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Spinner Fishing for Trout (2022 Complete Guide)

When most people think of trout fishing, waders, mountain streams, and fly rods come to mind. 

Clear, pristine water gushing over rock bottoms filled with picturesque trout striking hand-crafted flies is the image painted by our senses—however, freshwater trout bite on more than just flies. In fact, there has been significant crossover with smallmouth bass lures noted. 

One of the most successful lures outside of flies is the spinner. With a regular rod and reel, anglers can fill a stringer with freshwater trout without delving into areas of fishing they’re unfamiliar with.

Here’s our guide to spinner fishing for trout.

spinner fishing for trout
Source: Canva Pro

What is a Spinnerbait?

Spinnerbaits are incredibly effective when fishing freshwater streams and rivers inhabited by popular species such as Rainbow, Brown, and Brook trout. 

A spinnerbait is comprised of a wire arm attached to a body that has a rotating blade on it. Often dressed as a tail, the hook is dangling towards the rear of the lure. Spinners produce both vibrations and flickers, imitating a baitfish that is wounded.

Spinnerbait and Trout

Because trout are most often found in moving water, spinners are the perfect lure-action movement provided by the current result in the spinner blade rotating with very little input from the angler. 

Because of the erratic movements of the lures, game fish are attracted to this imitation of wounded prey. 

However, trout can be incredibly sensitive to their surroundings, preferring a more subtle presentation. Trout are usually opposed to extreme or overt action by allure. 

The vibration and flashes are much more subdued than bass lures with spinners designed explicitly for trout. This allows anglers to incorporate a multitude of retrieval techniques varying from a slow, straightforward retrieve to incorporating some bumps and stops.

Angling for Trout with Spinnerbait

From Shore

Spinner fishing for trout is straightforward compared to some of the other techniques used. The spinner is straightforward and user-friendly making it the right choice for anglers of all skill levels. 

The adage less is more applies to spinner fishing for trout. The stream’s current will do much of the work in rotating the spinner blades and providing movement. All that is required of the angler is to keep a tight line and avoid snags. 

Of all the techniques, one of the best is to cast a spinner across the current or directly downstream. This provides a tight line throughout both cast and retrieval. 

The take usually occurs on the tail end of drift as it is swung through the current because the spinner will briefly stop in this transition for several moments. Similar to swinging them, this brief holdover is all the trout needs to lay it on the lure.

From a Boat

When fishing for trout from a boat, the angler may have access to deeper water where fish retreat during the hottest part of summer days.

In order to angle for trout in the depths, a split shot is a necessary addition to reach the lower levels of the water column. 

Additionally, trolling for trout from a boat is an excellent technique when angling in the lake. When trolling, ensure that there is adequate space between lines to prevent any entanglement and maintain moderate speed to minimize wake. 

Retrieval

When it comes to retrieval, slow and steady wins the race. Provided the blade is flashing and rotating, the lure is doing fine no matter how fast the angler is reeling. This slow and steady technique works well in both running water and lakes.

The occasional twitch or pause may be incorporated if the bite is slow; however, too much action may spook the fish. 

Tackle

To successfully angle for trout with a spinner setup, specific tackle components are needed.

  • Rod: A rod that sits between 6 to 7 feet is an ultralight power spinning rod with fast action.
  • Reel: Size 1000-2000 spinning reel
  • Line: 8.5-10.5lbs test monofilament or 10lbs test braid
  • Leader: 4-6lbs test fluorocarbon

A common issue with the fishing spinners is line twists. However, this is easily remedied by incorporating a swivel.

By tying the swivel two running line and then connecting it to a leader 24 to 30 inches long, the chance of a line twist will be significantly reduced when angling with spinners. 

Spinnerbaits

Selecting the correct spinner for both location and species when angling for trout is critical. The following is not a comprehensive list but some of the top spinners available today.

1. Worden’s Original Rooster Tail Spinner

The rooster tail is a lightweight favorite for anglers in creeks and small streams as solid as a trout fishing spinner. They maintain the quality cast on ultralight spinning gear with less snags than heavier lures. 

  • Lightweight
  • Multiple Color and size variations.
  • Both gold and silver blades.
  • Available in both treble hook and single hook models

2. Mepps Aglia Spinner

A well-known and trusted brand, Mepps has been catching trout for several decades. Probably the most well-rounded choice for angling in any situation, Mepps has earned the reputation of pulling in some of the largest trout in the water. 

  • Classic gold chassis
  • Natural hairtail
  • Gold spoon
  • Treble hook models only

3. Panther Martin Spinner

With multiple styles and colors, the options are endless for the panther martin spinners. These dense and heavy-hitting spinners are an excellent choice for deep water and come in both single and treble hook options.

It can be more prone to snags than other spinnerbaits with no hairtail, but it is still a solid choice. 

  • Multiple styles and colors. 
  • Minimalist setup
  • Treble and Single hook setup

4. Blue Fox Vibrax

With its loyal following, the Blue Fox Vibrax spinner is a heavy hitter when angling for trout. Admitting unique vibrations to attract fish, this heavier spinner works well in deep rivers and lakes.

With a blade that weighs 1/8 of an ounce and comes in multiple sizes and colors, the Blue Fox Vibrax is a solid choice.


Spinner size can determine the species an angler may target. 

  • Anything below a 1/8 oz spinner targets Brook and small brown trout
  • 3/16-1/4 oz spinners work well with Regular Brown and Rainbow Trout
  • 3/8-7/16 oz target Large Rainbow and Brown Trout 
  • Anything 5/8 oz and above target Steelhead

Spinners have significant overlap with other species such as panfish, smallmouth bass, and walleye. Many of these fish have similar habitats, allowing anglers to try their luck if the trout are not biting.

Spinners are excellent lures when it comes to angling for trout. Though fishing for trout is most often correlated to a fly and fly rod, a regular rod and reel with a spinner will be more than adequate to seal the deal. 

Retrieval and casting techniques may vary depending on the environment, but top-level spinners remain the same.

With the correct spinner, a good piece of water, and a little luck, anglers will have a stringer full of trout in no time. As always, good luck and stay safe on the water.

Jacob Pelle
Fishing Expert
Jake Pelle is a third-generation outdoorsman and Eagle Scout. He grew up fishing ponds and rivers in South Louisiana and Mississippi and graduated to fishing brackish/marsh and coastal waters for redfish, drum, and speckled trout. When not on a flat range, he can be found with rod and reel in hand searching for the next greatest fishing hole in South Louisiana.
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Articles » Freshwater Fishing » Spinner Fishing for Trout (2022 Complete Guide)