HuntnFish has spent many years on the water fishing and has caught nearly every species of fish in Washington State.
I remember when I got my first fishing pole. I remember my first tackle box, landing net, and of course my first fish. From there it only grew. Eventually, I filled that first tackle box, and then another, and another. Then I started carrying tackle trays in a backpack but even that ran out of space. Even I'll admit I rarely use half that stuff in any of my backpacks, but I like feeling prepared.
The more I thought about it though, I realized that there was only a small handful of trout lures I ever used. So here they are, my five best trout-catching lures. Also be sure to check out my Top 5 Best Trout Baits.
5. Worden's Flatfish
This is one of the first lures I ever fished with. It was always a favorite of my dad and way back when, when he was rigging the line, this was what he usually chose. They have caught me numerous trout as well as bass, crappie, walleye and other game fish. The reason I have this listed in fifth place is that they can be tricky to use. They are typically too lightweight to cast without adding weight to your presentation, and have a tendency to "roll" rather than wobble when weighted.
I've had the best luck using a series of snapshot strung at least 18" above the lure. When these lures really excel is when trolling. They can be rigged deep with weights or by using lead core line, but often my best luck has been slow trolling them along the surface, just fast enough to get them "kicking" on the surface. You can't beat top-water strikes.
As for my favorite colors and sizes, I'd have to go with Frog pattern in the 1 1/2 inch size. Option two would be the same size in solid Gold.
4. Mepps Aglia
Mepp's Aglia lures may be the top-producing trout spinners in the world. The blades rotate even at very slow retrieval rates, and their compact design allows for far-reaching casts for the shore-bound angler. When trolling, I find that they tend to ride up in the water column and need to be weighted to be fished effectively. (Contrary to the flatfish, spinners are very ineffective surface lures—the blade just won't spin.)
As for colors, my favorite is the original model with the bare gold spoon. Option two would be the same with a bare silver spoon. As for size, I would first reach for the 1/8 oz. Under most circumstances, this is the best middle ground for size and weight. In deeper or faster water, 1/4oz might be a better bet. In gin clear water or small streams, I might size down to a 1/16oz.
3. Wooly Bugger
So I agree that this is kind of the odd man (or bug) out in this list, but it's a must have. Fishing one on spinning gear takes a little more rigging than with a fly rod, but it can be done, and if done correctly will prove very effective. The most common way is to attach a clear casting bobber above the fly. This serves a dual purpose, it is your weight and strike indicator.
In most cases, I will attach the bobber about 3 feet from the fly. The further the bobber is from the fly, the more natural the presentation will appear. This setup can either be still fished or cast and retrieved. Keep in mind that a fly has no inherent action of its own, so it will help to vary your retrieve speed and give the fly an occasional twitch to make it come alive. When the bobber takes a dip, well you know that drill.
As for color, I would say olive is my favorite followed closely by black and brown. If these colors seem too bland for your taste, chances are you can find a Wooly Bugger in everything from chartreuse to puce (Although I can't say much for how well these colors catch fish). And size, I'd say #6 and #8 mostly.
2. Rapala Original Floater
It almost pains me to give Rapala Original Floater second place. If this list took all fish species into account, it would probably take the No. 1 slot, but for trout, he'll take second. These lures can be fished in more ways than I can count. They are rather light, but cast easily enough on a lightweight trout setup.
When retrieving this lure, I reel at a constant speed, and occasionally twitch the rod tip towards the lure, creating slack in the line. This will cause the Rapala to pause and hang momentarily in the water. Often, this pause is exactly what a trailing predator trout is looking for to trigger a bite. Additionally, these lures prove very effective on the end of any trolling setup.
Favorite model: F7. (The F stands for "Floating," the 7 is the size)
Favorite color: Rainbow trout. Option two would be the gold (black back, gold belly).
1. Panther Martin
To be more precise, the Panther Martin spinner (they are known for their spinner but make a variety of other lures now). I love this lure! In fact, I have a pretty spendy spinning setup that I have devoted just to this lure; it never comes off (except to change it to another size maybe). I would say 80% of the time when targeting trout somewhere new, I will try this lure first. In my book, this is the best all-around trout lure ever made.
What I like about it:
- The "through the blade" spinner design is by far the most reliable in my experience.
- The large blades move a lot of water, you can feel the "thump, thump, thump" of the rotating blade right up through your rod. This way, you know that the lure is really working.
- The compact design allows for tremendous casting radius and allows the lure to work deep in streams.
- Can be trolled without any additional weight
- They catch all kinds of fish.
- They have worked practically everywhere I have fished them.
- They are pretty cheap.
Favorite color: Black body with green spots (yellow spots work alright too) with a gold blade. Option two would be yellow body with red dots with a silver blade.
Favorite size: Again 1/8 oz is my favorite.
I Want to Hear From You!
I would love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below, I'd be glad to help!
Questions & Answers
Question: I've caught more trout on Rooster Tails and Phoebes than any other lures. Why aren't they on the list?
Answer: Rooster Tails and Phoebes are both great trout lures! I made a list of the 5 trout lures that have caught me the most fish, but it's of course biased a little bit by the places I fish and the types of trout I am fishing for. When I worked at a fishing shop we joked with customers that the lure that catches the most fish is the one you have tied to the end of your line. If these Rooster Tails and Phoebes are catching you the most trout I say keep using them!
Question: Do you ever throw any fish back? Catch and release!
Answer: All the time! When trout fishing I catch and release more trout than I keep. When catch and release fishing, I encourage people to use single-point barbless hooks, as it causes less damage to the fish's mouth, and increases their odds of survival. Additionally, always wet your hands before handling a fish you plan to release to help prevent damaging the fish's skin and limit the amount of time the fish is out of the water. If you do all these things, the fish will have a much higher chance of recovery post-catch.
Brian S. on June 27, 2020:
Always had great luck with Rooster Tails as a young man. Yellow and white really caught the fish's eye.
Ryan Moore on January 07, 2020:
Anybody ever try a super duper? They have a "u" shaped body and have an iridescent color. I've had good luck with them.
Phill on August 26, 2019:
#1 Trout Magnet in white
#2 Trout Magnet in mealworm
#3 Trout Magnet in bison
#4 Trout Magnet in pink
#5 Crappie Magnet in white
Mike Waara on May 27, 2019:
My go to spinner is definitely the Panther Martin. I like the florescent green blade, black body w/green dots. Then the gold blade, black body, yellow dots, next silver blade with yellow body. These are great spinners. I use the flat fish too. i also like the Bluefox spinners with their vibrax body.
Good topic you chose to write. Its funny cause were similar in that i carry too much tackle when i only use a handful of go to lures, be it for trout or bass fishing.
Sam on April 19, 2019:
Favourite for trolling is the 3W's.
Willow leaf, wedding band and worm
Blane on March 24, 2019:
This is a pretty good list but try the trout magnet with a tm bobber it wont fail you and you can catch all species of trout they work good in cold weather
aManAndHisRod on November 27, 2018:
The list is solid. You prob have 3 of my top 5 favorites as well. Panther Martins are very hard to compete with form shore.
Momma Nonna on November 01, 2018:
OK. I'm a brand new fisherwoman - finally retired so I have time to fish. My question is: Do you put bait on the hook parts of these lures, spinners, etc.?
huntnfish (author) from Washington on September 07, 2018:
I completely agree, the Kastmaster is a great lure! Probably one of my favorite spoon styles, and definitely a lure worth having in the tacklebox. I've also used them very successfully vertical jigging with bait while ice fishing.
William McCabe on September 06, 2018:
A great spoon style lure is the kastmaster, in Chrome (generic three pack possibly made by southbend )low cost, effective, easy to fish,no line twist and good cast distance.
huntnfish (author) from Washington on September 06, 2018:
Glad you've had luck with it! It really is a great lure, almost always my first cast at a new lake or stream.
Brent on September 04, 2018:
The Panther Martin, specifically the one you’ve shown is hard to take off the line. I have had great success catching brookies with this spoon!!
Claude lawson on April 08, 2018:
I have never used any of your top five lures here in Pennsylvania all I have used is live minnows trout magnets and half of a night crawler. But I will get those lures this week you can bet and give them a good try in the next 2 months thanks liked your article alot
Bob Chapman on March 14, 2018:
Best trout lure out there is a fishgrub spinner in candy Raspberry or black and gold
Junebug on January 19, 2018:
Spoons are not on this list. Little Cleo's are my go-to lure and I recommend using it in either silver and blue or gold and something else.
Travis Tarr on May 05, 2017:
Number 1. Acme Phoebe
cake my on January 17, 2017:
you should add the fly to this list
Eric Larson on September 03, 2016:
In the last four weeks Panther Martins (Mostly Gold body and blade) have worked on Saugey, Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and the occasional Brook Trout. Best spinner ever except for the line twisting part.
CastMasters for a few minutes at the end of the day to straighten out the line, never seem to actually catch fish on them.
Jason on July 19, 2016:
Very helpful post. Thanks!
a on May 02, 2016:
A good selection of lures you have here.
I like a rapala fo5 in gold for deeper pools, a vibric rooster tail for most other applications, black being the top color.
Some small spoons are also good to have, a small pheobe being my favorite.
baitrodreel on August 17, 2015:
I've never actually used the Flatfish lures before- I'll have to pick some up and give them a try. Great point on trolling with Mepps. I love using Aglia's when trout fishing but admittedly only use them when shore fishing, not trolling. Here are some other lures that you haven't listed but I think is worth giving a try when fishing for trout. Great article! A lot of swim and crank baits here. I personally love Mepps Aglia. http://www.baitrodreel.com/best-trout-lures-the-ul...
shawn002 from USA on January 19, 2014:
Well nice post.. Well done. I think the best trout fishing need really good tackle and trout lures.
Mr Archer from Missouri on July 27, 2012:
Roostertails are a favorite, as are a fly I tie that I call "Big Ugly". Looks like nothing in the stream, but for whatever reason, makes the big trout really mad, and they strike repeatedly. The only other "lure" you left off was the Garden Hackle. You know, worms! But, I only use them if my son and I are after dinner. Otherwise, it's for fun, and fly fishing. Check out my hub review of "A River Runs Through It" if you want. Great movie, better book, tremendous author.
huntnfish (author) from Washington on June 30, 2012:
@Martin, I generally wouldn't, for the spinner to fish effectively you need constant tension at the right angle to keep the blade moving. If snagging bottom is the main concern here, I would switch to a lighter weight, which should ride higher in the water column.
@Trout Slayer, I couldn't agree more, that "Bee" Panther Martin kills. You can never have enough, always a great go to choice in unfamiliar water!
Trout Slayer on April 26, 2012:
The Panther Martin (blk/ylw 'Bee' pattern) should be number one on your list...if, you are fishing streams, creeks, or rivers. Many lures go in and out of fashion over the years, the PM has consistently landed me more fish than any other lure during my 20+ years of fishing trout!
It does work in lakes, but not as effectively...my number one lake lure would be the 1/8oz Thomas Bouyant (silver or gold). This lure has consistently produced the largest number of trout for me while fishing trout in lakes and ponds.
Martin on April 12, 2012:
Do you use Bobbers/floaters with the rooster tail in low water rivers?
Mobeen on January 17, 2011:
Yes you are right, one thing i want to add, for a slow moving or still water Mepps agila is the Best but for fast current i feel the wordens rooster tail spinner(willow blade) is the best.
Chris Cliff on October 26, 2010:
Definitely agree on a couple of your choices there. The Panther Martin is one of my absolute favorites for fishing for trout in rivers, and when I am trolling, floating Rapalas are my first choice of the day.