Fishing tackle for rivers is species dependent. Choosing the right rod and reel relies on the species in the river. You need the correct tackle. A rod too heavy limits the fight of the fish. Rods too light can break or let you lose fish. As a result, getting the right gear makes fishing more productive and enjoyable.
A medium power rod does cover many situations. It is too strong for many smaller species or too light for the larger species. Learn what species are in the river before buying the tackle. This allows an angler to fine-tune the gear for the fish in the river. You can find a rod suitable for the species in the river.
Fishing Tackle for Rivers; Small Species
The smaller fish will bite lighter and have less fight. A light or ultra-light rod is better for these species. The exception is large trout found in certain areas. The smaller fish weigh 2 lbs or less. They will have a hard time bending a stiffer rod. This results in not feeling bites and the fish not giving a good fight.
A rod for trout needs good sensitivity. Trout can hit lightly or only mouth the bait. The sensitivity will let you feel these bites. Look at a rod with good sensitivity for trout.
The power for trout is light. A light power rod has enough backbone for fish up to 4 pounds but is ideal for 1-2 pound fish. In other words, you can land the fish with a nice fight. For larger fish, you will need a medium-light rod.
Look for a fast or extra fast action on a trout rod. The action is how fast the tip bends and loads. These actions will give better hook sets on trout. Poor hook sets account for the majority of lost fish. Using the right action reduces poor hook sets.
Choose the length based on where you fish. On streams, the brush can be in the way. Use a shorter rod. In open areas, go with a longer rod for fishing. It will allow further casts. Look at rods in the 6 to 7 1/2 feet range.
Trout fishing needs a light weight smooth reel. Buying better quality is important in a trout reel. The low-cost reels are heavier and stiff on a retrieve. Anglers must consider performance and comfort when buying a reel for trout fishing.
The sizes of reels for trout are 1000 to 2000 depending on the rod. A longer rod needs a bigger reel for optimum balance. Using a reel too light will make the rod tip heavy. Having a proper balance reduces arm and wrist fatigue while fishing.
Panfish rarely weigh over a pound. An ultra-light rod is preferred for these fish. The baits and lures for panfish are light also. An Ultra-light casts the lures and bait better due to the power and action. A rod too stiff will not load reducing distance.
The action will vary with length. On short rods use a fast action. Using a long rod opt for a moderate or moderate fast action in the rod. Panfish have softer mouths making the hook set easier. A long rod with a fast action can pull the hook out instead of giving a proper hook set.
Lengths range from 5 to 8 feet. In general, a rod 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 is easiest to cast accurately. The longer rods need more room for casting and will reduce accuracy. Panfish like to hold in or near heavy cover. You need accuracy in a panfish rod.
Anglers use bobbers or suspend the bait by hanging the rod near the cover. Sensitivity is not as important but you still want a rod with fair to good sensitivity. There are times a bobber is not used and you need to feel the bite.
An ultra-light rod uses a size 500-1000 reel. The reels are designed for lighter lines that allow better casting with the light lures or baits. The rod and reel work together for a high performing set-up. A reel using a 2-6 pound line is all you need for a panfish rig.
Beginner or inexperienced anglers try to use heavier tackle for panfish. This leads to difficulty casting and little fight from the fish. The right tackle will make fishing more enjoyable and productive.
Fishing Tackle for Rivers; Medium Species
The medium size fish are the most common in rivers. These are fish 2-5 lbs in weight. A few fish will weigh more. These fish give a good fight and will strike harder. A medium or medium-light rod is the best choice. The rod has more backbone but has good sensitivity. A heavier rod will have less sensitivity due to being stiffer.
Bass fishing in rivers differs from lakes. In rivers, smallmouths are usually more common. Smallmouth will be 2-4 pounds the majority of the time. A medium-light or medium power rod is enough. There will be bigger fish but using the lighter tackle will work. Plus lighter tackle leads to more bites and less fatigue while fishing.
The rod length will vary depending on the size of the river and casting room. Small rivers need accuracy over length. Use a shorter rod of 6-61/2 feet. On bigger rivers, use a 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 feet rod for more distance. Accuracy is less important on larger rivers. Long casts help cover more water on the bigger rivers.
Choose a rod power to match the lures. A medium-light or medium have different ranges of lure weight. Choose the rod that fits your lures. The action is based on lures also. Single point hooks use a fast or extra-fast action. Lures will multiple point hooks go with a moderate to moderate-fast action.
A slower action keeps treble or double hooks in the fish. In doubt or using both single or treble hooks use a medium power, moderate-fast action rod. It will provide a solid hook set with single-point hooks. Plus have the action to keep treble hooks pinned in the fish.
Spinning reel sizes range from 2000 to 3500 for these rods. Match the reel to balance the weight and length of the rod. The line strength rating on the rod and reel will help in making a better selection. Medium-light rod is usually a 6-8 pound mono line. A medium power rod goes with an 8-12 pound line.
Anglers choosing baitcast reels can go with the 100-150 size on the rods. This size reel will have a good line capacity. In general baitcast reels use a 10-14 pound mono line for river fishing. Anglers using braid need to match the line diameter for the best results. A braided line 30-40 pound test is suitable.
An angler targeting walleye needs better sensitivity in a rod. A medium-light power, fast or extra-fast action rod is best. The quality should be higher also. A rod well below a hundred dollars is not recommended. The cheap rods lack sensitivity. Look at rods from St. Croix or Fenwick starting at one hundred dollars.
The rods starting at the price have good to very good sensitivity for walleye fishing. Walleye can bite lightly or mouth the bait. It feels like a little extra weight or you lost your lure or bait. You need a rod sensitive enough to feel the difference.
The medium-light has enough backbone. Since walleye have smaller mouths the lures tend to be smaller and lighter. Using a medium power is fine if your rod is for overall use. If targeting walleyes as the main species, consider the medium-light rod.
The rod length is the same as bass fishing. The longer rods cast farther and shorter rods have more accuracy. Reels need to be very smooth. Walleye fishing uses jigging. A smooth reel helps with jigging. Stiff reels will hamper your feel while fishing. A size 2000 or 2500 will match the medium-light rod.
In most situations, the braided line is best. It increases the sensitivity with zero or very little stretch. You will need a few feet of a leader. Use a mono or fluorocarbon line for the leader material. Walleyes have excellent vision and see the braided line.
Channel catfish are common in many rivers. This makes them a popular fish to target. Anglers fishing for channel catfish do not need high priced gear. Fiberglass or composite medium power rods are fine. These rods flex more helping fight catfish. A catfish will keep up a hard fight longer than most species.
These types of rods cost less also. Look at rods in the 50-70 dollar range for a good catfish rod. The rods will be more durable and less prone to breaking. Graphite offers better sensitivity but is easier to break. You do not need a graphite rod for catfish. They hit hard and often fast.
You can use either a spinning or baitcast rod for catfish. The round levelwind reels are preferred for bait casting rods. These reels are lower ratio models with more cranking power. Abu-Garcia makes the C3 model. The 6500 size has a clicker for a bite alarm. Having a reel with the clicker is desirable. There are other models at a lower price also.
For a spinning reel choose a 3000 size reel with a baitrunner option. Catfishing uses circle hooks. The catfish needs to take the bait and run. Then an angler reels down to set the hook. You do not jerk to set a circle hook. Circle hooks prevent swallowing and improve catch rates with catfish.
Line choice for catfish is monofilament. Channel catfish are smaller, so the 10-14 pound test line is strong enough. Plus it has abrasion resistance for fishing on the bottom. Use the lighter line for more bites.
Fishing Tackle for Rivers; Large Species
The larger fish weigh in excess of 5 pounds. A fish this size will run hard and fight longer. A light rod is a disadvantage. The fish will bend the rod over and strip line. An angler needs enough power to handle these fights. It lets the rod handle most of the pressure from the fight instead of the reel’s drag.
Blue or Flathead Catfish
These fish get big and heavy. They will put up a long, hard fight. Tackle too light will lead to losing fish. A medium-heavy catfish rod is best. These rods handle 1-6 ounces off lure weight or close to the range. The rod blank is fiberglass or composite. The E-glass or S-glass is common in catfish rods. An S-glass rod is preferable with a stronger tensile strength.
Catfish rods need the length for long casts. Catfish spend most of their time in deep water holes. You have to reach these spots. A rod 7 1/2 to 8 feet is common. The length allows a long cast without being hard to control. Longer lengths can be hard to cast.
The reel is another important factor. These are hard fighting fish and you need cranking power and a lot of line. The classic round levelwind reels fit this purpose. They hold several hundred yards of line and are geared at lower ratios. A lower ratio is easier to crank.
Fishing for catfish does not require high-tech or fancy gear. Look at solidly built reels from good manufacturers. The reel needs to handle the pressure of heavy fish and weights. The Abu Garcia C3 model is an old go-to model for catfish. There are other makes on the market also. Look at a decent quality reel for longer life.
The line for catfish is generally a monofilament line. It is cost-effective. Plus catfish are not line shy like other species. Use a 17-30 pound line depending on the size in the waters you fish. A lighter line tends to get more bites but big blues will require a heavier line.
Pike or Musky
In some instances, a medium-heavy bass rod is fine. Anglers looking to target pike or musky solely need to gear up for the fish. A rod for these species needs to handle lures from 1 to 8 ounces or more. A graphite rod is recommended for a lighter weight. It takes a lot of casting to catch a musky or pike.
Manufacturers make rods specifically for musky. The lengths come in 7-9 1/2 feet. This helps with long casts to cover the water better. The power is typically a heavy power. There are higher powers for heavier lures up to 16 ounces. Those are for hardcore anglers.
The reels for musky are beefier. The size for musky or pike run from a 300 to 500 size baitcaster in low profile models. The reels in these classes have high drags and line capacity. Plus many come with power crank handles. The handle gives more torque to retrieve the ures and fish. The best models include Shimano Tranx, Daiwa Lexa, and Abu Garcia Revo in the larger sizes.
The best line is the braided line. It withstands the repeated casting of the heavier lures. It is common to use a 65-80 pound test line. The weaker line will fail with the heavier lures. Quality is important in the line. Going cheap is not an option. Sufix, Power-Pro, and Daiwa are the common brands used by musky anglers. Plan on adding a few leaders made from fluorocarbon or metal also. The teeth and gill plates do cut line.
Fishing Tackle for Rivers; Line Choice
In rivers the proper line is important. Fishing rocky areas, a line with abrasion resistance is needed. In some cases, a line that sinks is helpful. There is not one line that covers all river fishing situations. Choose the line on the species and cover in the river.
Walleye fish need maximum sensitivity making the braided line a good choice. If in rocky areas, fluorocarbon may be better. Fluorocarbon has better abrasion resistance. A long fluorocarbon leader can be used with braid most of the time, giving abrasion resistance and sensitivity.
Use fluorocarbon line for trout and other line shy fish. It is invisible and has good abrasion and sensitivity. In swift water, the line will sink aiding in the presentation. A floating line keeps the bait or lures from sinking fast enough. You want the bait in the strike zone as long as possible, use fluorocarbon to get deeper quicker.
Monofilament works for general fishing. It has good abrasion and shock strength. This line will help keep fish on the hook with its ability to stretch. It does sacrifice sensitivity due to the stretch. Consider mono for catfish, carp, and other fish where sensitivity is not a concern.
An angler needs to judge the cover for abrasion resistance. Plus sensitivity based on the species of fish. There may be trade-offs needed for the best all-around performance. You need to judge what line is best for your situation while fishing.
Tackle for rivers can be specific for a species or a general use set-up. Consider the species present where you live. The depth and conditions of the river. If you fish from shore or a boat. These elements all affect rod length, power, and action.
The reel needs to match the rod for good performance. A reel too small or big is going to be a problem. Choose the line that covers your needs in regards to sensitivity, abrasion resistance, and other factors.
Choosing the correct tackle will make fishing enjoyable and productive. Losing fish due to the wrong tackle is easily avoidable. Buy the gear based on quality and the size of the fish. Small fish lighter tackle and bigger fish get a heavier tackle. The quality should be high enough for years of use based on how much you fish.