When fishing for trout over winter. It is best to use lures that have plenty of action on a slow retrieve. That is because trout are sluggish, and less likely to chase after fast moving prey. In winter, trout often hold towards the bottom of deeper pools. For this reason, I prefer to fish lures that sink, such as spoons, spinners, or deep-diving jerk baits.
This article is looking at lures that perform well over winter when the water is still flowing rather than lures for ice fishing. In saying that, many of these lures do perform well when the water is hard.
Can trout be caught over winter?
Many trout fishermen, pack away their rods over winter and take up other activities. Now, I will not claim that winter fishing is easy. In most places, it is certainly challenging, but trout certainly be caught over the winter months. In fact, one of my biggest brown trout was taken on a jerkbait on a miserable winter’s day.
When winter fishing, I generally only fish in the warmest part of the day. So the opposite of summer fishing. I rarely start fishing before 11 am, I want to give the sun time to raise and start warming the surface.
Dress warm when winter fishing
It is important to dress warm, nothing ruins a winter fishing trip faster than cold frozen hands. In winter, I always keep a change of clothing in the car. No matter how careful you are, there is always a chance of ending up in the drink.
I personally like to wear insulated jackets and I have discussed the pros and cons in this article. While layering might be safe. Insulated jackets are simply easier.
One winter morning, I was searching for trout in a small pool and decided to climb up onto a large flat rock to get a slightly better view. Unknown to me at the time, that rock was covered with a thin layer of ice. I instantly lost my footing, my back bounced off the rock, and before I knew I was a couple of feet below the surface. Falling in can happen when you less expect it and takes less than a second.
Luckily, I was wearing wool and was only a few minutes from the car.
I have fallen in more when fishing from the shore than while wading. Always take care, and plan accordingly.
Can I use my summer lures in winter?
The short answer is yes. Your favorite lures from over summer, will likely still work and catch fishing over the colder months.
But, there are some important differences to take into consideration.
When the water is very cold, trout become sluggish. They swim slower and are reluctant to give chase. While in the summer they might happily chase after a kastmaster speeding through the water, that same trout in winter will respond very slowly.
This means lures that have their most effective action at a slow retrieve are the most productive at catching trout over the winter months. When winter fishing, be prepared to retrieve extra slowly.
It is also worth noting. That many of the trout caught over summer are stock fish. In most areas, trout do not get stocked over the winter months. So the only trout which remains are wild fish or cunning holdovers. These trout do have different feeding preferences compared with recently released stockies.
So when selecting your lures, choose patterns that work best on resident fish. The stock trout will not be returning until the spring.
How cold is too cold for trout fishing?
In the summer, most fishermen know that when the water gets too warm. The trout become reluctant to feed, the opposite is true in winter. The optimum water temperature for trout feeding is around 60f. The more it deviates from that, the more difficult fishing becomes.
The lower limits for trout fishing is around 44F (6c), much colder and the fishing becomes difficult. If possible, the trout will seek out warmer waters, either heading deeper into the lake or might even head towards springs that typically flow warmer than lake and freestone rivers over winter.
Basically, the colder the water gets. The less active the trout become, require a slower, more precise presentation to catch them. Winter is not the time of year to be quickly jerking a popper across the surface. Slowing twitch a worm across the bottom works much better.
Where to find trout in winter?
Trout spend the winter months in deeper slower water. They try to stay at the edge of the current while trying to conserve as much energy as possible.
Read this article for more details on how to find trout in winter.
9 Best trout lures for cold water
Yakima Worden’s Flatfish – The Best Cold Water Trout Lure
If you’re looking for a versatile and effective trout lure for cold water fishing, the Yakima Worden’s Flatfish is my first choice.
Despite its effectiveness, it often gets overlooked by anglers, which is a shame since it’s one of the best lures when fishing when the water is cold and trout sluggish.
The reason why this lure works exceptionally well over the winter months is because it has plenty of action even at the slowest of retrieves.
While the flatfish is an excellent lure, it does work best in still water conditions or when fishing slow moving pools.
Eppinger Original Dardevle – The Classic Cold Water Spoon
The Eppinger Original Dardevle is a classic spoon lure that is well-suited for cold water trout fishing. Like the Kastmaster, it works well jigging close to the bottom at a slow speed.
However, its more rounded design allows it to sink slower and flatter, making it an excellent choice for cold water fishing. Plus, the Dardevle has a distinctive action in the water that is sure to attract even the most stubborn of trout.
Thomas Buoyant – The Slow Sinking Spoon
For anglers who prefer casting and retrieving a spoon over winter, the Thomas Buoyant is a top choice.
This lure is a slow sinking spoon, which means it takes longer to flatten towards the bottom. This slow sinking action increases the chances of a trout grabbing it on the drop, making it an excellent choice for cold water fishing.
Additionally, its naturally buoyant design allows it to be retrieved slower than most comparable spoons, making it ideal for fishing when trout are reluctant to chase after fast moving prey.
Jointed Rapala – The Floating Lure for Slow Moving Trout
While the Jointed Rapala is a floating lure, it still makes the list of best cold water trout lures.
This is because it has a very pronounced action at the slowest retrieve speeds, this makes it perfect for catching the attention of slow-moving trout.
This lure works especially well on lake flats or in shallower water, it generally does not perform well in moving water, and the two sets of hooks can tangle.
Joe’s Fly – The Attention Grabbing Spinner Fly
When it comes to winter trout fishing, you need to use every trick in the book to get their attention.
Joe’s Fly combines the attention-grabbing vibration of a spinner with the realistic appeal of a trailing fly.
This lightweight lure is perfect for slow presentations in small streams or close to the shore, where long casts are not required.
With its unique design and action, Joe’s Fly spinners can get a strike out of even the most finicky trout.
C.P. Swing – The Less-Known Inline Spinner
The C.P. Swing is a less-known inline spinner that is perfect for cold water trout fishing.
Made from lightweight materials, it sinks slowly, allowing for a much slower presentation than other inline spinners.
This light weight design means the C.P. Swing excels for fishing slow-moving pools over the colder months. Its unique design and action make it a great choice for anglers looking for something a little different. It does sink faster than the Joe Fly above.
Blue Fox Vibrax – For When The Trout Hold Deep
When it comes to fishing for trout in cold water, a slow presentation is usually the way to go. However, sometimes trout can be found deep in fast-flowing water, requiring a fast-sinking lure that can catch their attention quickly.
That’s where the Blue Fox Vibrax comes in handy. This lure sinks quickly and gives off plenty of flash, making it an excellent choice for getting a response from trout in these situations. With its flashy design and fast-sinking abilities, the Blue Fox Vibrax is a must-have in any angler’s tackle box.
Inline Spinners are great at catching trout any time of the year.
However, many of these lures work best with a slightly faster retrieve. The Mepps Marabou, on the other hand, features a large Colorado-style blade that starts spinning at slower speeds than any other blade style.
This makes it an excellent option for fishing slow to sluggish trout. With its realistic marabou tail and flashy blade design, the Mepps Marabou is sure to catch the eye of any trout in the water.
If there is one downside to the Marabou is that it is sized a bit large for stream trout.
The Acme Kastmaster is a versatile lure that can be used in a variety of ways when winter fishing for trout. While many anglers cast and retrieve their Kastmasters, over the winter it’s actually more effective to slow jig them along the bottom.
By bouncing the lure slowly across the bottom, you can entice trout that may be laying low and hesitant to bite. With its realistic swimming action and durable design, the Acme Kastmaster is a go-to lure for many anglers looking to catch trout in cold water.