This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best Trout Lures for Rivers and Streams

Best Trout Lures for Rivers and Streams

Nothing is quite as rewarding as throwing small lures on light tackle along small mountain streams and slow moving rivers.

The best trout lures for rivers and streams are usually the most simple. They have been around for decades and can be found in almost any tackle shop.

Spinners, small spoons and little baitfish/minnow imitators. If you started fishing at a young age then you are probably all too familiar with the lures listed below.

These names are almost legendary for their ability to catch picky trout:  Mepps, Rapala, Panther Martin and Rooster Tails or even a simple jig like the Wholly Bugger.

Best Trout Lures

1. Rooster Tail

The Rooster Tail has a dressed hook(commonly referred to as a hackle). This hackle gives it a very like presentation. It can be a serious advantage over a regular spinner mostly when trout are feeding on small insects right before a hatch.

With a huge range of colors and patterns available there is one to suit just about any light/weather condition. Size wise you should aim to be using 1/8 ounce or less. I usually find the more natural colors to be the most reliable.

Fishing a Rooster Tail for trout is just like fishing with any other trout spinner. Cast across and slightly upstream of where the trout are lying.

2. Blue Fox Vibrax

If you are fishing a larger river or some fast water then the Vibrax from Blue Fox is one of the best trout lures to choose.

They perform best with a quicker retrieve rate and in a fast flowing river this can really force a strike from a trout that is sitting in a hole waiting for it’s next meal to swim by.

I tend to favor either the gold or silver blade. Often in fast water you’ll find a blade that is more reflective than a patterned one will work best.

They are also quite good for casting longer distances due to the weight of the body.

3. Rapala Original Floating

Arguably one of the most realistic lures ever made the Original Floating in either a gold or silver can be deadly if fished on the right stretch of water.

These lure are quite light so to get the best out of them you will need to on ultralight spinning gear. Sizes #7 or lower. They are also available in a neutral bounancy and in a countdown model if you do need to work much deeper water.

Color wise the gold and silver are ultra reliable. There are also imitation patterns available that mimic perch, brown trout and rainbow trout.

In really dark waters you may want to try some of the darker options such as Firetiger or an orange and gold.

4. Luhr Jensen Krocodile

The Luhr Jensen Krocodile is a slim bodied spoon that works great on darker waters especially if there has been a lot of rain.

The slim design means they can be fished fast. They come in a fairly large range of colors most of which will tend to be pretty bright.

On duller days I’d stick with a classic gold or chrome without any of the added artificial patterns as some of them ca have very bright unnatural colors.

5. Panther Martin

Like the Rooster Tail, Mepps and Vibrax the Panther Martin is a classic spinner. What sets it apart from other spinners is it’s blade.

The inline blade that it uses is has it’s shaft actually running through the blade. This allows it to spin very quickly and create a lot of vibration through the water.

Size wise they do tend to be a little bit smaller than some of the other brands available.

If you are looking to fish a larger one on bigger rivers then the 1/8 ounce is a good choice.

The 1/16 ounce is a great trout lure for streams as it can be run in very shallow water, a great little lure for brook trout.

6. Acme Kastmaster

If you are in need of something a little bot heavier than the Panther Martin then a Kastmaster spoon will fit the bill.

These trout spoons have a very distinctive thick body. That thicker body means a lot more weight and you really can smash out some long casts even in the smaller sizes.

The traditional gold color is easily the most popular choice with blue/silver as a close second. Saying that there are quite a few different color combinations available so you can play around a little with these to see what works on your local river. 

The 1/12 ounce is particularly good on small streams as it’s small size makes very little splash but still has enough weight to make some decent casts.

7. Mepps Agila

An all time classic trout lure the Mepps Agila set the standard for small spinners. They are extremely high quality and have a

They range in size from 1/18th of an ounce up to 1/2 ounce. For trout on rivers and streams you should be looking at the smaller sizes.

They are available with both single or treble hooks and with a hackle or dressing or just the plain hook.

8. Acme Phobe

The Phobe is a small lightweight spoon that is particularly effective on streams and smaller rivers.

They are a one piece shaped spoon that has a very unique curvature and finish. They can be fished quite shallow in the water due to their small size and weight.

9. Rebel Minnow

Probably the second most popular stick/minnow bait after the Rapala the Rebel minnow is a full hard bodied plastic lure. They have a fairly similar swim action than the Rapala but are probably better for casting as they are a little heavier.

10. Acme Little Cleo

If the Kastmaster above is too heavy for your local river or you are fishing a lot in small mountain streams then the Acme Little Cleo is a great alternative.

As the name suggest this little spoon is quite small, and also a lot lighter than the bulkier Kastmaster.

A very simple design of presses metal it gives the traditional spoon like wobble that can set trout off. Gold is the one to get.

Trout Lures

Trout Lures tend to be much smaller than say a salmon or steelhead lure. Trout such as brown and rainbow are generally much smaller than their larger migratory cousins.

They also live in much smaller rivers and streams all across the country. Because of this on any stretch of water their size is usually limited by the size of the river that they were born in.

There are a number of different types of trout lures available and we will look at each in detail below.

Each of these trout fishing lures are tried and tested and even a small tackle box filled with a few different sizes and colors of each will have you covered on just about any small river or stream where trout are known to live.


Spinners are arguably the most popular trout fishing lures. They have produced fish year in and year out for decades on end.

Spinners work by giving off a flash and vibration from the spinning blade as they move through the water.

Trout love a small lure that has a bit of flash, the vibration helps to draw them in and the flash is what makes them strike.

You can also buy spinners with a dressed treble hook which can be really good if there is a lot of small insects in the water.


Spoons work in a similar way to spinners as in they give off both flash and vibrations. However, they will usually rotate and wobble at a slower rate than the blade on a spinner.

They are particularly effective in larger rivers especially those with deep pockets and drop offs that trout will tend to lie in and around waiting for their next meal to float by.

Fishing a spoon just like a spinner should be done in a wide arc across the river after every few casts you may want to target a different spot and vary the retrieval rate to make it fish at varying depths.


Jigs need to be worked in order to put some life into them. Small plastic, marabou jigs and evening some weighted fly fishing flies can be used to great effect if trout are naturally feeding on nymphs and other such sub-aquatic insects.


Although you can use larger crankbait style fishing lures for trout the Rapala is somewhat of a classic. They are generally longer and slimmer than a lot of crankbaits.

Made from balsa wood they are also extremely light so casting a good distance requires a light setup.

One of the best trout lures ever made the original floating Rapala is an absolute killer on rivers if you have a trout setup that can cast them a decent distance.

Casting upstream and across is the best approach. You can use the natural current of the river to help them to swim.

As they move downstream of you they will start to dive due to the water flow. Trout can very often smash them just as they start to dive down a few feet.

One of the best trout fishing lures ever especially in the classic gold of silver floating models.

What Kind of Tackle for Rivers and Streams?

For most of the trout fishing lures featured here you are going to want to use an ultra light spinning setup. 

Trout rods should generally be in the 5.5 foot to 6.5 foot range. Any longer than that and you can have an issue with trees and bushes. Keeping it short also makes working the lure along a bank full of vegetation a lot easier.

Look for a fast action rod that can give you pin point accuracy.

The best spinning reels for trout will be in the 1000 up to 2500 size range. Always buy a good quality reel with a decent drag on it.

Line will usually be monofilament in the 2 to 8 lb range but for most applications 6 lb should be fine. 

When fishing for trout try to target them where they will naturally wait in ambush along a river. Look out for sunken logs, deep holes and gravel beds especially were the level changes from deep to shallow. 

  • Updated March 15, 2022
  • Trout