5 tips for fishing big rivers

A big, wild river can seem a daunting prospect, but there’s great satisfaction in catching well from them

5 tips for fishing big rivers

by Angling Times |

Find the flow

The flat float can be deadly for big fish on fast rivers, but to get it to work properly you have to be fishing in the full flow of the river, not a slack or eddy, where a normal pole float will be much better. Spend some time looking at the flow and identifying where the most pace is. This could be at 14m, or it could be at 6m.

The flat float can be deadly for big fish on fast rivers
The flat float can be deadly for big fish on fast rivers

Get on the stick

When there’s pace on the river, to catch roach and dace with a moving bait on running line tactics you need to slow things down to a speed where the fish will take the bait confidently. This is where the stick float beats the waggler every time. To get the right speed it’s a case of trial and error. Run the rig at full pace, check it to a standstill, then release it and ease the float along at half pace. Regular moving of the shot also makes the bait behave differently.

Get on the stick
Get on the stick

Choose a light pole float

On a deep river you’d think it’d be right to fish a big float on the pole, but that’s actually not always the case! Fishing as light as you can get away with not only produces better presentation and offers less resistance to a fish when holding the rig still, but you also miss fewer bites than when using a heavier float.

A 2g float shotted with an olivette, and four No10 droppers beneath strung out shot to cover the final few feet of the swim, is the go-to set-up for roach and dace.

Choose a light pole float
Choose a light pole float

Be bold with your feeding

With so much water to cover, there’s no point feeding lightly. You need to make a quick impact to pull fish into the swim immediately, so that means feeding a fair bit of groundbait.

Six large balls, either thrown by hand or cupped in if fishing the pole, is for starters, and the feed then needs to be regular. You’ll get an initial flurry of bites from that opening hit of bait before the swim goes dead. The fish are still there, but they’re not feeding with any amount of positivity, and you need to give them another ball to get a few of them to move back over the feed area and have a go.

Be bold with your feeding
Be bold with your feeding

Swap feeder sizes

You'll rarely fish a powerful river all day with just one size of feeder. The flow will alter as more water enters the river or it’s drawn off at a quicker pace. That means changing to a heavier, or sometimes lighter, feeder.

Carry an assortment of sizes from 50g to 30g, but also have some clip-on leads to put more weight on the feeder if needed. Be wary of using too much lead, though. This may lead to a bite not developing on the tip properly as a fish struggles to dislodge the feeder. Only by casting several times with different weights and judging what’s just right will you strike the right balance.

Swap feeder sizes
Swap feeder sizes
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