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Tips and Tricks for Riverbank Trout Fishing: Part 2

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

When I came to Idaho I had the thought that my rod that I had been using in California could also be used in Idaho fishing for trout. I had success fishing the rivers, lakes, and ponds of eastern Idaho with it but did not realize what I was missing out on until I changed my set up. This meant changing my rod, fishing line, and fishing moving water made me think differently about how to cast.

What rod works for river bank fishing

Frankly, any rod will help you catch trout on a river. If it can cast a decent lure or bait reel in and help you fight a fish it will be fine to use. Although, there can be advantages and learning experiences had when using the right rod for the right situation. When I changed to a lighter action rod and lighter weight rod I felt I was more successful at catching the trout I was targeting.

Side note: If you are just beginning river bank fishing a heavier action rod is a good way to go so you can understand your target more and be better prepared when you go out and then when you have more experience on your belt you can buy a lighter action rod.

Understanding rods

So what does rod weight mean? What is meant by Rod action? Well hopefully I can make it easy to understand so you can feel more comfortable when buying your next rod.

Rod weight: Simply put, rod weight is the strength of the rod. There are seven rankings for rods and each ranking has it purpose based on what is being targeted. The seven rankings are ultra light, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, and extra heavy. When it comes to most river trout fishing a light, medium light to medium rod weight is ideal. The lighter to medium rods can handle most of the lures you would be using for trout fishing. The overall rule though is that the bigger fish you are targeting the heavier weight rod you should use. I feel a medium weight is a good starting point.

Rod action: This simply is the flexibility of the rod. There are four rankings. These are slow, medium, fast, and extra fast. Slow action means the rod has more flex or flexes the whole length of the rod. The extra fast action rods bend only a quarter of the tip.

The lighter action end of the rods helps you feel the lure and how it is playing in the current. Being able to feel this allows you to adjust and change your presentation so you could hopefully get a hit. The lighter actions also allow you to feel smaller hits while bait fishing. I have been able to feel the slightest take of a nightcrawler due to my lighter action rod. It is important to note that if you are targeting larger fish when starting out, it would be ideal to get a rod more on the medium to medium light. After you get a feel for your target fish and feel more confident when fighting the fish then it would be fine to get a lighter action rod

In this picture the blue rod is my salt water fishing rod from California. You can see that the action is medium compared to my trout rod that has a light action.

Choosing the right line

When it comes to choosing the right line for river bank fishing it can be hard to make a decision. There are three basic types out there. Braided, Fluorocarbon, and mono-filament. Braided and mono-filament line float while fluorocarbon tends to sink and is less visible in the water. Mono-filament line tends to stretch more hopefully lessening the chance of the fish spitting the hook. Fluorocarbon does not stretch as much and braided line has very little to no stretch at all.  Each line comes with a pound test rating. This shows how much weight the line can handle before it breaks. Usually with most rivers if you are fishing for trout or smaller fish a lighter pound test usually will work fine. If you are targeting larger fish then your best bet is a higher pound test.

My set up is usually fluorocarbon line that is no more than ten pound test. I chose fluorocarbon because it is ideal for the clearer water of the rivers and I don’t mind that it does not have as much stretch as mono-filament. One thing I did find that makes me switch my set up is if the river I am fishing has more debris and rocks. I like to use a braided line with a two to three foot fluorocarbon leader. A leader is just a length of line that is tied to the main line of your rod. I choose this set up because oddly enough the braided line does not fray as much on the debris and boulders as the fluorocarbon does. People would disagree but this is just what I found helps minimize the fraying.

Choose your set up based on your target fish and their habitat and then adjust it to what you figure out you like more. Once you are comfortable you will be more confident when it comes to the fishing part.

‘you can see that this is fluorocarbon that is a 12 LB test. I used this when I first got up to Idaho to build my confidence when fishing the rivers.


Casting can be difficult when it comes to bank fishing on a river. When the current is moving fast and the water is deep I don’t even bother to fish in those types of situations. I try and find slow to moderately fast moving currents and try my best to find fish in these situations. I feel that the faster moving rivers limits lure exposure and makes it difficult for the lure to get deep enough to be near the fish.

When casting in rivers from a bank it comes down to timing and knowing when to start reeling to present the lure. Casting should be done up stream. I do a couple of reels to make sure the lure is not being tossed around in the current too much and getting tangled up in the line.  Once the lure gets close to the area you are targeting start to reel and present the lure. A couple of jerks on the rod may bee needed to get the lure’s action going.

Depending on the area that is being targeted you might need to cast at a ninety degree angle and let is float a little down stream a little before bringing the lure in. Once the lure is in the current and being pulled down stream most lures, like spoons, will be pushed up to the top of the water column or even to the surface if it is a really light lure. This usually is not attractive or interesting to most fish and so recasting is the best option.

This takes practice and time to figure out how to time things right and play the lure right so that the fish will make an effort to go after the lure.

When it coms to bait in a river. If you are floating the bait or only have enough weight on it to not sink to the bottom too fast, just casting it up stream and letting float is the best. Reel in the extra line as it makes slack so you are not caught off guard when a fish slurps the worm. Sometimes if the water is calm enough and the flow is not too strong letting it sit on the bottom works well. It is just a waiting game and takes a lot of patience. Letting the worms sit in calmer water has been some of the most productive fishing I have had and is usually what I do if I need to fill my freezer.


Fishing the river from the bank can be just as productive and fun as fishing from a boat. With the right technique and gear it can make the fishing easier. A medium action rod is a good starting point with fluorocarbon line can be a great combination when the right casting technique. As you try implement these techniques and gear your fishing times will be fun and be able to fill your freezer.

#fishing #riverfishing #troutfishing #Beginnerfishing #Riverbankfishing

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