Bobber fishing for trout can be highly productive, and is a great option for those looking to keep things simple and catch fish in a way that isn’t too complicated.
Bobbers have been used for hundreds of years and are thought to have first originated in Norway when anglers would use them on a single fishing line, or to hold up a net.
When one mentions trout fishing, people likely imagine a picturesque scene in which an angler—clad in waders and the proverbial fly-fishing hat—casts his fly rod gracefully above the rolling river, hoping for a bite.
It may come as a surprise to some anglers, but trout can actually be caught using one of the most basic and commonly-used fishing rigs known by fishermen across the world: a bobber, sinker and hook.
Using a bobber is widely considered to be the least complicated way to catch just about any kind of fish species across the world.
It’s easy enough that a child can understand and learn to rig their own bobber-style fishing setup.
Using a bobber to catch trout is a great way for beginner anglers to learn where to find trout and observe their behavior without having to focus too much of their attention on what kind of tackle they are using.
Anyone who has done much trout fishing knows that this particular species has incredibly good vision and can be spooked by the slightest mistake on the part of the fisherman.
Using a line that’s too thick, or a lure that does not appear to be natural is almost certainly going to make it tough to catch trout.
However, by carefully setting up your bobber-rig and knowing just how and where to use it, you can catch a limit with a bobber setup with very little difficulty.
One of the most important keys to having a successful bobber-style rig for trout revolves around properly setting up your bobber, sinker and hook. Here’s what you’ll need:
Light rod and spinning reel (ultralight combos work best)
A ¾” or 1” size bobber (make sure your bobber is large enough to hold the weight of your sinker, hook and bait)
4 or 6 pound test monofilament line
Hooks (6 and smaller are ideal for trout)
Small, split-shot sinkers (anything too large will be seen by trout)
Bait (this can vary based the type of trout you’re fishing for or the area)
Most of the commonly-used fishing knots will work for a bobber setup. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the knot is small and tight.
Next, you’ll want to place a split shot sinker roughly one foot above your hook. The distance between your hook and sinker might vary is you’re fishing a particularly shallow stream or pond.
If you plan to fish in water less than 2 feet deep, it’s a good idea to place your sinker about 8 inches above the hook. Pay attention to your sinker before every cast because it can sometimes slide or move up and down the line.
Finally, place your bobber an equal distance away from your sinker from your hook. For instance, if you have your sinker one foot above your hook, you’ll want to place your bobber one foot above the sinker.
It’s important that you don’t have your sinker too close to the hook as this could spook any trout that notices a small ball of lead dangling in the water above their next meal.
What’s the Best Bait to Use when Bobber Fishing for Trout in Small Streams and Ponds?
Trout are not quite as picky as you might expect when it comes to what they’ll bite. However, you might need to try a variety of different baits in order to determine just what the trout in your local stream or pond are after.
Trout love to feast on natural food like crickets, worms, salmon eggs, and other things they usually find floating around their habitat. Natural baits are often preferred by anglers who target trout with bobber setups because these kinds of baits will appeal to their natural predatory senses.
Worms - be sure to hook your worm directly in the middle of its body and let the current wave the worm’s upper and lower end in a way that looks natural. Curling the worm around your hook might work, but trout are exceptionally good at noticing something that doesn’t look right. Any type of mealworms and grubs should also be hooked in the same manner.
Crickets or grasshoppers - trout will not hesitate to feast on any cricket or grasshopper that is unfortunate enough to find its way into ponds or streams. Hook your crickets through the back in order to help camouflage the hook and entice any hungry trout.
Salmon eggs, corn kernels, etc. - for any kind of bait like this, you’ll simply want to cover the end of your hook with them. Don’t run the hook completely through your bait as trout will notice this and likely be turned away.
Shrimp or crawfish - These work wonders for trout located in streams and rivers because a live crawfish floating in the current is a hearty meal that might as well have a neon sign above it. Pay attention to properly hook the shrimp or crawfish in a way that hides your hook.
Despite their keen senses of sight and smell, trout will actually fall for an artificial bait at times. Companies like Berkley make a very popular “trout worm” that can be rigged (wacky) the same way you’d hook a real worm for trout fishing.
Other lures that anglers have reported as being successful are grubs, jigs, flies and small minnow-like plastic lures.
Bobber fishing for trout in small ponds and streams requires an understanding of how trout behave in each type of habitat. The techniques that work in a small stream likely won’t produce fish in a lake or pond.
Do your research and become familiar with where to find trout in the particular spot you plan to fish.
Trout can be found in rivers and streams in many different parts of the world. They tend to prefer colder water, so you’re more likely to find trout in streams that are located in high-elevation areas.
Trout will typically face upstream and wait for their prey to float down toward them. They will often hide behind structures or rocks in an effort to stay hidden and ambush anything they plan to eat.
When using a bobber setup to fish for trout in streams and rivers, you’ll want to carefully sneak in and cast your lure above the area where you expect the trout to be staging.
Let it slowly float downstream and then hold steady while waiting for trout to come investigate, and hopefully bite your hook. Try not to move your line too much as this will spook any trout who are within sight of the bait or bobber.
Using a bobber to fish for trout in lakes and ponds is a lot like the techniques you’ll use for rivers and streams, but you won’t have to worry about fighting the current as much.
Remember, trout prefer colder water, so they’ll typically hang out in deeper water and temporarily make a trip to the shallows in search of a meal.
Try to find an area where shallow water is in close proximity to deep water. Look for a spot with plenty of small baitfish and cast your lure into the water.
You might have to try a number of different spots and angles at the particular lake or pond you’re fishing at in order to find the best location for hooking a trout.
If you stick to these tips, you’ll be catching trout in no time using a simple bobber-style rig. Just be sure to check your hook, sinker and bobber each time you cast in order to make sure they are the proper distance apart and that your bait is hooked in the right way. We hope you enjoyed this article and find it useful!
Fishing for trout in small rivers and streams requires a more finesse style setup than when trolling or fishing on really large rivers.
The best spinning reels for trout will usually be sized in a 1000 up to a 2500. It is very rare to use anything larger.
The majority of trout fishing will be done on an ultralight setup. To be able to cast light spinners or bait rigs you need to have a matching rod, reel and line that is suitable for casting smaller weights.
The above ranges should be seen as a guide for how most trout anglers would go about putting together a decent trout combo.
If you are bouncing a night crawler downstream using light line like 4 pound mono really does need a decent spinning reel in a size 1000 or maybe a 2000.
Throwing a chunky Kastmaster spoon on size 8 lb line then a size 2000 or 2500 reel would be more appropriate.
A high quality reel from the big name brands makes a great investment and should last years of use if you look after it properly.
A high quality spinning reel is an investment rods will come and go but a good reel if looked after should last at least ten years of use.
The Revo SX is the best trout reel available. You get super smooth high end performance at a low to mid range price point.
Casting with very light lines is where the Revo shines. Line falls off the spool with very little friction, meaning longer and much more accurate casts.
The Revo's stand out feature is it's line management system.
A combination of the Everlast bail system and it's Rocket Spool lip allows line to fly off the reel even when trying to cast very light lures.
The Everlast bail system lays line down in an almost perfectly even pattern across the spool even when you are reeling back in the line under heavy pressure.
Uneven line lay can result in bunching and low/high spots of the previous layers of line. When this happens the chances of the next layer getting bed down into the bottom layers is increased.
When line gets caught in lower layers like this it can have a massive negative effect on casting performance.
The Rocket spool is specifically designed to allow line to run over it with the minimum amount of friction.
The body is super rigid and made from a carbon composite material called C6 with the frame being made from X-Craft alloy for reduced flex under load.
A size 20(Abu Garcia's version of 2000) makes trout spinning reel, loaded with 6 lbs monofilament and you can cast light lures and bait rigs/bobbers with ease.
If you are on a budget or this is your first reel then the President spinning reel from Pflueger has built a solid reputation as one of the best value spinning reels for trout.
Boasting no less than 7 stainless steel bearings it puts some other high end reel to shame in terms of how smoothly it operates.
Pair one of these with an Ugly Stick Elite spinning rod and you have your self a pretty decent trout combo for under 100.
It has a braid ready spool so you can run braid on it without any backing required.
It comes with a host of features that are normally found in much more expensive reels.
A multi-disc drag system, sealed drag washers and a really light body make for a really good first reel.
Shimano have a number of models in the Stradic range with the Ci4+ being not only the most expensive but also the one crammed full of it's best technology.
The Stradic HG however, gives you access to a wealth of those features without the high end price.
All Stradic reels use a cold forging process called Hagen that results in both the internal gears and the body being super stiff.
Lower warp and better stiffness means the alignment of the internal gears run super smooth with reduced wear and tear.
Nothing screams "I'm a cheap reel" more than there being lots of flex in the body.
With the Stradic line of trout reels you can be sure you are buying the very best of technology and quality.
The HG is virtually identical to the Ci4+ except that it is slightly heavier. The HG uses a Hagene body whereas the Ci4+ shaves off a small bit of weight from the use of a carbon infused material CI.
For the money the HG offers much better value than the more expensive Ci4+ and most anglers will barely notice the slightly lighter weight of the Ci4+ for it to make a difference.
The Sedona sits somewhere in the middle between the Stradic HG and the Pflueger President in terms of price.
As you would expect it is a step up from the President in terms of quality.
This is the third incarnation of the Sedona model over the past ten years and looks to be the best yet.
The Sedona FI replaces the much loved FE and FD models.
With the newer FI model you actually get the same build process, materials and quality that is found in the Stradic line, namely Hagane cold forging.
The cold forged Hagane internal gears are stronger and lighter than the equivalent machine cut gears.
It also has increased gear ratio's(except for the 1000) and an upgrade to the drag power over previous models.
You also get the propulsion line management system as found in the Stradic's for a more even line lay on the spool.
The spools are machine cut double anodized and come in a beautiful gold tint.
There is also a reduction in weight over previous models. The reel also has it's center of gravity sitting closer to the rod thanks to a new design called G Free.
The Sedona is arguably the best trout fishing reel for those on a budget. You get a host of some of Shimano's best reel technolgy without paying the premium prices.
The Supreme XT is Pfluegers offering in the mid-range market.
It is a step up in terms of quality and performance from the President line that we featured earlier.
It is far from being a repackaged President however, and is a very solid reel in it's own right.
Although not really aimed a lighter spinning setups there is a size 2500 available and if you are working long stretches of bigger rivers then that extra size is definitely advisable.
A big wide spool helps line fly out when casting and also reduces coiling as monofilament line can be prone to having quite a bit of memory.
A silky smooth set of no less than ten ball bearings make for a very solid retrieval system and the drag housing is really well sealed.
Penn have built some of the most loved reels particularly in the bigger offshore segment but they also do a mean line of spinning reels.
The clash is normally considered a saltwater spinning reel but in a size 2000 can make an excellent trout reel.
These reels if properly maintained will last decades. They are built for the harsher environment that salt water creates so the seals on the drag and reel housing are second to none.
A full metal body and heavy duty aluminum bail arm scream quality. The internal gears are CNC machined for extreme accuracy and provide a very tight and accurate knit which makes the Clash feel very smooth during operation especially under high loads.
A set of HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers maintain a very smooth drag that does not buckle under pressure regardless of how it is set.
Not the lightest reel in this list but almost bullet proof in terms of durability and longevity.
If money were no object then the Stradic Ci4+ is the best spinning reel for trout hands down.
It is regarded as one of the bet performing spinning reels ever built.
Aimed at the upper end of the freshwater spinning reel market you get all of Shimano's very best technology and materials rolled into one reel.
Although it is the most expensive trout reel in this list it really does beat out all other competitors in terms of performance.
You will never use a reel that runs as smooth as a Stradic Ci4+. It is built using Shimano's new CI Carbon Infused technology that makes the reel casing twenty percent lighter and one and a half times stronger than conventional methods.
A lighter stronger spinning reel for trout is always going to make your trout rod feel more balanced than a heavier one making all day casting less of a chore.
Buying a good trout reel from the start will actually save you money in the long run.
Spinning rods come and go and of all of the component of your trout setup the rod will most likely to be the first to break.
Rod tips get broken all the time, but reels are a different story.
A goof spinning reel for trout should last 10 years if you look after it properly and get it serviced every few years.
Given the option I would rather spend the bulk of my budget on a high quality spinning reel.
When choosing a trout reel the first main decision to make will be just what size reel will you need.
As a general guide most spinning reels for trout fishing will fall into the 1000 to 2500 size range.
A lighter size 1000 would generally be considered to run best with some pretty light fishing line. Monofilament in the 2 to 6 lb breaking strain range.
At the upper end of the scale a size 2500 will run best on 6 lb up to 10 lb. That means roughly 200 yards of 6 pound line and 120 of the bigger 10 pound line.
Smaller trout fishing lures will generally perform better when using the lightest line possible.
It all depends on how big the body of water you will be fishing the most is. Really small rivers and streams you could well be using a 6 foot rod and a size 1000 reel.
This will allow you to throw really small lures up close. A bigger river might demand a beefier reel and rod with heavier line.
The internal component of a reel are it's beating heart and the quality of the gears and bearings are what a great reel differ from a junk reel.
There are plenty of cheap reels available that are built to a low standard. Spend any kind of time using one of these and it will become quickly apparent that they are not really fit for purpose.
Cheap internal gears will warp and flex when put under any king of pressure. Helical cut gears and those that are machined from high quality metals are the only things that you should be concerning yourself with.
The quality of a spool is often one of the most over looked components on a fishing reel.
The best casting reels will have a wide spool arbor and a lip design that helps to reduce as much friction as possible.
Fishing line, especially monofilament has a memory and if it is tightly wound onto a small spool it can become very coiled which results in a lot of knots and shorter casting distances.
That being said size 1000 spinning reels have such a small spool that the you will invariably get some amount of coiling of your line.
This is rarely an issue if you are getting a lot of use out of your reel but if it is stored for months on end be prepared for some coils to form.
They will generally work themselves out over time with regular use.
The lip of a spool needs to be a smooth as possible to allow the line to run freely over it.
How the line is laid on the spool as you retrieve it will also have a massive impact on your casting performance.
Badly laid line will tend to bunch up at certain points which eventually results in it bedding down into the previous layers.
The drag setting on a reel is one of the first things to break if it is not properly sealed.
Even the most careful angler will eventually put their rod and reel down on the ground on the banks of a river.
Grit, sand and dust can be the end of the drag on a reel if it is not properly sealed. Once any kind of grit makes it's way into the drag then it is very likely to seize up.
A seized drag when you have a fish on the line will generally result in a snapped line and lost trout.
Luckily enough smaller trout will not put a massive amount of pressure on the drag of your reel assuming you have a good reel from a respected manufacturer.
All of the best trout reels have a high quality drag that is well sealed and can take a lot of pressure.
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 trout 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 trout 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.
Of all of your trout fishing gear and tackle make sure to regularly inspect your line so that there is no defects or abrasion marks on it.
Failing to do so can end up in a snapped line just as you hook a fish.
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.
A simple trout bobber can be anything from a wine cork to a smaller store bought option.
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.
Trout fishing is one of the most accessible forms of fishing if you are just starting out or are looking to introduce a child to their first time out fishing.
Trout are pretty widespread, with both natural and stocked waters being available in almost every state.
Whether that's a small river or on a stocked lake the type of trout fishing gear you will need is pretty simple.
Trout offer great sport and can be caught on some very simple and inexpensive tackle
For the majority of trout anglers a lightweight spinning setup(technically referred to as an ultralight setup) is going to the best option.
At a quick glance the following trout fishing gear is what the most would use especially for small brown and rainbow trout that weight less than 4 lbs:
When fishing with light tackle a spinning rod will be the better option when compared to a casting rod.
Spinning rods are paired with spinning reels. A spinning reel is much better at casting light tackle than a baitcaster reel.
Light lures and rigs need a rod that is also light. Using a heavy rod will be a disaster.
You won't get any decent casting distance and the rod will be far too heavy to give you any kind of feedback.
Sensitivity is key, the best trout fishing rods will have an ultralight power rating and have a fast action.
Throwing small lures requires a fast action. This means the rod tip bends higher up on the rod blank. It also means a lot more sensitivity is translated from the line back into the rod.
You need to be able to detect soft bites and to be able to set the hook quickly, a fast action rod is the bet choice for this.
As stated above when using a spinning rod it needs to be paired with a spinning reel. A good trout spinning reel will be roughly a size 1000 or 2000. On a larger river you may need a size 2500 for the extra line capacity.
Most small reels for the big brands such as Shimano, Abu Garcia, Pflueger and Daiwa will all be suitable.
Look to invest in a quality reel as if they are well looked after they should easily last 10 years.
Monofilament is the number one choice when fishing for trout on light gear. It is easy to know and casts well with lighter lures.
It also floats which can be an advantage and is virtually invisible when compared to braided fishing line.
It is also quite cheap and modern monofilament is quite durable and can take quite a few knocks and scrapes before it needs snaps.
Mono does suffer from having a large memory so if you leave it on a reel with a small diameter spool for a long period of time it can become coiled.
Bobber can be as simple as a wine bottle cork with a slit in it to run the line through or the can be store bought models that can be tuned to vary how high or low the bobber or float sits in the water.
If you are introducing kids to fishing then bobber fishing for trout can be one of the most fun ways to introduce them to fishing.
Most trout fishing hooks will be single hooks. If you are using a light bait rig with some powerbait or a night crawler on it then a single hook is the best choice.
Treble hooks are usually reserved for use on lures rather than when using bait.
Split shot weights are usually the better option when trout fishing. You can simply pinch them on lightly with a pliers and fine tune how deep you line and hook will run quite easily.
The best trout lures will usually be small spinners and spoons. Trout love to chase a small spinner and the flash and vibration that they give off is what attracts them to them.
Classic spinners like the Rooster Tail and Panther Martin are none to be super reliable when fishing across deeper pools in rivers.
The Kastmaster and Acme Little Cleo are some of the bests small spoons that you can use.
Most trout setups will be able to fish both small lures and bobber rigs so you shouldn't need an extra rod or reel.
A fishing net although not crucial definitely makes life easier when you are trying to land a small trout.
They are also a lot easier on the fish. If you are practicing catch and release then you will want to handle the trout as little as possible.
Modern trout nets are made with a soft rubber mesh. Older style knotted string mesh is rarely used anymore as it can cause a lot of damage to small delicate fish.
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 for trout 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 trout 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.
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.
Most anglers will choose a spinning reel for trout fishing as there number one choice, baitcasters are rarely used.
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 trout fishing 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.
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 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.
One of the best trout fishing lures ever especially in the classic gold of silver floating models.
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.
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 good trout spinning reel will be in the 1000 to 2500 size range.