River Fishing Equipment – Must Have Gear For Fishing In Rivers

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If you’re used to fishing in lakes and ponds, making the transition to river fishing can be daunting. Much in the same way that river fishing equipmentsailors harness the wind to their advantage, the key to river fishing is working with the current rather than fighting it. It also helps to have the right fishing equipment, but your gear selection depends on what type of river monsters you’re going after.

River Fishing Equipment for Bass

Rivers across much of North America offer tremendous bass fishing opportunities — especially for smallmouth bass, which thrive in moving water much better than their largemouth brethren.

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Start by selecting the right rod and reel. Look for a medium-light spinning combo around six-feet in length (this shorter rod will make it easier to fish in areas with lots of banks-side trees and vegetation) and spool the reel with six to eight-pound braided line. The braided line will give you excellent sensitivity and abrasion resistance. In clear rivers where bass may be line-shy, add a leader of clear monofilament.

River smallmouth baits tend to run a little smaller than the ones you might use in a lake. Downsized crankbaits between two and four inches in length are outstanding lures for river smallies. Cast diagonally downstream and work them back with an erratic retrieve. Soft plastic lures are great too. Use them with a retrieve similar to crankbaits, or cast them slightly upstream and let the current carry them down into deep pools where bass hide.

River Fishing Equipment for Catfish

Catfish are the undisputed heavyweight champions of southern rivers, but you can catch big cats as far north as New England and the Midwest. For catfish, all your gear gets a little heavier. Spinning reels and casting reels are both effective, but make sure you get a tough medium-heavy rod with plenty of backbone — many river anglers use rods that are eight-feet long or more — and spool up with 20-pound line.

Catfish hunt using their senses of smell and taste, and the most successful tactics involve fishing smelly, natural baits in deep holes and slack areas in slow-moving rivers. A lot of bait options are available, from chicken livers and dough baits, which are often rigged on a plain baitholder hook with a hefty weight attached, to dip-baits and punch-baits, which utilize a special rig to keep the gooey bait on the hook.

Pliers are another indispensable piece of catfish equipment; they are used to remove hooks from their tough mouths. A landing net is also helpful in many situations, along with a sturdy rod rest and a comfy folding chair.

River Fishing Equipment for Trout

Unless you’re fly-fishing, which requires an entirely different set of gear and know-how, trout fishing setups for rivers are fairly straightforward. Of course, that doesn’t mean catching trout is easy.

One of the keys to fishing for trout in rivers and streams is downsizing. Use an ultra-light spinning combo with the lightest line that still works effectively. Monofilament line around four-pound test is ideal, though some anglers use line as light as two-pound test for wary brook trout in crystal-clear streams. If you’re careful not to horse them toward shore, you can catch trout weighing six pounds or more on two-pound line.

Considering the lightweight rods and line, trout fishing baits and lures are appropriately dainty. Tiny crankbaits in the one to three inch range work well, as do small jigs such as the 1/16- and even 1/32-ounce soft plastic and marabou jigs often used for panfish. Live red worms and minnows also account for their fair share of river and stream trout.

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