Catchmefishing logo fishing tutorials and tips

What is The Best River Fishing Bait to Use?

Written by: Catchmefishing
Date:  December 1, 2022 

The Best River Fishing Bait

You've been fishing all day by the side of the river, not caught much fish. Swapping baits lots with no success, wishing you had a better river fishing bait.
We have all been there, trying to have a great day fishing only to be disappointed, forever swapping baits in a random last-ditch effort to hopefully find a bait that succeeds but then to be disappointed with not a single bite all day.
Using the best bait for river fishing while understanding the environment is the key to success at river fishing.

Environments While River Fishing

The time of the day, river flow, temperature, and weather are all key points to master. Understanding your environmental situation will become your greatest asset. It will be the difference between you having a mediocre day and a successful day fishing.

Fish will normally hang out where rough water calms and where deep-water shallows off. Look for changes in the river environment, and you will surely find fish there.


River fishing environment

Different Kinds of River Fish

The rich diversity of river fish is what makes it so enjoyable. Your first fish can be a carp, next a catfish, then a perch or a chub. Depending on which river you will be fishing will depend on what fish you will catch.

Some of the most common river fish are carp, pike, barbel, catfish, bluegill, smallmouth bass, Walleye, and there are plenty more.
Fish that have barbels are most likely bottom feeders and you will need to present your bait in such a way that will be inviting for them.

They use their barbels like whiskers to move around and sense their environment in the murky water on the bottom of the river. They occasionally rise in the water with changes to temperature and river flow. A bait strong in flavor will sure attract these bottom feeders.

Smaller fish like minnows and roach like to keep in shoals and feed plenty in the shallows near the surface.


Catfish in the river while fishing

What are the Best Baits to Use for River Fishing?

River fish have been feeding on natural food ever since they existed. The main key here is to make the bait look as natural as possible to attract the fish.

Baits that river fish love are:


Cheese bait river fishing

Cheese as a river fishing bait is highly effective at catching Carp, barbel, tench, chub, and catfish. You will be surprised at how many other fish will also take the cheese.
Now, I know what you are thinking, how can fish possibly go for cheese?

All I say is please give it a try. Almost everyone has cheese laying around in their fridge. The next time you go river fishing take some with you. You won't be disappointed.

Try to use an extra smelly cheese like blue cheese or strong cheddar, you will have more success and more bites the more potent the cheese is. It's best used when you place a small cube on your hook and fish as close to the bottom as you can.

Luncheon Meat

luncheon meat bait river fishing

Luncheon meat bait is a classic, I have used it since I was a kid and to this day it still works. The cheapest canned luncheon meat or spam you can find will do the trick.

Placing a small cube on your hook or rig is all it takes to attract the fish. Big carp, chub, catfish and many other fish love luncheon meat.

It's a great go to bait when you are new to a river and unsure of what the best bait is. Overall luncheon meat is an awesome fishing bait.


Worm bait river fishing

Fish have been eating worms in rivers worldwide for as long as they have existed. Worms are a very good natural bait for fishing rivers.

Cast upstream and let your worm bait flow naturally downriver. Nearly all river fish, when hungry, will go for your worm as long as you present it naturally to the fish.


Maggots bait river fishing

Fly larvae, another name for maggots, are brilliant all-around fishing bait. Maggots are very natural to rivers, so they are so effective at catching fish. Flys lay eggs in the water, turning into larvae and maggots, a natural diet for the fish. Maggots are very effective at catching most river fish at all kinds of depths.

Smaller fish love to take maggots in the shallows, sometimes, it can be one a chuck if you hit big shoals. Maggots are a great bait to turn too when you are struggling to catch anything with other bait.


Bread bait river fishing

Bread is an excellent cheap bait. All you need is a few rounds of white bread, it doesn't even need to be the expensive stuff. Bread can be used to catch fish on the bottom or on the top, depending on the time of the day and the temperature.

Try to hide your hook inside the bread to make it look more natural to the fish. Don't squeeze your bread on the hook too much as it will become less appetizing for the fish and harder for the fish to be hooked.

Bread is very effective fishing bait.


Prawn bait river fishing

Cooked, ready-to-eat frozen prawns from the store are the best ones to use. Let them defrost the night before you go river fishing.

Although they are not the cheapest bait on this list, they are very effective. Carp, pike, and catfish are just a few of the fish that love to eat prawns. Just beware that although prawns do attract most sizes of fish, you are very like to get a huge one taking the bait, so take this into account when choosing the strength of your fishing gear, so you don't damage it.

Prawn is a great bait if you want to target the bigger fish in the river.

Corn (Sweetcorn)

corn bait river fishing

Corn should accompany any angler who wants a successful day's finishing, it's brilliant fishing bait. Straight out of the can will do here you don't have to be fancy.

Using corn as a fishing bait will catch fish on most rivers. It attracts all sizes of fish, from small roach to large carp and catfish. Place 1 or 2 corn kernels on your hook. Normally, the more kernels you place on your hook, the bigger the fish it will attract.

A small handful thrown into the area you will be fishing will also attract fish into the area, its great for feeding the swim.

Corn as a fishing bait is outstanding if you have not tried it, you have been missing out.


As well as having the correct bait, also the correct equipment is crucial to being successful.

Picking the correct fishing rod and reel is key to suit your style and needs.

Most of this equipment will change depending on the stretch of river you will be fishing and the type of fish you will be targeting.

If you are new to carp fishing, check out our Carp Fishing Tips For Beginners – beginners guide to carp fishing

Newest Posts

Popular Articles

Bass Guides
River Guides