Ultimate Guide To River Fishing For Beginners! My Best Tips!

River Fishing For Beginners

Here you will find everything about river fishing in one place. Basic river fishing tips, what gear to use, best river for fishing ...

Fishing is very attractive activity for many, but for a complete beginner, it may seem a bit overwhelming.

How and where to start are just one of many questions new anglers have.

And sometimes it can be hard to search for information in different places. Because of that, here you will find out everything about river fishing for beginners, in one place, including basic river fishing tips, gear for river fishing, best river for fishing in the world and much more!

There is more about fishing than just catching a BIG fish. It is about spending time outdoors, learning and sharing knowledge and gaining experience.

Rivers are one of the best places to start learning this new skill. Variety of fish species and accessibility are among main advantages.

Before going to the water, every beginner should learn the basics, instead of wasting time and not enjoying it. And basic knowledge is a foundation on which you will build future experiences.

So, keep on reading the following chapters to find out everything about river fishing!



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5 of the best river fishing tips

Experienced anglers would share at least 500 river fishing tips, but it is important to single out the basics for beginners.

Too much information that noone can’t comprehend and follow is just as bad as not knowing anything.

There are some common rules that are useful in every fishing situation.

Keep it simple and blend in

This is one of the most important things every beginner needs to know! Do not overcomplicate it. When it comes to fishing gear, get a fishing rod that is multifunctional.

Today you will be out river fishing for catfish, and tomorrow for carp. Before you find your specialty, you need a basic, multifunctional fishing rod. Complement it with a medium size reel that can be used in various situations.

The same goes for other equipment. You do not need high-end, most expensive things. While you are in a learning process, there is a big chance you will damage your equipment with improper handling.

Buy a quality product, but don’t look for the most expensive ones.

Some beginners forget about clothes. A lot of fish, especially carp, are smarter than many people think. They can see and hear you. Avoid clothes in unnatural colors and try not to make a lot of noise.

Location, season and time

Before heading out to the nearest river, do some research about fish species native to those waters. Depending on a fish species, different rules apply. Some can be caught during day, some during night. Some depend of a season, and time of day changes.

Also, it is important to know about micro locations where different fish species spend time. Some are usually found in shallow water, some in merging currents, others like to hide under obstacles. Rivers are large and you will have to choose the right spot.

READ MORE: What's The Best Time to Fish for Catfish? Complete Guide!
READ MORE: What is best time for fishing? For carp, trout & bass!
READ MORE: Cheap Alaska Fishing Trips: All You Need to Know


Make sure you check the weather forecast before river fishing. There are two main reasons why. One is your own safety, because standing in water with a 5 meter (16,5 ft) fishing rod during thunderstorm is not advisable.

Second one is that fishing is usually better before storms or during light to moderate rain. Fish are influenced by lower light conditions and air pressure drops. Rain can stir up the water and wash nutrients from riverbanks into the water. More fish activity means higher chances for a catch.

Using the equipment

If you already got your reel, rod, lines, floats and hooks, make sure you know how to use them. Try tying knots at home. Learn how to spool a new line on a fishing reel. Also, practice casting on the nearest water.

If you don’t know how to do basic tasks, disappointment is inevitable. If you lose a hook but have no idea how to tie another, your fishing day will be over.

Casting is especially important. Not only proper casting will increase your chances to catch a fish, you will be able to cast safely. If you are surrounded by people you could injure someone. Don't forget about fishing insurance!

Also, if you are buying rod and reel separate, make sure they can be used together. A lot of manufacturers have them in pairs, so you can make it easy for yourself and choose that option.

Persistence and education

If you are not having any luck, don’t give up!

Try to identify mistakes and learn from them. Change bait, find another location, and ask for advice from more experienced anglers. There are huge online communities and forumswhere other will help you. Everyone was a beginner at some point. Don’t forget to enjoy it no matter the results.

If you are wondering where are river fishing tips about gear and common fish species, they are listed in the next chapters.

River fishing tips mentioned here are applicable to every fishing adventure for everyone.

River Fishing For Beginners - Gear, rod, reel

When is best season for river fishing (winter or summer)?

What is the best river fishing season is a tough question.

Some experienced anglers say they prefer winter. It is true that fish are less active at that time, but in the absence of natural food sources they will be happy to bite your bait. For a beginner, winter can be tricky. It is cold, maybe there is ice, and you will need special waterproof and windproof clothes and boots. That can be pricey. And it could be dangerous for the inexperienced anglers.

Also, in winter most fish species are active during warmest parts of a day. You will have just a few hours to catch it and being in a hurry is not productive.

READ MORE: TOP11 Short Tips for Carp Fishing in Winter

Summer is great for beginners because you do not need special clothes, days are long and temperatures are higher.

A lot of fish species are more active during summer mornings and evenings so you won’t have to fish during hottest and sunniest hours. In the morning, fish will be close to shore in shallower waters which is good for riverbank fishing.

So, if you are just starting your fishing adventures, it would be better to start in summer and gain some experience before testing your skills in winter.

Keep in mind that you will have to adjust your baits according to the season. One example are popular carp baits – boillies. The ones with strong smell are better for summer. Other example are pikes. If you fish for them, use larger lures in summer.

There are numerous examples and it is advisable to do some research because baits are very important.

One more advantage of summer, important for a beginner, is the abundance of fish. There are more of them during warm months and they are more active, so numbers are on your side.

River Fishing For Beginners - Pike

What gear do you need to fish in a river?

As we already mentioned, keep it simple. Buy basic and multifunctional gear made by dependable manufacturers.

River fishing rod

For rivers you will need a bit longer rod than for ponds. It will enable greater control. 12-13 feet rod is the right choice. Considering the type, most beginners choose float roads. Those rods are usable for catching most fish species, from bream to carp. Make sure it can be complemented with a reel accommodating 4-6 lbs lines.

Other possibility are all-rounders. Those river fishing rods are made in a way to enable different fishing techniques.

You can try using spinning rods too. They can be used with floats or lures, and 9-10 ft length, 10-40 grams lure weight, should be enough.

As a beginner you will not catch trophy fish and you do not need specialized equipment. The best river fishing rod for a beginner is the one that is easy to use.

River fishing lures

There are endless options available on the market but for start, try to use jerkbaits, inline spinners or swimbaits thar resemble real fish. Medium running crankbait are also useful. Size should be up to 3 inches.

It would be good to have different color options available. Use bright ones in murky waters and more natural looking in clear ones. Choosing right river fishing lures can be tricky and sometimes you will need to try few of them to find out the best option for certain location. Having the ones listed here is always a good option.

If fishing in summer, when fish are very active, you can move them more aggressively to attract fish. Also, consider vegetation and the possibility for lures to get tangled into it. Choose a lure accordingly.

River fishing baits

Nightcrawlers, minnows or leeches are a good option for bottom feeding fish. If you have the opportunity to use live bait, anglers agree that minnows are very good or worms. River fishing baits are numerous.

You can also use grasshoppers or crickets. They are easily accessible and low cost. The only problem with those is attaching them to the hook. It can be hard to attach them without breaking them or attaching them too lightly so that they fall off.

Same as with lures for predatory fish, try different ones and find what suits you, and the local fish, the best.

If fishing for carp, try boilies. You can buy them in fishing stores or you can make them yourself. Boilies are highly effective, they can be buoyant or sinking, different size and color options are available and with them you can’t go wrong. Same as with lures, choose a color accordingly.

River Fishing For Beginners - Bait, boilies

BEST rigs for river fishing

Best rigs for river fishing, especially for beginners, are the simplest ones.

Still fishing rig is one of the best options

It enables you to present your bait on the bottom or above it. You can use it while fishing from riverbanks and it can be used for different fish species. Most of all, it is easy to set up. The easiest ones are the following.

Basic bobber rig

It can slightly vary, depending on components but it consists of a hook (make sure you select proper size and shape), single weight and fixed or sliding bobber.

Hook is tied at the end of the fishing line and 6-12 inches above is a weight. Bobber is usually attached few feet above the hook. The only tricky part for a beginner is to decide how deep the bait should be positioned. Begin with fixed bobber and when you get used to it try to use sliding one.

This rig is widely used by beginners, in different waters for a variety of fish species. It is considered to be a medium-depth rig.

Split shot

This is also one of the best and easy to use river fishing rigs. With a split shot you can catch anything, from trout to bass.

Hook is tied at the end of your fishing line. Split-shot sinkers should be positioned 12-18 inches above the hook. Weight should be chosen according to the depth and bait size. They work very well with plastic baits. This rig is used for bottom fishing.

If you are using topwater lures, they are easy to set up. With them, technique of fishing is more important than the setup. Moving them in a way that will make a fish bite is a skill that requires time and patience.

How to fish for catfish, trout and carp in river?

River fishing techniques are different for different fish species. Beginner can use the same rod and basic equipment but lures/baits should be chosen accordingly.

The same goes for micro-locations on the river.

River fishing for catfish

When river fishing for catfish, first you must choose a proper micro-location.

During day, in warmer months, catfish like to spend time in places with muddy bottom, in shade, covered with overhanging tree or any obstacles in the water. Search for sunken trees, holes and rock formations. Night is also a good time when catfish will move more freely.

Use worms, minnows, cut bait like chicken liver, or artificial catfish bait that you can buy in a local fishing store. Catfish are most commonly located near the bottom or on the bottom so place your bait accordingly.

And don' forget to use proper fishing equipment - like spinning reels for catfishing, rods and other ...

River fishing for trout

Trouts are usually found in clear, colder waters.

When river fishing for trout keep in mind that they often spent time in a certain place where water flows moderately and they wait for food to be brought by the current. When not feeding actively, they rest behind rocks and sunken trees where water flows much slower.

Your bait should be positioned under the bobber. Between 1 and 3 feet. You should put a small weight above the hook so that it sinks the bait. You can use baits like minnows, corn, nightcrawlers or salmon eggs.

If using lures choose spinners with natural colors. There are dozens of trout spinners on the market varying in size, shape and color. Pick a medium size if not sure.

And you can also try to fish for trout with flies. How to do that read here!

River fishing for carp

Carp is an interesting species for a lot of anglers. Many beginners are interested in river fishing for carp.

Same as with other species, you must find a perfect location. Carps are usually found near covers and obstacles on the bottom where they have a perfect cover.

If you can find a stream flowing into the river, or two currents mixing, there is a high chance carp could be there as it brings food to him. They also like slow flowing pools.

When choosing a bait, a lot of anglers go for boilies. You can’t go wrong with them. As already mentioned, you can pick a size, color and taste.

Other option is sweet corn. Carps love it. You can buy a canned one in a local supermarket or buy scented, flavored or colored ones in fishing stores. You can even cook it yourself and add different sweeteners or coloring.

When river fishing for carp, try prebaiting. Find a good location and few days prior to your fishing, feed the carp. It will stay around that area, and when you present your bait there is a high chance it will bite.

And don’t worry about your gear. Beginners usually think they need heavy and strong equipment made specially for carp but there is almost no chance that you will catch trophy specimens while you are still learning.

What are the best rivers for fishing in the world?

There are great locations for fishing in almost every country, but some rivers are simply the best.

Here are the BEST 5 rivers for carp, trout, catfish and salmon fishing:

Ebro River, Spain for catfish and carp

Ebro river is the best river for fishing in the world when it comes to catfish and carp. It is known for trophy specimens of both fish species. Fish weighing more than 100 pounds are quite frequent. Size, location and abundance of fish make is very popular for anglers around the world. Many go there to break their personal records. Other fish species can also be caught there.

River Fishing For Beginners - Ebro, Spain

Idrijca River, Slovenia for trout fishing

Crystal clear water, pristine nature and easy access make Idrijca river the best river for trout fishing. It is especially popular for fly fishing technique too. This river has parts where water flows rapidly, and quiet pools where fish can rest and find cover. One of the best things about it is that you can fish completely uninterrupted as rafting and kayaking is forbidden. It is an angler’s paradise.

READ MORE: Fly Fishing in Slovenia – BEST locations!

Bighorn River, US for trout fishing

Bighorn river is famous for large trout caught there. It flows trough remote and open landscape and it is not affected by humans. That makes it excellent for fish species, especially trout, which thrive there. Brown and rainbow trout are caught by many anglers. Fly fishing is one of the most practiced techniques there, same as in Idrijca river. First 13 miles, just below the dam, are the best for trout fishing.

Colorado River, US for trout fishing

Another trout fishing paradise, located in the US, is Colorado river. River is huge, flowing for about 1400 miles. And trout can be found everywhere, including rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout and even hybrids between rainbow and cutthroat. Thousands of anglers from different parts of the world travel to Colorado river every year. This is definitely best river for fishing in the world, when it comes to trout.

Tree River, Canada for salmon fishing

Tree river, located far up north in the remote wilderness of Canada is the best place for salmon fishing. Cold, fast flowing waters are ideal for it. This arctic landscape attracts many sport fishermen. Salmons are not as wide spread as other fish species and for them anglers must travel north. Tree river is not very large but salmon lives there in high numbers. The best time of year for salmon fishing is May-September.

All of the rivers are frequently visited by amateur anglers and numerous agencies offer fishing trips and guides.

For a complete beginner that is the easiest way to enjoy fishing in unknown waters.


Before heading out to the water, it is important to follow common river fishing tips, including the selection of river fishing rods and other equipment.

When considering river fishing season, beginners should choose summer. Education and practice are extremely important. Get to know your equipment and do not be afraid to ask for advice.

Try river fishing for common fish such as trout, catfish or carp. When you learn the basics, you will easily upgrade your skill.

Make sure you pay attention to locations and try to pick the best one. No matter if you go on a local stream or to the best river for fishing in a world, same basic rules apply.

Learn from mistakes, do not overcomplicate it and don’t forget to enjoy the experience!

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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