Although jigging for lake trout can be quite effective in winter it is trolling that is the most productive year round.
Lake trout lures are wither trolled or jigged. Occasionally you may end up casting in the shallower waters but the real trophy trout are almost always caught on the troll.
Armed with the right lake trout trolling lures and a either a good knowledge of the lakes bottom contours or a fish finder you can target large lakers most effectively whilst on the move.
Trolling allows you to cover more water, plain and simple. Once you find the depth that the lake trout are feeding at it is merely a matter of trolling along that depth at various structures and drop offs.
The best lake trout trolling lures all have one thing in common in that there have some form of attractor built into them. That can be either a reflective color or a very pronounced swim action that gives off a lot of vibration.
Using a trolling spoon for lake trout is one of the oldest methods out there. Spoons are incredibly simple yet still highly effective.
A spoon is nothing more than a shaped piece of metal with a hook on it.
However, it is the shape that gives the spoon a very distinctive wobble. That wobble sends out very strong vibrations. These vibrations combined with the flash from the metal are a very strong attractor for lake trout.
Traditionally made from a thin piece of copper, spoons are now available in lots of different shapes, sizes and metals.
A long thin spoon will give a very different action to a shorter fatter one. And in certain light conditions a gold or copper spoon will beat out a painted or sprayed on pattern one every time.
Flatfish lures give off an action that is quite unique as they are trolled behind the boat. They dodge and dart from side to side giving off a lot of vibration as they move.
Probably the most famous flatfish lure is the Worden's or Luhr Jensen Flatfish lure. Although it may have a slightly odd look to it, once in the water it moves in such a way that drive lake trout crazy.
One of the best approaches to using a flatfish lure for lake trout is to troll it in such a manner that it bounces off the bottom.
This bouncing action off of a rocky bottom can result in some very violent strikes from a big lake trout.
You need to fine tune your trolling speed in order to get the correct swim action. Too fast and they tend to roll in a loop, too slow and they will not give out much vibration.
Available in a huge range of colors and quite a few sizes. The colors range from plain single colors to brightly colored fluorescent bodies with contrasting spots on.
Crankbaits are designed to give off a natural swimming action. They vary widely in size and shape.
Although sometimes called a stickbait or minnow bait the Rapala is easily the most successful brand of crankbait available.
All crankbaits have a small lip protruding from the front. This lip makes the head move from side to side. This side to side movement gives a very natural like swimming motion to the lure.
On some crankbaits you can adjust the lip. Adjusting it allows you to fine tune the lures swim action and how quickly it dives.
Smaller crankbaits will usually be in one single piece with two small treble hooks, one at the tail and one one third down from the head.
Larger crankbaits can be what is called "jointed". A jointed crankbait will have the body cut in half and joined be two small metal eyes. This join allows the body to move in a very natural way just like when a small fish flicks it's tail.
Crankbaits can be bought in either a floating, neutral or a sinking design.
The floating will rarely dive more than ten feet without the use of lead core line or a downrigger.
A neutral buoyancy one can be fished a little deeper. The are best used when casting as you can allow the lure to dive and then stop it in the water. A lot of the times you will get a strike when they are suspended in the water.
Sinking crankbaits have added weight to their construction. This means you can run them a lot deeper without specialist tackle such as a downrigger or lead core fishing line.
A cowbell rig is usually a series of blades that are attached along a wire leader. At the end of the leader is usually some of flashing lure like a spoon of a spin-n-glo.
The aim of the cowbell rig is to attract a lake trout from a large distance away. The long leader with four or five spinning blades creates a lot of flash and vibration. For some reason lake trout seem to love this.
Once they have been drawn in by the team of spinning blades they then usually home in on the lure at the end of the rig.
More often than not a cowbell will be used with a downrigger setup. The downrigger allows you to get the rig down to the correct depth.
Cowbell rigs were once very common on the great lakes but there use is beginning to die out somewhat.
Flashers just like a cowbell rig are used to attract the lake trout. Once in range of your rig they will generally strike at whatever lure you are pulling at the end.
A flasher is a flat piece of either metal or plastic that has a reflective surface on it. It is added several feet from your lure and it's only function is to produce a very visible flash.
Behind the flasher you may attach a spinner or a spoon. Another popular setup is to trail a large worm on a single hook behind the flasher.
Again you will need to use a downrigger to get you rig down to the correct depth.
Just like cowbells the use of flashers is beginning to lessen.
Although spinning for small brook, brown and rainbow trout can be a lot of fun targeting large lake trout from a boat is how you'll hook that monster fish of a lifetime. The best lake trout lures are purpose built and designed for running deep and attracting predatory laker's even in low light conditions.
Your two options are either trolling or jigging, with trolling being the most popular.
Jigging can be great for really targeting fish in a precise location and depth. It is trolling however the really allows you to cover a lot water and target different drop off's and contours.
You don't need a large selection of different lures to be successful but getting the sizes right and having a decent range of colors available is probably more important.
Lake trout trolling lures all work as either attractors or imitators. Their action and vibration combined with the reflective qualities of their finish is what will force a trout to strike.
The best trout lures for lakes are always going to have a life like swim action. The lures selected below will all give out a distinctive wobble or action that will help lake trout to hone in on your lures.
Trolling spoons are probably the oldest and most reliable way to hook a lake trout. They have been around for decades.
Originally spoons would just have been a piece of crudely shaped copper with a single hook. However they have evolved over time and that simple shape has now been refined in to hundreds of different actions.
Materials have also moved on and you will find that modern spoons have super strong treble hooks and the main body can have a lot of different textures hammered into the metal, giving a very realistic scale like appearance.
Spoons are best trolled slow. When lake trout are staying deep in the water column and ignoring other lures the wobble of a slow moving spoon can be enough to tempt them to strike.
The traditional colors such as copper, gold and silver are still some of the best performing options available. However, you can also get some that have a printed pattern on them. Long thin spoons that have a distinctive rainbow trout pattern or firetiger can work really well when the traditional colors fail.
The classic Rapala is responsible for taking huge numbers of trophy lake trout. It has a hand tuned action that is super realistic.
Available in both floating, neutral and sinking varieties. They also have a large range of sizes. The size you choose should really be determined be the depth and size of the fish you are targeting. For example you wouldn't really want to troll with anything smaller than a #7 on a lake unless you are targeting fish that are really close to shallows.
They do tend to run shallow due to their slim profile and non-aggressive lip. So you have a choice of using a downrigger, lead core line or added weight on your line to get them to the required depth.
I have always found the gold/black and silver/black to be most effective on bright days with some of the brighter patterns like Firetiger best on dull days.
Although they have an incredibly odd look and shape the Flatfish lure from Worden's has a very effective swim action. If you run one of these lures right below the surface you can see just how strong a wake they generate from their very pronounced action.
There is a massive variety of colors available which also includes many different patterns. Lot's of fishermen will swear by one or two colors and what works in one lake may fail to produce in another.
So color selection really will come down to combining local knowledge combined with water conditions/weather.
Trolling speed can have a big impact on how the Flatfish will swim. At a certain speed the Flatfish will actually lose it's intended action and just start to roll over and over. The best approach is to tune the lure and the boat speed before you let out your line fully.
They are great in both deep and shallow waters. When trolling you can aim to keep them a few feet off the bottom. If this fails to get a strike the next approach is to actively troll them a little too deep which results in the lure bouncing off the bottom. This bottom bouncing can be a really killer!
Although some people may include the Rapala's mentioned above under the category of a crankbait I tend to keep them separate. A crankbait in my mind has a much more pronounced action than a stickbait like a Rapala.
Crankbaits will usually have a fatter body profile and will normally have a more aggressive lip.
The more aggressive diving lip will give them a much more noticeable action than a slimmer lure.
These lures unless used in really large sizes and trolled at a high speed will tend to run to shallow or a medium depth. A good option to get them down is to use lead core line.
There are thousands of different colors, brands, shapes and sizes. You can get some really good looking natural patterns that will imitate the natural bait fish that lake trout will feed on.
Mixing up your colors, shapes and sizes will give you the best spread of lures.
If you are fishing on the ice then a jig is one of the best options to catch a large lake trout. There are lots of different patterns and materials available.
The classic marabou tailed jigs are used to imitate small sub-aquatic insects. A jig is usually worked off the bottom in small vertical movements.
Although you can cast from the shore to try and catch a lake trout that has moved into shallower waters the best option to target the larger fish will always be either from a boat or in winter out on the ice.
Lake trout will tend to stay deep in the summer as the water temperature rises in shallower waters.
You have two main options:
Trolling is probably the best way to cover a lot of water. You are best advised to invest in a quality fish finder that is mounted to your boat. A fish finder allows you to find drop off's and other under water structures where lake trout will tend to spend most of their time feeding.
Getting your lures down deep to where the fish are is a must. There are a number of options available:
Different types of lures for lake trout will have a natural depth that the will get to depending on your boat speed.
The options above allow you to fine tune and get the lures down deeper than they otherwise would.