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Trolling is one of the most effective trout fishing methods. It allows you to get your lure in front of larger fish that live in deeper water, and it allows you to cover more ground than other types of fishing. But which types of lures are the best trout trolling lures?
In this article we’ll cover the kinds of trout you can catch while trolling, which types of lures are best for trolling in different conditions, and the best trout trolling lures by lure category. If you’re looking for a complete trout trolling setup, be sure to check out our guides on the best trout fishing rods and trout fishing reels!
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Which Trout Can You Catch Trolling?
Depending on where you go trolling for trout, you can catch several different types of trout. We’ll quickly go through the different species you’re most likely to catch below.
Average size: 5 to 30 lbs.
Lake Trout are actually a type of freshwater char that was introduced to North America in the 1800s. Lake trout grow much larger than their other char relatives and are a great trout to troll for.
The largest recorded lake trout recorded weighed over 102 lbs! Lake trout live a long time compare to other trout species, with some Canadian lake trout living over 40 years old. Lake trout are a great species to target when trolling. Just be sure to troll at the correct speed: 1.5 to 3 mph.
Authors Note: In North America, lake trout tend to live in the northern United States and Canada. They are most common in lakes in Canada and Alaska but have spread to lakes in the northwest as well as the great lakes around Minnesota and Michigan.
Average size: 5 to 20 lbs.
Brown trout are not native to North America. They were introduced in 1883 and enjoy living in deeper lakes and water inlets. Brown trout often grow to be apex predators in lakes and are only outsized by very large lake trout. Brown trout eat many different types of insects and smaller fish. Sometimes they even eat frogs!
Average size: 3 to 10 lbs
Rainbow Trout are the most common freshwater trout in North America. Even though they’re mostly found in rivers and streams, they can sometimes be found in lakes as well.
Rainbow trout can be identified by looking for a pink stripe on their sides, accompanied by many black and brown dots. Rainbow trout often grow to 4 or 6 lbs and eat many types of insects and nymphs.
What are the Best Trout Trolling Lures?
Alright, so what are the best types of trout trolling lures? As with many things, the answer is that it depends. The time of year you’re fishing can make a big difference. We’ll cover the best types of lures for all situations.
The real key when trolling isn’t necessarily lure selection, but getting your lures to the correct depth so that they are within striking range of the trout.
While certain lures dive to certain depths due to their design and the amount of line you have between you and the lure, another great way to get shallow running lures deeper is to put weight on the line using 3-way swivels or dipsy divers.
Best Trout Trolling Lures for Spring
This is the time when trout are coming out of a sedentary period and are feeding aggressively. They can be found in more shallow areas of lakes as the water temperature is favorable during most hours of the day.
If you fish the Great Lakes area, you can also find them near the mouths of tributary rivers, where they will be either going into the river to spawn or back to the lake after they finish spawning.
Authors Note: Look for sand bars and gravel beds that are close to deeper parts of the lake. Later in the season, these areas will be too warm for most types of trout, but in the spring they enjoy feeding on the smaller creatures that live in the shallows.
The best trout trolling lures in the spring are the lures with the most action. Trout are feeling aggressive after coming out of winter and will strike lures that catch their attention or imitate the creatures they feed on.
There are several different types of presentations that work well for trout trolling in the spring. Traditional trolling at shallower depths (15 to 20 ft) can work well.
You should also focus on areas where the depth drops off rapidly. This is where large fish like to lurk when feeding on smaller fish in shallower water.
Best Trout Trolling Lures for Summer
In the summer, water temperatures rise above the most trout’s preferred temperature of ~50 degrees. This means that trout will head towards deeper water where it’s more comfortable for them to hunt. Trout are also not as active in the summer months as they try to conserve energy.
The best trout trolling lures in the summer are Needlefish spoons and wedding ring lures. You should use lures in colors that aren’t as bright as the lures you used in spring. Mack’s Lures Double Whammy’s and gold/silver spoons work well in deeper water.
The best presentation of these lures for lake trout are trolling at the new depths they like to hang out in. This is often between 30 and 60 feet. Because the trout are in deeper water, you’ll most likely need to use a downrigger to reach them.
If you’re trolling in a large lake, you can also add a medium-sized flasher 3 to 4 feet behind your lure. This will attract curious trout from other parts of the lake as you troll past them. And don’t forget to troll slowly (1.5 to 3 mph).
Use your electronics to find fish suspended in deep water. You can find any species of trout suspended in the lake basin, but for species like lake trout, it is a necessity to fish the open water, as they will be in the thermocline, and in the deepest areas of the lake.
Best Trout Trolling Lures for Fall
Fall brings the spawning season for many types of trout. Fish usually feed heavily right before spawning, so the month of August and September can be great trolling months for trout. During this feeding season, trout often come up from the depths of where they spent summer and feed in shallower water again (15 to 30 feet).
Best Trout Trolling Lures for Winter
Fishing for trout in the winter can be difficult, and trolling usually isn’t an option. We recommend skipping trying to troll and switch to ice fishing. Need an ice fishing reel? Check out our ice fishing reel buying guide!
Many areas are covered with ice in the winter months, and as a result, you will not be trolling, but vertical jigging, unless you live far enough south of the ice belt.
Trolling for trout requires patience and the correct setup. If you’re still figuring out your trout fishing setup, be sure to check out our guide on the best trout fishing rods and best trout fishing reels. Once you hook into a monster trout, however, it all becomes worth it. Hopefully, you now know what the best trout trolling lures and are ready to rock and roll. If you catch a monster trout using our advice hit us up in the comments below!