By Diana Gerstacker

There's no shortage of things to love about fishing -- the serenity, the thrill of the first hard tug on the line and the pride when you pull in the biggest fish of the day are all rewarding aspects. Spending time with friends and family outdoors seems to be a big draw too, and anything that gets you outside and moving is an activity we happily endorse.

But for many people unfamiliar with fishing, it can seem too complicated to be worth the time. First there are different types of fishing, then there are techniques and don't even get us started on the gear. The sheer number of fishing products on the market is enough to turn anyone away from the sport, and then there are the not-so-fashionable waders and that token 45-pocket vest.

It can be overwhelming, but we're here to help and let you know that the vest and waders aren't mandatory -- you're welcome. There are only a handful of items that beginners truly need on their first fishing trip. Your packing list will vary with your location and target fish, but we set out a list of basics you shouldn’t be caught without.

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The Outdoor Industry Association estimates that the majority of people fishing are dropping their lines into freshwater. According to its 2014 report, freshwater fishing has lost 1 percent of its participants in the last three years but still maintained around 37,796,000 participants in 2013.

According to the same report, approximately 11,790,000 people went salt water fishing in 2013 and 5,878,000 went fly fishing. Fly fishing was the only fishing type that saw growth in the past three years, gaining 2.4 percent more participation.

Though the entire activity is not booming, 37,796,000 is no small number. Fishing is a great opportunity to get outdoors, get active and spend time with friends and family. The only thing stopping you from fishing this summer is a little bit of information and a few key pieces of gear. Consider this your first step into the world of recreational fishing.

Essential Summer Fishing Gear Slideshow


A Net

When you're reeling in your fish, you’ll need a net to ensure the hook stays put while you pull your catch onto the boat. This net is 12 inches deep, with a pole that easily extends to five feet and it's rust resistant.; $18


Needle Nose Pliers

Once you've caught the fish, you'll need to retrieve the hook. Protect your hand with a pair of needle nose pliers. $3


Tackle Box

A tackle box keeps everything organized, find this simple model at Bass Pro Shops or find a pre-stocked box at a local sporting goods store.; $13



Whether you're up before dawn or your fishing trip runs a little longer than expected, it’s a good idea to take along some light. Headlamps leave your hands free to bait the hook, but if you're looking for a brighter light option, Princeton Tec's Sector 5 is a compact powerhouse featuring 550 lumens that work for 24 hours on four C-cell batteries.; headlamp $30; Sector 5 $100.


Hat & Sunglasses

While you might just opt for a baseball cap and your old sunglasses, sporting goods stores have tons of specialized clothing and gear for fishing. Check out this "Boonie Hat" for added protection from the sun where it usually hits worst -- the back of your neck. $30.


Sunscreen & Bug Spray

Two things you won't ever want to be caught without: bug spray and sunscreen. Off Deep Woods is a good choice for the lake and take a look at the best sunscreens here.


Comfortable Clothing

Keeping cool and dry on the water will make your trip that much better. The right clothing should prevent rashes and sun burn and ideally be nice enough to wear to the bar afterward. The Pescador shirt from Howler Brothers is specifically designed for fishing, with extra pockets, vents and quick dry material.; $85

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For the complete list of the Essential Summer Fishing Gear, go to

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