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Trolling Speed for Lake Trout: Pump the Brakes!

Now that summer is in full swing, one of our favorite pastimes is to hit the lake and troll for lake trout. In many freshwater lakes, lake trout are the largest fish you can fish for and have a healthy appetite during the summer months. We’ve already covered the best lake trout lures for each season, but what is the best trolling speed for lake trout? Glad you asked!

After many years fo trolling for lake trout among our community of fishermen, we’ve cataloged what trolling speeds get the most hookups for lake trout. In this article, we’ll go over the best speed to troll for lake trout as well as where you can catch lake trout, what the best bait for lake trout, and even which colors lake trout like depending on the weather. Let’s jump in!

What’s the Best Trolling Speed for Lake Trout?

The best trolling speed for lake trout is between 1.5 mph and 3 mph. Why not just one speed? Because the desired action changes depending on the type of lake trout lure you’re using and how deep of water you’re trolling in. In general, you’ll want to troll slower in deeper water and faster in shallower water. Anything above 3 mph is too fast! This is the most common mistake amateur lake trout fishermen make. You’re not fishing for a more aggressive hunter like musky or pike. 

Best Spoon Trolling Speed for Lake Trout

Probably the most common lure to use when trolling for lake trout, spoons are a great option for both large and small lake trout. We like to troll our lake trout spoons on the faster side of the lake trout trolling spectrum. Try and keep your boat between 2.5 mph and 3 mph when using spoons. 

As we mentioned earlier, if you’re trolling your spoon near the bottom you should slow down to 2.5 mph. This is because the lake trout that are hanging out in the deeper water most likely isn’t as energetic as middle and topwater fish. You want to entice them to bite without having to expend very much energy. 

Author Note: For trolling spoons in the middle of the water column, speed up to 3 mph. These lake trout are more likely to be actively feeding and will get excited seeing a faster-moving spoon.

Best Dodger Trolling Speed for Lake Trout

Another popular technique for trolling for lake trout is to use a dodger or flasher. Since dodgers put a lot more drag tension on your tackle, we recommend slowing down your lake trout trolling speed. The best dodger trolling speed for lake trout is between 1.5 mph and 2 mph. If you troll faster than 2 mph, you run the risk of tangling your line and losing the desired action on your lure.

If you’re using a multi-bladed dodger, you should try and keep your speed closer to 1.5 mph to prevent loading your tackle up with too much tension. For single-bladed dodgers, you can troll up to 2 mph for the desired action.

Best Swimbait Trolling Speed for Lake Trout

Swimbaits can be a great option in the spring and fall when lake trout tend to feed in shallower waters. If the water temperature is cool enough, you can even get away with not using a downrigger! Since most swimbaits require a certain level of speed to dive deep enough, the best trolling speed for lake trout when trolling swimbaits is is between 2 mph and 3 mph. 

Choosing the speed between 2 mph and 3 mph really depends on what depth the lake trout are at. This means that having a side imaging fish finder is crucial to trolling with swimbaits. Once you’ve determined the depth the lake trout are feeding at, adjust your speed to match the depth on your fish finder. 

What Are Lake Trout?

Lake Trout are actually a type of freshwater char that was introduced to North America many years ago. They are native to Canada and Alaska but have been introduced to most large bodies of water throughout the United States. Compared to other species of char, lake trout grow much larger. The largest recorded lake trout recorded weighed over 102 lbs! Lake trout are also a long-living fish with some Canadian lake trout living over 40 years old. Geneva, New York is the self-proclaimed “lake trout capital” of the world and has an annual lake trout fishing derby. 

What is the Best Bait for Lake Trout?

We’re partial to using artificial lures for lake trout, but some of the lake trout fishermen in our network swear by using corn as bait or worms. We’ve seen success adding one or two kernels of shoepeg corn to our trolling lures.

Author Note: We also recommend using a fishing scent such as Mikes Glo Scent to hide any foreign smells you may have imparted when rigging up your setup. Look for areas where fish flies or mayflies are near the surface as fish will often be nearby.

What Colors Do Lake Trout Like?

Lake trout like various colors depending on the weather and water visibility where you’re fishing.

  • Low visibility/deep water: For low visibility days or when fishing in deeper water, we like to use chrome, chartreuse, pink, and white lures. These color variations will ensure lake trout can see your lure and will help increase your range when trolling in deeper water.
  • Average visibility/middle water: For days with average visibility (partly cloudy) or when fishing in the middle of the water column, we like to use green, striped, and blue colored lures for lake trout.
  • High visibility/topwater: For sunny days or when trolling in the top 20 feet, we recommend using natural colored lures such as brown or silver. Since the lake trout will be able to see your lures from far away, you want to focus on convincing them that your lure is something they want to eat.

Lake Trout Trolling Tips

Before closing, we wanted to include some of our most important tips when trolling for lake trout. These are insights we’ve learned after trolling for many hours and learning from our collective fishing community. We would be remiss if not sharing the following techniques!

  • If you can, check with the local lake bait shop to see what has been working for people. There’s nothing like getting the inside scoop on what worked for fishermen that were just out on the water.
  • If you find the lake trout on your fish finder but aren’t getting any bites, try turning around and trolling past them going the opposite direction. Sometimes the change in direction is all that is needed to entice a bite!
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust your speed if you aren’t getting any action! We listed our favorite speeds for lake trout here as guidelines. Have we caught lake trout going faster or slower than the listed speeds? Absolutely! As with most fishing techniques, change what you’re doing after an hour or so if you aren’t getting any bites. 

Final Thoughts

Picking out the best trolling speed for lake trout can be difficult if you’ve never gone before. You’ll see boats trolling at many different speeds once you’re out on the water, and deciding on the correct speed yourself can prove difficult.

We hope that after reading this article you now feel more prepared for your next lake trout trolling trip. If you end up catching a monster, let us know about it in the comments below. You should also check out our guide on what lake trout tastes like.

Happy Hunting!


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