For many people—myself included—an interest in fishing begins with being invited on a fishing trip by a friend or member of the family. This can be a little intimidating, especially if you’ve never even picked up a fishing rod before. Not to worry, however, as some of your fondest fishing memories will always be of your first day on the water and that first keeper fish. The real key to ensuring that your first fishing trip is a memorable one is to be open-minded, know what type of fishing you’ll be experiencing, and enjoying yourself.

So you’ve never, ever been fishing before and your buddy just invited you along for a morning on the water; what next? Odds are, if you’ve never fished, you don’t own any tackle. While your buddy is probably a generous guy, and won’t hesitate to lend you some tackle, bringing your own—and bringing the right tackle—will keep you from worrying about breaking his gear, which will go a long way towards quelling any stress you may have about the new experience. The first step here is figuring out what species of fish you’ll be targeting. Once you know that, head to your local outdoor retailer and stock up on a few basic items. If you have any questions regarding how a product works, for what species it’s designed, or what to do should a malfunction occur, do not hesitate to ask the associates. At stores like Bass Pro Shops, the associates have to pass written tests just to be hired, and have to take new tests annually to ensure that they still know their stuff.

You don’t want to end up buying too much, or buying expensive tackle that you may not use very often, so a decent rod and reel combo, some inexpensive line, and a few lure basics are a good start to your first fishing endeavor. Any store that sells fishing tackle will have numerous combos to choose from and anything within the $50 – $60 range is a safe bet for your first time. I’ve mentioned P-Line’s CXX line in the past and there’s a good reason for that: it’s super strong, very light, and best of all, inexpensive. If you want to pick up some lures, but don’t know what to buy, several companies offer bait kits stocked with a variety of effective lures for certain species. As I said before, the key when buying tackle for your first trip is not to spend too much, but also to buy something you know won’t break the first time you use it.

Some first-time anglers are fortunate enough to have access to a friend’s tackle, but it’s always convenient and less worrisome to have your own. I recommend purchasing tackle that you can use for a while, because there’s a strong possibility that you’ll enjoy yourself so much that you’ll want to continue fishing. Listen to whom you’re with and learn what you can. Like most other activities, it does take some time to fall into your own groove, but once you do, you won’t want the day to end.