For players to start fishing, they need to have a Fishing Pole and Lures, both of which can be bought from the NPC Saltwater Sam. A Basic Fishing Pole costs 200 Glim, while lures cost 10 Glim each. Sam is located at the pirate area of the Hub World, northwest of the spawn point. Players can only fish when they have a fishing pole equipped and lures in their inventory. Not having any lures will not let the player cast, producing the message "You cannot fish without a lure".
Special rods can be crafted at the Nautical Assembler to the left and right of Saltwater Sam. These rods unlock fishing in different liquids, as well as allowing the player to catch different rare fish.
After getting the necessary materials, players need to cast their lure on any liquid blocks by pushing the fishing key (F by default on PC, X on Xbox). Holding the key will display a trajectory of where the lure will land after releasing the button. Lures that don't land in an unlocked liquid will not be consumed.
Players must wait for 20-30 seconds for the lure to start splashing in order to reel in a fish, and will have 5 seconds to press the fishing key again to catch it. Sometimes, the player catches an Old Boot, Ancient Boot or other item instead. Missing a fish will cause the lure to be consumed. Lures will be consumed if the player reels in too soon.
Players are not able to fish under the following conditions:
- The player has no lures.
- The player has no fishing pole equipped.
- The player is underwater.
- The player is on a moving boat.
- The player hasn't collected a pole that can fish in that liquid. ("Regretful Water" from the Sea of Regret is different from normal water.)
- Main article: Fishing Poles
- Molten Magma Sifter unlocks fishing in Lava.
- Candied Fishing Cane unlocks fishing in Chocolate.
- N-0 Depth Scoper unlocks fishing in Plasma.
- Lady of the Lake allows Enchanted Fish to be caught in water while it is equipped.
There are several other fishing rods that are cosmetic and have no effect on fishing, though they may give Mastery points. Changing your fishing pole also changes the appearance of the bobber.
- Main article: Fish
There are four kinds of fish: Common, Uncommon and Rare, and Enchanted. Once a player catches a fish, it must be Loot Collected to get resources from it.
Every fish caught has a weight, which determines whether they are average or "Trophy Size" fish. Trophy fish give a placeable Wall Trophy in addition to the normal loot, in Bronze, Silver and Gold variants.
Though the exact rates are unknown, these are the approximate rates of catching some fish and items:
- 70% Common
- 20% Uncommon
- 1% Rare/Enchanted
- 2.5% Old Boot
There is only 1 rare fish for any location. Players must move to find a different rare fish. (Locations here)
Enchanted Fish are rare fish that are caught instead while the Lady of the Lake pole is equipped.
Through fishing, players can gain Glim, along with various other resources including Flux, Blank Scrolls, Radiant Shards, Shapestone Ore, Primordial Flames and more. Every fish gives a certain amount of Glim, and Uncommon fish give resources as well. Every rare fish gives 1,000 Glim and 1 Ancient Scale. Enchanted fish give 1,000 Glim and 1 Enchanted Scale. Ancient Scales are used to craft new fishing poles and boats, and both scales can craft a unique jellyfish mount.
Fishing gives a large amount of Glim, allowing you to keep fishing indefinitely. The Glim earned from fishing with a large amount of lures is about triple the initial price of the lures.
The first time a player Loot Collects a new kind of fish, it will be added to their collection, granting Mastery points (5 points for Common fish, 10 points for Uncommon fish, and 25 points for Rare and Enchanted fish).
While fishing at any location, players have a 1 in 10,000 chance of catching the Wish Fisher, a cosmetic fishing rod.