In the beta, there isn't much available by way of rods. The Weathered Fishing Rod is good enough for now. Trade "weapons" include a rank in their description and I can only assume that higher ranked rods help you hook your fish while also helping keep the fish on longer while you try to tire it out.
A wide variety of bait is available with each being either consumable (worms, etc) and reusable (lures and jigs). In the beta, I had my best luck with plain old Lugworms. I also had decent luck with a Floating Minnow. I did NOT have good luck with a Chocobo Fly, no matter what depth I chose. To me, a fly is for river fishing, so I don't know if that was my problem (I spent all my time fishing in the sea off of Camp Bearded Rock).
Bait is relatively cheap, and you only lose your consumable bait if you hook the fish, so feel free to experiment. To equip bait, simply selected it from the Attributes & Gear menu, and hit enter to add it to your Pack. Or, if you wish to macro it, you can type /equip pack "BaitNameHere".
Fishing in FFXIV is essentially a hot and cold game, as are all of the Disciple of Land classes. There are three parts to the mini game:
I think where most people have trouble is the actual hooking of the fish. You may or may not get a bite every cast, and the trick is figuring out how to hook the fish you have nibbling at your bait. I have some ideas on how this works and I will explain what my theory is, but I would like to point out that this is pure speculation on my part. I started to keep a log of my hook rate, but I don't have enough data to conclusively prove anything yet. That being said, I think it is a good theory, and hopefully if other people try it and report their results, we can come up with a conclusive method that works for most.
There are effectively two actions you can perform once you start fishing: Wait or Jig.
My normal pattern of fishing is:
There are various messages you get while jigging once you have the fish hooked that I will go into detail about later on.
My observations while fishing have lead me to believe that there are two sweet spots that you should jig on in order to maximize your chances. In order to explain the sweet spots, I need to first explain how jigging works. When you select Jig, a meter is displayed with a colored dot that moves back and forth.
Hooking the fish involves stopping the meter in what I think of as the "Sweet Spot".
Here is where we delve into speculation. I believe that in order to hook a fish, you need to stop the dot near to some predetermined point on the meter. Think of a cone that is where you need to stop the dot (what I refer to as the "Hook Point" below). If you do it correctly, the fish is hooked. Otherwise, you miss the fish. Furthermore, if you try on one of the sweet spots and it doesn't hook a fish, immediately try the sweet spot on the other side. A great majority of the time you will hook the fish on the second time around.
It is my theory that the cone where you should set your hook point for the fish is actually quite wide, say maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the meter. So the two sweet spots are really the best way of ensuring you get the fish on either the first or second nibble. Of all of the casts where I missed my first attempt at hooking the fish, if I were to try the sweet spot on the other side it seems that almost always I would then hook the fish. Again, without hard data it's just a gut feeling, but I still think this is a good theory.
Now that you have it hooked, what do you do? Well now the game starts the hot and cold part. Your job now is to pick a point on one side or the other of the point where you selected to hook the fish and see if you weaken it or if it runs with your line. The messages you get as you battle your fish are a clue as to how you're doing. I'll run down them and try to add my thoughts to each. One thing to note: you don't have an unlimited amount of time to reel the fish in. There is a gauge that appears under the meter that represents the amount of stamina you have left to reel the fish in. Each jig will cost you some stamina. You need to land the fish before you run out of stamina.
You've hooked something but cannot reel it in.
The fish is taking line.
The fish is taking a great deal of line.
You take in some line.
You take in a great deal of line.
The fish has tired, but you still cannot reel it in.
You lost what felt like a Tiger Cod.
The fish got away
Grade x school of fish: x yalms to the north / x yalms to the east / x yalms to the south / x yalms to the west.
Veteran Trade takes effect.
You are probably wondering why this is all worth it. Well you can get things! Fish! Shards! TONS of experience points! The shards you pull up can be any element. I had amassed a large number of shards by the time the beta had ended. Fish come in normal varieties as well as +1, +2, and +3 editions. You can pull up both fish and shards at the same time. In fact, you will always catch fish; sometimes you get shards as well.
More to come
A BIG thank you to Mikhalia for spell/grammar checking for me.