methods vary according to the area fished, the species targeted, the personal strategies of the angler, and the resources available. It ranges from the aristocratic art of fly fishing elaborated in Great Britain, to the high-tech methods used to chase marlin and tuna.
Sport fishing is usually done with hook, line, rod and reel rather than with nets or other aids. Even sports fisherman discard a lot of non-target and target fish on the bank while fishing
The most common salt water game fish are marlin, tuna, tarpon, sailfish, shark, and mackerel.
In North America, freshwater fish include snook, redfish, salmon, trout, bass, pike, catfish, walleye and muskellunge. The smallest fish are called panfish, because they can fit whole in a normal cooking pan. Examples are perch and sunfish.
In the past, sport fishers, even if they did not eat their catch, almost always killed them to bring them to shore to be weighed or for preservation as trophies. In order to protect recreational fisheries sport fishermen now often catch and release, and sometimes tag and release, which involves fitting the fish with identity tags, recording vital statistics, and sending a record to a government agency.
Recreational fishing techniques include hand gathering, spearfishing, netting, angling and trapping.
Most recreational fishers use a fishing rod with a fishing line and a hook at the end of the line. The rod may be equipped with a reel so the line can be reeled in, and some form of bait or a lure attached to the hook. Fly fishing is a special form of rod fishing in which the reel is attached to the back end of the rod, and heavy line is cast with a complex, repetitive whipping motion to deliver the ultra light artificial fly to its target. Another less common technique is bowfishing using a regular bow or a crossbow. The "arrow" is a modified bolt with barbs at the tip, connected to a fishing line so the fish can be retrieved. Some crossbows are fitted with a reel.
The effective use of fishing techniques often depends on knowledge about the fish and their behaviour including migration, foraging and habitat.