Best River Fishing Rods (Updated 2021 Guide)

If you are searching for the best river fishing rods, you’re in the right place!

best river fishing rods 2021

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Rod choice is generally one of the most important factors when it comes to finding success on the river, so we have chosen a range of feeder and float rods to help you get started.

You often need a rod with more backbone than usual in order to handle a variety of fish species such as grayling, dace, trout and chub.

Choosing the right rod – and matching it up with the right reek, line, hook and rigs is the most difficult part, so we’ll try to explain and recommend some tried and trusted pairings to help you.

Let us begin with some common questions about river fishing.


Matching up rods, lines & hooklengths

A key concept of fishing rivers is correctly matching up your rod with the right sort of fishing lines and hooks.

You will have much better results if you fish using the correct tackle for the right situation. Below, we have highlighted some helpful pairings.

1. Light Action Rod, 2lb-3lb mainline and hooklengths with a diameter of between 0.08mm and 0.10mm. This arrangement is a great starting point for catching river silvers. A light float (or feeder rod for casting lightweight feeders) rod should be used here.

2. An all round river setup which includes mainlines of around 4lb-5lb and hooklengths between 0.12mm and 0.18mm. This arrangment is used in most of my river fishing.

3. For heavy duty work, such as casting large feeders, I would opt for mainlines of around 10lb to 12lb paired with hooklengths up to 0.30mm. When choosing a rod, consider how much weight you intend on casting out.


Common River Fish

There are plenty of species of fish to be caught from UK rivers!

Below is a chart (courtesy of Freshwater Habitats) showing you the type of fish to be found.

Common River Fish Species

Finding Fish: How To Locate Hotspots

So, you’ve bought your rod, your lines are ready to go and you head towards your local river, whats next?

Unlike fishing stillwaters, fish in rivers will be spread out.

However, there are common ‘hotspots’ on rivers where certain species of fish tend to ‘hold up’.

These may include overhanging trees, slack water, deep pools and on river bends.

Can you land fish safely from where you are standing? Answering, or figuring these questions out, is known as ‘watercraft’ and it is very important.

In fact, these hotspots have been given specific names down the years.

Runs (or glides) are areas of a river that have fast or steady running water. Often a great place to spot fish as there is usually more oxygen in these sections.

fishing river severn weir
Can you spot any hotspots in this photo?

‘Creases’ are where slow running water meets fast. This creates a crease in the water where natural baits such as larvae build up. A great hotspot that produces regularly.

Then there are ‘pools’ which, if you haven’t guessed already, are areas of deep water that often seems slow running. These pools can often be found on bends or wide sections with a weir, or some kind of obstacle. A magnet for fish, finding and fishing these pools is often a great place to start.

Before you fish a river, I would highly recommend taking a walk (without your tackle) so you can spot some of these areas beforehand.

Chucking out some bait in and around these areas before you think about casting a rod can often draw in fish.


River Feeder Rods

These rods are designed for casting feeders. Usually strong & powerful to cast long distances. Often include a mixture of carbon and glass tips to accomodate feeder sizes.

Check out the best river fishing rods for using feeders below.

1. Preston Super Feeder Rods

Available Lengths: 3.3m, 3.6m & 3.9m

River fishing is all about the thrill of the chase. The Preston ‘Super Feeder’ rods are designed for that moment when your fishing line just disappears under the water and your blood starts to pump through your veins as you wait patiently.

preston super feeder rods

The sensitive nature of these rods make them perfect for natural venues, like rivers, giving you the chance to experience fishing for smaller species as well as larger ones like pike and chub.

Each model is made up of three sections, making them compact to store away into a quiver. Whatever length you choose, each is supplied with a 1oz and 2oz tip.

A compact reel seat makes attaching a decent reel quick and easy, whilst a durable keeper ring allows you to hook up whilst you walk around the river, looking for that hotspot.

Preston Innovations has been manufacturing fishing gear since 1984, so these feeder rods are a tried and trusted product built to handle everything you can throw at them.

Choose between three different lengths to tailor the rod’s length to the situation, be that casting a heavy feeder, or something a little lighter on a promising bend in the river.

A very good feeder rod this, a well deserved spot on our best river fishing rod guide for sure.

Preston Innovations Super Feeder Rods (3.90m)
  • Designed primarily for natural feeder fishing but can be used for larger species if required
  • The blanks are powerful enough to cast large feeders while still very forgiving, allowing you to use light hooklengths and smaller hooks.
  • The rods break down into three equal pieces making transportation easy

Rod Features

  • 3 piece rods
  • Supplied with 2 tips1oz and 2oz
  • Compact Reel Seat
  • Durable keeper ring

2. Daiwa Ninja X Feeder Rods

Mos Popular – Best River Fishing Rod

Available Lengths: 9ft, 10ft, 11ft, 12ft and 13ft

Daiwa offers a series of high quality feeder rods for river fishing – which are also good value for money.

Daiwa Ninja X Feeder Rods

With the ability to cast thick and heavy feeders, these rods have a powerful backbone to ensure that you always have the strength to fight hard with any fish on the line.

Combining long casts, easy action and lightweight, they are a very popular model!

Daiwa Ninja X Feeder Rods come equipped with some of the most durable materials. They’re made of a thin and lightweight carbon fibre blank, so they feel great in your hand as well as being balanced out nicely.

Comsetically, they look good too!

With a cork handle (my preferred handle type for river fishing as they offer great grip with wet hands), line glides through the titanium rod eyes and hitting the spot becomes a little easier knowing you can trust this rod.

Daiwa are a top brand whose tackle I trust completely.

What more could you want?

So far, this is hte number 1 best river fishing rod by a mile, certainly for versatility anyway.

Daiwa Ninja X Feeder, 3.60 metres, 150 grams, Feeder Fishing Rod, 11605-365
  • Length: 3.60 metres
  • Casting weight: 0 to 150 grams
  • Weight: 280 grams

Rod Features

  • HMC+® carbon fiber blank
  • Cork handle
  • Titanium oxide guides
  • Transportation holdall

3. Drennan Acolyte Distance Feeder Rods

Available Lengths: 12ft, 13ft and 14ft

The Drennan Acolyte Distance Feeder rod provides great balance and retains tactile contact with your catch’s feel reducing the risk of pull-outs.

Drennan Acolyte Distance Feeder Rods

The shorter lengths (12ft and 13ft) are designed for fishing close in, or down the channels. The longer distance model (14ft) is ideal for chucking heavy feeders far and wide across a river. All three can hit distances of 100m – so in my opinion, each model will do the trick in this country anyway!

Each length can accomodate a range of feeder sizes.

Taking these rods into open water where you want that additional distance can snag a couple more fish.

On to the technical breakdown now, and each model is made up of three pieces, making them easy to transport.

Each blank has been designed to offer a great blend of responsiveness with a crisp feel and quick recovery. Cosmetic features of these river fishing rods include a full cork handle, Fuji DPS screw-down reel seat and SiC guides.

These are well worth the investment if you are a serious river angler!

Rod Features

  • Three pieces construction
  • Crisp and responsive blank for optimum casting accuracy
  • Ideal for long ranges up to 100m+
  • Great with bombs and feeders up to 100g
  • Best matched with reel lines from 6lb to 10lb (2.7kg to 4.5kg) or 0.08 to 0.12mm braid
  • SiC guides
  • Fuji DPS ‘screw-down’ reel seat
  • Full cork handle
  • Engraved butt cap
  • Supplied with fine 3oz, 4oz and 5oz Drennan Distance Tips
  • Drennan Distance Tips feature larger guides to allow shock leader knots to easily pass through

4. Shakespeare Superteam Light Feeder Rod

Available Lengths: 9ft, 10ft & 11ft

The Shakespeare Superteam Feeder Rods are designed to dish out extreme performance with light braids, offerting a tough, durable action.

Shakespeare Superteam Feeder Rod

From 10ft pellet waggler rods to 14ft big feeder rods there’s something in this range for you.

Packed with braid resistant guides offer lots of security if you are fishing with braided mainlines! A progressive action that will cope with big fish under the tip.

The blank was designed by professionals, and feature a modern look and feel throughout.

Lengths available include 9ft, 10ft and 11ft – perfect for light fishing down the river!

1oz and 1.5oz carbon quivers are also included.

The best river fishing rod for the winter months when bites may a little more tricky to come by?

Rod Features

  • 30T High Density Carbon
  • Perfectly positioned braid resistant SIC guides
  • Quality EVA and/or cork handle material
  • Pro designed blank action
  • Modern look and feel

River Float Rods

Most float rods tend to be a bit on the light side – which is no good is you fish rivers to seek out larger specimens like chub.

However, only in the past few years have float rods specifically deisgned for rivers been available.

For me, the Drennan Acolyte Ultra range are the go-to rods for this purpose. It feels and responds brilliantly when trotting a bait down a river, and handles large fish well too.

I have highlighted some river float rods that should be more than up to the task – just avoid the lighter models if you can!

1. Korum Opportunist Rods

Available Lengths: 8ft & 10ft

For those that hunt larger fish with a cunning, opportunistic style, this rod is the perfect choice!

Korum Opprtunist Rods best river fishing rod

Boasting a super slim and lightweight frame this rod can go anywhere and catch anything – from fish in deep pools, to those feeding on the surface.

With PacBay Minima guides placed strategically around the blank it has been designed for big baits involving stiffer actions.

It’s versatile so it can be used as a river angler’s weapon of choice to great affect, and regardless of the conditions you are keen to tackle, the essential lightweight design of this rod is perfect for river fishing where every cast is important.

Each model can be fished in numerous ways, but each offers a crisp action and is a great tool to cast and catch when tackling overgrown spots.

Includes a handy carrying strap so you keep mobile as you make your way up and around a river hunting for that prized river specimen!

The Korum Opportunist Rods are up there as some of the best river fishing rods availble in 2021.

Rod Features

  • Opportunist 8ft two-piece 2lb – Line Rating 8-15lb
  • Opportunist 10ft two-piece 2.25lb – Line Rating 8-15lb
  • Super slim, lightweight and compact
  • Features PacBay Minima guides
  • They are robust and ceramic-free
  • Offers crisper actions
  • Greater longevity when tackling overgrown spots
  • Each rod can be used for multiple applications
  • From stalking big carp, to lure fishing
  • Or chasing bigger species from rivers and streams
  • Includes compact carrying strap

2. Drennan Acolyte Ultra Float Rod

Available Lengths: 13ft, 14ft & 15ft

Introducing the Drennan Acolyte Ultra Float Rod, built using ans exceptionally slim, high modulus carbon blank.

Beautifull balanced, with a crisp action, it provides excellent line control while still being soft enough to cushion your strikes from hooking or bouncing off when landing larger fish.

This makes the perfect choice for float fishing rivers, whether fast flowing channels or bobbing a float over a deep pol – this will handle anything you can throw at it!

The 13ft model (which we reviewed) can handle 2-5 pound test lines and monofilament up to 0.12/0.14mm in diameter.

Featuring a classy full cork handle, engraved butt cap and Fuji reel seat, this delightful weapon feels right at home for any keen river fisherman who wants a tool they can trust.

Quite simply, the Drennan Acolyte Ultra Float Rod is a ‘must-have’ on our best river fishing rod list!

Rod Features

  • High modulus carbon blank
  • Three sections
  • Ultra slim
  • Lightweight and perfectly balanced
  • Excellent line and float control
  • Crisp and responsive blank
  • Suitable for reel lines from 2lb 8oz to 4lb+
  • Can be used with ultra light hooklengths below 1lb (0.08mm)
  • Full cork handle
  • Engraved butt cap
  • Fuji reel seat

3. Fox EOS Barbel Specialist Float Rod

Our first barbel rod!

The Fox EOS Barbel Specialist Float Rod is designed with barbel fishing in mind!

At 13ft, the rod that can handle both trotting and float fishing on rivers and still waters (though it excels at latter).

Fox EOS Barbel Specialist River Float Rod

It has an optimal line rating of 6-10 pounds, and thanks to its powerful through action made possible by low resin carbon construction, it can handle large specimen fish with minimal fuss!

With the two piece construction making this one ultra lightweight when compared against other models on the market today; it weighs less than most traditional three part rods whose weight comes from heavier aluminium components.

Packed full of features such as Fox Slik guides, a cork handle and matt black finish, if you haven’t fished for barbel, or you are a seasoned pro, this has to be the best river fishing rod for the task – hands down!

Rod Features

  • A specialist rod designed for trotting for barbel on rivers of all sizes
  • Also a fantastic rod for float fishing on stillwaters, when tench, carp and bream are the target
  • Two-piece construction
  • Line rating of 6-10lb
  • 13ft length offers superior line pick up when fishing at range
  • Powerful, through-action allows you to control the hardest fighting of fish
  • Lightweight low resin carbon construction
  • Fox Slik guides throughout
  • Top quality reel seat
  • High grade cork handle
  • Understated graphics
  • Matt black finish with gunsmoke cappings

4. Shimano Aero X5 Match Float Rod

Available Lengths: 13ft and 14ft

The perfect rod for serious river anglers!

Shimano Aero X5 River Float Rod
Image: Courtesy of Angling Times

This three-piece gem from Shimano is built using a superior Nano Carbon, making it light in the hand and responsive with a crisp cast that picks up your line quickly without any sluggishness or drag.

A good choice if you’re after accuracy while out on a river with plenty of features to hit!

The lightweight long leg guides provide ideal line guidance from reel spool till tip, ensuring casting properties are perfect during any river fishing adventures.

Light, well balanced and very responsive, the Shimano Aero X5 Float Rod is perfect for float fishing on rivers, stillwaters or in a match situation!

SHIMANO AERO X5 MATCH FLOAT 13ft ROD
  • Official product in its original packaging

Rod Features

  • Casting Distance: Drifting. 13ft = Medium Distance, 14ft Is Long Distance.
  • Recommended Line: Shimano Technium Invisitech 0.18mm/0.20mm
  • Recommended Reel: Stradic CI4+ 4000 XG
  • Recommended Max Casting Weight: 20g

Summary

Fishing on a river can be both exhilarating and relaxing! We hope this blog post has helped you figure out how to go about fishing on rivers, and the rods that are required.

We had a lot of fun piecing together our river fishing float and feeder rod reviews, which we hope have been helpful in your decision making process when it comes to buying a new rod for yourself or someone else.

Until next time – good luck, whatever fishing adventure awaits next!

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Last update on 2021-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API