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Winter Trout Fishing with Spinners: The Ultimate Guide

Many fishermen believe that once the weather starts to go south in the fall, the fishing season is over. However, we’ve learned that this is just not true – especially with trout. Trout can be caught year-round and sometimes winter trout fishing with spinners is more productive than other seasons. So what’s the secret to winter trout fishing with spinners?

Glad you asked! In this article, we’ll go over the best techniques for winter trout fishing with spinners, as well as list some of our favorite spinners for you to use. These trout lures have caught us countless trout in the winter, and are a secret weapon when the weather goes south. They’re also great options when spinning for smaller steelhead.

We’ll also discuss how you should present your spinners when fishing in the winter. If you hadn’t guessed, you should change your technique in the winter vs the summer. We’ll go over all of this and more in this article. Let’s get started!

Winter Trout Fishing with Spinners: The Best Spinners

Let’s start by going over our favorite spinners to use when fishing for trout in the winter. Many of these lures are similar to spinners we would use in other seasons for trout. The biggest difference is that we tend to use lighter colors in the winter. You should use light colors in the winter because there tends to be less light.

Author Note: Less light means trout have a harder time seeing, which makes them more cautious. It also means you want to make it as easy as possible for them to see your lure. Here are our favorite spinners for winter trout fishing

Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Lure

The Blue Fox Vibrax spinner is our top spinner for winter fishing, no competition. We’ve caught more trout in the winter with this lure than any other spinner. The spinning action combined with the vibrations the lure makes while swimming through the water proves irresistible to all kinds of trout (especially rainbow trout and stocked trout). Pick the white, light blue, or green colored lures. You really can’t go wrong with the Blue Fox Vibrax spinner! 

Yakima Bait Wordens Original Rooster Tail Lure

The Yakima Bait Wordens Original Rooster Tail Lure is another timeless classic for winter trout spinning lures. Its sleek design allows you to cast it far even in the smallest winter trout-friendly sizes. If your Blue Fox spinners aren’t getting any bites, we often switch to a Yakima Bait Wordens Original Rooster Tail Lure. Our favorite colors are light green and light blue as well as silver.

Panther Martin Classic Spinning Lure

If the other two types of spinners don’t do it for you, there’s yet another time-tested brand you can choose: the Panther Martin Classic Spinning Lure. The Panther Martin Classic Spinning Lure is slightly stockier than the Yakima Rooster Tail spinners, which makes it a great option when fishing for smaller trout or Bluegill in the winter. Get it in light green with black dots or white with green dots.

Panther Martin Trout Annihilator Kit

If you’re looking to start your winter trout spinner collection off with a lot of lures, we recommend getting the Panther Martin Trout Annihilator Kit. It comes with 36 spinning lures in a wide variety of colors and sizes. It’s a great option if you want to have many different colors and sizes of spinners!

How to Fish for Trout in the Winter

One of the biggest mistakes new trout fishermen make is not changing how they fish for trout in the winter. Winter trout fishing with spinners requires a different technique to see success than summer fishing. Now that you have your spinners picked out, we’ll go over exactly how you should fish them in the winter.

Start Small

The first tip we have for fishing for trout in the winter is to start small. What do we mean by that? We mean to start with your smaller spinners first, even if you are going for larger fish like lake trout. Trout tend to be much more cautious in the winter. You can easily scare them away by flashing a large lure past them.

Author Note: Instead, start with one of your smaller spinners first. Use the small spinners to entice the fish to bite and get them curious. You can always size up to a larger spinner if the smaller lures aren’t working. But if you scare the fish away on your first casts, it’s game over.

We recommend using a light to ultra-light trout fishing rod. This way you’ll still have fun even if you catch a small fish!

Use Light-Colored Spinners

Another key tip we already mentioned is to use light color lures when winter trout fishing with spinners. Light-colored lures help you catch fish for two reasons. First, they are easier for the trout to see in low light conditions. Many times the weather will be overcast and dark in the winter, which means trout will struggle to see as well as in the summer.

Because they can’t see as well, you need to help them out by using lighter colored spinners. The second reason why you should light colored lures is that they tend to entice tentative trout better than other colors. Lighter colors aren’t as intimidating to trout and work better against cautious fish.

An extra bonus of using light-colored lures is that they are also easier for you to see as well. This means that you will be able to apply the appropriate action easier (will go over that in the next section). It will also be easier for you to retrieve them if you get snagged.

Retrieve Your Spinners Tentatively

Artificial fly used for trout fishing

Now that you’re using the right type of lures, let’s go over how you should be presenting them to the trout. The technique doesn’t require much more skill than normal, you just need to be patient.

  1. Cast your spinner past where you think the trout are. You do not want it landing in the water on top of them! This is the quickest way to scare them away. Cast your spinner smoothly and quietly past where you think the trout are hiding.
  2. Let your spinner sink for a few seconds. Trout tend to swim slightly deeper in the water during the winter, as this is where the warmer water is.
  3. Begin to reel your spinner in. Reel it in slower than you normally would and at a steady pace. Unlike active feeding seasons, you want to cautious when retrieving your spinners during the winter.
  4. If you feel a bite, do not set the hook aggressively! Just reel in quickly and firmly. This should be enough to hook the fish.
  5. Try to land the fish making the least amount of noise. It will be hard to prevent the fish from splashing a ton, but try to stay as quiet as possible. Making a big scene when landing a fish will scare away their friends!
  6. Give the trout time to recover. Once you’ve landed them, allow them to catch their breath by holding them in the water. After a few seconds, they’ll flip out of your hand and swim away.

Fish Your Spinners In Deeper Water

Our last tip for winter trout fishing with spinners is to fish your lures in deeper water than you normally would. As we mentioned earlier, trout tend to inhabit deeper waters in the winter. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the deeper water is where the trout will be more comfortable. 

Author Note: Water close to the surface is more exposed to the elements. This means it can freeze and become too cold for the trout. This doesn’t mean you need a boat to fish for trout in the winter. Just try and get your lure further out into the lake or river than you normally would.

Another technique you can try is to let your lure sink for 3 to 5 seconds after casting. Depending on how deep the river or lake is, this will allow it to sink close to the bottom. You can then retrieve it slowly and entice and fish that may be resting in deeper waters.

Where to Find Trout in the Winter

Before we close, we thought it made sense to briefly go over where you can find trout during the winter months. Besides looking in deeper water than you normally would, we also recommend fishing in areas that are hit by sunlight most of the day.

The parts of the river or lake that are in sunlight will warm up quicker than the areas in the shade. These spots will be perfect for cold trout looking for a reprieve from the winter temperatures. Depending on where you’re fishing (northern or southern hemisphere) This will be at either end of the body of water.

You should also look for areas in the body of water where there is a current. The current will mix up the sediment at the bottom which attracts small critters trout like to eat. This could be at an inlet to the lake or near a tree dam in a river. Where the water is mixing is a perfect place to get your spinner some action.

Parting Thoughts

Although the winter might not be as nice as in the summer, winter trout fishing with spinners can prove to be a ton of fun. You will have to work hard than in other seasons to catch trout, but the reward will be worth it. If you’re interested in learning about other techniques to catch trout, check out our trout fishing with jerkbaits article.

We hope you found this article insightful and useful for your next winter fishing outing. If you have additional techniques or ways to catch trout in the winter you would like to share with us, feel free to post them in the comments below. Now grab some warm clothes, get your spinners, and go catch some winter trout!

Happy Hunting!


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