Best River Fishing Lures: Reeling in River Monsters

River fishing is a captivating journey that takes anglers into the heart of untamed waters, where nature’s mysteries abound. 

With each cast, there’s a sense of anticipation, a connection to the hidden world beneath the glistening surface.

 It’s a dance with the current, an art of patience and finesse. In these serene waters, time slows, and the worries of the world fade into the distant horizon. 

The river becomes a trusted confidant, whispering its secrets to those who listen, its ripples echoing the stories of generations past. 

There are no ordinary moments in river fishing; each one is imbued with a sense of wonder and possibility. 

It’s where we find solace, celebrate the beauty of nature, and forge unforgettable memories that flow eternally in the river of our souls. 

Best River Fishing Lures

Top 6 River Fishing Lures

Fishing in rivers is a thrilling and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. 

The unpredictable currents and diverse underwater landscapes create the perfect environment for many fish species to thrive. 

Whether you’re chasing bass, trout, salmon, or catfish, one thing remains constant – the need for the best river fishing lures to land that prized catch. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of river fishing and explore the best river fishing lures to increase your chances of success on your next adventure.

1. Spinnerbaits

War Eagle Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits are versatile lures that work exceptionally well in river environments.

Their spinning blades and flashy skirts imitate the movements of baitfish, enticing predatory fish to strike. 

For river fishing, opt for spinnerbaits with willow leaf or Colorado blades, as they create plenty of vibrations that fish can detect even in murky waters.

1. Versatility: Spinnerbaits can be used in various fishing scenarios, making them suitable for novice and experienced anglers.

 They are effective in fresh and saltwater environments and can target species such as bass, pike, muskie, walleye, and even saltwater fish like redfish and snook.

2. Vibration and Flash: The spinning blades of a spinnerbait create vibrations and flashes of light as they move through the water. 

This mimics the movements of injured or disoriented prey, making the lure highly attractive to predatory fish. 

The combination of sound and visual appeal makes spinnerbaits effective in murky or stained water, where fish rely more on their senses to locate prey.

3. Weedless Design: Many spinnerbaits are designed to be weedless, meaning they can be cast into areas with submerged vegetation or structure without getting snagged.

 This feature allows anglers to access fish hiding in cover that might be challenging to reach with other lures.

4. Retrieval Variability: Anglers can control the depth and speed of a spinnerbait by adjusting the retrieval speed and the angle at which they retrieve it.

 This adaptability allows you to explore different water depths and find where the fish are holding.

5. Seasonal Appeal: Spinnerbaits can be effective year-round, but they are especially popular in spring and fall when fish feed actively. 

During these seasons, fish are often more aggressive and willing to strike at fast-moving lures like spinnerbaits.

6. Customization: Spinnerbaits come in various colors, blade styles, and skirt patterns, allowing anglers to customize their lures to match the local forage and water conditions.

Spinnerbaits are an essential tool in the angler’s arsenal due to their adaptability, ability to create vibrations and flashes, and versatility in various fishing scenarios.

Whether casting for bass in a freshwater river or targeting saltwater species in coastal flats, spinnerbaits can be a reliable choice to help you lure in that prized catch.

2. Soft Plastic Swimbaits

Soft Plastic Swimbaits

Soft plastic swimbaits are lifelike imitations of various river prey, making them irresistible to many species. 

Depending on the depth and current of the river you’re fishing, they can be rigged in multiple ways, including on jigheads, Texas rigs, or Carolina rigs. 

These lures excel in mimicking injured fish, making them an excellent choice for river predators.

1. Lifelike Appearance: Soft plastic swimbaits are designed to imitate baitfish, minnows, shad, or other aquatic creatures. 

Their realistic shapes, colors, and often detailed fins and tails make them look like the real thing, fooling even the wariest of fish.

2. Versatility: Soft plastic swimbaits are versatile, one of their major advantages. 

Game fish, such as bass, trout, pike, redfish, snook, and more, can be caught with them in freshwater and saltwater environments.

3. Rigging Options: Soft plastic swimbaits can be rigged in numerous ways, depending on the fishing conditions and target species. 

Common rigging methods include Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, drop-shot rigs, jigheads, and swimbait hooks. 

This flexibility allows anglers to fish at different depths and retrieve speeds.

4. Natural Action: Swimbaits made of soft plastic mimic the movement of real baitfish with their natural swimming action. 

When retrieved, they typically have a paddle or boot-style tail that produces a lifelike wiggling motion. 

This action can trigger predatory fish to strike, even in tough conditions.

5. Weedless Options: Some soft plastic swimbaits come with weedless designs, which enable anglers to cast them into areas with submerged vegetation or structures without snagging.

 This feature makes them ideal for fishing in cover-rich environments.

6. Size Variety: Soft plastic swimbaits are available in various sizes, from small finesse baits to large, bulky models.

 This range allows you to match the hatch and target the specific size of fish you’re after.

7. Customization: Anglers can customize soft plastic swimbaits by adding scent or attractant, enhancing their effectiveness. 

Additionally, the color and style of the soft plastic body can be chosen to match the local forage or specific fishing conditions.

8. Year-Round Use: While soft plastic swimbaits can be effective year-round, they are particularly popular during the warmer months when fish actively chase baitfish and other prey.

Soft plastic swimbaits are a versatile and realistic option for anglers looking to tempt a wide range of fish species. 

Their lifelike appearance, natural swimming action, and adaptability to different rigs and scenarios make them a lure for many anglers.

Whether targeting bass in freshwater or inshore species in saltwater, soft plastic swimbaits will likely find a place in your tackle collection.

3. Crankbaits

Deep Diving Crankbaits

Crankbaits come in various shapes and sizes, making them suitable for different river conditions. 

Shallow-running crankbaits are perfect for targeting fish in fast-moving, shallow waters, while deep-diving crankbaits are excellent for probing deeper holes and structures. 

Their erratic swimming action and realistic finishes often trigger aggressive strikes from hungry river dwellers.

1. Diverse Styles and Depths: Crankbaits come in various styles, including shallow-diving, medium-diving, and deep-diving versions. 

The lip or bill at the front of the lure determines its diving depth. Shallow-running crankbaits are great for targeting fish in shallower waters, while deep-diving crankbaits are designed to reach greater depths, making them suitable for probing underwater structures and drop-offs.

2. Realistic Appearance: Crankbaits are available in various colors and finishes to mimic various baitfish species, shad, and prey. 

Many feature intricate detailing, including 3D eyes and scale patterns, to create a lifelike appearance that can fool even the most cautious fish.

3. Vibrant Action: Their action is the key to crankbait effectiveness. 

These lures produce an erratic, side-to-side wobbling motion as they are retrieved, closely imitating the swimming action of natural prey.

 This action can trigger aggressive strikes from predatory fish.

4. Lip Design: The size and shape of the bill or lip on a crankbait play a crucial role in determining its action and diving depth. 

Longer bills typically create a wider wobble and allow the lure to dive deeper, while shorter bills produce a tighter, more subtle action.

5. Rattling and Silent Models: Some crankbaits have internal rattles that emit sound vibrations underwater. 

These rattling models can attract fish from a distance, especially in murky water or low-light conditions.

Silent crankbaits, on the other hand, offer a stealthier presentation.

6. Retrieve Speed Control: Anglers can control the depth and speed of a crankbait by adjusting their retrieval speed. 

Slower retrieves keep the lure shallow, while faster retrieves allow it to dive deeper. 

This versatility allows you to explore different water columns and locate actively feeding fish.

7. Seasonal Effectiveness: Crankbaits are effective year-round but shine during certain seasons. 

They are often particularly productive during the spring and fall when fish are actively feeding and in colder months when slower presentations can entice lethargic fish.

8. Target Species: Crankbaits are known for their ability to catch various species, including bass, walleye, pike, muskie, trout, and more.

 The choice of crankbait style, color, and diving depth can be tailored to your target species and local conditions.

Crankbaits are versatile and visually appealing lures, consistently producing results for anglers. 

Their lifelike appearance, vibrant action, and ability to reach different depths make them a valuable addition to any tackle box. 

Whether casting for bass in a freshwater lake or trolling for walleye in a river, crankbaits offer a reliable option to entice fish and make your fishing adventures more exciting.

4. Spoons Lure

spoons lure

Spoons have been a classic choice for river anglers for generations.

Their simple yet effective design mimics a wounded fish or baitfish, making them a go-to for salmon, trout, and walleye species. 

Casting or trolling spoons in river currents can yield exceptional results, especially during spawning seasons.

1. Simple Yet Effective Design: Spoons are typically made of metal, with a curved shape that resembles a spoon or a minnow. 

This design imparts a distinct fluttering and wobbling action when the lure is retrieved through the water, mimicking the movements of injured or dying prey fish.

2. Versatile in Different Environments: Freshwater and saltwater environments can both be used with spoons.

They are effective for a wide range of fish species, including trout, salmon, pike, bass, redfish, snook, and more.

3. Casting and Trolling: Spoons can be effectively cast and retrieved or trolled behind a boat. This versatility allows anglers to cover various depths and areas of the water column.

4. Multiple Sizes and Styles: Spoons come in various sizes, colors, and styles to match the local forage and the preferences of the targeted species. 

Smaller spoons are suitable for trout and panfish, while larger ones can entice big predators like pike and muskie.

5. Attractive Flash and Vibration: The metal construction of spoons produces a glint of light and vibrations in the water as they move. 

This flash and vibration can attract fish from a distance, making spoons particularly effective in murky or stained water.

6. Weedless Options: Some spoon designs are weedless, meaning they can be cast into areas with submerged vegetation or structure without getting easily snagged. 

This feature allows anglers to access fish hiding in cover-rich environments.

7. Versatile Retrieval Speeds: You can adjust the retrieval speed to control the depth and action of the spoon. 

Faster retrieves generally keep the spoon closer to the surface, while slower retrieves allow it to sink deeper, making it adaptable to different fish preferences.

8. Seasonal Success: Spoons can be effective year-round but often shine during certain seasons.

 They work well during the spring when fish feed actively and in the fall when preparing for winter.

9. Tip with Bait: Many anglers enhance the effectiveness of spoons by tipping them with bait, such as minnows, worms, or cut bait. 

This can add scent and flavor to the lure, making it even more enticing to fish.

Spoons are tried-and-true lures that continue proving their effectiveness in various fishing scenarios. 

Their simplicity, versatility, and ability to mimic the movement of prey fish make them a reliable choice for anglers looking to tempt a wide range of species.

5. Jigs Lure

Jigs Lure

Jig lures come in various styles, from football heads to swim jigs, and they are known for their versatility. 

You can use them effectively in almost any river fishing scenario. Their ability to mimic prey or prey movement makes them a reliable choice when trying to tempt river predators.

1. Jig Design: A hook is usually attached to a jig’s head, which includes a lead-weighted head. 

The shape and style of the jig head can vary, with common designs including round heads, football heads, and swim jig heads.

 The hook may have a plastic or silicone skirt attached to it, often combined with additional trailers or soft plastic baits.

2. Weighted Versatility: The weighted head of a jig allows it to sink quickly, making it suitable for various fishing depths and conditions. 

Anglers can choose different jig weights to target specific water depths and adjust the fall rate of the lure.

3. Versatile Jigging Techniques: Jigs can be used with various jigging techniques, including pitching, flipping, hopping, dragging, and swimming. 

Each technique imparts a unique action to the jig, mimicking different prey movements and enticing fish.

4. Soft Plastic Trailers: Jigs are often paired with soft plastic trailers or baits.

These trailers add realism to the lure by mimicking the appearance and movement of natural prey, such as crawfish, baitfish, or insects. 

Soft plastics come in various colors, sizes, and styles, allowing anglers to customize their jigs to match local forage.

5. Broad Species Range: Jigs are effective for numerous fish species, including bass (both largemouth and smallmouth), walleye, pike, crappie, panfish, and even saltwater species like flounder and redfish.

 The versatility of jigs makes them a popular choice among anglers targeting various game fish.

6. Weedless Options: Some jig designs, like the popular weedless bass jigs, have features that reduce snagging in submerged vegetation or structure.

 This makes them ideal for fishing in cover-rich environments.

7. Year-Round Applicability: Jigs can be productive year-round. They are known to work well during all seasons, whether you’re ice fishing, bass fishing in spring, targeting walleye in summer, or pursuing cold-water species in the fall and winter.

8. Tandem Jigging: Anglers often use multiple jigs in a tandem rig, which can increase their chances of catching fish.

 Tandem rigs allow you to experiment with different color combinations, bait styles, and depths.

9. Jig Sizes: Fishing with jigs allows anglers to target specific fish sizes based on the hatch. 

Smaller jigs may be used for panfish or finesse bass fishing, while larger jigs are suitable for larger predator fish. Jigs are a versatile and effective tool in the angler’s toolkit. 

Their ability to mimic natural prey, their adaptability to various fishing techniques, and their broad range of applications make them popular for novice and experienced anglers. 

Whether flipping jigs into heavy cover, hopping them along the bottom, or swimming them through open water, jigs can be a dependable lure for enticing various fish species.

6. Topwater Lures

Topwater lures

Few things in fishing compare to the excitement of watching a fish explode on a topwater lure.

 These lures imitate surface-dwelling prey like frogs, insects, or wounded baitfish, making them perfect for targeting fish near the water’s surface. 

Popper and walking-style topwater lures are particularly effective in river settings.

1. Surface Action: The defining feature of topwater lures is their ability to create commotion and noise on the water’s surface. 

This action mimics the movement of injured baitfish, frogs, insects, or other surface-dwelling prey, triggering aggressive strikes from fish.

2. Visual and Auditory Appeal: Topwater lures combine visual and auditory cues to attract fish.

 The splashes, pops, and ripples created by these lures can grab a fish’s attention from afar.

 Seeing a struggling or vulnerable prey at the water’s surface can be irresistible to predators.

3. Versatile Styles: Topwater lures come in various styles, each designed to mimic different types of prey.

 Common topwater lure styles include poppers, walkers (or stickbaits), buzzbaits, prop baits, and frogs. 

Each style produces a unique action and sound, allowing anglers to tailor their approach to the specific conditions and target species.

4. Targeted Species: Topwater lures are particularly effective for species like bass (both largemouth and smallmouth), pike, muskie, trout, redfish, snook, and even certain saltwater game fish like tarpon and sea trout.

 The excitement of a surface strike is unmatched and adds an element of thrill to the angling experience.

5. Retrieval Techniques: Anglers can use different retrieval techniques to create specific actions with topwater lures. 

For example, “popping” involves quick, rhythmic jerks of the rod tip, while “walking the dog” produces a side-to-side, zigzagging motion. 

Experimenting with these techniques can help you determine what’s most effective on a given day.

6. Visual Confirmation: One of the exciting aspects of topwater fishing is that you often witness the strike as the fish explodes on the surface to attack the lure.

This visual confirmation adds to the adrenaline rush of the catch.

7. Seasonal Success: Topwater lures are most commonly associated with spring and summer fishing when fish are more likely to be near the surface.

However, they can also be productive in the early mornings and evenings during other seasons. 

They’re especially popular during the “topwater bite” when fish are actively feeding on prey near the surface.

8. Weedless Options: Some topwater lures are designed to be weedless, meaning they can be cast into areas with submerged vegetation or structure without getting snagged.

 This feature allows anglers to explore cover-rich environments effectively.

Topwater lures are a favorite among anglers because they create explosive surface strikes and provide an exhilarating fishing experience. 

Their visual and auditory appeal, versatility in style and retrieval techniques, and effectiveness for various species make them valuable to any angler’s tackle collection. 

Whether targeting bass in a freshwater pond or redfish in coastal marshes, topwater lures can deliver heart-pounding action and memorable moments on the water.

How To Fish In A River

How To Fish In A River

Every cast is a connection to a world beneath the surface, a world of secrets waiting to be revealed.”Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to catch fish in a river:

1. Choose the Right Location: Research the river you plan fishing. Look for information about the types of fish that inhabit it, water conditions, and local regulations.

Select a specific location on the river based on your target species and the time of year. 

Fish species have different preferences for water depth, temperature, and current.

2. Gather Your Gear: Determine the appropriate fishing gear for the type of fish you’re targeting and the river conditions. This includes selecting the right fishing rod, reel, line, and lures or bait.

Essential items include:

  • Fishing tackle (hooks, weights, swivels).
  • A fishing license (if required).
  • A fishing knife or pliers.
  • A landing net.
  • A cooler with ice to store your catch.

3. Understand River Features: Learn to read the river’s features, including riffles, pools, eddies, submerged rocks, and fallen trees. Fish often gather in these areas.

Identify the depth and speed of the current to determine where the fish might be holding.

4. Choose Your Fishing Technique: Select the fishing technique that matches your target species and the river conditions.

Common techniques include:

  • Casting: Casting lures or baited hooks into the water and retrieving them.
  • Fly Fishing: Using lightweight artificial flies to mimic insects and other aquatic prey.
  • Bottom Fishing: Allowing your baited hook to sink to the riverbed and wait for a bite.
  • Float Fishing: Using a float or bobber, suspending bait or lures at a specific depth.

5. Bait and Lures: Select appropriate bait or lures based on the preferences of the fish you’re targeting and the river conditions. 

6. Casting and Presentation: Cast your line upstream and allow it to drift naturally downstream. This mimics the flow of food and is often more enticing to fish.

Use different retrieval speeds and techniques to vary the presentation of your bait or lures and entice strikes.

7. Be Patient and Observant: River fishing requires patience. Wait for fish to bite, and be prepared for periods of inactivity.

Pay attention to your surroundings and the behavior of birds and other wildlife. These indicators can help you identify fish activity.

8. Handle Fish Carefully: When you catch a fish, handle it gently and use a landing net if necessary.

 Wet your hands before handling to protect the fish’s slime layer.

If you plan to release the fish, minimize handling and use proper catch and release techniques to ensure its survival.

River fishing is a skill that improves with experience, so be encouraged if you are still looking for immediate success. 

Each river is unique, and understanding its intricacies will help you become a more successful angler. 

Enjoy the serenity of the river and the thrill of the catch as you explore this dynamic and rewarding fishing environment.

River Fishing Tips 

Fishing in rivers is an exhilarating and immersive experience that connects anglers to the dynamic world of flowing water and its diverse inhabitants.

Unlike still waters, rivers present unique challenges and opportunities for those seeking to cast their lines into their depths. 

In this article, we’ll explore the art of river fishing for beginners to help you maximize your success on your next river angling adventure.

1. Know Your River: Understanding the river you plan to fish in is paramount. Rivers vary greatly in flow rates, depths, water clarity, and the species they support. 

Research your chosen river’s characteristics and seasonal changes to tailor your approach accordingly.

2. Reading the Water: Learn to “read” the water to locate fish. Look for features such as eddies, riffles, deep pools, and submerged structures like rocks and fallen trees. 

Fish often hide in these areas to conserve energy or ambush prey.

3. Use the Right Gear: Selecting appropriate fishing gear is crucial. Consider the species you’re targeting and match your rod, reel, line, and lures accordingly. 

Lighter gear may be suitable for small trout, while heavy tackle might be necessary for catfish or salmon.

4. Adapt to Currents: River currents are ever-changing, and fish often strategically position themselves to exploit them.

Cast upstream and allow your bait or lure to drift naturally downstream. 

This presentation mimics the flow of food, increasing your chances of enticing a strike.

5. Live Bait vs. Lures: Choose between live bait and lures based on the river’s conditions and the target species.

Live bait such as worms, minnows, or insects can be highly effective, especially in slow-moving waters. 

However, lures like spinners, crankbaits, and jigs allow more versatility and control in fast-flowing rivers.

7. Fishing Seasons Matter: Fish behavior varies throughout the year. Research the best times to fish for your target species in your chosen river. 

Many fish species are more active during specific seasons, such as salmon runs or trout spawning.

8. Safety First: Lastly, prioritize safety. Rivers can be unpredictable, with fast currents and slippery banks. 

Wear appropriate clothing and gear, including a life jacket if necessary, and be cautious while wading or navigating the riverbank.

River fishing is a captivating pursuit that allows anglers to connect with nature and test their skills in a dynamic environment. 

Understanding the river, adapting to its conditions, and using the right gear and techniques can increase your chances of success and create memorable fishing experiences. 

So, gear up, head to your favorite river, and let the art of river fishing unfold before you.

What is the best color lure for the river?

River Fishing Tips 

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, here are some general guidelines to help you choose the right lure color for river fishing:

Water Clarity: Natural and subtle colors like greens, browns, and silvers often work well in clear water. 

Fish in clear rivers tend to have a clearer view of their surroundings.

Consider using brighter, more contrasting colors such as chartreuse, orange, and red in murky or stained water. 

These colors can help fish locate your lure in less-than-ideal visibility conditions.

Species-Specific Preferences: Different fish species may have specific color preferences. 

Research your target species to understand their natural prey and color preferences.

For example, trout often respond well to earthy tones and natural baitfish colors, while brighter, more vibrant colors may entice bass.

Time of Day: Light conditions change throughout the day, affecting how fish perceive lure colors. 

Consider using darker-colored lures like black, brown, or dark green in low-light conditions such as dawn, dusk, or overcast days. During bright, sunny days, opt for brighter colors to increase visibility.

Matching the Hatch: Observe the insects and prey fish in the river and try to match your lure color to what the fish feed on.

 This can increase your chances of success.

Experimentation: Feel free to experiment with different lure colors. Sometimes, fish can be unpredictable, and a color that worked one day may not work the next. 

Be willing to switch lures and colors if you’re not getting bites.

There’s no single “best” lure color for river fishing, which can vary depending on multiple factors.

 Successful river anglers often carry a variety of lure colors and switch them out based on the conditions and fish behavior on a given day. 

Observing local conditions, experimenting with different colors, and adapting to the specific situation will increase your chances of landing a successful catch.


Regarding river fishing, having the right lures in your tackle box can differ between an unforgettable day on the water and a disappointing outing.

Experiment with various lures to discover which ones work best for the specific river and species you’re targeting. 

Remember to adapt your lure choice to the river’s current, water clarity, and the behavior of the fish you’re pursuing.

You’ll be one step closer to catching that trophy fish if you incorporate these top river fishing lures into your tackle collection.

 So, gear up, hit the river, and let these lures do the talking – your next angling adventure awaits!

Check out the Lake Trout Lures available on our website.

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