How to master fishing in Stardew Valley without floundering

Stardew Valley fishing guide
(Image credit: Concerned Ape)

Of all the relaxing activities in Stardew Valley, fishing is the trickiest. Getting to grips with the minigame can be more stressful than going into a monster-ridden cavern with only a rusty sword and a fist full of cave carrots, even. It takes time, patience, and a steady hand to become a fishing master, and it can earn you some of the game's best rewards. 

Fish are a valuable type of collectable and they're for vital ingredients for recipes. You'll also want them to complete the community centre, and what's more, selling them is one of the best ways of earning money in the game. 

In this Stardew Valley fishing guide, I've put together everything you need to know about fishing, including different types of rods, the variety of tackle and bait you can use, earning XP for skill levels, finding treasure, and tips on how you can improve your fishing form.

How to get each Stardew Valley fishing rod

First you're going to need the right tool, your trusty fishing rod. There are four types in Stardew Valley and they get increasingly better as you level up your fishing skills. The four types are the Bamboo Pole, Training Rod, Fiberglass Rod, and the Iridium Rod. Here are their details and how to get them:

Bamboo Pole: 500G
On your second day in-game you can get a bamboo pole by accepting the invite from Willy the fisherman. You can't use bait or tackle on the bamboo pole.

Training Rod: 25G
The training rod is what you should use if you're having trouble fishing. It sets the player's fishing level to 5, so the green block is substantially bigger. It makes catching fish easier, but you can only catch basic fish with it. Practice with it to get to grips with the basics and move on. You can buy it at Willy's fish shop on the pier.

Fiberglass Rod: 1800G
The fibreglass rod can be bought from Willy's at his fish shop for 1800G after you reach level three in fishing. You can use bait on the fibreglass rod to help you catch fish, but not fishing tackle.

Iridium Rod: 7500G
The iridium rod can be bought from Willy's shop for 7500G after you reach level 6 in fishing. This rod allows you to use both bait and tackle, making fishing much easier.

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Stardew Valley Sebastian: Schedule, gifts, and heart events
Stardew Valley Leah: Schedule, gifts, and heart events
Stardew Valley secret notes: How to read them

How to fish in Stardew Valley

Start fishing by standing next to a body of water—like a lake, pond or the ocean—select your fishing rod in the toolbar. Press the left mouse button and hold it down to determine how far you want to throw your bobber and release when the icon is in the perfect place on the progress bar that appears.

After your line is thrown out, you'll need to wait for a fish to bite. When one does, an exclamation point will appear next to your character meaning that you've hooked a fish. Clicking the mouse button launches you into the mini-game. A vertical meter will appear with a fish icon and a green block, the goal is to get the green block in line with the fish

As you press and hold the mouse button the block moves up and down the meter; The longer you hold it down the higher up the bar it goes. When you get the fish inside the green block, a catch meter will start to fill up. When it's full, you've caught the fish.

Stardew Valley bait and tackle: The items to make fishing easier

Still having trouble fishing? Using bait and tackle makes it much easier. Bait decreases the delay before a fish bites and can increase the chance of finding treasure. Then it's worth learning how to make tackle. Tackle can only be attached to the iridium rod and it can be bought at Willy's fish shop. Here's the bait and tackle you can get with money and/or crafting materials:

Bait: 5G/Bug Meat (1)
Makes fish bite faster and reduces bite delay by 50 percent. The recipe to craft default bait is unlocked after fishing level 2.

Magnet Bait: 1000G/Iron Bar (1)
This recipe increases the chance of finding sunken treasure. It's unlocked at fishing level 9.

Wild Bait: Fiber (10), Slime (5), Bug Meat (5)
This recipe is learned from Linus once you've earned four friendship hearts with him. It gives you the chance of catching two fish at once. 

Spinner: 500G/Iron Bar (2)
Slightly increases the bite-rate and reduces the maximum delay before a bite by 3.7 seconds. 

Dressed Spinner: 1000G/Iron Bar (2), Cloth (1)
Increases the bite-rate and reduces the maximum delay for a bite by 7.5 seconds.

Trap Bobber: 500G/Copper Bar (1), Sap (10)
This tackle lets fish escape slower when you haven't reeled them in. Your fishing bar decreases 66% slower.

Cork Bobber: 750G/Wood (10), Hardwood (5), Slime (10)
Expensive in terms of crafting resources, but it slightly increases the size of your fishing bar.

Lead Bobber: 200G
This tackle adds weight to your fishing bar. 

Treasure Hunter: 750G/Gold Bar (2)
Increases the chance of finding treasure by 33% and makes sure that fish don't escape while you're collecting your prize. 

Barbed Hook: 1000G/Cooper Bar (1), Iron Bar (1), Gold Bar (1)
Makes your fishing bar 'stick' to fish, automatically following the fish up and down.

Stardew Valley fishing skill levels

Fishing experience is gained from, well, fishing. Progressing through the levels makes your green fishing bar bigger, for instance. Your type of fishing rod doesn't factor into your skill, however, as you earn experience points from any form of fishing, including crab pots. Here are all ten fishing levels the associated abilities you can choose from:

  • 1: Fishing Rod proficiency +1
  • 2: Fishing Rod proficiency +1, gain the ability to craft bait
  • 3: Fishing Rod proficiency +1, craft a crab pot and gain a recipe for Dish o' The Sea
  • 4: Fishing Rod proficiency +1, craft a recycling machine
  • 5: Fishing Rod proficiency +1, specialise as a Fisher (fish are worth 50 percent more) or Trapper (resources needed to craft crab pots are reduced)
  • 10 Fisher: Fishing Rod proficiency +1, specialise as an Angler (fish are worth 50 percent more) or Prate (chances of finding treasure is doubled)
  • 10 Trapper: Fishing Rod proficiency +1, specialise as a Mariner (crab pots never catch trash items) or Luremaster (crab pots no longer need bait)

(Image credit: Concerned Ape)

How to get treasure in Stardew Valley

Playing Animal Crossing has helped me see what I love about Stardew Valley

(Image credit: ConcernedApe)

Although the two sims share a similar core of cute community life surrounded by a host of charming characters, Rachel delves into how these two similar games have very different daily rhythms.

When you're fishing, there's a chance that a red chest icon will appear within the fishing bar. This indicates that you have the chance to grab a treasure chest full of precious sunken loot. If you move the green fishing bar over the icon a smaller bar appears showing your progress towards reaching it. When the smaller bar reaches capacity it means you have successfully got the treasure, but only if you also manage to catch the fish in the bar. 

Stardew Valley fishing tips

Earn XP

Fishing takes some getting used to, but there are little things you can do to give yourself the edge. Earning XP is the best way to make fishing easier because it unlocks better skills and equipment.

Know when to click

The key here is knowing when to click your left-mouse button and when to hold it down. The green block has a tendency to bounce around a lot, so instead of holding down the mouse button, try many short clicks. Clicking faster keeps the block towards the top, and slower, more prolonged, sticks it at the bottom.

Practice with the training rod

Starting with the training rod makes your green bar substantially bigger (equivalent to if you were level 5) which makes fishing a lot more manageable. You can only catch basic fish with this rod, but you get the same XP as you would with any other rod. Use it to farm XP and then unlock bait crafting at level 2.

Eat the right food

Certain foods that you can buy or cook at home will give you a fishing boost. Here's some useful grub and the boosts they provide: 

  • Clam Chowder: +1
  • Dish O' The Sea: +3
  • Escargot: +2
  • Fish Stew: +3
  • Fish Taco: +2
  • Lobster Bisque: +3 and +50 max energy
  • Trout Soup: +1

Start in the beginner spots

Some fish are easier to catch than others and the two best places for beginners are the ocean at the bottom of the map, where you can find easy fish like sardines, and the secret woods lake where you can catch carp. You can also gain XP from crab pots that are unlocked at level 3: These give you experience with having to actually fish.

Rachel Watts

Rachel had been bouncing around different gaming websites as a freelancer and staff writer for three years before settling at PC Gamer back in 2019. She mainly writes reviews, previews, and features, but on rare occasions will switch it up with news and guides. When she's not taking hundreds of screenshots of the latest indie darling, you can find her nurturing her parsnip empire in Stardew Valley and planning an axolotl uprising in Minecraft. She loves 'stop and smell the roses' games—her proudest gaming moment being the one time she kept her virtual potted plants alive for over a year.