Top 13 Rainbow trout fishing lures

Top 13 Rainbow trout fishing lures

This article will list Capt Jim’s top 13 rainbow trout fishing lures. Rainbow trout are arguably the most popular cold water species in North America. While many anglers fly fish for them, rainbow trout will take a wide variety of artificial lures as well.

rainbow trout fishing lures

The top 13 rainbow trout fishing lures are;

  • Roostertail spinner
  • Mepps Aglia spinner
  • Panther Martin spinner
  • Blue Fox spinners;
  • Kastmaster spoon
  • Phoebe spoon
  • Krocodile spoon
  • Rapala X-Rap
  • Rebel Wee Craw,
  • Flatfish
  • Rapala Original Floating Minnow
  • Mister Twister teeny
  • Gulp Alive jigs

This selection of artificial lures will catch rainbow trout in any situation that an angler may encounter.

Best trout fishing tackle

Most anglers casting artificial lures opt for spinning tackle. These outfits are affordable, durable, versatile, and easy to use. They really are the best tools for the job. Spin cast gear still has a place as well. It can be easier to manage for children and novice anglers. However, it does have it’s limitations.

top trout fishing lures

Rainbow trout are caught in a wide range of environments and sizes. Therefore, it is difficult to choose one spinning outfit for every situation. Since most fish taken will be a few pounds or less, a light spinning outfit will work well for most anglers.

A 5 1/2 foot light action rod matched to a 1000 series reel is a great all-round combo. Anglers can shop for other outfits as well.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for an ultralight rod and reel

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brook trout fishing lures

 Light line is very important when trout fishing!

Light line is very important when it comes to fishing for rainbow trout. This is especially true in very clear water, which is where most trout will be found. 4 lb test is a good all round choice. Some stream anglers go down to 2 lb line. 6 lb line can be used in stained water. Going higher that that will really reduce strikes.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for 4 lb fishing line

List of top rainbow trout fishing lures

The top rainbow trout lures can be broken down into four categories: spinners, spoons, jigs and plugs. All four can be both cast and trolled effectively. Most can be used to cover the entire water column. All can be used in both rivers and lakes.

Top Spinners for rainbow trout fishing

Spinners are clever artificial lures that have been around a long time. They catch a wide variety of species and rainbow trout are no exception. Spinners come in many different sizes and colors. However, they all work the same. A blade rotates around a shaft, putting out flash and vibration. There is a slender body and a hook that often comes with some type of dressing.

Spinners are very easy to use. The angler casts it out and allows it to sink to the desired depth. A sharp twitch of the rod tip with get the blade turning. Then, a slow, steady retrieve is used to bring the bait back in. This lure works well when very slowly trolled as well.

Spinners really shine when fishing for rainbow trout in streams and rivers. The current is used to keep the lure moving and the blade spinning. The best approach is to cast across the stream, 90 degrees to the current. Then, the lure is reeled in very slowly as it sweeps down stream. This technique is very effective!

rainbow trout fishing lures

Spinners come in a variety of sizes and colors. 1/16 ounce to 1/8 ounce baits work best in smaller streams and rivers. Larger baits can be used in lakes. Silver blades and light colors work best in clear water with bright sun. Copper blades and darker colors work great on cloudy days. Anglers can read more about fishing with spinners in rivers and streams here.


1) Wordens Roostertail spinner

rooster tail

The Worden’s Rooster tail is a terrific spinner for fishing streams and small rivers. It is Capt Jim’s favorite rainbow trout lure! Roostertails come in many different colors and sizes. It is also available with a single hook, making releases easier. They also comply to regulations requiring a single hook. This lure works best when retrieved VERY slow!

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Rooster Tail spinners


2) Mepps Aglia Spinner


The Mepps Aglia is another classic spinner that produces rainbow trout. It also comes in a very wide selection of sizes and colors. It works well in both streams and lakes. Many anglers prefer the larger sizes for trolling in lakes. Capt Jim prefers the versions with dressing on the tail.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Mepps Aglia spinners


3) Panther Martin Spinner

panther martin

The Panther Martin spinner is another excellent rainbow trout fishing lure. It is a tad heavier and more compact than Roostertail and Mepps spinners. Therefore, they are a better choice in larger, deeper rivers and lakes. They will cast a long distance on light line.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Panther Martin spinners


4) Blue Fox spinners

blue fox spinner

Blue Fox spinners certainly have their loyal fans. Some anglers believe that it puts out a very distinct, and effective, vibration. Like the Panther Martin, it is heavier and more compact. It works best in slightly deeper or swifter water with a faster retrieve. It is a great lure for trolling deeper in lakes as well.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Blue Fox spinners

Best spoons for rainbow trout fishing

Spoons are one of the oldest fishing lures. They are basically a curved piece of metal with a hook. Spoons are simple, yet very effective. They work well on rainbow trout from small streams to the largest of lakes. Larger versions are used in lakes to troll for the largest trout.

top trout fishing lures

Spoons are relatively heavy and cast a long way. The best retrieve is usually a steady one with the occasional pause or twitch. Anglers should vary the retrieve until a productive pattern emerges. Spoons put out a LOT of flash and vibration. They will call fish in from a distance.

Like most lures, spoons come in different sizes and finishes. Silver and gold are the most popular, though painted versions catch trout as well. Silver is best on sunny days while gold is preferred on cloudy days. Smaller sizes work best in smaller waters while the larger spoons are a better choice in lakes and larger rivers. A swivel should be used to reduce line twist when using spoons.

5) Kastmaster spoon


The Kastmaster spoon is very compact and dense. It is quite heavy for it’s size. Kastmaster spoons are a great spoon for fishing deeper lakes from the shoreline. It works well in larger, deeper rivers as well. Finally, it produces well when trolled.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Kastmaster spoons

6) Acme Phoebe spoon

phoebe spoon

The Acme Phoebe spoon has been around a long time. It is a small, delicate spoon that is the ideal choice for rainbow trout fishing in smaller streams. It flutters seductively in the current and trout love it. Phoebe spoons come in gold and silver, most anglers prefer gold. Both the 1/8 ounce and 1/12 ounce sizes are effective.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Phoebe spoons

7) Luhr-Jensen Krocodile spoon

Krocodile spoon

The Lurhr-Jensen ¼ ounce Krocodile spoon is a terrific bait for anglers seeking larger trout. It is fairly large and heavy, offering trout a substantial meal. Krocodile spoons are best used in larger rivers and lakes. It is a terrific lure for trolling up a big rainbow trout.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Krocodile spoons

Fishing for rainbow trout with plugs

Many anglers ignore plugs when it comes to fishing for rainbow trout. However, that is a mistake. As trout get larger, they begin to feed more on minnows and less on insects. They are seeking a more substantial meal. Plugs closely mimic small, wounded bait fish. They generally do not produce as many trout, but they are almost always larger.

trout lures

Most plugs float on the surface then dive down to a determined depth when retrieved. The depth it dives is a result of the size and shape of the bill. Most plugs have this information on the package, though some are “optimistic”. Plugs should match the size and color of the local forage.

Shallow diving plugs are extremely effective in rivers and streams. Tiny plugs work great in smaller streams. They are best used in the deeper sections and at the head and tail of riffles. Deeper diving plugs are used in lakes for anglers casting and trolling.

8) Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

Rapala x rap

The Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait is a very effective lure for rainbow trout. The 06 size is a good all round bait for most streams, rivers, and lakes. The larger plugs are better for lakes. Anglers can choose the deep diving versions to either troll or cast.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Rapala X-Raps

9) Rebel Wee Craw

bebel wee craw

The Rebel Wee Craw is a legendary smallmouth bass lure. However, it is extremely effective for rainbow trout as well. It is especially productive in streams and rivers where crawfish are present. Most waters in the southern range of rainbow trout have crawfish in them.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Rebel Wee Craw lures

10) Rapala Original Floating Minnow

Rapala Ultralight floating minnow

The Rapala Original Floating Minnow still has it’s loyal following, and for good reason! This is an old-school bait that still catches plenty of fish. It works well in both streams and lakes and is terrific when trolled. It comes in many sizes and colors. A lot of veteran trout anglers prefer the original silver finish.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Rapala Floating Minnow plugs

11) Flatfish


The Flatfish is another classic bait. Unlike the other plugs, this bait has a ton of built in action. It can be cast but is often trolled. One unusual technique is to simply let the plug back in the current and hold it in place. The Flatfish will vibrate in place in the current. This drives trout crazy!

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Flatfish plugs

Fishing for rainbow trout with jigs

Most anglers do not associate trout fishing with jigs. However, they can be effective lures for rainbow trout and tend to catch larger fish. Jigs mimic both bait fish and crustaceans. Those are the preferred forage of larger trout.

rainbow trout fishing in Franklin

Most anglers fishing for trout with jigs use the jig and grub combination. This allows for easy changing of tails to adapt to conditions. White and chartreuse generally imitate bait fish. Darker colors such as olive and rootbeer look like crawfish.

These baits work very well when drifted along with the current in riffles. They can also be used in slower, deeper holes. Anglers fishing in lakes will catch fish as well. They can be trolled if the jig heads are heavy enough.

12) Mister Twister Teeny grub

mister twister

The Mister Twister Teeny Grub is an excellent soft plastic lure for rainbow trout. It has a very life like action on the water, particularly in current. It works well in small streams on a very light jig head.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Mister Twister Teeny grubs

13) Gulp Alive Minnow

gulp alive minnow

The Gulp Alive Minnow kind of bridges the gap between live bait and artificial lures. It is heavily scented and also has great action in the water. It is most often fished on a light jig head in a manner similar to other jigs. Rainbow trout will hold on to it longer due to the scent.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Gulp! Alive Minnows

In conclusion, this fishing article on the best 13 rainbow trout fishing lures will help anglers catch more of these very popular freshwater game fish!





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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