Spring trout fishing has changed in recent years, and the carnival-like state-wide trout openers are a thing of the past. Some waters now are open all year and others open very early in spring, extending the season for die-hard trout fishermen. That means more anglers find themselves facing tough and diverse spring conditions, all of which they must be prepared for. The simple fact is that if you properly match your gear to the conditions, you will catch more trout.
There is a dizzying selection of fishing gear out there; many more options than existed just ten years ago. Still, when it comes to baits and lines, rods and reels, there are some old standby’s that you should not be caught without, and there are some new, innovative products that you really should give a try.
Trout Hardware Baits Any spring trout angler should have some hardware in his lure stash. Buzz Ramsey is a legendary trout and salmon fisherman and an expert on trout fishing in the west. According to him, it is hard to find a more popular trout lure than a Worden’s Rooster Tail. “It’s an old favorite, a real standby for trout hardware,” he says, “and the most popular color is black. That’s the number-one selling color in trout sizes on the west coast.” Still, fishermen facing spring conditions should also pack a few brighter colors. White, chartreuse and the rainbow pattern are good spring bets.
With its vibrating blade, the Rooster Tail is perfect for spring applications where turbid water reduces visibility and cold water means a slow retrieve. Now there is a new Rooster Tail that is designed to spin with even slower retrieves — the Rooster Tail Lite. Both the new version and the original now come in UV finishes as well. According to Ramsey, these new finishes allow fish to spot the lure in low-light conditions, such as a cloudy day or in deep or murky water.
Other popular and effective options for hardware include Panther Martin spinners, Mepps spinners, and spoons such as the Kastmaster, the Little Cleo and Dick Nite Spoons.
Soft plastic baits are a killer on trout of all kinds, and every angler should have some in their tackle box. They are especially effective on early-season, slow-moving trout. Berkley offers the Gulp Angle Worm, one of the better soft-body baits. They can be fished by themselves or used to tip other lures and, since it carries scent, it adds that attraction as well. Berkley has introduced a number of new baits to its soft-plastics lines, including the Gulp Alive Cricket. These baits can be casted and retrieved or fished under a bobber, or the floating versions can be fished on the bottom.
Trout Dough Baits
Trout dough baits are extremely effective and popular. These baits are also easy to fish; another reason why they are so popular. Each year you will see new versions of popular brands such as Berkley Powerbait. Another good choice is Yum Troutkrilla. For spring conditions, bright, high-visibility colors such as orange and chartreuse are good choices.
Browns, rainbows, lake trout, and other species switch to feeding on baitfish once they reach a certain size, and trolling plugs is one of the best ways to get these big trophy trout. Fishing your plugs deep is often the key to finding them. Once again, these low-light situations are perfect for the new UV finishes, and the Worden’s Flatfish now offers most of the popular patterns in a UV finish.
Rapalas are very popular with the trolling set, and big trout go crazy for them. They come in a variety of patterns and sizes, and it’s a good idea to stock your tackle box with an assortment. When looking for big trout in lakes that are stocked with catchable rainbows, don’t forget to bring some rainbow patterns.
Lake Troll Rigs
Trolling for smaller trout or kokanee usually means using a bait-tipped wedding ring with flashers or dodgers to attract the fish. Spinners are another good bet, and the Panther Martin spinners draw favor among trollers.
Flashers and attractors are important when trolling in spring low-light conditions and you should be prepared with good colors for turbid waters. You might try the Sep’s Mini Micro flasher, which is extremely light and spins well in very slow trolls. Sep’s also makes a number of flashers with UV finishes, as do many other manufacturers. There is also a break-away flasher made by Qcove if you are tired of fighting the flashers and want to fight the fish. Just remember to bring colors that perform well in dark or turbid conditions.
When it comes to graphite rods, Berkley, Diawa, Shimano and Shakespeare build some of the most popular trout rods out there today. The Berkley Tactix Trout spinning rods are good, mid-range rods for all trout fishing situations. You can also spend a bit more and buy a quality spinning rod from Fenwick.
If you like fiberglass rods, Eagle Claw makes some good ones, and they don’t cost too much. The Water Eagle line offers a 5-foot, 6-inch and a 6-foot version made specifically for light lines.
Some of the most popular spinning reels for trout are made by Quantum, Shimano, Pflueger and Shakespeare. The Shimano Sedona and Symetre are solid models but, for super-light lines, try the Sustain FE or the Stradic C-14.
The Pflueger Supreme, Supreme XT and Trion spinning reels are excellent choices for trout fishing.
Fishermen who troll for trout often prefer baitcasting reels. Abu Garcia has released a new line of the low-profile REVO baitcasters that are extremely light and should gain fans among the trout-trolling set.
Fishermen still tend to prefer the low-visibility and durability of monofilament lines, most braids having yet to live up to their promise for spinning applications. Also, while many tackle companies now offer fluorocarbon mainlines, and they are getting a little better, they are still stiff and brittle compared to mono. For that reason, the focus here will be on mono main lines, and fluorocarbon leaders.
Old favorites such as Stren Original and Berkley Trilene XT still dominate the ultra-light trout scene, but there are some new lines worth talking about. The new Trilene Trans-optic monofilament is perfect for bait fishing and trolling, where watching the line is important for detecting bites. The line is highly visible above the water, turning gold in the sun, but virtually disappears under the surface. Maxima Ultra-green is popular with trout anglers, and the company now offers its Perfexion line, which has quickly gained support among trout fishermen because it is tough, thin and performs well in the 2- to 6-pound test range.
Seaguar still makes one of the best fluorocarbon leaders on the market and the Fluoro Premier is the best one it makes. Berkley Vanish is another good fluorocarbon choice.