Below are the seven trout lures that I consider to be must have when trolling for trout. They are all proven fish catchers. These are the lures that have brought me my most consistent success in catching trout. Like the title says, they represent timeless quality.
First some background, I mostly troll in shallow or medium-depth rivers and lakes. I never really target trout in very deep water. But when I do, I still use the same lures but just add weight to get them down deep enough.
I mainly fish for brown trout and rainbow trout. If you are predominately targeting Lake Trout or other deepwater dwellers, then I suggest checking out my spoon’s buyers guide. Spoons typically run much deeper and are a popular choice for lake trout.
Out of all lure types, my favorite trolling lures are Jerkbaits. Mostly those made by Rapala and Dynamic trout. They come in many sizes suitable for trout and are available in many different patterns.
How to get lures down deeper when trolling for trout?
When fishing for trout holding in deep water typically requires different tactics and even lure choices, I will include some hints below.
- Increase line length: By letting out more fishing line, the lure will dive deeper. This allows me to reach trout that are holding at greater depths. However, it’s important to maintain control over the line tension and avoid excessive slack.
- Add weight or sinkers: Attaching a weight or sinker a few feet ahead of the lure can help it sink deeper. This additional weight pulls the lure down, reaching the desired depth more effectively. Be cautious not to overload the line or impede the lure’s natural action.
- Utilize diving or sinking lures: When you only need to get slightly deeper, diving and sinking lures can work well. These lures are specifically designed to dive or sink, thanks to built-in mechanisms or weights that help them descend deeper into the water column.
- Adjust trolling speed: Increasing the trolling speed can make the lure dive deeper. The faster water flow creates additional resistance, pulling the lure down. Conversely, slowing down the trolling speed can allow the lure to rise higher in the water column.
- Implement downriggers or planer boards: Downriggers are useful tools for controlling the depth at which your lures swim. By attaching a downrigger weight to the line, you can precisely adjust the depth. Planer boards are another option that allows you to spread out multiple lines at varying depths.
Why only seven lures?
The answer is quite simple. These are my favorite lures so are the ones I always keep with me. Sure I do play around and test many different lures. Most of them do catch fish, but this list is of my perennial favorites.
1# Jointed Rapala
Whenever I go trolling for trout. The first lure I tie to my line is nearly always a Rapala. Out of their huge stable of designs, the floating Rapala is my favorite.
Trolling is where the jointed Rapala really shines. The jointed body has an exaggerated action and it starts to wiggle in at low speeds.
I have found the best size for trolling is normally J5 or J7. Sometimes I will use a J9 when the baitfish are larger than normal.
A slow, steady, consistent retrieve works best. When I fish them with jerks and stops, I find the hooks often become tangled. That means I really only fish with on a straight retrieve, and that is exactly what trolling is.
I also troll with a lot of Original Floating Rapalas and even some X-raps. They also work very well, but I feel the jointed Rapala has the best straight retrieve action which gives it an edge. If for some reason, you want to troll at a faster pace, then the solid body lures are the better option.
The best time of year to troll a Jointed Rapala is in the Spring or Autumn, when the trout are hungry and the water is cool. Over the summer months, trout often seek deeper water and additional weight might be required to reach them.
2# Dynamic Lures HD trout
The HD trout by Dynamic lures has been around for a while, but I have only started to fish it seriously in the last few years. It is an excellent trolling lure, and in its size range, it is now my first choice for a solid body jerkbait.
The feature which makes the HD trout such a great trolling lure is its amazing straight line retrieve. It really has a good natural wobble.
It is a sinking lure, so if you stop trolling. Then it would slowly sink and rest on the bottom. When trolling in shallow water, I do like floating lures, because if I have to troll across a shallow weed bed or submerged trees, I can all but stop knowing that the lure will float to the surface allowing it to travel above the snags. This can not really be done with sinking lures.
3# Yakima Wordens Flatfish
One of the first lures, I remember trolling with was a Wordens flatfish. I read about them in an old magazine article, so decided to give them a try.
Glad that I did. They are an excellent trolling lure, especially when the trout are a bit reluctant to strike when the water is too cold.
The Wordens Flatfish has a crazy, erratic dance that can really get trout going. I typically go for the F5 size, but sizes both smaller and larger can work.
Over the years, I have discovered that the flatfish is either hot or not. Sometimes trout go absolutely crazy over it, other times they flat out ignore it. If I been trolling my jerkbaits for a while with no action, that is when I switch to a flatfish lure.
If it does not trigger a strike, I know the fishing is going to be tough.
Tip: When the bottom is sandy and smooth do not be afraid to run your flatfish close to or even scrapping across the bottom. The trail of sand it digs up seems to trigger trout to strike.
4# Tasmanian Devil
This Australian lure really shines at trolling. It sinks through the water like a slow dancing spoon, but behaves more like a crankbait on the move.
The wide plastic wings, gives the lure a very erratic action which makes it a great trolling lure.
The small 7g version is good for targeting wary trout in clear water. While the larger 13.5g lure is good when trolling slightly deeper.
Do not be intimidated by the lures size, much of it is made out of clear plastic. So only the core is readily visible for any hunting fish.
5# Acme Kastmaster
Kastmasters truly embody versatility in fishing lures. Their exceptional casting ability is their well-deserved claim to fame.
Yet, it’s worth noting that these lures excel not only in casting but can also bring the results when trolling. With their rapid darting and tantalizing wobbling action, Kastmasters prove to be quite effective when pulled behind a moving boat.
In all honesty, they may not be my initial go-to choice for trolling, as I have my trusted favorites. However, I’ve learned the value of keeping a few Kastmasters tucked away in my tackle box. They have come to my rescue on countless occasions when trout seem disinterested in my usual offerings.
So, while they may not be my primary trolling lure of choice, I’ve come to appreciate the undeniable allure and effectiveness that Kastmasters bring to the table when the need arises.
6# Joe Flies
Inline Spinners or just spinners are probably the most fished type of lure for trout. They are also a very effective trolling lure. To be upfront, they all work, and for other recommendations, you can check my inline-spinner guide here. But my favorite inline spinner for trolling is the Joe Fly.
The reason is the large colorado blade that spins at much slower speeds compared with competiting designs.
My biggest complaint regarding joe flies is that their light weight makes them difficult to cast, this is not a problem when trolling. The lightweight nature of Joe Flies makes them a superb choice for trolling in small ponds and across shallow flats. They are less likely to run aground and snag.
The trailing fly, or streamer adds even further appeal. Although be warned, trout sometimes short strike and hit the blade rather than the trailing fly where the hook is
#7 Wedding Ring Lure
The Wedding ring lure is a bit enigmatic in its representation. It could resemble a line of eggs or a tiny wriggling fish. However, one thing is for certain: the spinning blade at the end emits vibrations that appeal to trout.
When it comes to targeting stocked trout, this lure has earned a special place in my tackle box. The recently released Rainbows go into a frenzy over it, exhibiting an irresistible attraction.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed that the Wedding ring lure tends to be less effective when used for wild trout. Perhaps their natural instincts make them more discerning or less prone to fall for its charms.
In the end, the Wedding ring lure remains a top choice for pursuing stocked trout, captivating them with its unique design and enticing vibrations.
Frequently Ask Questions
Can I use the same trolling lures in rivers and lakes?
Yes, select your lures based more on the depth of the water than where you are planning on trolling. I basically use the same trolling lures everywhere I fish, but I do sometimes change the colors and sizes to better match the baitfish which live in the area.
What is the best lure color when trolling for trout?
There is no simple answer. The best color on any given day depends on many variables, most notably the color of the water and the mood of the fish. I do have a comprehensive guide on selecting the best jerkbait color, and the same principles can be used for most styles of lures.
In brief, I advise using dark, natural colors when the water is clear and the trout are wary. If the water is a bit stained, or murky, then I change to bright vibrant colors.
Plain Silver or gold lures are also a safe general option. It is popular to fish silver lures when it is cloudy and gold when it is bright.
What is the best trolling lure in the Spring or Fall
I choose my lures mostly on how deep I expect the trout to be holding. When fishing in the Spring, Fall or even ice free winters. I expect the trout to be holding and feeding close to the surface. So, in the spring I mostly fish floating Jerkbaits, Flatfish, or inline spinners that have a colorado blade such as the Joe Fly.
What is the best trolling lure in the Summer
Over the summer, I find trout trend to seek deeper water where it is cooler. So I use lures that naturally swim deeper.
If I am not prepared to fish a dropshot or downrigger, I generally go for a heavier metal lure which sinks faster like an Acme Kastmaster. I also tend to fish late in the day, sometimes even into the night. In the evening I find the trout might return to the shallows where I can catch them on Jerkbaits.
What is the best trolling lure in the winter?
In the winter, the water is cold and the trout are sluggish. Nine times out of ten the key to success is to troll slow, very slow. For this reason, my favorite wintertime lure is the Yakima Flat Fish with the Jointed Rapala a close second. Joe flies also work well, but they are my third choice for winter fishing.
What is the best time of day to go trolling for trout?
I have the most success trolling in the evenings, early mornings can also be successful but I usually struggle to get up on time.
In the early spring, when the water is still cold. I have the best results after the day’s sun have warmed the water slightly. So usually around 10am.