The Best Bait for Fishing in Rivers | Live and Artificial Baits Covered

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When summer advances and rivers and streams start flowing freely once again, fishing becomes the most desirable and enjoyable leisure sport. Anglers flock around Bighorn, Yellowstone, or Madison rivers, searching for their favorite trout, bass, or perch fishes.

Well, the success of fishing in the river depends on selecting the best bait for fishing in rivers. Here, we have included the bait for river fishing summer, describing both live and artificial bait. If you plan for fishing, check these baits list to pick the one or two you need quickly. It would make your fishing session comfortable.

The Best Bait for Fishing in Rivers

When you fish in the river, you have to go by the standard rules. Also, you need to be picky in choosing the baits since river fishes aren’t going to be attracted to large lures and baits. Thus, your selections have to be pinpoint and accurate.

The Best Live Bait for River Fishing

Most fishes will be attracted more towards their natural food readily available in the rivers. Thus, river fishes are lured to crawdads and small minnows easily. You can catch almost all types of river and stream fish with nightcrawlers, leeches, and minnows.

These live baits work best for bottom-dweller fishes such as carp, catfish, and suckers. If you plan to hunt predator fishes such as trout or bass or even the walleye, use small minnows. They are found naturally in the rivers, and so predators won’t doubt their presence.

Nonetheless, you shouldn’t try luck over grasshoppers, mayflies, and dragonflies. These aren’t the natural food for river fishes so they won’t show much interest. You might also use earthworms as a good alternative to draw bass or walleye’s attention in a relatively short time.

The Best Artificial Bait for River Fishing

Although natural baits are the best for alluring the fish into bites, you may not find them readily available. In most cases, you have to go to a nearby fishing spot and first gather the live bait such as worms or small minnows.

You can bypass such hardships by choosing artificial bait. These baits are used multiple times and resemble natural foods so closely that fish can be easily fooled with them.

Read More: Best Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Worden’s Rooster Spinner:

This original tail spinner from Rooster is our top choice for fishing in rivers for several reasons. Firstly, it is easy to use, even for novice anglers. You have just to cast it and then reel it slowly. It is also the best lure for river fishing trout, thanks to its easiness and versatility. Thus, you can use the Rooster tail spinner to catch brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout around the country rivers.

Furthermore, you can use it in warm waters to catch bass and panfish. You can get the larger baits to catch musky, walleye, and legendary pikes too.

Johnson Beetle Spinnerbait:

The undersized bait is our best bet for fishing in small rivers. This lure is also pretty easy to use and cast, just like the Rooster spinner. It uses a single hook. So, it remains our favorite for catch and releases angling sessions when you don’t want to hurt the fish.

Also, the spinner bait is sufficient for all catches. You can cast it to attract walleye, bass, panfish, bluegill, and even the pickerel. It is designed to work with the least snags. You can use it on rocky areas as it would bounce back instead of sticking to the rocks. For the best results, retrieve it as slowly as you can to catch the fish.

Rebel Wee Craw:

Expert anglers call the Rebel Wee Craw the legend. Its practicality and effectiveness in catching nearly all river and stream fishes set it apart from other artificial lures and baits. The small crankbait can go deep into the water from 4ft to 6ft when appropriately retrieved.

Rebel Wee Craw’s movement mimics the legendary crawfish, which is by far the best forager in rivers. Its erratic action draws the fish out of their hiding space quickly. It works great for all game fishes, and the smallmouth bass remains on the top of this list. It can also fool trout, pike, pickerel, walleye, etc., at ease. It comes in multiple colors to suit the natural environment more. Also, you can use this artificial bait for both slow and fast-moving water. Work against the current to befool the fishes quickly.

Gulp Alive Minnow:

If you want to go closest to the live baits with an artificial lure, the 1″ Gulp Minnow must be your 1st choice. It has a heavy scent, which mimics the live minnows in the water. So, you can easily befool the fishes and draw them out of their hiding space.

When you fish in harsh, biting conditions such as post-winter times, these minnow baits will show their greatness. Also, these have excellent action and natural movement that attract almost all kinds of river fishes. Small bass and panfish would chase after the moving bait like Usain Bolt. Also, you can get some prized trout with these baits. You should use the least action for the best fishing results with Gulp Alive Minnows.

Yamamota Senko:

The last recommendation for artificial baits in our list for river fishing is the legendary Yamamota Senko. The bait is usually designed for large species and is available in bigger sizes. You can use its 4″ size for fishing bass, trout, pikes, and walleye in the river during summertime.

It comes in several colors. But we recommend the natural brown or green color for the best effectiveness. The bait needs timid action, possibly as low as you might get. You can add some weight with the hook for some nice and prized catch.


River fishing is both challenging and fun. When the ice starts melting, some catch-and-release sessions can wipe out your winter boredom. We have discussed the best bait for fishing in rivers, including both live and artificial ones.

Whether you are a trout lover or bass eater, these baits will surely live up to your expectations. So, take the bait, put on your fishing wader, and off you go- it’s time for summertime river fishing.

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