Why You Are Not Catching Any Fish Struggling

17 reasons why you are not catching any fish

Are you struggling to get any bites? There are probably a few simple reasons why you are not catching any fish and easy solutions to fix them.

If you are not getting any bites then you may be using the wrong tactics or bait and your bait presentation may be wrong. You might simply be fishing in the wrong swim or being too loud and scaring off the fish

Fishing mistakes are very common, whether you’re a new angler or an experienced pro. Knowing how to avoid them in the first place is a good place to start as a fishing beginner.

It is important to remember there are never any guarantees you will catch each time you go fishing. Following our simple tips will certainly improve your chances of catching more fish.

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Don’t run before you can walk

When starting out as a new angler, you should target fish and go to venues suitable to your experience. There is no rush, you do not have to catch a specimen on your very first outing.

Learn the basics, build your knowledge and experience. Similarly you don’t need all the latest expensive tackle to be able to fish effectively. Keep things simple.

Top Tip: Start out on a small pond, lake or canal targeting small fish like Roach and Perch using maggots. Use a simple float fishing tactic and build up your experience.

This is the way most anglers start out fishing and great way to get children into fishing,

Using a blunt hook

Constantly missing bites, or hooking but then losing the fish is very frustrating, If this keeps happening, then something is likely wrong with your set up.

More than likely you need to change your hook. Over time hooks go blunt after you have used them. Occasionally you will get a dud hook in new packs too. 

Get into the habit of checking that your hook is sharp. Check the hook before tieing it, when you add new bait and always check after catching.

Hooks are relatively cheap but are arguably the most important piece of tackle that you will buy.

Top Tip: To check that your hook is sharp, run it across your fingernail. If it digs in and scrapes your nail then it is probably sharp. If it just slides across your fingernail without digging in, then it will need replacing.

Fishing with weak or damaged line

Over time fishing line get damaged after exposure to the elements and also from snags and tangles. When you hook a fish, they will do whatever they can to escape – this means they will try and swim around underwater logs and snags. Your like will weaken when it rubs against these.

If you have damaged line, you risk your line snapping if you hook a big fish. Also, if your line is damage you may not be able to cast as far and it may also effect your bait presentation.

Top Tip: Before every session check your line quality and run your hand along it. If it is rough then cut the line and dispose of it. Remember to dispose of the line responsibly.

Choosing the wrong swim

When you first arrive at a new venue, take a good look around and assess the area. Consider the weather conditions, is it sunny, windy, how will this affect you?

Don’t just set up at the closest peg to the car park and stay there all day regardless. Are there any reeds or islands you can target?

Top Tip: Before choosing your swim, take a walk around the pond or lake and assess everything. Consider invest in a pair of polaroid sunglasses to remove the glare from the water to allow you a better view of the water and see where the fish are.

Getting tangled line

This is a difficult one because even professional anglers get tangles. You will probably find the more experienced you become you will get less tangles

Over time you do get more experienced in fixing the tangles too, but sometimes your line ends up looking like a birds nest and it’s best to cut your losses and build your rig again saving time and lots of frustration.

Top Tip: Try to keep your line tight as much as possible. When you’re not actually fishing, utilise the rod eyes to by hooking your hook into them and reel in to ensure everything is neat and tidy and will not tangle. Also, stringing out your shot is a sure fire way of getting tangles, keep things simple and straightforward.

Using the wrong float

Opting for a pole float when rod fishing, or a waggler on the pole is a sure way of making things harder than it needs to be. A float is your first and mostly the only indication of a bite.

Weighted wagglers are a great option when you fish start fishing.

You need to ensure you actually see the indication and quicky. Always choose a float suitable to where you are fishing, what you are targeting and to the conditions.

Top Tip: Whatever float you are using, make sure it is weighted correctly. If you can only just see the very tip of the float it’s probably weighted down too much.

Similarly if too much of the float is sticking out of the water, then you need to add extra shot. Most floats tell you on the side how to correctly shot them.

Missing bites by striking at the wrong time

A lot of this comes down to experience and over time you will learn when to strike and what to look for. Depending on the fish you can sometimes get false indications. For example some fish are very picky and will sometimes just touch your bait and spit it out again.

You will also receive line bites where fish swim into your line, of course if you strike you are unlikely to catch anything but may occasional ‘false hook’ something as it was swimming by. This is not idea because it could damage fish, especially if you hook it on it’s belly or in the gills.

Top Tip: If you find that you are missing a lot of bites, have patience. Wait a while to ensure you have a very positive indication that you have a bite – usually the float going under rapidly and especially with bigger fish, you see the line getting tighter and you can feel the fish pulling on your rod.

Over Feeding

It is very tempting to throw in a lot of loose feed to attract fish to your swim and hook bait. However, throwing too much in can be counter productive. With so much food in the area, it’s likely fish will turn their nose up at your hook bait.

Fish are very clever and can easily avoid hook bait. It’s a balancing act of drawing fish to you, but also creating competition for the food. This is especially important during the colder months.

Top Tip: Loose feed small amounts initially and you can build up from there. It can sometimes take a good few hours to attract fish to your swim, so feeling “little and often” is often the best way to go.

Neglecting the margins

Many anglers believe the further you cast out, the bigger the fish you will catch. Actually lots of big fish swim in the margins. The margins are often great sources of natural food for fish and they also like to take cover under bushes and in reed beds. 

Top Tip: Dawn and dusk are often great times to catch in the margins. Check out our comprehensive guide on margin fishing and also the best time to go fishing.

Not checking your hook bait

The bites have dried up, you’ve been sat there for hours with not a sniff of a bite. Check your hook bait, it may have fallen off the hook, be snagged or covered in weed, or it may simply just be in need of a change.

Top tip: When float fishing, if you have not had a bite in 15-30 minutes, re-bait your hook and start again

Sticking to the same approach

Sometimes things that have worked for you before simply just do not work. You need to be flexible with your tactics and methods. For example you could be catching loads in the first few hours, then all of a sudden things dry up.

Think about changing your approach. Do you have other baits you could try, change your depth, try the margins or go longer. Remember despite common stereotypes, fish are very clever so you need to be flexible and try different things.

Top Tip: Think about baiting two areas in the same swim and alternate between them. For example down the margins and also a couple of rod lengths out. Sometimes you need to let your swim rest to allow the fish to get their confidence back.

Stay in the same swim all day

There are pros and cons to this one, but sometimes the fish just are not in your swim and no matter what you do, you do not get a sniff of a bite. You think about moving swims, but then you think of all the bait you have thrown in and think of the effort of moving all of your tackle to another swim. 

You can either stick it out or move to another swim. Before making that decision, you could always just take your rod, net and some bait into another swim and see how things for before making the decision to move.

Some anglers prefer to travel light and work the lake swim to swim stalking fish, usually carp. This can be a very good way to learn the best swims for a new lake that you haven’t fished before. This usually involves fishing the margins. We have put together a helpful review of dedicated stalking rods to help you.

Top Tip: Be aware of what is happening around you. Are there any indications of fish in other swims? Do other swims just look like they will be perfect? Are other people catching and how are they fishing?

Not concentrating

If you do not concentrate then the chances of you catching reduces dramatically. If you’re always looking at your phone or eating, then you are not concentrating on your fishing. You’re likely to miss bites. 

Top tip: Take a comfort break every now and then. Even if your rod has had your undivided attention all day, chances are you may be a little fatigued. Take a break, check your phone, go for a walk around the lake and talk to other anglers.

Not talking to the right people

You may think all venues are the same, but in actual fact, all venues have some differences when it comes to the best way to fish. These days a lot of commercial venues have on-site shops that sell bait and small tackle. These are ideal places to talk about the best tactics and the best bait to use. 

Top Tip: When buying your day ticket, ask for advice, explain it’s your first time there and find out what tactics are best and what bait is the most effective. If all else fails, speak with other anglers. Anglers love to talk about how good they are, so see what bait they are using and what tactics they are using.

Stop spooking the fish

It is very easy to spook or scare a fish and the result could be between catching and drawing a blank. When you arrive at the venue, do so quietly and respectfully to other people who are fishing. When you are fishing try and stay as low down and as still as possible. Similarly wearing high visibility clothing is a big no no which is why lots of anglers you see wear camouflage and khaki clothes

Top tip: When you are setting up your tackle try to stay as far away from the water as possible as this sometimes requires a lot of movement and noise opening and closing bags and boxes.

Consider a small stalking rod if you are fishing close in to the bank.

Forgetting your landing net

So you hook into a specimen carp, the reel is screaming and you instantly know you’ve hooked a real big fish. That sinking moment when you turn to your landing net and you’ve forgotten to set it up before you started fishing. Now you have the big struggle of playing your new personal best, whilst trying to set up your landing net. The result? Quite possibly “the one that got away”.

Top Tip: Before you even start setting up your main tackle of choice, always set up your landing net to ensure this does not happen to you.

In Conclusion

We all make fishing mistakes and even professional anglers still make mistakes each and every time they go fishing.

We created this list to help new anglers to try and avoid this simple mistakes to allow you to focus on spending time enjoying your fishing.