Fishing Skill

Introduces the concept of fishing skill, and explains how your skill will increase with successful catches. On this page:

"Someone really loves to fish." - Description of A Thoroughly Read Copy of Nat Pagle's Extreme' Anglin

What is Fishing Skill?

Fishing with Bobber
Fishing with Bobber

Once you know how to fish, your current Fishing skill can be seen on the Fishing panel of the Professions tab, in your Spellbook.

Like other professions, your skill in fishing is expressed as a number. Skill is 1 when you first train, but you can improve this.

You can cast a line anywhere with fishing skill 1. So why improve your fishing?

In most locations, higher skill will reduce the proportion of junk items you catch from open water. Junk can be sold to vendors. But good anglers should not be reeling in dead trees! With higher fishing skill, you will be able to catch more valuable fish, particularly in more difficult waters. In Skill and Locations I will explain exactly how much more skill you need.

Junk is replaced by excess Golden Carp in Pandaria. In Draenor, skill influences the size of fish caught from open water (but, since Patch 6.1, not pools - see Bait and Fillet for an introduction, or Size and Skill for details). Larger sizes of fish contain more fish flesh. Higher skill is also more likely to catch Lunkers from Draenor waters.

Apart from junk, Golden Carp, sizes, and Lunkers, higher skill does not fundamentally change what you can catch. The notabley exception to this rule is on Darkmoon Island, where possible catches are tiered according to your personal fishing skill (without Equipment bonuses) - see Darkmoon Skill Tiers for details.

Patch 3.1 changed the role of skill: Now you do not require a certain skill just to cast. With skill 1 you can cast anywhere. Junk items replace fish that "got away". Fish that "got away" did not improve your skill, but junk items do improve skill. So you can also now skill-up anywhere. For detailed analysis, read The Role of Skill (Revised). Patch 3.3 removed junk catches from pools. You will always catch fish from pools, even at skill 1.

Gaining Personal Fishing Skill

You primarily improve your personal fishing skill by successfully catching something. The number of successful catches determines personal skill increases. It does not matter where or when or what you fish, so long as you catch something. Even if you catch junk items, your skill will rise.

At the start, each catch will increase your skill by one. As you become more advanced it will take more catches to advance another point. The table below shows the approximate number of catches required to increase your fishing skill by a point. Since patch 4.3 this process is very variable, especially at higher skill levels. Below 300 fishing skill, it never seems to take more than 2 catches per skill point. Between 300 and 450, one skill point can require as many as 8 catches, although the average is much lower. Above 450 the maximum rises even higher.

Catches Required to Gain a Point of Fishing Skill
Current Fishing SkillAverage Catches per Skill Point Gain

About 2400 successful catches are required to train from fishing skill 1 to 700.

A "catch" means successfully clicking on the bobber, and looting. Looting more than one fish at the same time is still counted as only one catch.

There are 2 further methods of gaining fishing skill:


Each rank of Fishing has a maximum possible skill. To raise your skill beyond that maximum, you must train a higher rank.

For example: You first trained as an Apprentice, which allows you to raise your skill up to 75. To advance above 75, you must train Journeyman rank. Journeyman can only be trained once you have 50 skill.

So, once your personal fishing skill is close to the maximum, visit a Fishing Trainer to see if they can teach you a new rank. For a complete list of ranks by skill level, read about Ranks in the Training chapter.

The exception is Draenor Master rank, taught by Fishing Guide to Draenor. The scroll teaches all preceding ranks. If learning to fish using a Fishing Guide to Draenor, you do not need to visit trainers.

Leveling 1-700 requires about 2400 successful catches. This will take about 10 hours (assuming 4 catches per minute). But I don't recommend you learn it all at once! For further information and strategies, see Training.

Learn More

Comments about Fishing Skill

Below are readers' comments about "Fishing Skill":

Fishing Pole Beatdown

  • Ramini, April 2008

    Hey, I've read on other places that your fishing skill is equal to your weapon skill with a fishing pole however I just started a semi-pacifist hunter (In that she's only allowed to attack with pet and fishing pole) and although my crit rating with a fishing pole equipped goes down when I level it doesn't go up again when I raise fishing skill.
    Fishing skill in the 40s now at level 9 so it should have a 5% crit chance but it's only around 2% was what i read false (It DID come from thottbott ^^) or does it only kick in at a certain level?

  • Pipre, April 2008

    It's probable that the information you got is wrong, though I wouldn't know never having tried to play a 'semi'-pacifist character. I would assume that the information in your character frame is accurate however.

  • Ramini, April 2008

    Thanks, I'm just curious about how it works mainly. Was intending to make a pacifist character but I just found it far too hard to get past level 6 so I bought a fishing pole ^^
    I'm going to get the dwarven fishing pole later on and use that until 70 (its more of a themed character now I suppose) so I'll see if fishing pole skill might be the average of all your skills.

  • Expand 10 more comments

    from "Fishing Pole Beatdown".
  • Calabar, April 2008

    I’d be interested in reading what you find out. I’ve read the same thing about one’s fishing skill equaling one’s weapon skill with a fishing pole, but I never knew if it was more than a rumor.

  • Kahless, April 2008

    If you equip a fishing pole, you'll notice your weapon skill is equal to your fishing skill.
    As to how it effects your crit rate I can't say.

    Edit: At least it used to be that way. Now the Melee tool-tip doesn't show your equipped weapon skill.
    I think they changed how weapon skill effects crit rate a patch or two ago.

    At skill 425 my crtit chance is shown as 7.11%
    WIth a +100 lure added crtit chance goes up to 11.11%
    Another +10 from Captain Rumsey's Lager takes it to 11.51%

  • Ramini, April 2008

    Hah! Never mind! The fishing skill is equal to weapon skill. I didn't notice that the character sheet defaults to ranged stats on a hunter. Level 12 hunter, leveled fishing 37->38 and melee crit went up 0.04 as expected.
    Going to go cap fishing now ^^

  • Ramini, April 2008

    Now I'm a level 12 hunter with 225 fishing skill and 10.95% melee crit chance!
    Goes up 3% with the +75 lures I'm using.
    If I could find the darkwood fishing pole as a weapon the crit would probably make me quite powerful as a twink.

  • Kahless, April 2008

    You may be upping your crit rate but remember a fishing pole doesn't qualify as a melee weapon so most special abilities don't work with it.
    All you can do is simple auto-attack.

  • Pipre, April 2008

    some abilities can be used, but as you say no skills that require weapons. Fury warriors for example can use bloodthirst without a weapon since it does straight damage. I had fun a couple months back doing AB with my fishing pole as fury. Made some people angry, but I got some good footage for a video.

  • Ramini, April 2008

    I've only got Raptor strike at the moment as a hunter anyway for damaging. Of course I should be using a gun really but the humiliation of being beaten up with a fishing outfit is worth it.

  • Longhunter, April 2008

    not sure but i have killed the Birds in Skettis before in just my fishing outfit i am a Pally so the seals do help

  • Jeba, June 2008

    Hey guys. I felt like testing this myself just to make sure for some reason, hope you don't mind. ^^"

    I tested this on a Level 7 Shaman started at Fishing 1.

    Skill : Crit %
    01    : 3.19%
    02    : 3.23%
    03    : 3.27%
    04    : 3.31%
    05    : 3.35%
    06    : 3.39%
    07    : 3.43%
    08    : 3.47%
    09    : 3.51%
    10    : 3.55%

    Of course it behaved as expected, 0.04% per rank.

    I find this very neat.

  • Kushtengri, October 2010

    What about 4.0.1? Now weapon skills is off, we have already cap of weapon mastery, not?
    Then, is fishing skill equal to weapon skill?)

    PS: Sorry for bad English, I`m Russian wow-fish-blogger ( ). Welcome :)
    PS2: When I had started my blog I didn`t know about your site, El. Respect for you.

  • Reply

    to "Fishing Pole Beatdown".

Maximum Possible Fishing Skill (845/600)

  • PubDartGuy, November 2012

    600 Zen Master Fishing Skill
    + 40 Arcanite Fishing Pole
    + 5 High Test Eternium Fishing Line (enchants your fishing pole)
    + 15 Boots of the Bay (feet)
    + 15 Sharpened Tuskarr Spear (AoE buff)
    + 5 Enchant Gloves - Angler (on hands)
    + 5 Nat's Hat (head)
    + 10 Captain Rumsey's Lager (Food/Drinking buff)
    +150 Lure (from Nat's Hat, or Heat-Treated Spinning Lure
    845 = maximum possible Fishing Skill

    Now, one might ask, *why* would a person go to such lengths to achieve the maximum possible fishing skill?

    Because, only at this skill level can you catch Nessy, the legendary beast seldom seen in the Deeprun Tram's "aquarium"! But the elusive Nessy can only be fished at it's lair, rumored to be near the underwater cave located on Darkmoon Island! Nessy is a *legendary mount* - only one available per Realm. The catch rate is nearly impossible (1:1,000,000), but to the dedicated few, the bragging rights are epic! Nessy is a 5-seat, aquatic dragon mount, usable underwater, on land, and flying. Nessy grants underwater breathing to the rider and 4 passengers, but sadly it has an AoE fear effect on all NPCs *and players*, unless they have their Darkmoon Rabbit out. As of this posting, and due to the extreme difficulty involved in fishing up Nessy, this mount has not yet appeared on the PTRs or in the Armory. But, it does exist - and true believers will prove it to the world!

  • el, November 2012

    I should clarify that maximum fishing skill is also required for Catching Djakar.

  • Pipre, November 2012

    This post seems rather far fetched. If such a thing did exist it would have been datamined and immediately posed on WoWInsider and mom-champion. As well as here.

  • Expand 7 more comments

    from "Maximum Possible Fishing Skill (845/600)".
  • Druegar, November 2012

    While normally such posts would be made on April 1st, they are in fact joking about Nessy and Djakar.

  • noctusmirus, August 2013

    5 on hands doesnt stack with 5 on pole.

    880 is max.

  • el, August 2013

    See this topic for some discussion of gear oddities. Reports were not entirely consistent, although the problems seems to be linked to a patch 3.3-era bug, where the +5 glove and pole enchants were mixed up. That bug was eventually fixed, but a variation may have re-emerged in MoP.

    Note that if the pole and glove enchants are overlapping, you should be able to regain +2 by using the original glove enchant. Not that +2 is likely to make a tangible difference.

  • noctusmirus, August 2013

    Nice to know. I was trying to hit max just for fun there.

  • DrkestShadow, August 2013

    I know that it is zone limited but don't forget random buff from Underbelly Elixir ( that changes you to walrus man with a 10 to fishing buff.

  • noctusmirus, August 2013

    actually, underbelly is +50.

    images seem to be turned off

    breakdown from the image:
    arcanite pole: +40
    fishing line: +5
    boots (of booty bay): +15
    (nat's) hat: +5
    knitted gloves with +5 enchant
    lure: 150
    underbelly elixir: +50
    spear buff: +15

    40 +5 +15+5 +5 +150 +50 +15= 285 (but since the glove didnt count i only hit 280)

  • Fiskejohan, September 2013

    If this is only rumoured, is the 845 lvl req really confirmed?

  • Reply

    to "Maximum Possible Fishing Skill (845/600)".

Skill-up change in 4.3

  • donquixote235, December 2011

    El says: For a current skill-up table, see Fishing Skill. Original topic below:

    I'm currently grinding fishing on an alt, and I noticed a change in the way the game grants skill-ups now.

    Under the old method, fishing would take an average of X casts to get a skill-up, e.g. around 10 casts to get from 345 to 346. It appears that now it grants a skill-up after anywhere from 1 to X casts, e.g. to get from 345 to 346 it could still take 10, but you could get it after 5 casts or even 1 cast. And it looks like it's weighted toward less casts, rather than more.

    To give you an example, here's the past few skill-ups I've gotten:

    340-341: 2 casts
    341-342: 3 casts
    342-343: 2 casts
    343-344: 4 casts
    344-345: 3 casts
    345-346: 7 casts
    346-347: 5 casts
    347-348: 4 casts
    348-349: 2 casts
    349-350: 1 cast

    Happy fishing!

  • el, December 2011

    Thanks donquixote235. I'm currently working through 1-525. The process has become much more variable (after 300, especially after 450). Some random commentary can be found on Twitter.

  • Middledane, December 2011

    It seams like catching trash, trickers a "buf" which halves the number of catches needed for a skill level.
    Not 100% sure though, but it seams like that's happening.....

  • Expand 5 more comments

    from "Skill-up change in 4.3".
  • el, December 2011

    Don't worry - it's getting halved in Stormwind too. Unfortunately as the process becomes more variable, all sorts of patterns emerge to deceive the angler. (And sometime they transpire true, but normally only after assembling mountains of data...)

  • Middledane, December 2011

    He he. Today it shows that my experience from yesterday, is absolutely WRONG. ;-)

  • el, December 2011

    This graph gives a flavour of the variations:

    My initial analysis concluded these average catch numbers per skill point (at each range of fishing skill):

    • 1-100: 1.0
    • 100-200: 1.6
    • 200-300: 1.9
    • 300-450: 3.6
    • 450-525: 5.5

    But as you can hopefully see from the graph, that pattern is likely an over-oversimplification. Unfortunately it will take a lot more data to explore that further. And that's assuming no further variations, like location or gear or pools, or anything else that might have changed (but probably hasn't).

  • el, December 2011

    Second test from pools now complete: 100-525 in the Frozen Sea (I even found the PTR Sea Turtle I failed to catch during testing for patch 3.1). No change in the pattern. Total number of catches required was 4% lower than the Stormwind open water test above, but that can be explained away by the wide variations we're seeing - a little luck with the Random Number Generator can make a big difference.

    Overall, my gut feeling is that there haven't been any other changes, such as variations in skill-up by location of water fished or fish caught.

    Unfortunately the variations mean that we're unlikely to ever get an answer to a few lingering questions, like whether the guild perk "Working Overtime" now influences fishing: A 10% variation is very hard to demonstrate conclusively here.

  • Robbingo, December 2011

    I'm not sure what the skill rate was before hand, but today I was fishing for the Sea Pony so around darkmoon isle, and I went from skill 362 to 497 in 656 casts, so on average 5 casts per level. I seem to remember it being more that that before the patch.

  • Reply

    to "Skill-up change in 4.3".

Fish needed to Skill Up

  • b-morgan, March 2011

    Has anyone else noticed that the number of fish needed to skill up in the 250-300 range appears to be lower than the table on the page?

  • el, March 2011

    Yes, but only with a level14+ guild... I honestly don't know what's going on. I noticed it was quicker on live realms in a high-level guild, but when I tested it again guild-less on test realms, it didn't seem any faster. During Cataclysm we couldn't be sure whether the Working Overtime guild perk had any influence on fishing skill-ups - the evidence was inconclusive. But that might have been buggy.

    Of course it may not be guild-related, since I was testing different patch versions.

  • b-morgan, March 2011

    I guess I need to keep track of this somehow. All the characters I'm playing regularly are in a small, low level guild.

  • b-morgan, March 2011

    I've submitted a patch to FishingBuddy 1.0 that will keep track of the actual number of fish caught for each skill level. A little more programming to merge the tables from multiple people (table already handles multiple characters) and we can verify (or update) the existing table.

  • Reply

    to "Fish needed to Skill Up".

And More...

Comments are posted on the forums. To comment you can reply to one of the topics above, or start a new topic: Use the page's name (Fishing Skill) as the topic title, or tag the topic with that name. To edit a comment, view the original forum thread (while logged in), and make changes there. New comments or changes take a few minutes to appear here.