Ten proven lures that catch monster trout.
You can catch giant trout on lures, though some produce better than others, and a few lead the pack when it comes to catching bigger fish. Several of these may not invoke thoughts of trout fishing, but take my word for it, these things catch big fish. Give any of my top 10 lures for monster trout a throw this season and I’m pretty sure you’ll come around quick.
1.) Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow
There are many effective stickbaits out there, but the Yo-Zuri 3-1/2-inch, 1/4-ounce Pins Minnow is one of, if not the best of its type for mega trout, in fact this lure will catch numbers of virtually any size trout. I use the floating model, and the way to really increase its effectiveness is to make it dart and slide suddenly and sharply right and left, with repeated sharp jerks of the rod tip on a tight line. I have not seen another stickbait that darts and slashes like this one. Pause slightly at times to let the lure really slide, and use this darting presentation during the entire retrieve. The sudden darting and sliding is a strike-triggering movement that works on the trout’s instinct to reflexively grab something displaying this motion. It’s actually a great way to work many lures, not just the Pins Minnow or other stick baits. Any finish works well for this lure, but my favorite is brook trout with its flashy gold sides, metallic green top, and bright orange belly.
2.) Yozuri 3DS Minnow
For some reason, this shad-shaped plug catches fish. The lure suspends beautifully when you crank it under the surface and pause. It just stays there. Use a straight, steady retrieve (the lure displaying its soft wiggle) interrupted by pauses, or use one or a short series of rod tip twitches broken up by intermittent pauses. Try varying the length of these delays to see what the trout prefer that day. Perhaps big trout see this lure as a stunned baitfish or one that’s weak and in trouble, something offering easy pickings. The hit may be hard or feel like a soft “tick” of your line. Be ready for both. Either way, set that hook. The 2-3/4-inch (1/4 ounce) dives to about 2-1/2 feet, and the 4-incher (5/8 ounce) goes down to 6 feet. I like the gold finish with a black top, but every finish works well.
3.) Nichols Flutter Spoon
We already know that flutter spoons work well only for freshwater black bass and salt stripers. Well, guess what? They’re big trout getters too. That Nichols lure has the best action of any spoon on a straight retrieve I’ve ever seen, let alone on the flutter. To use it as a flutter spoon, cast it out, retrieve for a short swim, and then pause to let it flutter down. It will just flicker so enticingly as it drops. Let it go all the way to the bottom, then lift it off with a sweep of the rod or a short burst of very quick reeling, then let it flutter back down on a near tight or tight line, keeping your lure near the bottom for the length of your retrieve. You catch big trout by fishing near the bottom of a stream or lake. This is an excellent lure for fishing in that zone. If you want to retrieve it straight in the upper or middle water column, it’s productive that way too. Again, any color or finish works. I like chrome, gold, or white. Try the 4-3/4-inch size. Even a small trout, let alone a mega, will eat a big lure.
4.) Rabbit Strip Jiggy
One of my favorite trout streamers (and one the best baitfish imitation flies for any species) is the Rabbit Strip Jiggy, which comes in around 3-3/4 inches which can also be used as a lure, as is. It’s just a Zonker strip (thin rabbit strip) tied on a #4 medium shank hook with a double tungsten cone head (two medium or large size cones), and it’s deadly! Giving it max action by repeatedly jigging it short and sharp makes it even deadlier. Rabbit strips inherently have great action, and when combined with a flexible moving “strip and jigging” action, it’s something to behold. Fish that Jiggy along the bottom for best results. Keep in mind it can also be effectively used throughout the water column. Use a light to ultra-light spinning rod. My favorite colors are white, fluorescent pink, brown, purple, and olive. With white, you can most easily follow your lure underwater to control its whereabouts and action and it also makes it easier to tell when a trout eats it. Sometimes the lure will disappear suddenly as you watch it on retrieve without feeling anything. Set the hook, it’s a fish! If you don’t tie flies, get someone who does tie a few up for you.
5.) Slug-Go With Darter Head
Fish this famous soft plastic near the bottom. Cast it out, let it go to the bottom, then use repeated sharp rod tip lifts or twitches with a slight pause to let the Slug-Go dart left and right. That action triggers the strike. I like the 1/8-ounce Gamakatsu Darter Head with the 4-inch lure and a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce Darter Heads (darter head comes to a pointed head) with the 4-1/2-inch Slug-Go in olive, watermelon/red flake, white, and pink colors.
6.) Albie Snax
The soft plastic that’s known to be one of the great false albacore lures of all time, the Albie Snax, is also a tremendous trout lure. Twitching this lure produces incredible darting action with a seductive slide as it glides, the Snax performs this action as well (or better than) as any lure out there. Stellar lure designer, Alex Peru’s creation triggers strikes all day long and it casts like a missile too. Use a 3/0 single hook at the head (just like with albies), try a cross stream, up and across, or upstream presentation (which is recommended for all the lures listed in this article as well), and give it lots of action. Try this lure in deeper slow water too. Be prepared for what appears to be a big dark submarine showing up behind your lure. This lure draws fish up to it from below. Fish the Snax at all depths, including on or just below the surface and a few feet down. I like white, sand eel, pink, and dark pink in the 5-inch model.
7.) Nymph Or Egg Fly Under A Float
Why leave that incredibly effective nymph and egg (Glo Bug) fishing for just the fly fishermen? You can fish almost the same way they do with a spinning rod, and all you need is a small adjustment to do so. Nymphs and eggs catch huge amounts of trout, and plenty of outsized ones. Here’s what to do: buy some fly fishing tippets (which come in small spools) in 6X, 5X, 4X, and 3X diameter sizes; 6X is very thin, 3X is thicker. You’ll probably use mostly 5X and 4X. Use this as your leader attached to your main line. Get some split shot in various small sizes — B, BB, and smaller too. Get a small bobber or float just small enough to cast well and put this on your leader. Your leader should be long enough to fish the egg or nymph on the bottom, adjust your float to the depth of the stream. You want that nymph to drift along the bottom.
You’ll need to add just enough splitshot (positioned 8 to 18 inches above the fly) to allow the nymph to drift along just over the bottom easily and unimpeded. The shot should be positioned the same distance from the float as the depth of the stream. Now cast that rig up and across the stream allowing it to drift freely, with no tension. You want a “drag-free” drift as if nothing is attached to your fly. Keep as much line out of the water and above float as you can, and make sure your line is laid mostly upstream of the float as it drifts. You’ll know your rig set to the proper depth, when you see an occasional twitch or hesitation of the float as it drifts. A good drift will have your float drifting at the same speed as the current or perhaps just a little slower. When the float goes under, twitches, stops, moves in a new direction, or even “acts funny”, set the hook. It’s often a fish. Try size #12 – 16 Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Green Caddis, #18 or 20 Black Zebra Nymphs, and some small #12 – 16 egg flies. This is an easy way to fish, you can effectively and easily fish water that’s “close in” to you with it, and it can simply be deadly. It also works great for steelhead.
8.) Rapala Husky Jerk
Another “stick bait” that’s incredibly “big trout” effective and good sized. It suspends too. Fish it by jerking that rod tip sharply and repeatedly. Let the lure dart, flash, and slide in all directions, and be ready. The colors I like are silver, gold, and fire tiger in 5-1/2 inches. Many big trout hunters like this lure. Another favorite similar to this is the Gag’s Grabbers 5-inch Mambo Minnow.
9.) Rapala Countdown Minnow
An old favorite that’s still effective. A “fat” stickbait that sinks. Cast it across, up and across, or slightly down and across the stream, and jig it heavily and repeatedly during your retrieve with sharp rod tip movements or quick lifts of the tip. The plug has a narrow, fast wiggle that almost buzzes on the jigs and fast lifts. Another effective presentation is to reel slowly and steadily when the trout are feeding softly. This lure and that jigging retrieve are most effective in heavy, fast, deeper water, like in runs and at the heads of pools. Try gold, silver, fluorescent red back, brown trout, or rainbow trout finishes in the 2-3/4 and 3-1/2-inch sizes.
10.) Lefty’s Deceiver Tied On A Weighted Head
Here’s another great fly pattern that can be used as a lure. Tie this long, iconic fish-shaped pattern on different weighted heads ranging from 1/8- to 1/2-ounce in sizes from 4 to 7 inches. A big lure easily fished deep, where many big trout reside. Cast it out, let it go to the bottom, then give it small, short, bouncy jigs (those tail feathers will just wave and wiggle irresistibly), or try a heavy, sharp “snap-jigging” retrieve to trigger strikes. Make sure you’re fishing that lure along the bottom. It works well in lakes too. Well-designed “fly-jigs” are incredible lures and are grossly underused. White and olive are my go-to colors.
That’s 10 lures that stand a good chance of hooking a mega trout, perhaps even the trout of a lifetime. Most will also catch big numbers of trout of all sizes. Four of the 10 – 3DS Minnow, Slug-Go, Albie Snax, and weighted Deceiver – are lures that aren’t fished much for trout. Most of the fish haven’t seen them before, and this is important. Fish become educated to the sight of people, predators, boats, boat traffic, and equally as much, lures and flies. Big fish (of perhaps all species) accrue a longer life of education and are hard to hook as a result. What worked wonders just a few years ago might not work so well now, especially in heavily-fished waters.
To catch a big trout, it pays to fish where other anglers don’t, often when they don’t, and when you do that, you’re often casting to fish that don’t see as many anglers, flies and lures. Of course, you want to fish where there are big trout. The more big trout in a fishery, the better your chances of hooking one. That just makes sense.
Give some of these lures a try this season and see what happens. Keep casting, have confidence, concentrate, and keep giving that lure good action. You will be rewarded!