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Best Lures for Rainbow Trout – What to Look For
The trick when choosing the best rainbow trout lures is to go back to basics and take a look at each element that will bring you success. The aim is to tick as many ‘boxes’ as you can while choosing.
What are those ‘boxes’?
Well, it goes a little something like this.
What Lures do Rainbow Trout Like?
On a good day, you’ll catch rainbow trout on just about anything. But, as a general rule, you are going to want to satisfy one or two general criteria.
You’ll want a lure that:
Looks like something the trout would naturally encounter.
Triggers an instinctive (and highly aggressive) response from the rainbow trout.
Or a combination of both of the above!
Trout are extremely aggressive, territorial, and predatory. If it moves and they can see it, there is a good chance that they will have a go at eating it!
What Lures to Use for Rainbow Trout Fishing?
Ah, the million-dollar question.
Look, I’ll level with you.
Rainbow trout change their minds more than my ex-wife changes her boyfriend, so there isn’t any single lure that is going to work all day, every day.
So, what’s the answer.
Your best bet is to take a selection of a few lures. That way, you have got all bases covered, and if something isn’t working, you can quickly switch until you find something that does.
How to choose what’s in that selection of the best lures for rainbow trout?
Have a browse below at the things I look for, then glance at my list of good lures for trout fishing to see which ticks the most boxes for you. Here’s what to look for…
Considerations when Choosing a Rainbow Trout Lure
Movement and Action
This is the first port of call when choosing practically any trout fishing lure.
Sure, you can catch on static imitative lures, but you’ll find that something that swims, wriggles, spins, flips, and thrashes will far outfish anything that you just throw out and leave.
Look for some of the following features to ensure you are getting the most out of your rainbow trout lure:
Bushy tails made of things like hair or marabou.
Paddle tails with soft plastics.
A combination of all of the above.
The best color for rainbow trout lures? Well, if they can see it, they’ll go for it. Depending on the mood of the fish, you might find that a certain color on the day ‘switches them on’ regardless of what your lure looks like.
Here are some of the colors you might want in your rainbow trout lure selection:
Iridescent (a posh term for silver and shiny)
Even in murky water, you can still catch.
Trout are masters at sensing tiny vibrations made by small fish. Spinner blades are perhaps the most successful at recreating this ‘buzz’, but that said, anything that creates a disturbance in the water will work just as well.
Sinking or Surface?
Want a top tip?
When you arrive at the lake, don’t cast out straight away. Just sit, and watch.
What do you see?
If the answer is nothing, then you should be reaching for lures that sink 99 times out of 100.
If the water is broken with the occasional splash, you know that the rainbow trout are in the upper areas of the water.
You aren’t going to know this until you arrive on the day. So, my advice to you is to take both surface and sinking trout lures to ensure you are equipped for either eventuality.
Remember above when I talked about choosing something that matches what the trout might naturally encounter? While it is fun to catch trout on something that looks like it flew in on a spaceship, you’ll tend to find better success rates if you closely ‘match the hatch’.
Anything that looks a little like the following will put you on the right track:
I’d say anything around an inch is the biggest you will want to go. Rainbow trout don’t have giant mouths, and they are slightly wary, so anything too big is just going to put them off.
It is always important to remember. You can catch both bigger and smaller fish with small lures. But, if you go too big with your lure, there is a good chance that you will be putting yourself out of the running for the smaller fish.
I guess it comes down to which you want, quality or quantity? You’ll find with smaller lures that you can have both simultaneously, provided you choose correctly.
Ok, with all of the above in mind, here are some great examples of the kind of things that I go for.
You won’t go far wrong with a “Mepps” spinner when it comes to practically any predatory species. You can consider these the ‘original’ brand.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I love buying US-made when I can, and these definitely tick this box.
I love the solid brass bodies, which offer a perfect casting weight when paired with a decent spinning rod.
I also love that I get a selection of colors for a single purchase. You’ll find that this set includes nearly every color I mentioned above. (Top tip, the black, and green is deadly for rainbow trout).
Some of the spinners even have two blades!
Plenty of variety in a single pack.
High-quality USA made construction.
The original and best trout spinners.
They aren’t what I’d call ‘cheap’ rainbow trout lures.
If you are fishing catch and release, look elsewhere, trebles are terminal for rainbow trout.
The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a gap in the above list.
There were no pink lures. Well, you won’t go wrong with this for something a little different.
This hot pink ‘squid’ with an attached spinning blade is exactly the kind of thing rainbow trout love.
Alright, it looks a bit like an alien, but when you’ve got your rod bent over double and your arm is aching from catching a few monsters, you won’t care.
I like that it is a single hook. This is an ideal lure for catch and release fishing if you crush the barb. It would work independently, but the spinning blade adds that all-important flash and vibration that gets the trout’s juices flowing.
Yeah, casting weight. You’ll have to rig this under a drilled bullet. In all honesty, it is much better utilized as a trolling lure off the back of a boat or fishing kayak.
Great in poor water clarity conditions.
Plenty of movement.
Single hook, perfect for catch and release.
After a few attacks (which you will get), I’m unsure how long the rubber skirt will last.
I wish it was weighted for casting.
If rainbow trout fishing from a boat, you will need one of these for trolling. Hot pink is one of those colors that either works or doesn’t there is no in-between. Start the day with this, and you can work via a process of elimination from then on…
You are sort of getting a few lures in one here. The brass orange and gold body resembles a grub, and this is paired up with a bright orange blade that should attract a decent amount of attention.
Again this is a single hook lure, meaning it won’t unduly harm the trout’s delicate mouth, and the substantial beads and low profile mean it should cast with a decent amount of range.
Mack’s lures come in a range of different colors too, so if orange and gold aren’t for you, try and see if you can find a hot pink or chartreuse green one instead! Or go for a range. They are super cheap!
Plenty of action and movement.
I’m not sure I like that the hook is attached via monofilament. It seems just a little too ‘budget.’
The simplest solutions will work just as anything ‘technological,’ and this is proof. I love to fish this one on lakes ‘on the drop’, letting it sink all the way down and then twitching it up. Give it a go. It works! This is a technique that is particularly effective when ice fishing.
They aren’t the best parents and will quite happily tear into a small school of trout fry if they are hungry.
This lure is designed to represent that killer instinct that even extends to their own kind. With a (heavy) pearlescent body and the dots to match, this is sure to trigger something territorial within the trout, and you’ll be on the other end of the line waiting.
The holographic finish is dazzling in bright light, but this will work well on dark days, too, as it will make the most of any available light. The blue holo is another worth adding if you are after a few rainbow trout lures.
Excellent casting weight.
I wish the treble was attached with a split ring to be easily replaced.
Panther Martin is another US company that I rate highly. There are plenty of color options too. Some even include an additional bucktail as well as the blade. If you are looking for quality and a rainbow trout lure that will last ages, you are in the right place.
And they don’t get much darker than this. The black fury range is so named because the substantial (and very weighty) blades are painted black. To aid visibility, they are adorned with a few colored dots that will drive the trout insane.
I love the hair tails shrouding the hook. Each is color-matched to the bead and dots on the blades.
These spinners look a little like a salmon fly, which should give you an idea of what they are meant to catch.
Big rainbow trout.
Perfect weight for casting.
Variety in a single pack.
Again, quality from Mepps.
A bit pricey for only three lures, but, that said, the quality is as good as you will get.
Alright, so they aren’t the cheapest, but I promise, these lures will work. Another that is absolutely ideal for rainbow trout fishing on lakes.
If you insist on only catching big trout, you will need a lure that is a little more substantial.
This is where it is at.
Rapala is a big name brand that excels in producing high-quality fishing lures, and this one is no exception.
It dives, bobs, and weaves with a deep diving vane that will get it down where it needs to be. Stop retrieving, and it will float back up, allowing you to easily fish a range of depths. This lure is designed to roll onto its side when you stop it, perfectly imitating a wounded baitfish.
The pearlescent tail also adds extra movement, which will trigger a strike.
Classic Rapala rattle for increased attention.
Split ring hooks for easy replacement.
It’s not cheap. A selection of 5 is going to get a little costly.
I tend to treat myself to a Rapala or two as a ‘one off’. To be honest, there are more effective trout lures out there, but this is great when fishing big water or boat fishing, especially.
Looking for an imitation lure that also has elements of a spinner?
This is what you need.
Trout do attack in open water but are just as at home in weed beds, and you are going to need a clever solution if you don’t want to spend your day snagged up. The micro spinner adds plenty of vibration and serves another useful purpose. It keeps the hook pointing up, clear of any weed and the bottom.
Big trout tend to hunker down where they can’t be seen, so pulling this through the weeds might be the best way to try and bag one!
It also has a fair bit of weight, meaning you can be pretty ambitious with your casting.
Great for fishing over weeds.
Bright orange body is perfect for murky conditions.
Ideal if hunting bigger fish.
When using it, I got one or two missed hits as trout went for the spinner blade, not the hook.
It might avoid weed, but due to the double arm, it does occasionally get tangled.
This isn’t the cheapest rainbow trout lure I’ve seen, but it is one of the best! While your buddies are struggling, you’ll find that these produce real results. I wish there were a few more colors, but I guess you can’t have everything. Fish these around dawn or dusk for the best success with trout.
You’ll find plenty of choices to cover you in practically every situation in my list of the best rainbow trout lures. Get a few bright, a few dark, and ensure you’ve got plenty of movement, and you should be good to go.