Gear Up! Trout

Trout fishing consumes a larger portion of my life than any other form of fishing, and how you’re fishing will impact gear selection. This covers all trout fishing except for Lake Trout, which require specialized gear.

My heaviest Redband Trout — the species I most often fish for — to-date was this curvaceous 27 1/2 x 16 1/2″ brute that weighed 10.25 pounds.

Gear for TROUT
If you’re mostly casting lures from shore…

My First Choice: G. Loomis E6X Inshore Saltwater Spinning Rod – 7′ 6″
Value Pick: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo – 6′ 6″

If you’re mostly bait fishing from shore…
My First Choice: St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod – 6′ 6″
Value Pick: Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod – 7′

If you’re mostly fishing from a boat or kayak…
My First Choice: St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod – 6′ 6′
Value Pick: Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo – 6′ 6″

My First Choice: Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB
Value Pick: Pflueger 6940 President Spinning Fishing Reel

If you’re mostly casting lures…
Use Berkley IronSilk – 12 lb.

If you’re mostly bait fishing or jigging…
Use Power Pro Super Slick – 20 or 30 lb.
And, as a leader use P-Line Fluoroclear – 15 or 20 lb.

If you’re mostly trolling…
Use Berkley IronSilk – 12 lb.

If you’re fishing a small stream or mountain lake for small fish…
Use  Berkley IronSilk – 6 lb.

If you’re mostly casting really big lures (5″ or bigger)…
Use P-Line CXX – 12 or 15 lb.

It doesn’t really matter what net you use, so long as it is rubberized. Nylon nets are terrible on fish and shouldn’t be legal. Nets should be big enough to fit your fish without bending it, so don’t do what many flyfisherman do and mishandle fish in a too-small net.

If you’re fishing for big fish from shore…
Then you should use an Ego S2 Slider 22-Inch Landing Net

If you’re fishing for big fish from a boat or kayak…
Then you want an RS Nets King Landing Net.

If you’re fishing for small fish…
Use a TBD. The label has worn off, so I couldn’t find this yet.

Bait Fishing for TROUT
If you’re using worms or corn as bait, use Owner No. 6 Mosquito Hooks.
If you’re using minnows, use Owner No. 2 Mosquito Hooks.
If you’re using cut bait, use Owner 1/0 Circle Hooks.

First of all, get out of the habit of using swivels to quickly change lures. They mess up the action of most lures, create something else to tangle or gather weeds, and they’re not as strong as the split rings that come attached to your lures.

If you insist on using them to attach big lures, use No. 6 Barrel Snaps.
If you insist on using them to attach small lures, use No. 12 Barrel Snaps.
If you’re using them for anything else, use No. 6 Barrel Swivels.

If you’re bait fishing in a lake or slow-flowing water, use 1/2-Ounce Egg Sinkers.
If you’re bait fishing in fast-flowing water, use 1-Ounce Egg Sinkers.
If you need additional weight for a lure or fly, use Split Shot.

Lure Fishing for TROUT
There are a number of lures I could put here. Three lure boxes in my Trout Tackle Bag contain Jerkbaits and Minnowbaits (Large Rapalas, Small Rapalas, Other Minnowbaits). So condensing this down is tough. At a minimum, carry these:

First, you need a Rapala Countdown CD-07 (Silver or Gold).
You probably also want a Rapala Jointed J-7 (Silver or Gold).
And don’t forget a Rapala X-Rap 10 (Rainbow Trout) for bigger fish.

For deep and/or dirty water, you also want a Rat-L-Trap.
If you prefer, you can get a Strike King Red Eye Shad, too.

I love swimbaits because most have a single hook that sits on top of the lure. This means fish are almost never hooked in the gills, and the lure rarely snags. They are harder to fish than almost every other lure, but they are my go-to lures for trophy trout.

Start with these. These are easiest to fish with: PowerBait Swim Shad.
If you’re an excellent caster, try WildEye Swim Shad.
Great casters with tons of patience should use Savage Gear 3D Real Trout.

If you want a swimbait that’s also killer for bass, use 4.8” Keitech Swing Impact Fat Swimbaits.

Literally any other spoon will work. Replace the treble with a single hook to avoid killing fish.

My fave spoon is the Little Cleo 1/4-Ounce (Gold, Copper, Hammered Silver).
For bigger fish, the Krocodile 1-Ounce Spoon can be trolled, casted, or jigged.

A study conducted on trophy Brook Trout found that spinners have the highest mortality of any lure, and it’s not even close. Spinners are the most deadly, then spoons, then everything else. Despite two massive treble hooks, Rapalas were lowest. For this reason, I avoid spinners in most circumstances. If you have to use them, replace the treble with a single hook or just keep the first fish you kill and stop fishing.

The best bet is the Blue Fox Vibrax (Size 3) in any color.
There’s also the classic Panther Martin (Size 2) for tiny fish.

They’re tough to fish, but the Aerojig 1/4-Ounce Marabou Jigs work in any color.

Read more about Trout Fishing or continue the Gear Up! process.