Best Lake Trout Fishing Tackle and Gear

Best Lake Trout Fishing Tackle and Gear

This article will highlight the best lake trout fishing tackle and gear. Lake trout are found in the northern parts of north America. They prefer cold and clear water and are usually found in large bodies of water. Anglers ice fishing catch plenty of lake trout as well. Lake trout grow quite large, the world record is just over 100 pounds! In order to be successful, anglers need the correct lake trout fishing tackle.

lake trout fishing tips

Anglers need a variety of tackle to cover the situations that lake trout will be found and caught. Lake trout are caught on a variety of techniques and they vary greatly in size, depending on the fishery. Most lake trout are caught by anglers trolling, but will also be caught vertical jigging.

Angler can read more about ice fishing for lake trout in this article by Capt Jim.

ice fishing for lake trout

In this article, lake trout tackle and gear will be covered by the three primary techniques; trolling, jigging, and casting. Some of the lures and tackle overlap, but it is different enough to be covered in separate sections.

Lake trout trolling tackle and gear

lake trout fishing tackle

Trolling accounts for more lake trout than any other technique. There are a couple of reasons for that. Lake trout are often caught in very deep water. Trolling is the only effective way to present a lure that deep. Also, lake trout are a bit nomadic and anglers need to cover a lot of water to find them. Trolling is the best way to do that.

Trolling rods for deep water lake trout fishing

Trolling rods are generally fairly long with a medium or soft action. Unlike casting rods, which are “fast”, meaning they are stiff through much of their length, trolling rods are usually limber. This allows for more “cushion” when a big lake trout hits or makes a run close to the boat. Long, soft rods are more forgiving. These are the best choice for trolling in deep water using sinkers and downriggers. The St Croix Eyecon series are excellent lake trout trolling rods.

best lake trout fishing tackle and gear

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for St. Croix Eyecon rods

Anglers seeking a less expensive option can choose the Daiwa Accudepth series of fishing rods. These are excellent rods that are usually under $50, that is a great price for quality tackle. Below is a link to a rod that is very versatile. It is 8′ 6” long with a medium action.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Daiwa Accudepth rods

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Lake trout tackle video

Trolling rods for shallow water lake trout fishing

There are times when lake trout can be found in fairly shallow water. This is usually just after the ice clears in spring and again in fall before it freezes over. Lake trout will move shallow to feed. Anglers can troll spoons and plugs on a flat line without the need for weights or a downrigger. This outfit can also be used to troll for walleye and other species as well. The 7′ 6” medium light Daiwa Accudepth rod is perfect for this at a great price.

lake trout fishing tackle

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for a light Accudepth trolling rod

Best reels for lake trout trolling

Conventional reels are the best choice for anglers trolling for lake trout and other species. Casting is not required. Again, the Daiwa Accudepth series of reels is an excellent choice. They have line counters built in so that anglers know exactly how much line is out. The 17 size is perfect for the light trolling rod, while the 27 and 47 sizes are better for heavier rods.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Daiwa Accudepth trolling reels

Best line for lake trout fishing

trolling for lake trout

Anglers have two choices when it comes to fishing line for lake trout; braided and monofilament line. Braid is thinner for it’s strength which allows anglers to get their lures down deeper. It is also much more expensive. Many anglers actually prefer the stretch of monofilament, especially when trolling. There really is no “correct” choice, it really is a personal preference.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Braided line

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Monofilament line

Best lake trout trolling lures

The three basic types of lures that anglers use when trolling for lake trout are plugs, spoons, and spinners. All are used to mimic bait fish, which is the primary forage of lake trout. They feed on ciscoes, suckers, perch, and other fish. While there are too many effective lake trout fishing lures to list, a couple of the top producing lures of each type will be listed.

lake trout

Best lake trout plugs

Plugs come in a myriad of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Two of the best plugs for lake trout are the T-60 Flatfish and the Rapala Husky Jerk. These lures can be trolled on a “flat line”, without weight as well as behind a weighted rig. Both lures are available in a wide range of colors. The Flatfish has an excellent wobbling action. Anglers use the shallow diving Husky Jerk behind a downrigger and the deep diving models on a flat line.


Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Flatfish lures

husky jerk

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Rapala Husky Jerk lures

Best spoons for lake trout trolling

tackle for lake trout fishing

Spoons are extremely effective lake trout lures. They put out a ton of flash and wobble and very realistically mimic a wounded bait fish. There are many excellent spoons, with Eppinger Daredevil and Crokodile spoons being two of the top spoons for lake trout fishing.


Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Eppinger spoons

Krocodile spoon

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Krocodile spoons

Best spinners for lake trout fishing

fishing for lake trout

Most freshwater anglers are familiar with spinners. A spinner has a flashing blade that rotates around a shaft and most often a dressed hook. Mepps in the industry leader and offers a wide selection of spinners. In the Great Lakes region, Spin-N-Glo lures are extremely popular.


Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Mepps Spinners


Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Spin-N-Glo lures

Leaders and flashers and dodgers

Anglers will need to run leaders off of swivels and between dodgers (or flashers) and the lures. A dodger is a flat piece of metal that adds flash and action to the lure. It is placed a few feet in front of the lure, with the leader in between. In most cases, 20 lb flourocarbon line will cover most lake trout fishing applications.

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for dodgers

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for leader material

Other trolling gear

Alberta fishing tips

There are a few other pieces of gear that anglers will need to troll for lake trout, especially in deeper water. These include bottom machines, downriggers, lead core lines, and planers. These devices will get the lure down to the desired depth.

Bottom machines/fish finders

A quality sonar unit is an absolute must for any angler lake trout fishing. It will mark fish and bait along with structure breaks and even temperature changes. Fortunately, these machines are fairly inexpensive, given the quality. Serious anglers may spend several thousand dollars. However, a quality unit can be purchases for a few hundred dollars.

Anglers can click on the link to shop Amazon for sonar units


Downriggers were basically invented by Great Lakes anglers to present their lures at the desired depth. They consist of an arm, a reel, a cable, and a heavy ball. Manual downriggers are great for casual anglers while serious trollers opt for electric downriggers. Cannon is THE name in downriggers and offers a unit for every angler.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Cannon downriggers

Lead core lines

Lead core lines are another method used by anglers trolling for lake trout. They are heavy and the depth is controlled by the length and number of segments used. Some anglers find them cumbersome, but they are effective and do not require downriggers or weights.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for lead core lines

Planers are devices that dive down into the water. They depth is determined by the location of the line ties. The lure follows along behind a leader. Some even “trip” when a fish strikes. Dipsey Divers are the most recognizable and popular examples of these units.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Dipsey Divers

Best tackle for vertically jigging for lake trout

tackle for trolling

The second most popular method for lake trout fishing is vertically jigging. This is a very effective technique when fish are located in a smaller area or for methodically working a piece of structure such as a ledge or reef. Spoons are the top lure, with a buck tail jig being the second choice. Live bait can be used with the same tackle as well.

Best lake trout jigging rod

The rods used for jigging are different than trolling rods. These are shorter with a “fast” action. This means the rod is stout at the butt and most of the way up the rod. The rod tapers quickly (thus the term “fast”) at the tip. This type of rod allows for good action and feel along with the power to handle a big fish. St Croix offers an Eyecon rod specifically designed for vertically jigging.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for  St. Croix Eyecon jigging rods

Best lake trout jigging reel

Again, conventional, or baitcasting reels are the best choice for vertical jigging. No casting is required, the lure is just lowered down in the water. Baitcasting reeks offer excellent power, fast retrieve ratios, and good drag systems. The Shimano Tekota 30 is an excellent reel for jigging and trolling. The 300 size works well with the Eyecon rod.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Shimano Tekota 300 reels

Best lake trout jigging lures

The two best jigging lures for anglers fishing for lake trout are spoons and jigs. A white buck tail jig is an excellent lure for jigging for lake trout. 2 ounces is a good all round size. Anglers can add a soft plastic trailer for action and bulk. A strip of cut bait can be used as well. The same lures used for trolling are fine for vertically jigging as well.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Spro buck tail jigs

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Eppinger spoons

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Crocodile spoons

Best casting tackle for lake trout

There are certain times of year when lake trout can be caught by anglers casting lures or live baits. Lake trout will move in shallow early and late in the season. Anglers can cast diving plugs, spoons, and jigs as well as live bait. The best rod and reel combination is a medium light spinning rod and matching reel, 3000 is a good size. Most anglers already own a suitable combo, but here in a good Zebco Quantum outfit for around $80.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for A Zebco Quantum rod and reel

In conclusion, this article on the best lake trout fishing tackle and gear will help anglers get the proper equipment needed to be successful!


Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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