How to Fish Rivers – An Effective River Fishing Technique
In this article I’m going to outline an extremely effective river fishing technique. If you want to know how to fish rivers, or fish rivers more effectively, this article will serve you well. Before I get down to the actual technique, let’s discuss the kind of rivers where this technique is most effective.
Although this river fishing technique can be modified for various fishing situations it is best used in small to medium sized rivers. The kind of rivers and streams that you can wade and fish effectively without the help of a drift boat. I like a river that I can work my way up or down, crossing as needed, and fishing where it looks best. Sometimes this sized river can be difficult to find, but nonetheless this is the size river that I’m referring to.
The first thing to consider in regards to this effective river fishing technique is the size of the fishing line that’s employed.
You always want to use fishing line that’s as light as possible. A great tip is to match your line to the size of the fish that could be caught (on the high end of the spectrum). In other words if a 5 pound trout or smallmouth bass is the biggest fish you could expect to hook, 4-6 pound test will suffice. Just for a point of reference I personally use four pound test in 95% of the cases when using this technique.
When it comes to the question of how to fish rivers, this technique will become one of your favorite fishing techniques. You are going to need only 4 other items for this river fishing technique: split shot sinkers, small barrel swivels, gang hooks, and your favorite live bait. Having various sizes of split shot, gang hooks, and barrel swivels is a great idea, but these are the only items that are needed.
Having an effective way to carry your bait while wading is a great idea when river fishing. Being able to have your bait “at your fingertips” at all times is a huge time saver. My favorite live bait is live worms, which I consider integral to this river fishing technique, and the most effective way to carry live worms is a bait bag. This is simply a small pouch that hangs from your fishing vest and carries your bait while river fishing. This way your bait is always “at your fingertips”.
To rig up for this technique and begin learning how to truly fish rivers start by taking the end of your line and tying on a small barrel swivel. On the opposite end of the swivel tie on a set of gang hooks. The barrel swivel will prevent line twist as your bait bounces along the bottom. Now add whatever live bait you choose to use (in my case obviously a live worm). Split shot sinkers are now added above the barrel swivel for weight.
The number and size of the split shot will vary depending on current flow and river depth. As I said the goal is to bounce your offering along the bottom as it flows naturally with the current. Getting the right amount of weight will require some trial and error, so don’t get discouraged if you get snagged a few times. As my mentor used to say, “If you’re not getting snagged you’re not fishing in the right place”, getting snagged is just part of this very effective river fishing technique.
You now want to cast your line parallel to where you are standing, close your bail, and let your offering drift. The drift is over when your bait is below you, downstream. You’ll be able to feel the bottom as your bait bounces along the rocks, and soon will be able to easily distinguish the difference between bottom and a bite. With practice you will start to see the true value of this river fishing technique and you will never again have to wonder how to fish rivers.
Trevor Kugler is co-founder of JRWfishing.com and an avid angler. He has more than 25 years experience fishing for all types of fish, and 15 years of business and internet experience. He currently raises his five year old daughter in the heart of trout fishing country.