Spinner Fishing for North Carolina Trout – a Complete Guide

Spinner Fishing for Trout – a Complete Guide

The topic of this article is spinner fishing for trout. Spinners are very effective freshwater fishing lures, particularly in streams and rivers, which is where the majority of trout live.

spinner fishing for trout

Spinner fishing for trout is very productive. Spinners are very simple, yet effective trout fishing lures. They consist of a wire arm with a body that has a blade that rotates around it. A hook, often dressed, is on the tail. Spinners put out flash and vibration, which mimics a wounded bait fish. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout are the most popular trout species.

Spinner fishing for trout

There are several reasons for the productivity of spinners when fishing for trout. The majority of trout are caught in running water; creeks, streams, and rivers. Spinners are the most effective when used in these waters. The current provides action and movement while also resulting in the spinner blade rotating. All of this occurs with very little action by the angler.

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Many lures act very erratically. This imitates wounded prey and attracts game fish. However, in many instances this action is too aggressive for trout. Trout normally prefer a more subtle presentation as opposed to excessive action. Spinners emit flash and vibration, but they do so in a much more subdued manner than many other lures. This is another reason that spinners are so effective when fishing for trout.

Spinner fishing techniques

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of spinner fishing for trout and other species is the ease with which it is done. Fishing with spinners is fairly easy and straight forward. That makes spinner fishing an excellent choice for novice anglers.

best trout tackle

In most situations, less is more when it comes to spinner fishing for trout. As mentioned earlier, the current from the stream will result in the spinner blade rotating. All that the angler needs to do is keep the line tight and allow the current to provide the action to the lure.

The best technique is to cast the spinner directly across the current, or slightly downstream. This will result in the line staying tight during the entire cast. Often times, the take occurs as the spinner reaches the end of the drift and ‘swings” in the current. The spinner will hold in that area for a few moments. This will often draw a strike. This is along the same lines as fly anglers “swinging a nymph”.

Read more about the best trout fishing lure

A slow, steady retrieve is almost always the most productive retrieve. As long as the blade is rotating and flashing, the lure is moving fast enough. This is true in lakes as well as flowing water. Anglers can add a twitch or pause occasionally if the bite is slow. However, it is best not to overdo this action.

trout fishing with streamers

One issue when fishing with spinners is that line twist can occur. The solution to this problem is to use a tiny swivel, often termed a “micro swivel”. The swivel is tied to the running line. Then, a 2 leader that is 24″ to 30″ long connects the swivel to the lure. This will greatly reduce line twist when using spinners.

Spinner fishing for trout in lakes

While most anglers spinner fishing for trout will do so in moving water, lakes hold plenty of trout as well. Lakes provide one major challenge; trout are much more difficult to locate as there is so much more water in which to search. Also, anglers have the third dimension of where in the water column trout are feeding. Trout are much easier to locate in streams

rainbow trout fishing lures

Anglers trout fishing in lakes, especially smaller bodies of water, can successfully fish for trout with spinners from shore. Heavier spinners such as the Blue Fox or Panther Martin work well. The spinner can be fished at different depths by varying the time that the lure is allowed to fall through the water column. As in stream fishing, a slow steady retrieve is best.

Trolling is an extremely effective technique used by anglers spinner fishing for trout. This technique allows anglers to cover a lot of water as well as different depths all at one time. Multiple lines can be put out at varying depths. Trout often feed high in the water column, so trolling spinners at depths from 5 feet to 15 feed down is a good approach. Heavier spinners will get down deep enough on their own without any added weight.

Choosing the best spinner for trout fishing

While all spinners basically work the same, there are some differences that make one a better choice than others. Light spinners are best for small, shallow streams. Heavier spinners are better in larger rivers with deeper holes as well as for fishing in lakes. These are better for trolling as well.

trout fishing

Color is also a consideration when spinner fishing for trout. The same rules when it comes to fishing with artificial lures apply to anglers spinner fishing for trout. On bright, sunny days, lighter colors and silver blades are usually the best choice. Conversely, in low light conditions and cloudy days, gold blades and bright bodies are the most productive.

The top 4 spinners for trout fishing are;

  • Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner

  • Mepps Aglia spinner

  • Blue Fox Vibrax spinner

  • Panther Martin spinner

Anglers can read more about the best freshwater fishing spinners in this article by Capt Jim

The best spinners for trout fishing are the Worden’s Rooster tail spinner, Mepps Aglia spinner, Blue Fox spinner, and Panther Martin spinner. These 4 spinners will cover every situation that an anglers trout fishing with spinners will encounter.

Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner

rooster tail

The Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner is a terrific trout fishing lure. It is Capt Jim’s favorite trout fishing spinner. Rooster Tail spinners are very light. This makes them an excellent choice for anglers fishing in creeks and small streams. They will snag much less often than other heavier lures. However, they cast well on ultralight spinning gear.

Rooster Tail spinners come in several sizes and many different color combinations. The 1/16 ounce size is excellent for most stream trout fishing applications. Bright colored bodies with gold blades work well in a variety of situations. Anglers should have a few that are white with a silver blade as well. These lures are also available in single hook models, which are required in some “catch and release” waters.

Mepps Aglia spinner


Mepps is a well known and trusted brand when it comes to fishing spinners. They have been catching trout and other species for decades. The classic color combination is gold with the natural hair tail. Mepps spinners have earned a reputation for catching larger trout. Mepps spinners are an excellent all round choice for a variety of trout fishing situations.

Blue Fox Vibrax spinner

blue fox spinner

The Blue Fox Vibrax spinner has a loyal following among anglers spinner fishing for trout. It emits a unique vibration that calls in fish. These spinners are a bit heavier and a better choice for anglers fishing deeper streams and rivers as well as lakes. It is available in many sizes and colors. The size 1 blade weighs 1/8 ounce and is an excellent all round choice.

Panther Martin spinner

panther martin

Panther Martin spinners are the final spinner in this list of the best trout fishing spinners. They come in several different styles and many colors. The options are endless. Panther Martin spinners are also fairly dense and heavy, making them a better choice for deeper water. Panther Martin spinners are also available in single hook versions.

Best rod and reel when spinner fishing for trout

Ultralight spinning outfits are by far the best choice for anglers spinner fishing for trout. Many of the most effective spinners are quite light. This requires fairly light gear in order to cast them effectively. Conventional tackle is simply too heavy. Also, most trout are modest in size. Spin cast gear (closed face) can be used, but it has it’s limitations.

brook trout fishing lures

A 6” light action rod with a 1000 series reel is an excellent all around trout fishing rod and reel combination. A soft action rad is best for casting these lures as well as landing a nice trout on light line.

Anglers should use very light line when using spinners for trout. 2 pound test line will draw a lot of strikes, but might be a tad light for some anglers. 4 pound test will work fine in most situations. Flourocarbon line is expensive, but is a good investment. Monofilament will work fine as well. Braided line is too visible and the stretch is actually desired.

brook trout fishing lures

Spinner fishing will produce other species as well

While trout are perhaps the primary target for anglers fishing with spinners, many other species will take this lure as well. In slightly warmer trout streams, smallmouth bass are present in decent numbers. Cold water species including pike, walleye, panfish, and even musky will take a spinner meant for trout.

Smallmouth bass

smallmouth bass fishing

Smallmouth bass are the most commonly caught non-trout species caught by anglers spinner fishing for trout. This is due to the fact that they inhabit many of the same rivers and lakes and can tolerate fairly chilly water. Smallmouth will usually be found in areas of less current than will trout. They will readily take a spinner in both moving water and lakes.


rock bass fishing tips and tackle

Surprisingly, some species of panfish thrive in waters that support trout. Rock bass in particular live in the streams that have trout species. These are a very aggressive fish that will take spinners and other lures. Yellow perch do well in some cold water streams. Crappie will be caught in some trout lakes as well. Even bluegill and bass will be found in these waters, although in lesser numbers. Panfish are more plentiful in the southern waters where trout are stocked in good numbers.

Northern pike

best northern pike fishing lure

Northern pike flourish in cold waters, just as trout do. Pike do not like fast moving water and are more often found in shallow, weedy lakes. Trout will occasionally be caught there as well. The challenge is landing a pike on very light line with no leader.


walleye fishing tackle and lures

Walleye feed in cold water and are found in the same areas as trout. Anglers trolling for trout in particular will produce the odd walleye or two. Walleye will be found in larger rivers as well.

In conclusion, this article on spinner fishing for trout will help anglers have success using these effective lures.






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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