We fish for trout on ponds and streams, in rivers, and along reservoirs, and we're always searching for the lures that work best If you're in the mood to do some trout fishing, there's no sense in wasting time. We can't seal the deal for you, but we can hep guide you towards the kinds of baits that work best. Plenty of folks catch trout with a fly rod and a wide variety of flies, but that doesn't mean the conventional fishing community should be ignored. Not everyone wants to commit to fly fishing, and if we're targeting other species, chances are most of us have gotten pretty good with our favorite spinning reel.
My credentials include a lifetime of fishing in Upstate New York, for both wild and stocked trout, with a variety of methods and gear. I definitely fly fish, but I'm even more confident in my conventional angling skills and have rounded out my go-to lures after a lot of time on the water. I've also witnessed the surge of new innovative fishing lures, not only for trout for for many species, and stayed on top of the latest and greatest gear to help keep my abilities as top-tier as possible.
Methodology for Selecting Trout Lures
Since I've been at this for so many years, trout fishing lures is certainly an area of expertise for me, and I'm always eager to help contribute some ideas for folks looking to arm themselves with effective fishing equipment. Some of the criteria and methodology that I've used to develop this list included choosing long-lasting trustworthiness in not only the style, but the brand and specific model of lure. These aren't unproven, new-fangled lures by any means. While spinning baits are almost always a hit, soft plastics sometimes get a bad rap for trout fishing. I'll go on record and say some soft plastics are great for trout, but you'll also encounter some suggestions that are well in line with the tried and true gear we've all come to know.
Sometimes a lure takes some practice to learn how to use it correctly, and experimenting with sizes and color patterns is always a wise choice so you can narrow in on exactly what's going to work for the trout you're fishing for. That's how I've developed my go-to lures, and is the main way to get good at trout fishing.
Ultimately, these 10 lures can and will put trout on your line at some point. Depending on the time of the year and the time of the day, you may end up having the time of your life after you tie on one of these great offerings. By simply adding the 10 lures below to your tackle collection, you'll surely see more success.
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1. Rapala Floating Jointed Minnow
Why We Selected It: Rapala floating jointed minnows have stood the test of time and haven't slowed down one bit as a fish-catching bait since they debuted. They're still made one at a time with balsa wood, "hand tuned and tank tested" almost as if they're created for each individual angler.
Favorite Features: The ?...? oz JO7TR (we always simply call it the J7) is the perfect size and weight for trout. The brown trout pattern may be the most trout slamming color version that I've ever used. Not only that, but the wounded minnow action is second to none.
Pros: Size variation, color accuracy, and impressive action.
Cons: If you buy five of your favorite colors, it will cost you nearly $50.
Some lures can reallystand the test of time, and this one has been catching fish for generations. We've had luck with the silver, gold, and rainbow trout colors, but my favorite is the brown trout pattern (J07TR mentioned above). The best success for me comes with sizes F03, F05, and F07. A tried-and-true contender, this lure is a pure trout magnet. Selecting the right size will likely depend a lot on what kind of trout you're fishing for and what kind of waters you're casting into.
2. Blue Fox Vibrax
Why We Selected It: The Blue Fox Vibrax spinner has been a favorite of trout anglers for generations. I have nearly every color combination they make and I'm always looking for the next one. Its fish catching ability is legendary.
Favorite Features: Color selection, size range, and its fabled vibrating action.
Pros: Casts well, comes in many great patterns, and gets down in the water column.
Cons: The treble hooks can get snagged a lot.
The Blue Fox Vibrax is great when you need to keep the lure down deep in the water column, and the UV colors are particularly productive for trout. There are a plethora of brightly-colored spinning baits i this style--some of which you'll see as you continue scrolling down this list--and all of them benefit from a similar action and presentation. As long as you keep these spinners off the bottom, you're sure to catch fish if there are any around.
3. Yakima F-7 Flatfish
Why We Selected It: I've been using a flatfish in one form or another since my pre-teen years and it always produces. Trout particularly love its slowed down retrieve and wounded minnow action. The best part is that it comes in so many color variations that it will be hard for you to choose, but this one is specifically for trout.
Favorite Features: The slow, wobbling action that makes a flatfish special along with all those different colors.
Pros: Easy to use with multiple line sizes, but works best with light lines. Usable in moving or static water.
Cons: Has to be worked slowly; those treble hooks get caught up in everything. Not very castable in the wind.
The flatfish has been a part of my fishing arsenal since I was a young pup and it still is. The slow, wobbling action is a fish magnet that can't be denied, and as a wounded minnow imitation it might have no match. Plus, it can produce a mixed bag if the trout fishing is tough. I've caught no less than smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and even bowfin smash these baits. They mimic slow moving food when the temperatures are too cold for the others, but can definitely make trout start to feed if they're around.
4. Panther Martin Teardrop Spinner
Why We Selected It: The offerings from Panther Martin have been a fish catching standard for many years and it's no wonder. They come in dozens of patterns and fish catching sizes enough to please any finicky fish.
Favorite Features: The 'wire-through' spinner blade that gives it its unique spinning ability along with what seems like 100 pattern variations.
Pros: Comes in many trout loving sizes, all the color patterns, (including camo) and works well with lighter lines.
Cons: Doesn't always spin perfectly for beginners on the retrieve.
Get one of these in the Classic Teardrop Spinner model. My go-to is a Classic Gold with a No. 2 blade. If I'm on bigger water, I'll move up to the same model, but with a No. 4 blade. The Classic Silver and Rainbow Trout variations work well, too. You can do a lot with this bait, as it's good for simple bank fishing, as well as dropping into some tight cover or trolling down river.
5. QualyQualy Soft Plastic Swimbait
Why We Selected It: This shad pattern swimbait is a testament to the fact that trout, like any fish, will chase and eat baitfish at the right time. This is a great way to incorporate a single hook presentation to get the bait in and around those backwater spots where trout hangout waiting for food to wash by.
Favorite Features: The almost see-through pattern is what really sells us. Baitfish are generally the color of their surroundings and this bait mimics that very well.
Pros: Can be fished virtually anywhere that trout live, comes in small enough sizes to fool even finicky trout.
Cons: Not a traditional trout bait, needs patience and time to work. Often needs some added weight such as a split shot.
This very non-traditional trout bait in a shad pattern can have fish that you didn't even know were there come out and aggressively attack it, even in colder conditions. It needs to be worked slow and with a twitch here and there to entice feeding trout into believing that it is a baitfish at times, but when the bite is on, this can be a bait that garners great attention and will give you a sore arm.
6. Worden's Rooster Tail
Why We Selected It: The Rooster Tail is a close second to another in-line spinner on this list. I've caught so many big trout on a yellow/black spotted Rooster Tail spinner that I couldn't possibly count them all. There are enough color patterns to please any good trout angler, but you'll want them all.
Favorite Features: Many times sold in money saving kits of five lures or more along with a great selection of colors and styles.
Pros: Spins well on most every cast, easy to control, and comes in a single hook version.
Cons: Not the best fur tail dressing, digs deep and can get snagged easy.
You may see a pattern here, but these in-line spinners are trout catching phenomenons that have little match. The original Rooster tail is a favorite among trout catching gurus due to the fact that it casts quite well which gives the trout angler more control in tighter areas. Black and yellow are the tried and true colors, but many trout anglers go for the black and white, all white, or the silver versions. They're quick and easy to tie on and work with a wide variety of line sizes, but you'll want to go light for trout.
7. Acme Kastmaster
Why We Selected It: The Acme Kastmaster is a staple of trout fishermen everywhere. This bait is well suited for more open waters, but works in rivers as well. Its unique wobbling action has stood the test of time for trout anglers.
Favorite Features: It can be casted easily, especially with the lighter lines that are better suited for trout fishing.
Pros: Works best in open waters, but is very useful in river system trout angling.
Cons: Drops like a rock in the water column, not well suited for stream fishing or around structure.
These seem as though they can be cast a mile! When you're in open water, the Acme Kastmaster is a great option. It's very easy to cover a lot of water with this lure, and I suggest you use either the silver or the silver/blue options in 1/12-, 1/8- and 1/4-ounce. If you're fishing for steelhead or trophy fish, move up to the 3/8-ounce option. The only thing to remember here is that a spoon is much more difficult to fish effectively with than are spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Make sure you've put in some practice before throwing one of these. The best way for beginners to get in some reps is by taking one of these to a stocked trout pond and seeing what will make the fish bite.
8. Mepps Aglia Dressed Spinnerbait
Why We Selected It: The Mepps Aglia in almost any form is in the top two of any 'best trout lure' category and for good reason. When I'm not throwing a Rapala, I'm throwing this, and many times the Mepps Aglia dressed spinner will outfish it.
Favorite Features: There are 37 different combinations of the Aglia dressed spinner on Bass Pro alone including this pink/hot pink version. It casts well and spins correctly on virtually every single throw.
Pros: Vast amount of color and dressed combinations. Works correctly on most every cast, a proven fish catcher.
Cons: Digs deep in the water column if you're using it on a stream or river so it can get snagged. Smaller sizes are more difficult to cast.
Plenty of seasoned trout anglers will agree that you can't go wrong with the Mepps Agila. Sizes 2 and 3 are the best choices, but for smaller waters a size 0 or 1 can be used. This bait works like a charm for everything from brook trout to big aggressive steelhead.
9. Cotton Cordell Big O
Why We Selected It: The Big O has been catching everything from crappies to big bass since its inception, and wily trout are just as prone to attack one. You are best off to use a model that is a bit smaller such as this 2-¼" ?...? oz size in either the perch or firetiger patterns.
Favorite Features: The shallower running versions stay above trout where they like to feed and out of trouble around structure. The signature Big O wiggling action.
Pros: Great color choices along with good casting ability. Stays out of trouble in moving or static water.
Cons: Only a few good trout patterns.
We know that you're thinking: how does a great crankbait meant for bass end up on a trout fishing list? The Big O has a fish catching ability that transcends species and entices everything it runs past. The shallower versions are easily usable on streams, rivers, and lakes, even around structure. I used one in a trout fishing derby on Lake Ontario many years ago and took second place in the brown trout division with a 13.5-pound fish.
10. Rebel Tracdown Minnow
Why We Selected It: Stickbaits mimic baitfish and the Rebel has been manufacturing some of the best stickbaits since the beginning. It's one of the most obvious choices for trout fishing and is easy to use, even for novice fishermen.
Favorite Features: The big eyes really catch the attention of fish, the color patterns are spot on, and it has quality hooks that really bite.
Pros: Can be used for casting or trolling, good color patterns for trout.
Cons: Finish doesn't always stand up to fishing pressure, basically comes in one size.
This is the kind of trout bait that Great Lakes anglers use to target the big boys. Monster lake run browns, rainbows, and steelhead pound on this bait, especially when the retrieve is paused. Stream and river anglers can take advantage of its thin profile to get into tight spaces and the fact that it is a slow sinking bait that drives fish crazy.
Anglers, you'll be more than ready with the best trout fishing lures in your tackle box. Who is geared up?
This post was originally published on February 6, 2019.
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