more simple, headache-free approach to fishing, I’ve been converting my gear, strategies, and every fishing-related activity to fit into the “minimalist fishing” standards.
There’s one rule I apply at all times: The minimizing process is only applied if the overall enjoyment increases.
For example: I own a huge, clunky tackle box full of lures I’ve been collecting since I was 6, and I take joy in the sentimental memories of catching bluegill and rock bass with my dad using the lures in that tackle box.
Applying the concepts of minimalist living means that overall, my fishing habits should simplify in some way, but I refuse to replace that tackle box with a smaller one, filling it with only the lures I actually use.
I realize that for many people, organizing their tackle to simplify their fishing experience is a good idea. But not for me.
If minimizing takes away from the overall experience, it’s not really minimalist living.
So take these tips with a grain of salt – if it will benefit you, do it – if it won’t, don’t waste the time and effort. As a side note, I’ve started fishing with less and less, even as it initially takes me out of my comfort zone. The results are surprisingly good (but I still have my tacklebox :)).
The Top 10 Minimalist Fishing Tips
1. Bigger isn’t always better: If you’re not like me, cutting down on the size of your tackle box and other fishing equipment will take a lot of the stress out of fishing (pretty sure the words fishing and stress should never be used in the same sentence again).
2. The best equipment can be the worst: If your entire fishing day is ruined because you lost an expensive fishing lure or broke a pricey piece of fishing gear, you might want to consider the benefits of simplifying your tackle to less expensive options. The more I do this, the more it surprises me that I still catch the same amount of fish as before.
3. Make your own lures: This is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable hobbies I’ve taken up as a result of my transition into minimalist fishing. I’m not even that good at it yet! But the satisfaction in making a lure for less than 50 cents and actually catches fish is great. There’s tons of great DIY information about making your own fishing lures (Read my Minimalist Fishing Lures Series to learn how to make ridiculously cheap fishing lures), and you may be surprised to see how much equipment you can make on your own for a fraction of the store-bought price .
4. Make your own sinkers: Pouring lead into a mold can’t be that hard right? I haven’t tried this yet, but I will – and of course I’ll write about it here 🙂
5. Tie your own flies: If you’re a fly fisherman (like I’m trying to be), tie your own flies and cut your lure expense in half or more! But don’t buy your materials from flyfishing stores. They sell them to make profit of course, and that usually means a 100% mark up or more. I’m not saying their cheating us, but you can find all of the materials you need for next to nothing. It sounds crazy, but visit a nearby dollar store, and I’ll guarantee you’ll find about 3/4’s of the material you need.
6. Cane pole fishing: I like to compare cane pole fishing to Henry Thorough. If you’re an extreme minimalist, you may end up living in a self sufficient cabin in the middle of nowhere, living off the land, becoming one with the mosquitoes and doing whatever other transcendental activities you can think of. But that’s not for everybody. Same goes for cane pole fishing. It’s simple, and a lot of fun actually. And of course the cost and complexity of your hobby are kept at a happy minimum. 1 12-14 foot cane pole, 1 line, 1 hook, and 1 can of bait. That’s all it takes and you’ll be pulling in your next fish fry!
7. Try handline fishing: In Costa Rica, many people fish with nothing between them but the line itself. This is something I’m very excited about trying. You can find all sorts of handline fishing videos on Youtube if you’re interested.
8. Find a nearby fishing hole: Not everyone lives near a lake or creek, but if you do, don’t bother traveling to the hotspots – take a little extra time to learn everything you can about the lake, creek, or pond nearest to you. This saves time and gas money, and it’s much less demoralizing if you don’t catch much. The closer the better – the less of a travel you have to make, the better your minimalist fishing will be!
9. Resist the urge to multitask: One of the worst habits most people develop is trying to do more than one thing at a time. Yes, this is necessary when you’re working, but not when you’re fishing! I used to bottom fish with one pole while working a spinner or spoon nearer to the surface. After changing my multitasking method to the more minimalist approach of one pole at a time, I realized I could enjoy things like the nature around me without having to spend most of my focus bouncing back and forth between the two rods.
10. Expand your approach: In our world of specialization, we tend to hone in on a single area of expertise in order to remain competitive. But this mindset shouldn’t dominate your leisure and sport activities. Often, trout fishermen hold their noses up at bass fishing, and bass fishermen look down on catfishing, and catfishermen despise carp and especially trout fishing. But fishing isn’t a job – liven it up! Be an opportunistic predator. If you practice catch and release, you’re there for the fight – carp are the best fighters out there (there’s a reason Japan’s symbol of strength is the carp/koi fish). They’re also quite delicious – they win blind taste competitions in America against trout, salmon, crappie and other “delicacy” fish. Bream (Drum, Buffalo head) can fight just as hard, and even shad are fun to catch. And here’s a secret: No one wants to fish for these “trash fish”, so that means you basically have your own personal stock of wild fish, free of competition. It’s worth considering. Variety is the spice of life after all!
Good luck fishing!