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.
10 Best Trout Lures for Rivers and Streams
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 populat 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.
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.
Lightweight 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.
Spinning reels for trout can 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.
Try to target trout were 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.