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Trout are fickle creatures. Every fisherman has a story about the trout who wouldn't bite his lure.
The big lazy lug swimming by the creek bed that wouldn't touch your lure if it were fresh eggs during spawning season.
From brook trout to rainbows, getting the kings of the lake to take the bait has caused more than one fisherman to pack it up early.
The key to catching these notoriously picky eaters is choosing the right lure for your situation.
Unlike other fish, trout don't see shiny and think food. Throwing spinnerbaits and rooster tails doesn't work the same magic on trout as it does bass.
Accomplished trout fisherman know that staying in tune with nature is the key to choosing their bait.
Today we're looking at the best trout lures and when you should use them.
Before you tie on that lure, grab a smaller lure. Now before you tie your new lure on, grab an even smaller lure.
Keep it up until you're fishing for minnows.
Alright, so maybe we're exaggerating, but the trout fisherman's downfall is often tying on bait much too large for catching trout.
We know you're gunning for the big one, but even rainbow trout chase small prey.
Bait fish, bugs, and worms make up a substantial part of a trout's diet.
Watch the bugs on the water's surface and nearby bait fish to determine your correct lure size.
Aim for something slightly smaller than the average size baitfish or bug. This applies to rooster tails and flys alike.
Trout are creatures of circumstance. Their feeding patterns change depending on the conditions surrounding them.
The water height in your lake or stream will change how the fish feed.
Low water calls for lures that don't dive too deep. We're talking small Rapala minnows, small crankbaits, jigs, and even small flies.
The idea here is to keep your lure high in the water column. Trout are liable to surface and strike and your bait near the surface.
Mid water conditions allow for the most variety of effective trout lures. Larger crankbaits and Rapala minnows work well, but smaller floating jerk baits also shine.
Even larger flies work if the trout are particularly aggressive.
Fishing trout in mid-water conditions is all about targeting their strikes. Trout feed upwards, but mid-water blurs the water column.
Stick to crankbaits and jigs if the trout are hitting mid-water column, and switch to jerk baits and flys if they're feeding on the surface.
Deep water trout respond to larger trout lures. Fish crankbaits, diving jerk baits, jigs and other lures that dive deeper into the water table.
The key here is targeting fish to strike mid-water table. Deep water pushes the fish down and reduces the chance of a strike on topwater lures.
Water flow has just as much, if not more, influence on your trout lure choice as water height.
Slow moving streams are perfect for floating flies that mimic bugs landing on the water surface. Floating minnow baits and worms also work well here.
Stagnant lakes and ponds need lures that dive in the deeper water but float in the shallows. The lack of current means that lures with an action have the advantage.
Fast current fisherman should opt for crankbaits and sturdy spinner baits to attract the trout's attention.
Smaller, lightweight bait is overcome in fast water and the trout can't see them.
Think like a fish to pick the right trout lures based on temperature.
Would you swim all out to catch minnows in cold water? Hell, we won't even swim period if the water is under 70 degrees.
Trout think the same way. Cold water fishing means tying up small nymphs. Mimicking slow moving prey is your best option.
Summer trout fishing means using trout lures that catch a trout's attention. These are your spinnerbaits and rooster tails.
Trout are moving and aggressive in the summer, making flashy bait better at capturing their attention.
You should adapt trout lures depending on water visibility. Trout see color much like humans, which means we can make educated guesses about their vision underwater.
To understand how trout hunt in different water conditions, first you'll need to understand how light reacts underwater.
Red light absorbs first in the water table, and blue light last. On overcast days or in murky water red light will absorb faster, making brighter lures harder to see.
The color spectrum between red and blue light absorbs as depth increases.
For scale, most of the visible light spectrum absorbs at 33 feet. Red, yellow, orange, and pink light do not penetrate far beneath the water's surface.
Low light conditions only compound this phenomenon. Less light to begin with means less light penetration.
This makes fishing in the deep blues more effective in low light conditions. The trout won't see bright colored lures in darker water.
Cloud cover and murky water also affect choosing the correct lure action. Trout rely on eyesight to hunt, but in dark water vibrations and movement allow the fish to sense prey.
All said and done, choosing the correct trout lure requires weighing many factors and picking a lure that compromises between several different scenarios.
No fishing expedition is the same, so don't take this guide as gospel. Trout are assholes, and sometimes common sense means nothing.
Have confidence in your ability to adapt based on what lures the fish bite. Start conventional, but work your way towards experimentation when the need arises.
We would also like to address our advice of using casting flies on a spinning rod. These techniques work well, provided you tie a small split above the fly.
The added weight allows for proper casting.
If you're in the market for high-quality fishing and outdoors gear, get in contact with us and browse our website.
Our fishing gear is tried and tested on the rugged trout streams of the Rocky Mountains.