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
RODS
Casting lures from shore?

My First Choice: G. Loomis GL2
Value Pick: Ugly Stik GX2

Bait fishing from shore?
My First Choice: St. Croix Triumph
Value Pick: Ugly Stik Elite

Boat/Kayak fishing?
My First Choice: St. Croix Triumph
Value Pick: Ugly Stik GX2

REELS
My First Choice: Shimano Stradic Ci4+
Value Pick: Pflueger 6940 President

LINES
Casting lures shore/boat/kayak?
Use Trilene Sensation – 12 lb.

Bait fishing or jigging?
Use Power Pro Super Slick – 20 or 30 lb.
For leader P-Line Fluoroclear – 15 or 20 lb.

Trolling?
Use Power Pro Super Slick – 20 lb.
For leader P-Line Fluoroclear – 12 or 15 lb.

Small water, small fish?
Use Trilene Sensation – 8 lb.

Big lures (>5″ long)?
Use P-Line CXX – 12 or 15 lb.

NETS
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.

Big fish from shore?
Use an Ego S2 Slider 22-Inch.

Big fish from a boat or kayak?
Use an RS Nets King Landing Net.

Small fish (<20″)?
Use an Ego Small Rubber Net.

Trout Fishing w/Bait
HOOKS
Fishing worms, corn, or hoppers?
Use Owner No. 6 Mosquito.

Fishing minnows?
Use Owner No. 2 Mosquito.

Fishing cutbait?
Use Owner 1/0 Circle.

SWIVELS
First of all, get out of the habit of using snap swivels to quickly change lures. They mess up the action of most lures, create another place to tangle or gather weeds, and they’re not as strong as the split rings that come attached to your lures in most cases. If you insist on fishing less effectively, though, I still have recommendations.

Snaps for big lures?
Use No. 6 Barrel Snaps.

Snaps for small lures?
Use No. 12 Barrel Snaps.

Connections, leaders, etc.?
Use No. 6 Barrel Swivels.

WEIGHTS
Slow or no current?
Use 1/2-Ounce Egg Sinkers.

Fast current?
Use 1-Ounce Egg Sinkers.

Additional weight for flies/lures?
Use Split Shot.

Trout Fishing w/Lures
JERKBAITS/MINNOWBAITS
There are a number of lures I could put here. Of the eight lure boxes in my Trout Tackle Bag, three contain Jerkbaits and Minnowbaits (Large Rapalas, Small Rapalas, Other Minnowbaits). So condensing this down is tough. At a minimum, carry these:

Rapalas, anyone?
Use a Countdown CD-07 (Silver/Gold).
Use a Jointed J-7 (Silver/Gold).
Use an X-Rap 10 (Rainbow Trout).

Fishing deep or dirty water?
Use a Rat-L-Trap.
Use a Strike King Red Eye Shad.

SWIMBAITS
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 (of the roughly 500 trophy trout I’ve caught on these, only two were gill-hooked), 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.

Beginners use PowerBait Swim Shad.
Intermediates use WildEye Swim Shad.
Experts use Savage Gear 3D Real Trout.
Opportunists use 4.8” Keitech.

SPOONS
Literally any spoon will work for trout. If you fish for hatchery trout (gross, but okay), this is your best bet for catching those domestic fish on a lure. Replace the treble with a single hook to avoid killing fish on every hookup. For these lures, you want to choose metallic colors like Copper, Gold, or Silver. Hammered finishes work best.

Use a Little Cleo 1/4-Ounce.
Use a Krocodile 1-Ounce.

SPINNERS
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 mortality in that study. 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.

Use a Blue Fox Vibrax (Size 3).
Use a Panther Martin (Sizes 2-15).

JIGS
Feeling invicible? If so, try jig fishing for trout. It’s a lot harder than almost anything else, but it works.

Use a Aerojig 1/4-Ounce.

Read more about Trout Fishing or continue the Gear Up! process generally, or in detail for each species and style of fishing:

Gear Up! Bass
Gear Up! Bottomfishing

#CaughtOvgard