This article is only a guide. Information expressed in a guide is usually more opinion than fact and should be taken as such. Guides are written by players, based upon their experiences, successes and mistakes, and are meant to aid other players. However, there may be differing opinions than those expressed in a guide. Information in guides may not work for everyone.
Welcome to my Fishing skill up guide! I am going to get this out of the way and put a direct link to this guide, which is practically a work of art. If you have any questions about fishing, Akirussan probably has an answer for you. It is definitely a suggested read for any serious fisher.
Akirussan's Fishing Guide on Kida's Fishing Database
I was introduced to this guide when I started my fishing career less than six months ago, and I will reference the fish and locations suggested on that guide about 50% of the time. Why make this guide then, you ask? Well, unfortunately, that guide is pretty outdated, and some of the higher level fishing locations did not work out for me. I also wanted to tweak a few locations in the lower levels to suggest where to go for the best skill ups instead of offering a bazillion options. In most cases I suggest one location/fish for those levels, sometimes two if both places are equally quick for skilling up.
 About This Guide
For levels 1-50, I will suggest a rod, a bait, and a fish target. However, after level 50, I am going to assume that you already have a Lu Shang's Fishing Rod. In order to get quick skill ups and not worry about losing your catch or breaking your rod, you really do need a versatile rod like Lu Shang's. An Ebisu Fishing Rod would also work, of course! I, myself, fished until level 30 with various rods, and then fished in San d'Oria for Moat Carps until I had finished the Lu Shang quest. At this point I also tried to target Gold Carps, and by fishing both Moats and Golds, I was able to get my skill up to 40 from the occasional Gold Carp bites.
The actual guide will follow this format:
- LEVELS >> FISH (SKILLCAP) using ROD + BAIT
- Suggested location and any other info I think will be helpful. Please keep in mind that I assume you are of a high enough level that mobs and fished up monsters will not be a problem.
 Levels 1-53
- 1-11 >> Crayfish (7), Moat Carp (11) using Hume Fishing Rod + Little Worm
- Suggested Location: The Knightwell in West Ronfaure (G-10). Both fish bite VERY frequently here, so you should get fast skill ups. Little worms can be bought from Lusiane in Southern San d'Oria for around 3 gil each, making Ronfaure a very convenient location as it is close to a bait vendor. You can switch to Insect Paste at level 7 to isolate Moat Carp bites, but you'll have to make them yourself or buy them from guild merchants in Windurst or Whitegate. Not so convenient! I just stuck with Little Worms.
- 11-19 >> Quus (19) using Halcyon Rod + Sabiki Rig
- Suggested Location: The docks in Port Windurst (C-8). Quus will bite fairly often and the rig can sometimes catch more than one fish, which should help your chances of skilling up. Pretty simple during these levels.
- 19-27 >> Nebimonite (27) using Halcyon Rod + Shrimp Lure
- Suggested Location: The lake in Sea Serpent Grotto (J-12). Nebs bite VERY frequently here, and as a plus, they usually sell for a great profit on most servers. The only downfall is that SSG is a bit of a hike if you don't have a WHM to teleport you. You might hook Grimmonites with this setup, but as they cap at 90 it is not likely you will be able to pull them in. I think I went from 19-27 fishing Nebs in about two days.
At 23 bits are slow and only thing i catch is monsters.
- 27-35 >> Crystal Bass (35) using Halcyon Rod + Minnow OR Sinking Minnow
- Suggested Location: The Crystal Spring in Jugner Forest (J-9). I found I got about the same bite rate using either of the minnow baits, so just use whichever one you have. This stretch was probably the slowest of all stretches until the 50s. The bite rate is good, not great, but the skill ups are definitely still pretty frequent. You can pursue other fish here like Giant Catfish or Dark Bass but they will have about the same bite and skill up rate. The reason I like Crystal Bass is because with the implementation of Abyssea, Horst will teleport you directly to the Vunkerl maw in Jugner Forest. The spring is only a short walk south of the maw, making it a very convenient location to get to.
- 35-53 >> Shall Shell (53), Bluetail (55) using Halcyon Rod + Rogue Rig or Robber Rig
- Suggested Location: The cliffs in Buburimu Peninsula (K-8). Ahhh yes, the best part of my fishing career so far! Shall Shells are, without a doubt, the best fish for skilling up. They are even better than Nebs, and I thought Nebs were incredible. It doesn't matter what rig you use, I think they both have the same bite rate. I used Robber because it was what I had at the time. On my server, Shells sell for 13k a stack, and they sell very quickly. I was really hoping that it would take me a long time to reach the skill cap here because I made such an awesome profit...but I managed to go almost 20 levels in about 3-4 days. Bluetail will bite the rigs occasionally, and I just sold those to the NPC whenever I went back to town to auction the Shells. Cherish your time here, it will be awesome!
 Levels 53-96
- 53-55 >> Bluetail (55) using Lu Shang's Fishing Rod + Minnow
- Suggested Location: The cliffs in West Sarutabaruta (F-11). So...getting from 53-55 was a bit like torture. I experimented during this stretch for what felt like a trip around the world. I even tried the ferry...which I absolutely hate by the way. I finally found that the cliffs above the Bastore Sea in West Saruta actually had a pretty good bite rate when using a Minnow. I was also able to pull in the occasional Bastore Bream which caps at 86. Once I found this spot, it only took me a day or two to get those two levels.
- 55-90 >> Mercanbaligi (86), Ahtapot (90) using Lu Shang's Fishing Rod + Shrimp Lure
- Suggested Location: Inside the port area of Nashmau. Now...I know this seems like a CRAZY stretch, but it really isn't. I searched and searched for an alternative to ferry fishing, and I think I found a gold mine! On the ferry, you can catch Bhefhel Marlin (61), Silver Shark (76), and Noble Lady (66)...but you cant catch them all with the same bait, the bite rate is low, the skill up rate is even lower, and stupid things like the Sea Horror loved to climb the stairs and aggro me. Not possible, you say! But let me assure you, it happened. -.- Anyways, I decided to try catching Mercanbaligi and Ahtapot in Nashmau, and what I found was an almost 50% bite rate, which is pretty darn good considering that high level fish tend to have a slower bite rate. They also put up a relatively small fight for their level, so you should be able to reel them in with very few problems. I have been fishing these for about 4 days now (today is November 6th) and have gone from 55 to 66. Wata Khamazom will buy the fish off you for a decent price so you can make a pretty good profit, and she is practically right behind you so you don't have to exit the docks. The ONLY downfall that I can think of is that Nashmau is difficult and time consuming to get to. Thank goodness for Synergy! Go to Nashmau once, buy a Nashmau Waystone from Pipiroon and have a synergist craft a Nashmau Earring for you.
 Levels 90-100
There are a couple options once you hit 90, so I'm going to list the ones I used. I tend to get bored staying in one location for too long, and I found a few good skill up fishies for these levels so I was able to move around a bit.
- 90-96 >> Black Sole (96) using Lu Shang's Fishing Rod + Shrimp Lure OR Sinking Minnow
- Suggested Location: Anywhere in Port Jeuno. I like to fish in the Windurst docks, but that is just because half the time I end up going to Windurst anyways. The lure really is a toss up. I have heard some people say they get a better bite rate with Shrimp than a Sinker, and I've heard some people say visa versa. I have found about a 25% bite rate with both, so I just stick with the Sinker. If you're looking to make a good profit and have cooking leveled, or a good friend who does, I recommend growing your own rice and making some sushi!
- 90-99 >> Pterygotus (99) using Lu Shang's Fishing Rod + Sinking Minnow
- Suggested Location: The docks in Nashmau. I actually fished Ahtapot all the way up until 90, and then just stayed in Nashmau and switched my lure to a Sinker to catch these guys. I really liked the Mercs and Ahtapots in Nashmau because there was an NPC right behind me for quick inventory clears, so I just did the same with these fish. Bite rate is only around 30%, but honestly I don't think the bite rate goes much above that for levels 90-100. Skill ups were fairly often and I was able to get all the way to 99 on these!