For many anglers, catching trout is synonymous with fly fishing, but they can also be caught with a variety of lures on a conventional fishing setup. And while we can't seal the deal for you, we can help guide you towards the kinds of baits that work best.
All of these suggestions have been thoroughly vetted in the rivers and small streams of Upstate New York, for both wild and stocked trout. As a conventional angler for most of my life, I've witnessed the surge of new innovative fishing lures, not only for trout for many species, and stayed on top of the latest and greatest gear to help keep my abilities as top-tier as possible.
The 10 Best Trout Fishing Lures for Conventional Anglers
- Rapala Floating Jointed Minnow
- Blue Fox Vibrax
- Yakima F-7 Flatfish
- Panther Martin Teardrop Spinner
- QualyQualy Soft Plastic Swimbait
- Worden's Rooster Tail
- Acme Kastmaster
- Mepps Aglia Dressed Spinnerbait
- Cotton Cordell Big O
- Rebel Tracdown Minnow
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. Here are our picks for stocking your tackle box.
10. Rapala Floating Jointed Minnow
Some lures can really stand the test of time, and the Rapala Floating Jointed Minnow has been catching fish for generations. A tried-and-true contender, this lure is a pure trout magnet. We've had luck with the silver, gold, and rainbow trout colors, but my favorite is the brown trout pattern (J07TR). 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. The best success for me comes with sizes F03, F05, and F07.
Why we selected it: Rapala floating jointed minnows haven't slowed down one bit as a fish-catching bait since they debuted. The Rapala Jointed Minnow excels as a trout lure. 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 O7TR (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. Perhaps this is because it mimics the trout's natural colors. Not only that, but the wounded minnow action is second to none. Trout love it.
Pros: Size variation, color accuracy, and impressive action.
Cons: If you buy five of your favorite colors, it will cost you nearly $50.
9. Blue Fox Vibrax
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 as a trout attractant. There is a plethora of brightly-colored spinning baits in 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 (because of snags), you're sure to catch fish if there are any around.
Why we selected it: The Blue Fox Vibrax spinner has been a favorite of trout anglers for generations. I have nearly every color combination ever made, 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.
8. Yakima F-7 Flatfish
The Yakima F-7 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 attract other fish if the trout are sparse. I've caught no less than smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and even bowfin with these baits. They mimic slow-moving food when the temperatures are too cold for the others but can make trout start to feed if they're around.
Why we selected it: 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 makes the Flatfish special, along with all those different natural and bright colors.
Pros: It's 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 (again with the snags). They are also not very castable in the wind.
Yakima F-7 Flatfish - from $9.25
7. Panther Martin Teardrop Spinner
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. I recommend the Panther Martin Teardrop Spinner 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.
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 sizes enough to please any finicky fish.
Favorite features: The 'wire-through' spinner blade 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. Many fish love chartreuse colorations, so give that a try.
Cons: Doesn't always spin perfectly for beginners on the retrieve.
6. QualyQualy Soft Plastic Swimbait
As a non-traditional trout bait in a shad pattern, the QualyQualy Soft Plastic Swimbait can attract fish that you didn't even know were there; I've found they'll aggressively attack it, even in colder conditions. At times it needs to be worked slow and with a twitch here and there to entice feeding trout into believing that it is a baitfish, but when the bite is on, this can be a bait that garners great attention and even give you a sore arm.
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 it. 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.
5. Worden's Rooster Tail
You may see a pattern here, but these in-line spinners are trout-catching phenomenons that have little match. The original Worden's Rooster Tail is a favorite among trout-catching gurus becuse it casts quite well, giving 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.
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-and-black version that I couldn't possibly count them all. There are enough color patterns to please any good trout angler, and 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.
4. Acme Kastmaster
When you're in open water, the Acme Kastmaster is a great option—it seems as though it can be cast a mile! 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 the 1/12-, 1/8-, or 1/4-ounce weights. 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 effectively fish with than spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Make sure you 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.
Why we selected it: The Acme Kastmaster is a staple of trout fishermen everywhere. This bait is well suited for open waters, but works in rivers as well. Its unique wobbling action has proven effective 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 very useful in river-system trout angling.
Cons: Drops like a rock in the water column, so not well suited for small streams or around structure.
3. Mepps Aglia Dressed Spinnerbait
Plenty of seasoned trout anglers will agree that you can't go wrong with the Mepps Agila. This bait works like a charm for everything from brook trout to big aggressive steelhead. Sizes 2 and 3 are the best choices, but for smaller waters, a size 0 or 1 can be used.
Why we selected it: The Mepps Agila Dressed Spinnerbait is a classic go-to for trout. When I'm not throwing a Rapala, I'm throwing this, and many times the Mepps Aglia dressed spinner will out-fish it.
Favorite features: There are 37 different combinations of the Aglia dressed spinner on Bass Pro alone. 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.
2. Cotton Cordell Big O
We know that you're thinking: How does a great crankbait meant for bass end up on a trout fishing list? The Cotton Cordell 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.
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.
Favorite features: The shallower running versions stay above trout where they like to feed and out of trouble around structure. Its signature wiggling action is irresistible to many fish.
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.
1. Rebel Tracdown Minnow
The Rebel Tracdown Minnow 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's a slow-sinking bait drives fish crazy.
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 catch.
Pros: Can be used for casting or trolling, good color patterns for trout.
Cons: Finish doesn't always stand up to fishing pressure, and basically comes in only one size.
How We Choose the Best Trout Lures
Because I've been at this for so many years, trout fishing lures is certainly an area of expertise for me. In choosing these trout lures, I prioritized long-lasting trustworthiness in not only the style but the brand and specific models: These aren't unproven, new-fangled lures. 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 many tried-and-true lures are hard to beat.
Sometimes a lure takes some practice to learn how to use it correctly, and experimenting with sizes and color patterns is always wise so you can home in on what's works for the trout you're fishing. That's how I've narrowed down my go-to lures and is the main way to get good at trout fishing.
How can you know what lures are the real deal and which ones are phony? It would be easy to just do a rundown of the most recent endorsements by the pros. However, talk is cheap, and we want to see results. That's why we looked at the lures that earned the pros endorsing them actual prize money on the professional bass fishing circuit. If the lure didn't produce a big payday, it didn't make the cut. These lures have each proven themselves in a big way to work on your next fishing trip.
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