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How to catch a Pokémon in Pokémon Go

It's harder than it seems

Pokémon Go, like any Pokémon game, is all about catching Pokémon. Sure, there are other important features too, like finding PokéStops, joining a team or taking pictures, but at the end of the day, becoming a real life Pokémon master means catching all the Pokémon.

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In Pokémon Go, however, that's a little bit harder than usual. Unlike other Pokémon games, catching doesn't come down to strategically squaring off one Pokémon against another. Instead, to catch a Pokémon, you have to have good aim. That's because Pokémon battles are finger swipe-versus-monster as you swipe a Poké Ball toward a Pokémon.

There are little tricks that we've learned, however, to help you figure out the best method of catching a Pokémon, despite the whole process feeling like it's left up to luck. Were happy to share our tips with you on how to find and catch Pokémon for your growing Pokémon Go collection.

How to find a Pokémon

To find a Pokémon, you have to walk around outside. That's the big sell of Pokémon Go: It gets you out of the house and into the great outdoors. Finding a Pokémon requires patience, however. If you're in an isolated area without PokéStops — noted locations throughout the world that attract Pokémon and house items — then you might be out of luck. More densely populated areas include more PokéStops, along with more people attaching Lure Modules to attract even greater numbers of Pokémon to show up out of the woodwork, tempting you to catch 'em.

There's a meter along the lower right-hand corner of the screen to alert you to whether a Pokémon is nearby. One to three pawprints will accompany its silhouette or icon to indicate just how close you are to it, with three meaning its far away. A Redditor created the diagram below to help you best use Pokémon Go's Pokémon tracker:

pokemon go tracker

Once you've figured that out and happened across a Pokémon, you'll have to catch it.

How to catch a Pokémon

Catching a Pokémon seems easy. All you have to do is swipe the Poké Ball toward the Pokémon, which stays almost perfectly still throughout the battle. Since you aren't pitting your own Pokémon against the wild one, there aren't any other strategic elements at play — or so it seems.

Colored circles appear around the Pokémon you're trying to catch. These vary from green (the easiest catch) to red (a tougher battle). As you engage the Poké Ball, the circle will decrease in size. For "green" battles, this won't really change anything. For battles of increasing difficulty, however, you'll want to pay attention to that circle.

The smaller the circle, the more likely the Pokémon is to resist, it seems. Niantic Labs said that players should wait until the circle is as small as possible in order to throw the Ball, however.

Why does my Poké Ball keep curving?

The game rewards a "nice" or "great" throw, but not all throws are perfect. Pokémon Go can also send your ball curving away from the Pokémon, seemingly at random. That doesn't mean that you can't catch a Pokémon with a curve ball; in fact, if you do, you're rewarded for it. Still, we're not exactly sure yet why the game throws your ball of its course, even when you feel confident about your throw.

There's still more to learn

We're still learning the finer points of catching, so we'll be sure to update when we understand more. If you've picked up some tips in your journey thus far, leave them in comments!

For more how-to info on Pokémon Gocheck out our FAQ, as well as details on how to find PokéStopshow to pick a team and a trick to lowering the game's data consumption and battery usage.

Correction: You'll get bigger bonuses when the capture circle is smaller — and Niantic Labs recommends that players wait until the circle is at its smallest to throw the ball. We've edited the tips above to reflect this.