Feeder fishing rivers – learn how

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Feeder fishing rivers

The tidal river.

Feeder fishing rivers for Bream and Roach with a simple feeder rig is an absolute pleasure with a well balanced setup. I’m feeder fishing a tidal stretch of my local river today. Fishing is usually better on the outgoing tide, so I have timed my arrival to be here half an hour before it turns.

Mixing the ground bait for the feeder is my first job. I’m using a very simple ground bait, it’s two parts brown crumb, one part white crumb and one part sausage rusk. I make quite a dry mix to ensure the feeder empties within a minute or two on the river bed.

Feeder fishing ground bait

A simple feeder fishing rig

In my video “Cage feeder fishing for Tench“, I used this running ledger rig, that has beads as a boom. This rig would work on a river, but small chub will spend all their time trying to eat the beads, producing far too many false bites.

The rig I use on this river has just one bead, no float stops, no swivels or anything else the Chub can attack. It is a rig made from twisted line and here’s how to tie it. Take four foot of line and tie a small figure of eight loop knot, ten inches from one end. Thread a small bead onto the tail of the loop knot. Twist the tail and line together above the loop for about eight inches. Tie a double overhand knot about seven inches above the bead. Tease the bead up the line past half way. Tie another double overhand knot, halfway up the twisted section below the bead. Slide the bead down the to the second knot. Finally tie a loop in the far end for attaching to the main line. Moisten all knots with saliva before you tighten them down.

Feeder fishing rig

Thread a swim feeder onto the main line and loop to loop connect the twisted rig. This rig provides a stiff section above the feeder and a stiff boom below the feeder to hold the hook length out. As a fish takes the bait and pulls the line, the feeders swivel will catch on the top knot of the rig. Although this is not a bolt rig, the jolt from the knot should cause the hook to prick the fish. But the feeder can pass over the knot and down the line if necessary. Today my main line is 8 lb mono and the twisted rig is tied from 6 lb fluorocarbon.

Swim feeder rig

Weight of the feeder

The state of the river, helps me to decide the strength of the quiver tip and the weight of the feeder I will use. The feeder needs to stay still on the bottom as soon as it has landed. I also need to be able to tighten the line to put a slight bend in the quiver tip. So before I attach the hook length, I cast the empty feeder into the swim to see if I have the right weight. If I can barley tighten down to the feeder before it moves, then the feeder it too light. But on the other hand, if I can put a large bend in the tip before the feeder moves then the feeder is too heavy.

Swim feeder

As a rough guide, for a slow river, or feeder fishing fairly close I try a 1 oz tip and a 1 oz feeder. At the other end of the scale on a fast river, or feeder fishing at distance try a 3 oz tip with a 3 oz feeder. For somewhere in between I use 2 oz.

I want to get to a point where the feeder moves when I have about half a bend in the quiver tip. But at the same time using the lightest feeder I can get away with. Achieving this balance will make the setup more sensitive, even in quite a strong flow. I will keep changing the feeder weight and even change the quiver tip until I am happy.

Bow in the line

The flow of the water will always push a bow into the line between rod tip and feeder. You can see where and at what angle the line enters the water. From these two points you will have an idea about the size of the bow. But how well you can strike is also a good indicator. While you are testing the rig, do some test strikes.

Feeder fishing bow in line

Strike at a bite

Always strike with a long sweeping action to connect with the fish. In my test strike the tip of my rod moves maybe a yard before the feeder is picked up. Clearly the feeder must be collected within the arch of the strike, otherwise you will never connect to the fish.

Even though there is a bow in the line, bites will still register at the tip as if the line was dead straight. The flow continues to hold the line out in a bow when a fish is taking the bait. The line will just move too and fro held by the flow of the water. Bites will look just as you would expect, immediate and clear.


I expect to catch Roach, Bream and maybe Chub. Usually I use classic baits like maggots, casters, hemp, worms and sometimes bread. Today I thought I would give pellets a go. I’m using 3 mm coarse pellets as feed and 6 mm coarse pellet on the hook. My hook length has size 14 hook with a twisted hair and bait band. It is 24 inches long and tied from 3.5 lb mono, connected by loop to loop to the feeder rig.

Hair rigged pellet

I didn’t add the feed pellets to the ground bait when I mix it. If I had the pellets would soak up some of the water, but more importantly they get sticky when wet. Instead I put some of the ground bait in a separate container and will add the 3 mm pellets as I need them.

The tide slows

When the tide fist turned the river flowed out quite quickly. The feed from the feeder easily got washed down to the hook bait on a 24 inch hook length. But as the tide has gone out the current has begun to slow. To maintain a balanced setup and to make the rig as sensitive as possible, I change the feeder for a lighter one. I have also shortened the hook length to 18 inches to make sure the feed is still reaches the hook bait.

The next cast I catch a typical river Bream. Bream of this size are common in most rivers and are a good fish to have in mind when planning a trip. Feeder fishing rivers can be an absolute pleasure, so long as you take a few minutes to get the tackle nicely balanced.

Feeder fishing – hook bait and feed together

Feeder links benefit feeder fishing

Cage feeder fishing for Tench

Method feeder fishing for Carp

Feeder fishing rivers how to

Special thanks to Hassocks Angling for allowing me to film on their waters.