Learning how to fish for trout can be both excited and challenging. Locating fish, applying the right tactics and techniques, and carefully presenting your bait or lure are the most important factors to a successful trout fishing trip out on the water.
One of the toughest decisions anglers face when heading out fishing is deciding what lures and baits to use and when to use them. With so many rigs, baits, lures and techniques to choose from it can often be overwhelming and confusing.
However, selecting the right trout fishing setup is extremely important and can be the difference between having a great fishing day or coming home empty handed.
So what are the best ways to catch trout? We’ve listed below the 7 most popular trout fishing lures and baits that are all widely used and extremely effective.
Top 7 Trout Lures & Baits for Trout Fishing
Don’t have a lot of time? No worries, here is a quick overview of the best lures and baits for trout fishing. Here is the top 7:
- Live Bait
The Best Lures & Baits for Trout Fishing
There are plenty of amazing trout fishing opportunities found in rivers, streams, ponds and lakes all over the world. In order to be successful, anglers must ensure they fish the right lures and baits and apply the proper techniques and tactics in each situation, if they wish to capitalize on the many fishing opportunities out there.
With that in mind we have put together a comprehensive list of the best ways to fish for trout and have provided some tips and tricks that will help all anglers have more fishing success out on the water. This list is in no particular order and takes in consideration different anglers skill-level.
Trout spinners are a must have in any angler’s tackle box and is a lure I make sure I always bring with me. The flash and vibration is what makes the spinner so effective at triggering strikes.
A typical fishing spinner consists of a metal blade that is attached to a wire of the lure. When the lure is retrieved the motion of the blades spins creating a flash and vibration that is ideal at imitating small fish and causing reaction strikes.
Although spinners will catch all types of game fish, they are especially effective for trout species.
How to Fish Spinners
Fishing a spinner for trout is pretty simple and straight forward. After you make a cast simply use a steady straight retrieval back toward you with your rod pointing down toward the water while allowing the blades of the spinner to spin. This will cause the lure to flash and give off vibration making it tough to resist for any nearby trout.
For best results mix up your retrieval speed and adapt it to the mood of the fish. As you wind your lure back in make sure to give it a few pops or jerks. This slight disruption in your retrieval will get you more strikes.
Where to Fish Spinners
Although spinners are often considered to be the most effective in rivers, streams and ponds they can also be a great lure for larger lakes and reservoirs as well. The best areas to target trout with a spinner is going to be points, drop-offs, and anywhere that has current such as inlets and outlets.
Best Spinners for Trout
There are a lot of quality spinners out on the market today, each lure and brand has a unique sound and flash to it that can be applied in different situations. Here is a list of some of the top spinners help get you started in the right direction:
- Rooster Tail
- Blue Fox
- Joe’s Flies
There is no other trout fishing lure that will do a better job at imitating baitfish than a crankbait. These lures often get overlooked when it comes to trout fishing, but they can be a killer way to land some nice fish.
Crankbaits are designed to dive underwater and stay submerged while swimming. They come in a variety sizes, shapes, colors and dive to different depths. These lures are made to look like small wounded fish that are just waiting to be gobbled up by any nearby trout.
Crankbaits are also a lot more versatile than many anglers realize and can be fished on top as a surface bait, retrieved in shallows or ran in deeper water and everywhere in between.
Casting and cranking and then having a big trout come and attack your little crankbait is an extremely fun and addicting way to catch fish. Here are some tips on how to fish crankbaits for trout.
How to Fish Crankbaits
Most trout fishing anglers will cast out their crankbait and simply do a straight retrieval. Although this can be an effective way to fish a crankbait, there is so much more you can do that will result in more strikes.
Here are some effective crankbait presentations you should consider trying the next time you hit the water:
- Cast & Crank – The straight cranking presentation allows the lures built-in action to do all of the work. While using this technique experiment with different retrieval speeds and angles. Each fish and day is different, so it’s important to mix things up until you find what is working.
- Grinding – Grinding your crankbait on the bottom can be an effective way to imitate crawfish and trigger strikes. For this technique you’ll need a crankbait that dives deeper than the average bottom depth. You can grind crankbaits effectively by reeling with the rod tip pointed down and allowing your bait to maintain contact with the bottom.
- Jerk and Pause – The jerk and pause technique is a fantastic way to slow down and imitate wounded fish. The jerk and pause cadence will keep the lure in the strike zone longer which will often result into more strikes. To apply this technique cast tight to the bank or cover and give your reel a few turns and do something like this “jerk, jerk, pause; jerk pause, jerk’ jerk, jerk, pause; and so on and so forth.
- Crank and Twitch – The crank and twitch technique is a combination between the jerk and pause and the cast and crank. To perform this technique, perform the cast and crank technique and add a few pauses and jerks. This mix up will often trigger a reaction on any nearby fish.
For more in-depth information about these crankbait presentations check out this article: Trout Fishing with Crankbaits
Where to Fish Crankbaits
One of the great things about fishing a crankbait is that it will allow you to cover a lot of water and it can be fished just about everywhere. When fishing in lakes target shallower areas that hold current and structure for the best results. If fishing in rivers and streams is more your style try targeting eddies, runs, pools and wherever else the fish might be holding.
Best Crankbaits for Trout
The best crankbaits for trout tend to be the ones that have a smaller thinner profile. Although bigger bass fishing crankbaits can work at times, I have found the smaller ones such as a Rapala’s or Dynamic lures are the most effective.
When selecting the right crankbait, it’s important to consider the depth of water you plan on fishing. As this will play a key role in determining the right lure for your situation. Each crankbait is rated to reach a certain depth in the water column and this can typically be viewed on the lure’s packaging or bill of the lure.
Determining the right color of crankbait is fairly straight forward. Match the hatch by selecting a color pattern that most closely resembles the fishes forage at your fishery.
With that being said here is a list of some of the best trout fishing crankbaits that can be used just about anywhere.
- Rapala Countdown
- J Spec Jerkbait
- Dynamic Lure HD Trout
Fishing with PowerBait dough is a simple trout fishing technique that excels at catching stocked trout in lakes and ponds and is a great fit for families and anglers that are looking to relax and catch some fish.
This Berkley PowerBait is by far one of the most productive baits out there for stocked trout. This famous bait paste comes in a variety of colors and scents, it stays one your hook very well and is an excellent way to land some nice trout.
How to Fish PowerBait
Using PowerBait to catch trout is pretty straight forward and easy. The first step is to get your rig all setup before you apply the PowerBait dough. A typical PowerBait rig consists of a sliding weight, followed by a swivel, leader and a treble hook.
Check out this tutorial for a demonstration of the Best Powerbait Setup for Trout Fishing by Addicted Fishing.
After you are all rigged up fishing this rig is as easy as it gets. Cast out to a spot that you think will hold fish and let it sink to the bottom. Than wait for a nearby trout to come give your line a tug.
Although this method of fishing is simple there are some things you can do to increase your chances of catching more trout. Check out this article: Catch More Trout With These PowerBait Fishing Tips for some PowerBait fishing strategies that will help you fish this bait more effectively.
Where to Fish PowerBait
Fishing a PowerBait rig can be an effective way to catch trout just about anywhere, but it’s mainly used in lakes, ponds and reservoirs as its best suited for still water situations. It’s also important to remember that PowerBait is most effective for catching stocked trout so it’s good idea to make sure the body of water you are fishing at is consistently stocked.
Best PowerBait for Trout
The best PowerBait color in my opinion is the garlic and chartreuse. However, every angler seems to have their personal preference when it comes to colors and scents. Here are some of the most popular and productive PowerBait fishing baits:
- Corn (Yellow)
It’s no secret trout typically prefer insect imitations over artificial lures in many cases. Making trout fishing with flies an absolute must for anglers. A natural looking fly that is well presented is pretty tough for any trout to resist.
Trout simply eat a lot of small aquatic insects, and there is no other bait or lure that imitates an insect better than a well tied fly. Of course flies are best used with a fly fishing setup, but if that’s not a part of your skill set they can also be effectively fished on a spinning rod as well.
How to Fish Flies
The key to fishing a fly for trout is all in the presentation. If you can naturally present a fly, you’ll have a ton of trout fishing success.
In most cases a fly fishing setup will be the best way to present and deliver flies to the fish. But it is not the only way. In fact, flies can also be easily fished with a spinning rod when paired with a fly casting bubble and the proper setup.
Here are some great resources that will teach how to properly rig and fish a fly on both a fly rod and a spinning rod:
How to Fly Fish with a Spinning Rod
How to Fly Fish
Where to Fish Flies
Anywhere there is a body of water some type of insect can be found and imitated. The most effective places to fish flies is going to be in rivers, streams and ponds. However, they can also be a great way to catch trout on lakes as well.
Best Flies for Trout
The key to fishing with flies has and will always be to match the hatch. You will find the most productive flies are the ones that best imitate what the trout are currently eating at the time you are fishing.
So as you can imagine it’s difficult to name the best flies for trout because so much of it depends on the season, weather, location and region that you are fishing in.
With that being said, here is a list of the most common fly categories that would be worth looking into more closely for your next fishing trip:
- Dry Flies
- Wet Flies
Spoons are another all-time classic trout fishing lure and in some ways are very similar to a spinner. Instead of a blade the spoon gets its flash and vibration from its wobble as its moves side to side in the water making your retrieval speed critical.
Spoons come in a wide variety of shapes colors and styles. The main type of spoons used for trout are casting, jigging, and trolling spoons. Here is some quick information about each type of spoon:
Casting spoons are the most common and considered to have the classic spoon shape. In general casting spoons have more of an oval shape giving them a more of a wobble effect as they are retrieved in. They are also typically heavier than most trolling spoons, which allows anglers to cast them farther and more accurately.
Jigging spoons for the most part are used to target specific structure such as ledges and drop offs or schools of fish. They are typically the heaviest type of spoon and are best suited for fishing from a boat with a fish finder.
Trolling spoons are another super popular style of spoon. However, this type of spoon requires a boat or some type of motor. They are typically longer, thinner and lighter than most other spoons.
Trolling spoons are at their best when they are paired with a down-rigger or a diving vane. This will allow the spoons to get deep where the trout are holding.
How and Where to Fish Spoons
Trout spoons offer anglers with lot of versatility and can be fished just about anywhere. Whether you are targeting river/stream trout or big lake trout, there is a spoon designed for each situation.
However, each situation may require a different spoon and approach. Here is a basic guide on how to fish each type of trout spoon:
Fishing a Casting Spoon
Casting a winding a spoon is a great way to target trout. Using this type of lure is pretty straight forward. Simply cast it out and reel it in while making sure the speed of your retrieval allows the lure to wobble with the right action.
Check out this YouTube video by Addicted Fishing on how to approach fishing casting spoons for trout in lakes and ponds for some helpful tips.
Fishing a Jigging Spoon
Once you have located a school of trout on your electronics vertically jigging is one of the best presentations to reach them at the bottom. When using jigging spoons all of the action is created by the angler. So it’s important to nail down some effective techniques.
Check out The Complete Guide to Spoon Jigging for Trout by Luhr Jensen for some great tips on how to properly jig a spoon for trout.
Fishing a Trolling Spoon
Trolling spoons are designed to be fished using a depth control system such as downriggers. These are an excellent choice for trout and other species but you’ll need to have a boat and the right set up. Here are some helpful trout trolling tips to get you started: Trout Trolling for Dummies
Best Spoon for Trout
The best fishing spoons for trout will vary depending on your situation and fishing method. You’ll want to match the size, color, weight and style of spoon with what method and water you are fishing in.
Here are some of the top spoons for trout fishing:
- Acme Kastmaster
- Dardevle Original
- Little Cleo
- Luhr Jensen Krocodile
- South Bend Kastaway
One of the most underrated trout fishing techniques today is a jig. But don’t let this fool you. Jigs can be a great way to catch trout, especially big ones.
A standard jig consists of a lead or tungsten head and a hook molded into it and is often paired with a soft plastic bait to attract fish.
There are several slight variations to the standard jig. However, most jigs are intended to be fished vertically as opposed to other lures such as a spinner or crankbait that move through the water horizontally.
A Jig will work in a wide variety of situations and in almost any type of condition. It’s versatility and reputation for catching large fish are some of the reasons why this is a great lure for trout fishing. Below are some things to keep in mind as you fish the jig for trout.
How to Fish Jigs
Fishing a jig is an incredibly effective and fun way to fish for trout, but often gets overlooked by many anglers. The key to trout fishing with a jig is understanding how to work this lure properly.
Unlike spoons and crankbaits jig fishing requires the angler to create lot of the movement/action of the jig with the rod. Some anglers make the mistake of treating it like a spinner or spoon when in reality it should be fished much differently. A straight consistent retrieve works, but it is definitely not the most effective.
There are several different techniques and jig fishing applications out there each having a time and a place. If you are just learning how to fish a jig, here are some steps to get you started as well as some video demonstrations on how to properly fish the different types of jigs for trout:
- Cast out your jig and let it sink for a few seconds or if you are fishing the bottom of the water column wait until you feel the bottom with your rod.
- Once your jig is at the desired spot in the water column, jig the rod by popping your wrist and raising the rod tip up quickly and then let the lure drop back down.
- As you reel in your line repeat this jigging method and mix in some pops and jerks. In most cases the trout will hit the jig on the fall. This erratic action will be too much for any nearby trout to resist.
- Always make sure that you are reeling down and keeping your line tight so that you will be ready when a bite comes.
Jigging for Trout Videos
Where to Fish Jigs
Jigs can be an effective way to fish for trout in rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. Pretty much anywhere fish are found a jig can be an effective way to catch them.
However, it’s important to adapt the size and style of your jig depending on the type of water you are fishing in. If you are fishing in a small stream a micro jig might be your best option. Conversely, if deep lake trout is your target, you’ll want to fish larger heavier jigs to be able to get down where the fish are at.
Best Jigs for Trout
Jigs come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. When fishing jigs for trout its typically best to stick with natural colors. Black, white, olive and brown colors are usually going to be the most effective. Here are some of the top proven trout catching jigs:
- Marabou jig
- Woolly bugger
- Trout Magnets (micro Jig)
Trout fishing with artificial lures and baits can be a fun challenge, but if you want catch trout and you plan on keeping them, there is no better way to fish for them than with live and natural baits.
These type of baits are an excellent option for anglers fishing in heavily fished streams where the trout are picky or in just about any type of water that permits fishing with live bait.
With live and natural baits, you will increase your chances of catching fish and will even catch bigger fish. However, make sure to check your water’s fishing regulations as some places may not allow live baits to be used.
How to Catch Trout with Live Bait
Fishing with bait is pretty simple and straight forward. The most critical component of bait fishing for trout is making sure you have the proper rig/setup to match the bait you are using. Ensuring this can dramatically increase your odds for success.
Here are some video tutorials that to help get you rigged up correctly:
- How to Set up Bobber and Worm For Trout
- How To Fish Salmon Eggs in Creeks
- Trout Fishing with Rigged Minnows and Wax Worms
Where to Fish Live Bait
Natural baits can be just fished about anywhere. Perhaps the most popular place to use them is in ponds and lakes, but they can also be an effective way to catch trout in rivers and streams as well. Any spot that looks like it may hold fish is a great spot to throw out some live bait.
Best Live Bait for Trout
Before you decide which natural bait to use, it’s important to check the rules and regulations beforehand. Some water may have certain regulations may be illegal. So do some research on the water you are fishing at and make sure your fishing baits/tactics are within the law.
There is a large variety of live creatures and bait that can be used to entice trout. Here is a list of some of the best live baits for trout:
- Night Crawlers/Earth Worms
- Salmon Eggs
How to Find Trout
One of the most important factors in fishing and perhaps one of the hardest is being able to find fish. It doesn’t matter what kind of lure or bait you are throwing if you can’t find the fish you can’t catch them.
The more you learn about each trout species, and the more you fish and gain experience the more likely you are to have success on a consistent basis.
There are so many variables that influence a fish’s activity and their feeding behavior. Such as water temperature, weather patterns, barometric pressure, moon phase and much more.
However, there are key areas that are typically going to give you the best chance to land some nice trout. Below we have listed some of the best fishing spots in both lakes and rivers:
Where to Find Trout in Lakes
- Any type of current
Here is a great article that dives more in depth on how to find trout in lakes:
Check out this article: How to Find Trout in Lakes for some great insights on locating trout in still water. This information provides some great tips on finding and locating trout on lakes.
Where to Find Trout in Rivers
Finding trout can be completely different than in ponds and lakes. Check out this article: 10 Top Spots to Look for While Trout fishing for some key spots to look for when fishing in rivers and streams.
Additional Trout Fishing Resources & Techniques
- Best Lures for Brook Trout
- Best Trout Lures for Rivers and Streams
- Fishing a Drop Shot Rig for Trout
- Fishing a Ned Rig for Trout
Deciding what bait, lure or technique to use while trout fishing can be a difficult decision at times. That’s why we have put together this list of the 8 best ways to catch trout to help make the decision making process easier. I hope you have found this information to be both valuable and insightful and most importantly that you apply what you’ve learned and have fun doing so. We appreciate you taking the time to read our article here at Tilt Fishing.
See you out on the water!
Did one of your favorite trout fishing baits, lures or techniques not make the top list? Be sure to comment below and let us know why you think it should be added to the list.