Fishing tattoos are a great way to show off your passion for this age-old pastime.  Read our tips for designing the best fishing tattoo.

Fishing Tattoo Ideas in 2021

Since the beginning of the practice, tattoos have been used to signify various parts of your identity: your tribe, your rank, your profession, and so on. Today, we still get tattoos to reflect who we are, and often we choose to tattoo the things we love on us both to show the world who we are and as a way to keep our favorite things with us everywhere, forever. It’s really a beautiful notion.

So if one of the things you love most is fishing, you may be interested in getting a tattoo that represents this hobby, pastime, and passion. The exciting thing is that there are so many different ways you can get a fishing tattoo, with different combinations of various styles and elements that you can put together to fit your preferences. So without further ado, here are some tattoo ideas for fishing tattoos to help you get inspired.

Styles of Fishing Tattoos

When deciding on a style for your fishing tattoo it’s important to think about what you want your tattoo to convey. The die hard fisherman might go for a more realistic tattoo, whereas the hobbyist may go for something more adventurous like a watercolor or neo-traditional style. Whatever your style, if you love fishing, there’s a tattoo for you.

Traditional Fishing Tattoo

Fishing Lure Tattoo

Being such an enduring (you might even call it traditional) pastime, it only makes sense that a fishing tattoo would look good in the American traditional style, and, indeed, it does. Here, strong, bold, black lines and a color palette of yellows, reds, and greens can be used to create a stylized look that immediately joins the centuries-long tattooing history of traditional style tattoos.

Neo-Traditional Fishing Tattoo

Bass Tattoo Design

If you prefer your tattoos a little more detailed, with a wider color palette and more flexible style, but still want to give a nod to the traditional tattoo style, you may prefer to get your fishing tattoo in neo-traditional style, which will let you really lean into the aspects of the fishing concept that most interest you. Whether you choose to emphasize the water, the fish, the hook, or the scene as a whole, neo-traditional can make it look great.

Realistic Fishing Tattoo

Realistic Fishing Tattoo Scene

One very common tattoo style choice for fishing tattoos is the realistic style, for which there are several reasons. First, animals of all sorts tend to look really great rendered realistically. Beyond that, for those who want to create an entire fishing scene in their tattoo, with multiple elements including landscapes and a fisherman, the realistic style allows you to seamlessly integrate many different things into one large tattoo. And finally, this is a timeless, elegant style that ages beautifully.

Watercolor Fishing Tattoo

Watercolor, Surreal Tattoo Fishing Design

A less common but no less eye-catching style choice for a fishing tattoo is the watercolor style, which uses soft, often pastel tones and free-flowing patches of color to add an artistic, lyrical quality to the background of tattoos. Watercolor tattoos are often combined with other styles, so you don’t have to compromise between the softness of the watercolor and the more graphic nature of another style, such as linework.

Minimalist Fishing Tattoo

Crossed Fishing Poles Tattoo Design in a Minimalist Style

A minimalist tattoo can be a great choice if you prefer something simple, small, or just want to focus on a specific aspect of your love for fishing, like the fishing rod or hook.

Key Elements of Fishing Tattoos

If you want to get a fishing-inspired tattoo, there are a lot of different approaches you can take, from including all of the following elements to just one.


One of the most important and essential aspects of the activity, there is no fishing without the fish. That’s why you are most likely going to find at least one if not multiple fish pictured in any fishing tattoo. That being said, you can definitely design a fishing tattoo with no fish in it, especially if you’re going for a more minimalist style as referenced above.

Fishing Hooks and/or Fishing Rod

While there are a lot of ways to fish, including with nets, spears, and even by hand, modern-day fishing, especially as a hobby, is most often done using fishing rods and fishing hooks, which is why they have become a key element of fishing tattoos.


You won’t necessarily always see a human figure in fishing tattoos, but when they are meant to represent more of the full picture of the act of fishing, it can be a great idea to include a fisherman (or woman) in your fishing tattoo.

Miscellaneous Accessories

In addition to actual fishing essentials, many people choose to incorporate various water- and boating-themed paraphernalia into fishing tattoos either to enhance the meaning or visually fill out the tattoo. Of these, it’s common to see elements like anchors, ropes, and boats.

Landscape Elements

Finally, for those who create a larger tattoo with a more complete scene, it’s very common for fishing tattoos to include landscape elements like water, waves, bodies of water, the sky, the sun, and so on.

Locations for Fishing Tattoos

If you’re looking for fishing tattoo design ideas for where on your body to place your tattoo, you may want to consider some of the following options.


Much of the time, people choose to get their fishing tattoos in a larger size, often even a full or half sleeve. Because of this, the arm is one of the most common choices for fishing tattoo placement.


On a similar note, many people pick their leg as a location for their fishing tattoos, as it offers a lot of skin surface area to create a large, detailed fishing tattoo. One of the most popular parts of the leg to get a fishing tattoo is the calf.


While not quite as common as the arm or leg, there are definitely those who opt for the torso as a location of choice for their fishing tattoo, whether that be on the back, chest, or stomach.

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