Best Trout Lures: My Six Personal Favorites For River and Lake Trout
Finding and presenting the best trout lures is all about understanding trout habits and behaviors. These fish are skittish and timid so you’ll want to play to that when choosing the right fishing lures for trout. Size them down, don’t go crazy with the colors, and present according to your surroundings.
I’ve fished backyard creeks and I’ve fished some of the most popular trout rivers in the country. I can tell you with confidence that the six trout lures in this guide will help any angler catch more trout no matter where you’re fishing. If you’re struggling to hook some trout, stick around!
Our Picks For The Best Trout Lures
For starters, Panther Martin is one of the best lure manufacturers on the planet. They’re a reputable brand with a habit of producing trout lures that simply clean up. The action on this one is great. It has a through bladed design which creates a lot of noise and allows the spinner to move quickly in the water creating a louder and more obnoxious disturbance.
If you look at the varying color options as well you’ll see that there are a ton of different choices. You want to go for something that is highly visible in cloudy water but most of them should do the trick.
My favorite thing about this lure is the heavy weighted body paired with the treble hook. This allows you to get a solid casting distance and it helps the lure dive into the water. If I had to recommend a specific color I would suggest going with the silver/blue blade with the black eye on it. This one mimics a baitfish and the colors are highly visible in the water.
Blue Fox Classic Vibrax
If you’re fishing in rivers and streams for brook trout and rainbow trout, this is your guy. It dives quickly from the surface down a few feet so it’s perfect for shallow water. The lure features a silver or gold blade with a weight and treble hook.
I think my favorite thing about the Blue Fox is how simple it is to cast and present for trout. There’s nothing to it other than slowing down and speeding up your presentation based on the weather. When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, the trout are more active. During this time you’ll speed it up. If you catch a cold front and things slow down, you slow down. There’s nothing else you need to do or think about.
The weight helps with casting distance and precision. Plus, it comes with a free-turning gear that allows the treble hook to spin freely from the rest of the lure to prevent the line from getting tangled in it.
Berkley Power Floating Trout Worm
If you know anything about me and my reviews, I love soft plastic worms and the same is true for trout. These feature a trout attractant on them so the trout will pick up on their scent and be drawn to the worms. The worms have a natural action and that makes these one of the best brown trout lures on the market right now.
The bag comes with 15 worms which is a great value and you get the Berkley reputation that very few can match. I’d suggest pairing these with an ultralight rod and spinning reel and consider working them near low hanging trees in rivers and streams.
One pro tip is to purchase a few different colors. The ones I recommend are bright orange and it can be a little much for certain situations. When the trout are really active, you’ll have the time of your life cleaning up on the water. But, if they’re not very active, these lures are a bit big and colorful so it’ll spook them.
It was between this rapala and the original floater but I think the X-Rap offers a better color scheme on the minnow and it comes with a more natural appearance with the eyes and holographic side panels. This lure cleans up in the water for a variety of different fish so I think it’s a great lure for trout but for other species as well.
If you’re looking for trout fishing tackle that will perform well in rivers and larger streams, this is the one. It dives quickly, jerks in different directions, and hovers well. I suggest the Rapala if you’re going for a more aggressive approach and the trout are active. It might be a little big for some scenarios but it’s a great way to find the whopper you’ve been waiting for.
When it comes to beginner-friendliness, I think the X-Rap is a great option as well. It comes with a long-casting system that makes it easy to get a precise cast in the exact location you’re looking for. Plus, it comes with an internal rattle which is sure to get attention. The only problem is, you’ll often get the attention of many other fish as well so you’ll want to toss this in prime trout territory.
Strike King Bitsy Minnow
Crankbaits aren’t the most popular lure for trout fishing but these are great because they’re simple to use and effective for small feeding trout in a variety of scenarios.
I also find that this is one of the best trout lures for children and beginners because it helps them catch a lot of fish. Don’t expect to reel in anything sizable but if you’re looking for a fun day on the water with a lot of action, this is the way to go.
The Strike King Bitsy comes in 13 different color variations which offers a lot of variety for you to choose based on the unique situation. My recommendation is to go with something natural like the black bass or Tennessee shad. These two colors closely mimic what the fish are used to seeing in the water and it will attract a lot of trout and panfish alike. Pair this baby with a light 8lb line and reel it quickly to create a nice presentation.
Yakima Rooster Tail Spinner
I chose this as my top pick for a few different reasons. First, the presentation speaks for itself. The rooster tail is one of the best methods of drawing the attention of nearby trout and the skirt really helps keep the weeds off the treble hook as well. Plus, it comes with a million patterns to choose from so prepare to spend some time thinking about it. I recommend getting three or four of these in different colors because you’ll want to test each one out in different scenarios.
Another reason I love these trout fishing lures is because of the pulsating tail action as you’re retrieving it. The vibration of the blade paired with the vibrant colors and tail make it the perfect choice for brook trout, brown trout, and even rainbow trout. The finishes are nice, they maintain well over time, and the lure can withstand a bit of abuse as well.
Best Lures For Trout
In this section I want to break down some of the finer details about the best types of lures for trout. There are many different types of lure that trout will strike but these four are some of the most popular ones included in this guide.
Spinners are definitely the most popular hard body lure for catching all types of trout. They generally consist of a treble hook at the bottom, a weighted body in the middle, and a blade at the top. The blade creates a reflection in the water that bounces the sun rays off and shines light in the direction of the fish.
The blade is the main piece of the presentation puzzle and it’s how you get the attention of nearby trout and other fish. Much of the time, the blades on these spinners also vibrate off the body which creates a noise as well. When you pair the noise with the blinding light, this is what leads the fish to strike the lure.
Another advantage of using spinners for trout is that they’re small and light. These are in-line spinners which are different from the spinnerbaits you would use for bass fishing. They don’t have the extended wire and instead have a straight body appearance with a single blade.
The best way to fish these is by casting into open water along rocky shorelines and beneath overhanging Earth and trees. You’ll get hung up a lot if you’re not familiar with these so you don’t want to test your luck by casting into places where there is heavy vegetation.
Using a trout jig is one of the most overlooked ways of catching this species. They’re not that popular and you don’t hear companies pushing their hair jigs and trout jigs like you do some of their others. They come in a variety of sizes ranging from 1/64 to 1/8 ounce so you can cater the size to the action of the water.
Having many different sized lures is the way to go because you’ll always have an answer for how the trout are feeling that day based on where they’re located in the column and how fast they’re moving.
Choosing a color is simple and I suggest going with something as natural as possible. You want to imitate bait fish so colors like silver, white, and tan are the best way to go. Sometimes I think it’s best to keep it simple and not overthink it so natural colors work best.
As for techniques, if you’re jigging in rivers and streams you’ll watch to twitch to jig and reel upstream just fast enough to keep up with the current.
Spoons are a simple but effective trout lure. They mimic the appearance of the in-line spinners and are believed to be some of the oldest fishing lures around. They feature a concave “spoon” like spinner that wobbles and reflects light as it moves through the water. The goal is to create the appearance of an injured fish making the trout believe that they’ll have an easy meal if they chase it down.
The best thing about spinners is that they work exceptionally well in stained water because of the bright reflection they create. The action it creates will depend on a variety of different factors but the depth of the spoon is the main deciding factor. If you’re using a deep spoon it will produce a more intense wobble than a shallow spoon.
Thin spoons work best for creating an erratic presentation and I believe they do a better job of creating that “injured” appearance.
When it comes to the sport of fishing, I always end up reverting back to what I know and that’s fishing with soft plastics. I’ve fished so many worms for bass over the years and this is just right in my wheelhouse – I’m sure most anglers can make it work for trout as well!
These lures offer so much versatility and there are endless amounts of brands, products, and styles that you can fish. When it comes to fishing soft plastics for trout, you want to keep a few things in mind.
First, trout aren’t big feeders so going with something overly large isn’t going to do you any good. You want to keep the worm small and light.
I also recommend a shaky worm head rig because it will offer an erratic presentation and the weight will help you get a decent casting distance on a lure that is very small.
When choosing a color you can play around with more vibrant options but keeping it simple is often the best policy. Go with a natural color that mimics your surroundings. If the sun is shining and the weather is warm, a pumpkinseed or chartreuse will work well. If there’s some snow on the ground still and the weather is cold, black and white are the best options.
Powerbait is another one of my favorites for most ultralight fishing. This bait comes in a wide variety of different applications from worms, to grubs, to eggs. You purchase the bait and it usually comes with a scent that attracts the trout or whatever species it is you’re targeting. In addition to the traditional powerbait you can purchase worms like the Berkley I recommended above and it’ll come with the attractant built into the bait.
I find that this type of approach works best when paired with something else. A lot of anglers will dip their soft plastic worms in the Berkley powerbait to help the trout pick up on the scent.
I think in-line spinners are the best lures for trout because they’re lightweight, easy to use, and offer a variety of different presentations to attract trout. A close second behind that would be soft plastics and Berkley Powerbait. You just need to know which ones to use and how to use it properly.
I recommend natural colors whenever possible but if you’re feeling like the trout are really active you’ll want to go with something red or orange. These colors help imitate the injured fish presentation and if you create the right action on the lure it’ll be like a trout magnet.
Yes, trout like spinnerbaits but it’s all about how you present them. I find that in-line spinners are better for trout especially when water levels rise in the rivers and you can cast in alcoves and other areas where the water is more stagnant. This will help prevent you from getting hung up while also giving you opportunities to fish places that once were inaccessible.
I wouldn’t suggest anything larger than a ½ ounce for most trout fishing scenarios but lures even as small as a ⅛ ounce are popular. It all depends on the size of trout you’re chasing and where you’re fishing. If you’re in a small stream or creek then the ⅛ ounce would be the way to go. If you’re in larger rivers and ponds for big brown trout then you can size up the lures and hooks accordingly. It helps to have a wide variety of lure sizes in your tackle box.
The best trout fishing happens when you let go of preconceived notions. I’ve talked to a lot of fly fishing enthusiasts who would never dream of using a jig head, rebel hard bodied lure, or a blue fox vibrax to catch a trout in clear water but there are people out there doing it. I consider myself a stubborn bass angler but I had to learn to adjust how I fish for freshwater trout otherwise I’d never catch anything.
Trout bait is not hard to master but learning how to catch big trout is what separates the big cats from the amateurs. If you want to catch larger trout you need to purchase larger lures and dive deeper into the water column. The problem is, big stocked trout are hard to find because they don’t stick around very long before they get caught.
Choosing the best trout lure is simple when you think about what you’re fishing for and how they behave. Trout are skittish and they don’t bite anything they don’t feel entirely confident about taking on. As a result, you want to size down your lures and try not to intimidate them too much otherwise they won’t bite.
Any of the lures recommended above will work perfectly in rivers, streams, and ponds for trout fishing.