8 Reasons why trout will follow a spinner but refuse to strike?
It is a cool summer morning, I cast out my tiny Mepps black fury lure. It splashes down just beneath the overhanging willows, I retrieve and as the lure enters the shallows I see a nice trout, I estimated around 3lb in hot pursuit. It follows the lure nearly to my feet, then with a flick of its tail it turns and disappears to the depths of its pool.
What I describe above is a common experience for many trout anglers and one which can cause a great deal of frustration.
“Why do trout show interest but then reject a lure?“
Will, there is no one answer, and to be upfront, a following trout is a good thing. It means he was interested in your offering. A following trout is a much better sign than a trout that completely ignores your spinner or one which rockets away terrified.
In this article, I will explain 10 reasons why trout will follow a spinner or trout lure but refuse to eat it. I will also explain what changes you can make to increase the chance of the trout striking.
1) Your retrieve was too fast.
Trout are not high speed hunters, they like to take their time inspecting prey before deciding to strike or not. A lure that is retrieved too quickly simply does not give the trout enough time to decide if it wants to strike or not.
When spinning for trout, it is nearly always better to retrieve a lure slower rather than faster. It is also the same with trolling, a very slow troll will catch more trout than a speedy one.
In most circumstances, when water temperatures are below 42f, or above 66f slow down your presentation even more.
2) Your lure was too big
Lure size is a big factor in wither a trout will strike or not, and more often than not trout prefer to strike a smaller rather than larger bait.
Larger lures simply represent a greater risk for the trout, large prey take more energy to chase down, and trout are lazy fish. They will rather wait for the prey to come to them and put up minimal resistance. They want an easy meal, not one which they potentially have to expend a large amount of energy to chase down.
Trout will, on occasion even chase a large lure, not because they think it is food but because they see it as direct competition. A trout being territorial is less likely to strike than a hungry one.
3) The lure is the wrong color.
This one can be frustrating, trout can be extremely fussy at times and will refuse a lure simply because the color is wrong.
What is even more frustrating is that there is not always any ‘logical’ reasons why they might be like that. The hot color today, is often all but ignored tomorrow. I wish I knew why but trout can just be fussy.
I advise, to always bring a selection of different and contrasting colors and experiment with different color combinations to see if you can find one which works. At a minimum, I will bring one silver, one gold, a natural pattern, and a very bright pattern.
- What Is the Best Kastmaster Color for Trout? (Including one custom color!)
- What Is the Best Color Rapala for Trout Fishing?
4) The scent is wrong
Trout have an excellent sense of smell. While I am not convinced that trout use smell to find food, they certainly use it to avoid danger, and if a lure smells like danger.
They are not going to strike. The one, and potentially biggest mistake many anglers make is that they get sunscreen or even insect repellent on their bait.
Both of which are enough to discourage and otherwise interested trout. If you have just applied sunscreen, I suggest wiping it off the palm of your hands before touching your spinner.
5) Your line is too thick
Trout have excellent eyesight, and if the water is clear. They can see your line. While, I do not believe the visible line itself is what scares the trout, thicker lines simply have a much bigger presence in the water.
They cause more disturbance and the trout can see or sense something is not quite right. A thick line makes the lure seem much bigger than it actually is and many trout are not prepared to take that risk.
It is always a good idea to use as thin of line as possible that is still strong enough to land the trout you are targeting. This is typically somewhere in the range of 2 to 6lb.
6) The trout does not see your lure as food
Sometimes trout strike and chase out of aggression rather than hunger. They chase after smaller fish simply to get them out of their territory.
They see your spinner, it is invading their personal space and they want nothing to do with it. So they give chase it away. This is more likely to be the cast when your lure is not natural looking or too large.
7) The action is wrong
Trout can be intelligent, and if the swimming action of a lure seems wrong it can put them off striking. They know how their prey swims and behaves, and if your lure is doing something unnatural it simply represents too big of a risk for them.
My advice, try and get your lure to swim, and dart through the water in as natural a way as possible.
8) The trout are spooked
Trout which have been fished over earlier in the day can be extremely difficult to catch. They are on high alert for anything which seems dangerous. Trying to catch a trout that has already been fished over and can be an exercise in frustration.