3 fishermen fishing in river

River Fishing Tips For Beginners – Top Tips That You Will Need to Know

Would you agree that it would probably be a good idea to learn about the best techniques for river fishing instead of just literally wading into the water and trying it for the first time without any idea of how to do it?

If it were me river fishing for the first time, I would certainly want to learn as much information as I could before giving it a go.

And as an experienced river fisherman myself, I think I’m at least moderately well qualified to teach you all that I know about the best river fishing tips for those who have little to no experience in it, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this article.

There are many experienced fishermen who consider river fishing to be one of the best ways to fish because it can be done from a riverbank without the aid of a boat, and it also requires less gear and equipment than other fishing methods.

On top of all of that, river fishing is incredibly fun and a great experience for anyone to enjoy.

Before you head out on your first river fishing trip, these are the top tips that you will need to know:

3 fishermen fishing in river

What Equipment Do You Need?

The very first thing that you need to do before you go river fishing is to make sure that you have gathered all of the necessary equipment.

At the bare minimum, you are going to need each of the following:

Rod and Reels

Obviously a fishing rod and reel will be of the utmost importance for a successful river fishing trip.

You would be best served by a lighter fishing rod, not only because it’s less weight to hold for extended periods of time, but also because it’s much easier to detect a bite with a lighter rod than a heavier one.


Go with hooks that are wider and will get caught in a fish’s mouth.

If you use smaller hooks, it’s possible for them to get caught deeper into a fish’s throat. Not only can it be deadly for the fish, but they can also be a pain to get out.

Lures and Bait

You’ll need to use lures to attract fish to your bait in the first place, and then the bait on the hook will be used for actually making a catch.

As far as which type of lures to use, ones with brighter colors or shiny qualities will be preferable.

However, you can also try using lures that resemble common prey rather than being brightly colored.

For bait, you can use anything from minnows to worms to leeches to crickets or plastic bait. Ideally, you should research the most common types of prey for fish at the river you’re going to be at and then plan accordingly.

Line Cutter

If your line gets caught in logs or tree branches, you’ll need to use a line cutter to quickly free it.


You’ll need weights to create more casting distance, and also to help ensure that your bait is kept underwater.

Split shot weights are the best choices for beginners because I find them to be the easiest to install.

Taking Weather Into Account

One of the biggest factors that you will need to take into account when river fishing is the weather.

This is because the weather plays a crucial role when angling, as the river will either drop or rise as the weather and temperature changes.

In my personal experience, the best time to go fishing is in the winter.

The reason why is because food has become more scarce for fishing during this season, which means that fish will become desperate to get any food they possibly can, and therefore more likely to bite your bait.

In contrast to this, during the warmer seasons, food should theoretically be in great abundance for fish. As a result, it will likely take longer for a fish to show interest in your bait.

Simply put, you are more likely to get more bites when fishing in colder weather.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fish in the summer or when it’s hot out, but it does mean that you should expect to get fewer bites realistically.

man in fishing vest

The Best Places to Fish in Any River

Regardless of the specific river you’re going to be fishing at, I’ve found that these are the best places to try your luck:

Drop Offs

These are simply deeper areas of the river that will usually be holding more fish that are currently resting.

Even though these fish may not be actively feeding, the fact that they may be rather still means that you can put your bait in front of them and try your luck.


The areas of the river where the current is flowing upstream or in a circular motion will be excellent fishing locations.


Areas, where the river makes a hard turn, will often have deeper water and are typically excellent areas for spotting fish.

Current Edges

Current edges are places in a river where a fast current comes up against slower moving water, usually due to a natural obstruction (such as a fallen log).

These will also be great areas for finding fish actively feeding.

The Best Techniques For River Fishing

Now that you know the equipment that you need and the best places in a river to go fishing, it’s time to learn the best river tips and techniques:

Crosscurrent Technique

Fish like to feel naturally protected, which is why they will often hide in areas of cover or in murky areas of water where they are not easily visible.

Using the crosscurrent technique means that you’ll try to fish that are staying in these murky areas.

Look for crosscurrent areas in the river where the sediment at the bottom has been stirred up.

Even if you can’t see any fish swimming around in there, if you place your line in don’t be surprised if you get bites.

Upstream Technique

Here’s one of the best river fishing tips for beginners because most novice fishermen (and women) aren’t aware of it: when fish are actively feeding, they will usually face upstream.

The reason why is because they know that the current can send food directly to them.

This also means that the fish will not see you since you can stand behind them.

Therefore, stand in the middle of the river (or in a boat) and then cast your line upstream.

Downstream Techniques

Another technique to use is the downstream fishing technique.

When the current is moving faster, you will need a heavy weight to ensure that your bait is kept stable at the bottom of the river. Cast slightly across while holding the end of your rod low, and then retrieve it once the line is downstream.

man fishing on river at daytime

Final Tips For River Fishing

Here are some final tips for fishing in a river that I recommend you try:

Be Aware of Size and Catch Limit Regulations

This should go without saying, but the size and catch limit regulations can vary drastically from one area to the next, so it’s your responsibility to research what they are for the river you’re going to be visiting.

You also need to ensure that you have all of the necessary licenses as well.

Use Hand Gloves

I recommend using cut-resistant and waterproof hand gloves while fishing.

Not only will they give you a tighter grip over a slippery fish once you catch it, but they will also offer you more control over your fishing rod as well.

Use Polarized Glasses

It really depends on how murky the water is, but polarized glasses can still help you to see through the water so you can locate exactly where the fish are at.

Unlike when you are fishing in a pond or a lake, the water in a river is usually shallower, so it’s perfectly possible to visually locate where fish are at.

Fish in Backwater Creeks Rather Than Fast Moving Rivers

There are many species of fish, such as largemouth bass, that much favor the backwater creeks that break off from a river rather than the fast-moving currents of the river itself. You would be wise to check these creeks out.

Use Bottom Bounce Live Bait

One of the most effective techniques for getting a fish’s attention is to bounce live bait off from the bottom of a river.

You should look for fishing rigs that enable you to do this and will allow you to present your bait directly to the fish. Just make sure that when bouncing the bait, you do so with the current and not against the current.


The river fishing tips that you have learned here today will be invaluable to you when you embark on your first and subsequent river fishing trips.

By utilizing these tips, the chances of you making a successful catch will go up significantly.

Also, don’t forget to comment and share about your own river fishing experiences in the comment section.