If you are new to trout fishing or have decided to take your kids to a local stream that is known to contain trout then you might not be aware of what kind of trout fishing setup you will need.
Most people fishing for trout on rivers or streams will be targeting fish that are roughly 3-4 lbs or under.
Although that may sound small, trout can give a very spirited fight and pound for pond are one of the most exciting freshwater fish you can catch on light gear.
A good all round setup for trout fishing will be an ultralight spinning combo. The ultralight is basically what is known as the power rating of the rod and the size of the spinning reel.
Look for a setup with the following attributes:
This type of fishing setup will cover you for most small rivers, streams and small lakes. You can reliably land fish up to roughly 10 lbs in weight on this kind of tackle but you'll end up having to give them a lot of line before they tire which isn't ideal.
Smaller waters definitely require a shorter rod. Using a rod that is 7' or more in length can become extremely cumbersome as the extra foot or so of rod will be less maneuverable in and around large bushes and bank side trees.
A smaller rod is also better when playing smaller fish as you have a bit more control when using the shorter length.
Look for a 6'6" rod as this gives you a bot more versatility than something as short as 5'6".
The kind of rod should be a spinning rod as they perform better in terms of casting when compared to a baitcasting setup.
Baitasters really shine when you need to cast medium and heavy weight lures.
But when it comes to lighter lures or using a bait rig then it is the spinning setup that really shines.
The best trout spinning rod will have an ultralight power rating. This rods are built to run best with light lines in the 2 to 8 lbs breaking strain range.
Lighter rods have much more feedback and pairing a heavy rod with light line would be a disaster as the rod would not allow you to feel what was going on with your lighter terminal tackle.
A small spinning reel in the 1000 to 2500 size range will be the best option to pair with the rod above.
These smaller reels are designed to use light lines and have a small drag setting on them that is suitable for trout fishing.
A good reel needs to be serviced regularly and always make sure that you keep your reel free from grit or sand.
One of the most common mistakes to to leave your rod on the ground with the reel in the dirt.
Over time sand and dirt will get into the reel housing and damage the gears and the drag washers so always be careful when placing you gear on the ground.
Monofilament is the line of choice when using such small small tackle.
Mono has a lot more stretch in it than braid as this can help to act as a shock absorber for small trout when striking.
It also casts much better when used on a spinning reel in smaller breaking strains than braid.
The best trout lures are generally small and will imitate what the trout are naturally feeding on. Small spinners such as a Rooster tail for trout and Rapala's imitate minnows and other small bait fish that trout absolutely love.
When looking to imitate smaller sub-aquatic insects such as larvae you an use a small trout jig in either a black or chartreuse color used in the tail.
When using bait for trout you will need to use a single hook.
If you are practicing catch and release then always make sure to use a barb-less hook. Barb-less hooks make de-hooking much easier and you are less likely to injure a fish.
If you cannot get a barb-less hook you can take a pliers to a normal barbed hook and flatten the barb using the pliers.
A size #8 or #10 single hook is best when fishing for small trout.
Bait can be anything from nightcrawlers to Powerbait or even sweetcorn. It is best to experiment and see just what exactly they are biting on.
If you ever looked around a tackle shop and seen small jars of brightly colored dough then you may be confused as to how you might go about choosing one to use.
Choosing the best PowerBait for trout will depend on a number of factors:
PowerBait is made by Berkeley and over the past few decades they have continually refined both ingredients and the scent that goes into making it.
Originally there was just the now famous PowerBait dough. Down through the years the range has evolved to include a number of other offerings - Dough, Salmon Eggs and Trout Nuggets.
They are available in a large range of colors so you should be able to match the light conditions with one of the options.
Like most things in fishing opinions vary as to what is the best PowerBait for trout. Look at any fisherman's tackle box and you will see one guy favors the more natural looking colors whereas another will swear by the brighter artificial colors.
Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing which PowerBait you use.
What works one day may not work the next. Every water is different and you'll need to experiment.
Power Bait Dough is probably the best PowerBait for stocked trout. Freshly stocked rainbow trout absolutely love it.
As the name suggests it is a dough like substance which means it can be molded onto your hook with ease.
Berkley have released a small plastic mold that will give you a perfectly formed ball every time if you don't want to do it by hand.
As it is scented it will leave a slight odor on your hands so using the mold is one way to avoid this.
PowerBait can be used with very light gear. You can use nothing more than a hook and small lead weight to help cast and keep it on or near the bottom.
Bouncing a small piece down a river where trout are feeding on salmon eggs can be almost as productive of using natural salmon eggs without all the mess.
It will keep for quite a few months once opened. However, if it does start to dry out it will be all but useless.
Overtime it will also loose it's scent. Once this happens you are better off binning it and buying a replacement.
As stated above you can form the regular dough into an egg shape, but Berkley actually produce there own line of preformed eggs.
Traditionally salmon eggs were collected by hand. In recent years they have been widely available to purchase in bait and tackle shops.
These artificial eggs are even more convenient and have a pretty decent shelf life. The also come with the standard Berkley scent.
These eggs will float so you need to take that into account with how you fish and rig them.
Personally I use a small split shot about a foot or two from the hook depending on the depth of the river.
You can then bounce them downstream just like a real salmon egg would. The small weight will bounce down the river bottom whilst the egg will stay naturally suspended about a foot or two from the bottom.
The Berkley Trout Nuggets are an almost identical match for the type of feed that trout are fed in a hatchery.
They even have a specific color called "Hatchery". The nuggets are a slightly large more square shape than the eggs just like the specific pellets that hatchery owners use.
You can fish this just like the normal dough on light gear. A pretty simple setup is to thread one onto a small trout hook and cast it out without using weight.
You'll find that rainbows will hit these on the surface providing you keep yourself as hidden as possible on the river bank.
The are not that effective for will brown trout and you might be better of sticking to the more popular trout lures for rivers and streams in that scenario.
If you are fishing for rainbows that are new into the river or lake then you will want to use a bait that is as close as possible to what they were fed on in the hatchery.
Berkley Powerbait Hatchery Pellet Dough is an almost exact match for the pellets that a lot of trout are reared on before they are released into the wild.
If the river has salmon that are spawning in it every year then a red or orange color PowerBait is best used during that spawning season.
On smaller ponds and lakes I have found that chartreuse presented in a very natural way is one of the better colors to use.
Just like fishing with any other kind of bait the most important aspect of fishing with PowerBait is to make sure that your presentation of the bait looks as natural as possible even for something so artificial as PowerBait.
Drifting PowerBait is one of the better ways to work it in a river or stream.
Try to only use a small weight that is heavy enough to keep the bait down but light enough to allow it to bounce down the river bottom using the natural power of the water flow.
Always start from downstream of where you think the trout may be naturally hiding. Casting from below them means the are less likely to be spooked and it also allows the bait to run towards you.
If it is moving downstream towards you then it will look a lot more natural.
On lakes you may need a heavier weight depending on how far you need to cast to get where the trout are usually holding.
Bobber fishing with a float is another option to use on small ponds as it gives you the best possible visual feedback.
When using a small piece of PowerBait for trout you'll need to use the right kind of tackle.
A heavy spinning or baitcasting setup is too be avoided. The best setup is an trout spinning rod and reel combo that is rated for light line.
The rod should be between 6 and 7 feet in length depending on the type of water you are fishing. A longer rod will give you a longer casting distance but on smaller waters it will become more awkward to use.
So size your rod accordingly to the venue you intend to fish on.
You'll need an ultralight power rating and a fast action. The fast action gives you a much higher starting point for where the rod bends on the blank. This type of action is excellent for casting light lures and getting lots of feedback through the rod helping to detect the smallest of bites.
A good reel choice for the rod above is a size 1000 up to roughly a 2500 spinning reel. These smaller reels are great for casting light lines and should be well matched in terms of weight to an ultralight rod.
The go to fishing line choice will be monofilament. For very light setups you can use a 2 lb line and at the heavier end of the spectrum you can go up to 6 lb.
Although you can catch trout on nothing more than a hook and a nightcrawler, choosing the best rainbow trout bait to suit your venue will give you the best chance of catching something.
Rainbows are often stocked into various ponds, lakes and rivers and when they are newly introduced they will tend to feed on what is closed to the foods they were given in the hatchery.
Once they begin to acclimatize to their new environment they will quickly learn what natural foods are available and start to focus on those depending on the time of year.
You can of course use artificial trout fishing lures that imitate small minnows and nymphs instead of bait.
If you happen to be fishing for stocked trout then PowerBait may well be your first choice.
It is an artificial trout bait dough like substance that has a scent infused into it.
Using PowerBait for trout is pretty simple to use, just take a small piece out of the tub and form it over your hook.
The reason why it is thought to be so effective for stocked rainbows is that it will resemble the small feed pellets that the fish will have been reared on from a young age.
It is available in a large range of colors and different scents. Some of the colors even have glitter running through which can help as an added attractor to trout.
You can of always use a small weight or bobber depending on the types of river or lake that you are fishing on.
In rivers where salmon have an annual run trout can end up gorging themselves on salmon eggs.
Once the salmon lay there eggs in the loose gravel and sand a large percentage of them will over time become dislodged and get dragged off down the river by the natural current.
At this time of year rainbow trout will feed almost exclusively on salmon eggs. You can use this fact to great advantage.
Although you can find natural salmon eggs to use and they are very effective in this instance I actually prefer the artificial versions as they can be kept in a jar for a very long time with out loosing their freshness.
They are also easier to handle and to put directly onto a hook.
Both PowerBait and Pautzke produce artificial salmon eggs that come in a large range of colors and scents.
The classic red or orange are the most productive as they imitate the natural eggs that trout are used to feeding on.
Using a simple setup you can drift a salmon egg down and across a river to great effect. The more natural your presentation here the better.
Nightcrawlers are without doubt the all time classic brown trout bait but they are also extremely effective for rainbow trout.
You can buy tubs of nightcrawlers or worms in most local bait and tackle shops.
They are also free form your back yard if you are inclined to put in a small bit of effort.
One method to collect them is after it rains at night go out into you back yard on the grass with a flash light and you nearly always just pick them up off of the ground.
You can also find them during the day by looking under any type of object that has been placed on the dirt or ground for a few weeks.
Look under logs, large flat stones and pieces of plastic.
They can be kept in a plastic container with some good quality dirt. Make sure there is a few air holes in the top of the container and that the dirt is kept moist, not too dry and definitely not over-watered.
Corn is one of the cheapest and readily available bait for rainbow trout. It looks pretty similar to a salmon egg when moving through the water.
You ca add an artificial scent to you can of corn if you wish and it may help to attract more fish to the bait.
Again you want a simple setup using either just a hook on smaller waters and light gear or on larger waters a bobber setup or some kind of weight or sinker.
Corn ca be used on the same hook as a nightcrawler. It gives the trout some to focus on from a further distance and may increase your strike rate versus just a plain nightcrawler.
Minnows and other smaller bait fish are obviously one the most natural baits for rainbow trout that you can use.
They can be caught in small nets or bought prepackages from a bait shop.
There are several different rigging methods that you can try but I have found the best method is to use a good quality trout hook and hook them through the back.
A slow retrieve with really small twitches of the rod tip will help to add some life to them as they move through the water.
Although it is somewhat out of fashion these days some fishermen will use live minnows as there bait.
You need be very careful if you decide to use live bait. Many states are now banning the process so always make sure to read your local fishing regulations before using live fish as bait.
Always try to match what the trout are feeding on first before you try and use an artificial bait.
However, if you now that the trout are not long out of the hatchery and they are not wild in the water for too long then something like PowerBait or corn may be the best choice to try first.
When you are fishing rainbow trout baits chances are you'll be looking to use a light to ultralight spinning setup.
The best trout rod to use when looking to target rainbow trout on light gear will have roughly the following specifications:
You need a rod length that will match the type of water you intend to fish on. There is no point in using a 7 foot rod on a small stream or creek as it will be too awkward to be usable.
Conversely on a larger fast flowing river or lake a small rod won't have enough backbone to cast the longer distances.
You will need a fast action rod that has a lot of tip sensitivity for lighter lures and baits.
Power should be light to ultralight. Anything heavier and you will lose a lot of sensitivity through the rod. It will also not be suitable for using with light lines.
A reel should match your rod and line in order to get the best casting performance as possible.
For an ultralight rod and line with a rating of between 2 lb and 6 lb you will need a good spinning reel in either a 1000, 2000 or 2500 size. Anything else will make the rod feel unbalanced.
The number one trout fishing line on smaller gear will always be monofilament.
Line weight will depend on where you fish and just how big the rainbow trout may grow to in that area.
For smaller creeks and streams a 2 or 4 lb rated monofilament should be good enough once you move to larger waters then it is time to move up to 6 lb line.
Although stocked trout might be easier to catch than a wild trout they can still offer great fishing.
They are perfect for an easy day out on the water or as an excellent way to introduce children to their first fishing experience.
Just because a trout has been stocked doesn't always mean it will be easy to catch. The longer a trout has been out in the wild the harder it will be to get it to take a bait.
Choosing the best trout bait for stocked trout will depend on a number if factors:
The best baits to use for stocked trout can be powerbait, nightcrawlers or meal worms, corn or salmon eggs.
Berkley Powerbait is a scented dough like substance that comes in a range of different scents and colors. It is extremely effective at catching stocked rainbow trout. All you need is to roll a small piece into a ball and press it onto your hook.
There is a big range of very bright artificial looking colors.The range has evolved over several years with the different colors and scents having been well researched and improved upon over time.
One reason why it is so effective is that once it is squeezed onto your hook it may well resemble the types of food pellets that stocked trout are reared on in the hatchery.
This is probably why it works so well for freshly stocked trout.
The best PowerBait for trout especially those that are freshly stocked is a color called "hatchery" as it mimics almost exactly the pellets that the trout were fed on while they were being reared.
Nightcrawlers or any other kind of worms are probably what most people start fishing with as a kid. Dig them up in your back yard and store them in a tin in some earth and you have a ready to go, super effective bait that catches just about any small freshwater fish.
Meal worms can be purchased at any good bait and tackle store. They are smaller than regular nightcrawlers but can be just as effective. You can also get them dyed and scented or you can ad your own.
They can be stored for up to a week in the right conditions. And if you really like them you can also start a worm farm in your back yard so you have a constant supply.
Corn is one of those baits that doesn't really make sense. But, it sure can be a killer for stocked rainbow trout.
All you need is one or two pieces of sweet corn from a can on your hook and it's good to go.
You can also combine a piece of corn with a worm on the same hook. This gives you the color and smell of the corn combined with the natural movement of the worm.
Salmon eggs are made by a variety of companies but the best known brands are probably Pautzke and Powerbait eggs from Berkley.
Red is the go to color of choice and can be fished on very light gear and small hooks. One important point to make is that salmon eggs are very soft and can fly off the hook if your cast is too aggressive.
They can keep for months on end once the jar is opened so a single jar that is cheap to buy can last a very long time.
The two best setups for using bait to catch stocked trout are:
Bottom fishing with weight is about as simple as it can get. Cast your bait to where you think the trout might be lying and then wait for a bite. just be careful to only use enough weight that is needed.
If you can try to rely on the weight if the bait itself as this will give a much more natural presentation.
When fishing with a float or bobber you can fine tune the deth at which the bait will sink to. Fishing with a float is one of the best methods you can use on a slow moving river as it allows you to cover a lot of the river by merely casting upstream and allowing the bait to move down naturally with the river current.
Freshly stocked trout will usually be easier to catch than an aged on. All of the above baits should work. If you happen to know what they were fed on whilst being raised then you can try to match your bait to that.
Using a selection of different baits is usually the best trick. Once you know what they are taking it is just a question of getting the bait in front of their noses and they will probably be not that picky.
Aged trout however do become a little harder to catch. They will start to feed on more natural foods found in the river or lake. Small insects and nymphs will generally be what is available so you may need to change your bait to some of the more natural ones like worms or even a small trout jig that has a natural pattern to it.
Given that most stocked fish will be small your tackle choices should fall in the light to ultralight bracket.
Stocked trout will generally not run that hard or have any where near as much power as a wild trout. You need light gear so as not to rip there lips.
From experience I can say that they do tend to have softer mouths. This combined with their light weights means using a very light drag setting.
You will need a spinning setup and not a baitcasting one as the tackle you will be using will be very light.
The following setup should be sufficient for most small lakes or rivers:
Fishing with marabou jigs for trout has to be one of the best ways to land a trophy fish.
Unfortunately it is not a method that is used a lot these days. Modern fishermen prefer to use newer flashier jigs for trout that cost a fortune and only get mediocre results.
Marabou jigs are cheap, easy to fish and responsible for some very large trout being caught. They are also quite versatile on both rivers and streams and small lakes.
A Marabou jig is a small jig that has a dyed Marabou(turkey feathers) tail. The body of the jig can have a chenille body and a dressed hackle. More often than not there is no dressing on the body and the tail or streamer of Marabou starts at the head.
The head of the jig is usually weighed by a small metal bead. The beads can be painted a different color to the tail for added contrast.
The Marabou jig is meant to imitate small aquatic insects that are found naturally in small rivers and lakes. Twitching the rod tip as they move through the water is what is meant to imitate the insects natural erratic movements.
A lot of commercially available Marabou jigs are aimed at crappie fishing and not at trout. These types of jigs tend to have very flashy unnatural colors.
Try to stay away from these types of patterns. For trout it is usually the most natural colors that work best.
Black, brown, olive and white have been the best performers.
There are a lot of different body designs and materials to choose from. The tried and tested Wholly Bugger patern is always a winner. It is pretty simple and
Trout fishing with Marabou jigs requires that you work the jig in such a way that it has a bit of life in it.
Unlike other trout lures a jig is effectively lifeless until you add a big of action into it. It is then that the Marabou tail can come to life.
This action is normally by way of twitching the rod tip as it either falls or as you retrieve it a little.
Your retrieve should be staggered, so use a start stop type of retrieval. Basically you want the jig to rise up as you retrieve it then pause momentarily so that it falls through the water.
More often than not the trout will actually strike the jig as it falls.
On smaller waters you can cast upwards of where you think the trout might be lying. Continue with this stop/start retrieval so that the jig moves just slightly faster than the current.
Remember to add in some random yet light twitches through the rod tip.
On larger rivers you can cast out in a fan like pattern to cover the most water. With the deeper water it can be a good idea to allow the jig to sink and then twitch it along the bottom, retrieving any slack as the jig moves towards you.
Never allow any slack in the line as you need to keep in constant contact with the end of your line.
Like most trout fishing setups that are used in smaller waters like mountain streams and small rivers the correct tackle for a fishing a marabou jig will be an ultralight spinning rod and reel.
However, for getting the best out of these small jigs you would ideally be on the lightest tackle possible.
The best spinning rod for trout when using small jigs is an ultralight rod that has a very light line rating.
Rod - Roughly 6 foot, with a fast action and a light/ultralight rating. You need the fast action for better and more sensitive tip control.
Reel - A standard spinning reel for trout on light gear would be either a 1000 if you are using 2 lb line or up to a size 2500 if using heavier line.
Line - Ideally you will want to be using 4 lb mono as your main go to. Only on much larger and faster moving rivers would you want to use 6 lb line. That being said 2 lb line is quite popular when using small jigs especially on really clear streams. Just be aware that when you do drop down as light as 2 lb you need to routinely check the line for any cuts or abrasions as it can get damaged very easily on rough rocks on the river bottom.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 workedin 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.
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.
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.
Fishing a trout jig is a little different than working a spinner or trolling with a large crankbait.
Jigs require a little bit more finesse and for you to be able to feel what is going on as you work the jig to give it a more life like action.
In this article we'll concentrate on using jigs on smaller streams and rivers as it is very different using a jig for lake trout.
Jigs are generally considered an imitator type lure. In other words they are designed to look and move a lot like the types of food that trout will naturally feed on, such as:
Because of this, how you fish them is a little different to fishing with a spinner or spoon. Jigs need a little bit action to mimic the short erratic movements that small insects make as they are carried downstream by the river current.
Trout jigs traditionally were made from natural hair and fibers. However, a lot of modern jigs are made from artificial plastics.
One thing that a lot of jigs for trout have in common is a weighted head. The head is usually made from lead and helps the jig move a bit more naturally. If also helps with casting. Without the added weight you would struggle to cast them any great distance.
Marabou jigs have been around for over a century. They are very similar to a wet fly that imitates a young sub-aquatic insect. Most will have a dyed marabou tail and some form of dressed body on the hook.
The dressed body can be made from chenille and or other dyed furs. And they may also have a hackle that is would down the body towards the tail.
Many patterns will have a weighted head. The weight adds extra life to the jig as it moves through the water.
The head may be cast onto the hook and have the eye set into it a specific angle or they might be just a small copper or lead bead that is threaded up the hook shank towards the eye before the jig has been tied.
Soft plastic jigs are usually made from a soft artificial material. They can be threaded onto the hook just like a worm. Some may already come on a hook. There are a few different designs available and will generally have a long tubular body with some form of tail at the end.
The tail will flutter in the water as it moves. They can also be quite complex in their design and may even look to imitate a small minnow or crawdad.
Tube jigs are pretty basic. They are just one uniform piece of soft plastic that at best will imitate a worm. You can find some that have a sprayed on scent to help attract the trout more. The tail may have a tail with a few slits in it to help create a little movement.
The most basic way to fish a jig in a river or stream is to cast it with o added weight on the line. You'll be relying on the weight of the jig head to help to achieve a decent cast.
With nothing but the jig on the end of your line you will be able to twitch the tip as it moves along with the current. This movement is what will help give a more life like appearance.
You can either let the jig drift down naturally along the bottom or raise your rod tip up and try to keep it suspended off the bottom. Bouncing a jig on the bottom will of course increase the risk of getting snagged.
The other option is to work it under a bobber or float. With this approach you can ensure that the jig never snags on the bottom. You can use the float to set the desired depth at which you want the jig to be suspended at from the river bottom.
The main drawback with using a float with a jig is that you cannot really add a movement to the jig by twitching the rod tip. To do so would make the bloat splash about on the surface, which could in turn spook a wary trout.
For super finesse trout jigging you really do need an ultralight spinning setup. If you are not using a float then the sensitivity of the tip in the rod is super important.
The rod needs to be light and have a fast action.
Most spinning rods for trout fishing will fall somewhere into the above ranges. On really small streams you can drop down to a 5.5 foot rod.
The line should be around the 4 lb mark depending on the waters you are fishing of course. On really small streams and creeks you can drop down to 2 lb line. Line this light will really help with casting.
The reel should as ever match the line. A spinning reel in the 1000 to 2500 size range.
Over the years several lures have become 'the' classics for trout fishing . One such lure is the Acme Kastmaster spoon.
Fishing a Kastmaster for trout is not unlike fishing any other small spoon however their design is a little unique. There are literally thousands of different spoon designs available from simple shaped copper to much more complicated shapes and expensive materials.
The Kastmaster sets itself apart from a lot of other spoons by virtue of just how thick the body of the lure is.
It has a very simple shape but the thickness of the body is what differentiates it from lighter more slender spoons.
Because of this thicker body it quite heavier than other trout lures of a similar size. This added weight makes it great for casting and getting down into deeper water.
You don't need to have a tackle box full of different color Kastmaster's or a full range of sizes either. With just a handful of these lures you can cover just about any situation.
The gold Kastmaster is the go to color kastmater of choice. If you are working a new stretch of river or a small lake that you do not know then the gold is the first one you should try.
It can work well on both over cast and bright days. It is easily the most popular and has landed thousands of trout over the last 50 odd years.
On duller days silver can be more effective than a gold spoon. On a brighter day a silver lure can be a little bit too reflective for picky trout. If the water happens to be running a little high after a heavy spell of rain the brighter silver can be better when worked through the darker waters.
The above gold/silver versions are the most important colors to get. After that you can branch out into some of the patterned colors.
Colors such as Fire Tiger, Brook Trout and Metallic Perch are all good performers especially on larger rivers or small lakes where there is a natural supply of small baitfish or minnows for trout to feed on.
As mentioned above what makes a Kastmaster a little unique among spoons is the thick body. The thicker body for the surface area of the lure makes it comparatively heavier than other similar sized lures.
You can use this added weight to your advantage...
Extra weight on a small lure means much longer casts on lighter gear.
On small rivers and streams you should aim to find out where the trout will be hiding out. Trout love to wait around in deep pockets, run offs and eddy's or pools. The have a habit of waiting for small insects or minnows to float/swim past as the current over powers them.
Once you have identified a potential spot where you think a trout might be waiting it is then time to start working the lure in the right way.
Always cast upstream and beyond where the trout might be. Work along the river bank casting in a fan like pattern. Seek out the deeper spots and try to cover as much water as possible. Moving on once you have covered it a few times.
With a lure like a Kastmaster how fast you retrieve it is crucial. Too slow and it will sink and snag on the bottom. Too fast and you may not get any strikes.
A fast retrieve can also effect how the lure swims. It should have a very pronounced wiggle that sends out pulses through the water.
One of the best ways to find the correct speed it to work it right on the surface on a calm stretch of water. You should be a very defined ripple behind the lure as it cases a small wake.
You generally do not need to go much faster than this.
Controlling the depth of how a Kastmaster is a combination of two things:
As soon as the Kastmaster hits the water on your cast you can control how deep it goes by a quick count before you start to retrieve it.
In really deep water this count might be as long as five seconds. In shallower water you may not want to wait. Instead you can start to pull it in as soon as it hits the water.
Obviously a slower retrieve will make the lure run a little bit deeper than a fast one. You need to experiment a little with the speed depending on what size lure you are using.
A super quick retrieval speed will generally work the lure just under the surface. Just be careful not to go too fast or the natural action of the Kastmaster will be lost.
Although you can use the smaller Kastmaster lures on ultralight spinning gear, sticking with a light to medium sized setup is probably best.
For rod selection a 6.5 foot trout spinning rod with a fast action should fit the bill.
Reel selection will usually be decided by your line rating so a 6 pound line used in conjunction with a sized 2500 spinning reel for trout would be a perfect match for the rod.
If you intend to troll using a Kastmaster then you will want to up the size of the lure and also your setup. A trolling setup with heavier line and perhaps the use of a downrigger may be needed depending on just how deep you want to go.
Look in almost any trout tackle box from the last fifty years and you are likely to find at least a few rooster tail lures. Rooster Tails for trout have been the go to on small rivers and streams and have caught thousands of trout all over the world.
It's flashing blade is a great attractor both visually and from a vibration standpoint, whereas the rear hackle give a very realistic movement and helps to hide the treble hook from easily spooked trout.
When it comes to choosing the best Rooster Tail for trout will generally be determined by the type of water you are fishing, time of year and the general weather conditions on the day. However some patterns are very reliable:
Trout will generally respond best to the most abundant food source that is in front of them. For example if there is a large number of nymphs moving from the bottom to the surface to hatch into some for of adult insect then a picky trout will ignore pretty much anything else you put in front of them.
"Matching the hatch" is certainly true if you are fly fishing but it can also be replicated when using a trout lure such as a Rooster Tail.
In darkened waters where trout are hunting with sound and vibration more than sight a flashier Rooster Tail with a bright blade and a fluorescent hackle can be far more productive than a natural patterned one.
And conversely if there is a lot of insects about on a clear day then using a darker more natural pattern will best. In these instances the brighter lures may actually spook fish.
In general you need to match the size of the Rooster Tail lure to the body of water you will be fishing. On an ultralight combo on a small river your best bet would be to stick with the following sizes:
These smaller sizes mimic the size of a trout food better. Larger lures will also sink much quicker so you may end up snagging on the bottom more often.
If you happen to fishing a much large river that is 10 feet or deeper or are planning on trolling for trout then you can use some of the larger sizes that are available.
Rooster tails are pretty simple lures just like any other spinners. Color selection is probably the most difficult thing to get right when fishing a Rooster Tail.
The colors that you choose as mentioned earlier will be generally be determined by the weather and light conditions on where you are fishing.
The selection runs between the two extremes of:
Some of the most popular colors are chartreuse, black, white and dark green or olive with the classic gold and silver blades.
There are a lot of different color combinations available across the range. There are generally two things to consider when choosing a Rooster Tail lure:
The classic blade colors are either silver or gold. However, there are some patterns available that are painted onto the blade that can be used to imitate the natural spots in smaller bait fish the live in rivers.
Blade color is best determined by light conditions. A black, silver or gold blade on brighter days or in really clear waters. And, on duller days or dark run waters you can use some of the brighter artificial colors.
The hackle can act as a great imitator and it is what ultimately gives the Rooster Tail lure an edge over more simple spinners such as a Mepps.
Again on bright days aim to use the darker more natural colors such as black or olive and in low light scenario's you can opt for something a little brighter.
Just like using most other spinners Rooster Tail fishing is all about using light tackle to get the most accurate and delicate casts. Precision is key and accurately casting a Rooter Tail to put it right upstream of a trout is what will be most effective.
If you are fishing a new stretch of water try to cast from one bank to the other in a fan like pattern. This will allow you to cover the most water.
Be on the look out for sunken tree branches, deep pockets/holes and where faster moving water meets slower water particularly on bends in the river. Working these lures a few feet upstream of a trout as it lies in wait for it's next meal is the most effective approach to fishing with a Rooster Tail lure.
A fairly standard light to ultralight spinning setup can be used with a Rooster Tail spinner.
Rod - 5.5 to 7 foot trout rod depending on how big the stretch of water is that you are fishing. Look to have a light to ultralight power rating with a fast action.
Reel - A good spinning reel for trout is when using a light setup is a size 1000 up to 2500.
Line - Usually mono in the 2 to 6 pound range.
Throwing small lures on light line takes a certain amount of finesse. The best trout spinning rods will tend to be small, light and have a fast action.
By all means if you are seeking out larger trout on trolling gear then choosing a high quality reel will be generally more important than the rod. However, if you are using an ultralight setup for trout on smaller waters the it is the rod that is the most important piece of tackle to get right.
On smaller waters the go to trout setup should be an ultralight spinning one. Depending on how and where exactly you are fishing your rod, reel and line should fall somewhere in the following ranges:
The best trout spinning rod available on the market right now is hands down the Ugly Stick Elite.
If offers the best performance for the money than practically any other rod in it's price range.
If you been using spinning rods for trout over the last two decades then you've surely either used or seen an Ugly Stik rod. Their massive popularity is built on providing near high end performance at a very affordable price.
They are also built tough too. I've seen Ugly Stik's take a lot of abuse. Far more than some of the pricier brands such a G. Loomis or St Croix.
The original GX2 line of rods were a massive hit. And so too has their replacement line the "Elite".
Like the GX2 series the Elite are built to a simple design but with a very high quality manufacturing process. The new rod blanks boast 35% higher graphite levels which result in a lighter rod with even greater sensitivity and action.
Every aspect of the rods have been tweaked to help save weight. The Ugly Tuff guides are a one-piece design without inserts. Dropping the inserts means less weight. And, assuming you don't damage the guides also means slightly less drag on the line during casting.
These rods also come with a high quality cork handle, stainless steel reel hood and 7 year warranty.
They have one of the biggest ranges available with ultralight, light and medium rods available at several different lengths from 4'6" up to and including 7'6".
Fenwick have positioned themselves firmly in the mid-range of the trout rod market. Their Eagle line of spinning rods boast a wealth of high quality materials resulting a very well balanced rod blank.
Built from SCII graphite the rod blanks are a result of decades of testing and refining graphite rod construction. In fact it is Fenwick who first brought graphite rods em masse to the fishing world.
The Eagle comes with a burled cork handle which is less chip resistant than traditional cork. Stainless steel guides and inserts are used throughout.
If you are looking for a well balanced rod with a great tip action then look no further. Like the Ugly Stik above there is also a large range of sizes to choose from, which tops out at a rather large 8 foot in length.
Just like Fenwick, St Croix offer a high quality range of trout rods that aim to span the middle ground between price and quality.
The Triumph series prides itself on having some of the best rod actions available for ultralight trout spinning rods. Made from premium SCII graphite, the rod blanks have been finely tuned to provide the perfect blend between action, power and tip sensitivity.
If you are looking for a rod that lets you know just what is going on at the hook then look no further. Tip sensitivity is extremely important when using small lures.
A dull, lifeless heavy action will mean more missed strikes, getting the taper right on the rod blank is crucial.
The Triumph series are not all about the rod action though. They line guides a reel seats are top notch. A premium grade cork handle, hardened aluminum oxide guides and a Fuji DPS reel seat round off a very high quality rod.
If you are looking for the very best trout rod available then the Trout series from G Loomis is it.
Bear in mind these rods are considerably more expensive than every other rod listed here.
Given it's price tag the G. Loomis Trout series is not for beginners. I have one and they are a serious step above almost everything else I have tried.
Feather like performance and a clear and extremely crisp fast tip action make them perfect for the lightest of setups. Small jigs, nymphs and F3 Rapala's are easily managed with maximum feedback available through the rod.
Casting is always an issue on very light gear and the Trout series makes it easy. These rods reel like a fly fishing rod they are that well balanced.
The St Croix Freshwater Trout series is a lighter more high end version of the Triumph mentioned earlier. As a comparison a 7 foot Trout series weighs only 3 ounces, whereas a 7 foot Triumph series will weigh roughly 4.2 ounces.
A combination of weight and action is usually how an ultralight set up is judged and this is what St Croix do well. If you are on the look out for a rod that can be used for the small of finesse style fishing then you won't put a foot wrong with the Freshwater Trout line of rods.
A great budget option the Celio Trout series from Okuma is a solid little performer for the money. If you are choosing a rod for a kid or are looking for a decent second rod that is easy on the wallet then you can't go far wrong with one of these.
The graphite rod blanks offer a great combination of light weight and decent sensitivity. Although these are a budget option ot by no means mean they are "cheap" in terms of quality.
As stated above your best bet on rivers, streams ad small lakes if choose an ultra light spinning setup. Once you know the size of lure and line rating that you will be using the most often you can then match your rod and reel to them.
The most popular length for a trout spinning rod will be roughly 6.5 foot.
A really small creeks, rivers and streams you can will find some fishermen that will drop down to a rod length as short as 5 foot. Rods of this length make life a whole lot easier if you are fishing off of banks that have a lot of tree branches and bushes.
You will generally find that 5 foot rods come as a single piece blank only. They can be great to keep in your truck or car for fishing on the move(just be sure they are stored safely).
On much larger faster flowing rivers you can go all the way up to a 7 foot rod. A longer rod has the ability to cast heavier lures a longer distance. So if you are using heavy spoons or spinners and are looking to cover a lot of water then the extra length is probably better.
7 footers will almost always come as two piece rods.
For most people however a 6.5 foot rod is more than suitable for the average river or small stocked lake.
There are generally 3 main types of rod action:
Casting lighter lures on light line means that you need a rod that will load much higher up the rod blank. This, combines with better sensitivity is why you should use a fast action trout rod.
Although we have listed three main types of actions manufactures have designed a lot of rods to operate in between the actions. So, for example you can have a slow/medium action and a medium/fast action.
Slow action rods start bending lower down in the blank. This is fine if you are through larger lures a long distance. But, it also means that the tip will not register a delicate strike as easily as a fast action, which can result in losing some fish.
Power effectively means how hard it is to "bend" the rod. Or in other words what size fish will you be looking at catching. The power rating will have a direct relationship to what weight line you should be using.
Traditionally rods were made from split cane, then as technology developed and more modern materials became cheaper they were built from fiberglass.
Both of these materials are a little too heavy for a light trout spinning rod. Modern day trout rods are a usually made from graphite.
Graphite is extremely light and can be manufactured in a way that gives a very consistent performance.
The one drawback to a graphite rod is that they can be very easy to break if stepped on or mistreated. Fiberglass poles however can take a lot more punishment.
You can find some spinning rods that are a blend of both fiberglass and graphite. Some fishermen prefer this as they claim it gives the performance of a graphite rod blank with the feel and durability of fiberglass.