How to Fish in a River with a Strong Current

Kristian Ole



Even the most experienced and skilled anglers can feel unsettled and anxious when it comes to fishing in rivers or streams. This is understandable since rivers are not still water bodies where all you have to do is cast out your bait while it sits there at the same spot until a fish comes and finds it. Tackling a river with a strong current is a whole different ballgame altogether.

Here are a few ways you can fish with a strong current when you are out on the river.

Gain an understanding of water flow

Understanding the basic water movement beyond checking the tides is a prerequisite. Water movement plays an important role in creating the topography of the system. It also unearths reefs, separates islands, forms sand bars, and opens/closes river mouths.

These elements can have a drastic impact on water flow. Many rivers also have their fair share of obstacles that break water flow. You need to look for a disturbance in the speed and direction of the current. Going for a place a fish may find it more likely to catch prey or gain respite out of the full force of the mid-tide helps.

The kind of baits you use matter

When fishing in rivers, fly fishing works best. This is because you are putting the bait right at the top of the moving water, which gives the fish the impression that it is a living creature. The kind of bait you also bring matters.

  • For big bottom feeders like catfish or carp, nightcrawlers, small fish or leeches work best.
  • For smaller fish, smaller minnows, crawdads or even insects such as grasshoppers and dragonflies can be used.
  • When using lures, go in for smaller feather lures that come with a spinner on it so that when the current hits, it flashes.

See that you steer clear from the bait that is sure to get caught up on rocks. If this is going to sink rapidly and unhooking it is going to be a challenge. When using lures, do not use anything that is heavy or big.

Read the current

It is difficult to understand where to begin when you get to a river. The trick lies in looking at the flow of the water and going with the flow. While how water is running is important, you also need to judge how fast the current might be. This gives you a rough idea of how fast your bait will travel in the river.

You can take a few leaves or grass, throw them in the water, and see how much time it takes to travel 20 or 30 feet. If the bait goes very fast, naturally, the fish will not bite it. Calmer parts of the river are more ideal for fishing. Be on the watch for rock croppings and eddies, and you are good to go.

So there you go. Now that you know how to maneuver through a river with a strong current and fish in the way you want, may luck and skill be on your side as you fish to your heart’s content.

Fly fishing in rivers with strong current

Check out this cool video for good tips and trick when fly fishing in fast current seams

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About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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