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Pokémon Sword and Shield guide: How to cross water and catch big spawns in water

You don’t use Surf in this game

A Gyarados stares at a Pokémon trainer riding a bike in the water Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

If you’re playing Pokémon Sword and Shield, you have definitely seen a big Gyarados or Jellicent around in the waters in the Wild Area. To get them, you need an upgrade for your bike.

The Rotom Bike you get on Route 5 gets an upgrade to allow it to cross water. The same man who gifts you the bike will upgrade it for you once you hit Route 9, after you visit Circhester.

A map of the Galar region points out where to upgrade your bike in Pokémon Sword and Shield Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Once you get this, you’ll be able to seamlessly ride your bike into the water, free to explore the game and battle any wild Pokémon you run into.

Note that you cannot fish while on the bike and the fishing shadows will vanish if you ride too close. To fish, just get off your bike, stand on the shoreline closest to the bubbling shadow, and press the A button.

After getting your bike, you should immediately visit the Lake of Outrage zone in the Wild Area. Not only do evolution stones and wild Eeveelutions spawn there, but so does Ditto, a Pokémon pretty necessary for any Pokémon breeder.