Rainbow trout are one of the most prized fish among anglers, and trout fishing, in general, is considered an adventure, a form of art, a type of angling that’s not exactly for beginners. So, here are a few particulars about the rainbow trout habitat, angling techniques for trout, baits and tackle.
Where to Catch Rainbow Trout
Rainbow trout prefer cold water streams and lakes. They can be caught in small to moderately large streams, with fast or moderate flow and shallow waters, usually with gravel beds and riffle-pool sequences. They tolerate water temperatures between 32°F (0°C) to 70°F (21°C), but their favorite water temperature range is between 55°F-60°F (12°C-15°C). When it comes to lakes, they prefer moderately deep lakes, with a fair amount of vegetation and shallows. Also, for the trout population of a lake to be self-sustaining, the lake must be connected with at least one gravelly river, for their migration and spawning.
Trout Fishing Techniques
In general, rainbow trout fishing is active fishing, done with a single rod, requires stalking and moving around. And since rainbow trout prefer shallow waters, moving through the water stream is more effective, giving the angler better casting possibilities.
To most anglers, trout fishing coincides with fly fishing, this being the most used method for catching rainbow trout. Various types of flies can be used, wet or dry, the tackle including a fly rod and reel, and fly line. In general, fly fishing is practiced on small water streams.
Spinning is also a popular trout fishing method, however, is practiced in usually in rivers with moderate depths, or in lakes. Spinning for trout is best done with an ultra light or light spinning rod, spinning reel, various types of leaders, and lures of different types, sizes and colors, or wobbling dead bait, where it’s allowed. On larger lakes, where boats are allowed, trolling is also an option.
Of course, float fishing with live bait is also a possible method for catching trout, but this method is most used also on lakes. On small or moderate rivers, float fishing for trout may bring better results if trotting the bait downstream.
Flies, Lures and Live Bait for Rainbow Trout
Rainbow trout are predatory fish, and their main diet consists of insects, larvae, small fish, and small crustaceans, and fish eggs. In lakes, trout tend to be more piscivorous, while in small rivers, their main diet consists of insects. And among the insects, the main ones that the the rainbow trout diet include are caddis flies, mayflies, stoneflies and their larvae, grasshoppers and locusts. In general, whatever falls into the water and looks tempting, will be grabbed by a nearby trout.
Flies. Although trout are opportunists, sometimes they are quite difficult to catch, being very picky with their food. That’s why, when it comes to flies, it’s always best to start with the ones that resemble the insects in the area, the ones the trout commonly feed on, and depending on the area you’re at, you might as well ask the locals.
Anyway, here’s a bunch of flies that have worked for me: Quill Gordon, Light Cahill, Royal Wulff, Orange Fritz, Kate McLaren, Daddy Dry, Damsel Nymph, Bibbio, Clan Chief, Yellow Stone Fly, Wolly Worm, Gray Ghost, White and Black Marabou, Muddle Minnow, Spruce Flies and Muskrat.
Lures. There are 4 main types of lures that can bring great results for rainbow trout fishing: minnow plugs, in-line spinners, spoons and small gigs. For minnow plugs, a few names to go with would be: Strike King Bitsy Minnows (Gizzard Shad, Black Back/Chartreuse, Tennessee Shad or Crawfish), Rapala Minnows (X-Rap, Flat Rap, Husky Jerk, Countdown), Yo-Zuri Pin Minnows or Rebel (Minnows and Crawfish).
When it comes to spinners, Rooster Tails and Panther Martins are by far, some of the best spinning lures for trout. Among the spoons, Little Cleos, “LadyBug” Kamloopers, Mepps Syclops, or a 5-of-Diamonds.
If you want to use mini jigs, it’s best to go with white, grey or tan, for crystal-clear waters, and red-orange, for rainy weather, or for waters with lower visibility.
No matter what type of lure you use for rainbow trout, it’s best to keep it between 1/80 – 1/32 oz.
Live bait. As live bait, you can always use crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, or any insects and larvae that are present on the shorelines. Red worms, maggots and small baitfish are also great.
Rainbow Trout Tackle
Rods. Evidently if you’re fly fishing, you should use a fly rod. A few good choices would be: Okuma Crisium Graphite (2P), Okuma SLV Graphite (4P), Echo Carbon Fly Rods, Echo ION Fly Rods or Echo Classic (9′ 6wt), St. Croix Triumph Rainbow & Steelhead (9′ 6wt) or St. Croix Triumph Rainbow & Steelhead (8’6″ 5wt), Redington Redfly2 (9’6wt).
If you’re going with a spinning rod, one of 6′-8′, 2-8lb test, should do. Here are a few nice choices: Cabela’s Classic IM6 (nice, budget stick), Fenwick Eagle GT (7′, ML), G.Loomis GL2 (7’2″), G.Loomis GL3 (7′), Daiwa Strikeforce (7′) (also a nice, on-budget rod).
Reels. Always try to balance your rod with the reel you choose. And needless to say, a fly reel would be the best choice for fly fishing and a fly rod. Also, every reel should have at least a 75 yards spool capacity, and you should always bring an extra spool, just in case, if possible.
Line. Flies require fly line, and for trout, the fly line stands in the 4-7 line weight. It’s best though to match the line with the reel/rod that you’re going with.
Also, for spinning, lines between 4-8lb should do, fluorocarbon or monofilament.
Hooks. Never go for trout with hooks larger than No. 6. In fact, 8-10 are the best sizes. Also, depending on what trout you’re targeting, you can go as low as No. 14. The best I’d go with are the Gamakatsu hooks.