If you asked a hundred experienced trout anglers, most of them would tell you that the best lure for catching trout is a spinner.
Finding the best spinners for trout can be a game of throwing a bunch of them in the water and seeing what works. Remember that every trout stream, pond, lake, or river is different and unless you have some intel from others who have fished there you won't know which lures fish will bite.
This spinner guide highlights five of the best spinners for trout that have separated themselves from the rest. The spinners covered below seem to have this crazy ability to get strikes from trout in any kind of water. These spinners trigger trout psychologically, you might say.
Besides naming these 5 hot spinner lures, we also share some expert tips on how to catch trout with spinners, how to rig different types of spinners, and what colors you can use for the best results!
In This Guide
- Top 5 Best Spinners for Trout Fishing At A Glance
- Best Spinners for Trout Fishing
- How To Catch Trout with a Spinner
- Using Spinners in Lakes and Ponds
- Using Spinners in Streams and Rivers
- Are Spinners Good for Trout?
- Spinner Setup Tips for Trout Fishing
- How To Rig a Spinner for Trout Fishing
- What Is the Best Size Spinner for Trout?
- What Color Spinner Should You Use for Trout?
- Where to Use Spinners for Trout
- Casting Spinners for Trout from a Boat
- Trolling for Trout with Spinners
Top 5 Best Spinners for Trout Fishing At A Glance
Best Spinners for Trout Fishing
In no particular order, here are the best spinners to consider for your next trout fishing expedition.
1. Worden’s Rooster Tail
Worden’s Rooster Tail has made a heck of a name for itself among trout anglers. As it spins through the water it is like a little bait fish with an odd movement that could indicate it has been injured. This triggers trout to attack.
This lure has over a thousand great reviews so it's super popular with trout anglers. It is bright or dark, depending on the colors you choose. Colors include bumblebee, black, black/chartreuse, black coachdog, brown trout, chartreuse dalmatian, chrome whitetail, copper tinsel black, shimmer fire tiger, and more than 100 other styles you can buy.
If you want to fish a river, lake, or stream, a variety of colors of rooster tails can put you on fish!
2. Panther Martin
Changing up the size of lures you present to hungry fish is important and can correlate with the size of fish you'll catch. Bigger lures usually mean bigger fish.
Panther martins have a large spinning blade in the front that catches more water and wiggles stronger than most other trout spinners, getting attention from fish that are further away.
Panther Martins are one of the only spinners that can be used to snare fish in deeper water without adding additional weight. The weight of these lures ranges from 1/32 oz. to 3/8 oz. Colors include reg gold, brown trout, chartreuse, purple/blue/holo, fire tiger/orange red, silver blade, and another dozen to choose from.
3. Joe’s Flies Short Striker
Joe’s Flies Short Striker is an odd combination of both fly and spinner, and it catches a heck of a lot of trout!
Flashing reflections and the tiny movement of the spinning blade in the water can attract fish quickly. The little fly at the end also triggers the trout's basic instinct and puts them in attack mode. With 4 hooks - a single and a treble - if the fish strikes, it will likely be hooked. It's almost like a regular fly with a stinger treble behind it.
Your chances of hooking fish with this odd little spinner lure increase greatly with the 4-hook setup. Is it ethical? You can decide that as you use it, catch fish, and consider whether you feel good about keeping them! I'll keep using this one!
4. Blue Fox Vibrax by Rapala
This Rapala Blue Fox Vibrax spinner is on the heavy side at 1/4 oz. which enables it to be able to get really deep. It's perfect for getting down into areas where big trout are holding in deep water to avoid temperature extremes near the top water.
Use it with a swivel if you want, but this Rapala spinner is designed to avoid or eliminate line twisting, one of the most annoying sides of casting spinners for trout. A free-spinning brass section fits within an outer bullet-like shell that spins freely and rattles against each other to make more vibration.
The Blue Vibrax spinners come in shiny silver and gold and work well in dark water, as the bright-colored lures in the pack look very attractive.
We've used this and added a bright chartreuse, white, or yellow skirt over the treble hook and have had good results. Try it if at first the bites are slow.
5. Mepp's Aglia
The Mepp's Aglia spinner is also one of those lures that is a bit heavier than others and allows you to get longer casting distance and/or deeper dives into the murky depths.
The Aglia has a longer spoon/spinner on the front that gives it a unique look moving through the water. Even some of the smaller Mepp's spinners can catch some big trout. Try one of their combo packs that combine spoons with spinners to catch a great variety of trout lures.
Mepp's Aglia comes in trout brown and silver-black color schemes. They also come in 1/8 oz. and super-heavy 1/2 oz. sizes.
How To Catch Trout with a Spinner
As you may already know, a spinner is a fishing lure with a rotating blade that spins as it is retrieved through the water. Spinners have been one of the most productive lures for trout over decades. Let's take a look at why that is.
Spinner lures cause the water to vibrate in waves, disturbing the water even more than natural fish do as they move. This gets predator fish like trout to pay attention. It isn't just the waves of vibration, but also the flashy spinning spoon blade on the front that catches the light and flashes it out quickly. This visual flash is a trigger for feeding fish to get them in the mood to start feeding.
Plain spoons can work too, and for so many fish species. Drag a plain silver spoon through any water (adjusting for the size of the fish you're targeting) and you'll get fish. They just work!
Finally, the shape of the lure makes it look like a small baitfish like a minnow that is moving erratically. Trout sense that something is 'off' about the way the spinner moves. It thinks it is a fish but probably one in trouble. That makes the trout think it's an ideal target that won't take too much energy to catch, so it strikes. And you catch fish.
Spinners are very different from most other fishing lures (except spoons) because sitting still they don’t look like things that trout would eat. You can't cast a spinner out and let it sink or put it on a floating bobber and get strikes. It just won't happen. You need to move that spinner through the water and get the action going to entice fish into striking.
Trout spinner fishing is my favorite way to catch trout in all kinds of water. It's much more fun to be actively casting and retrieving a lure than it is to put a few salmon eggs on a small hook and send it out into the lake to sit on the bottom and wait patiently. That sort of fishing is slow motion and though some people enjoy it, it's not really for me. It's so much more fun to be doing something.
The key to trout spinner lure fishing is that you need to retrieve the spinner in a way that causes it to look and sound real to the trout. This method is not only fun because you're actively trying to outwit the fish, but it also takes a bit of skill to produce fish. You can say you 'did something' to catch the fish, rather than set eggs on the bottom and wait.
If you're presenting the spinner in a way that looks just like a fish, you'll be getting bites much more quickly than bottom fishing with live or dead bait. You can arrive and cast out and have a fish on immediately in some ideal situations. That's what makes this technique of fishing with spinners so exciting.
Fishing for trout with spinners is also a great way to learn the technique for beginners interested in a little more active way of fishing. Kids can master this too, don't think they can't!
What should you do to prepare your gear to fish for trout with spinners? We’ll show you the best lures, locations, and tactics to help you catch a lot of fish with this method.
The way you retrieve the spinner is very important if you want to catch trout with it. There are several variations you can use to trigger a trout strike. These are tried and proven to work, so don't be shy about trying them.
Hit the trout with all you've got because some days they are going to watch your spinner go by 100 times before you do something 'right' and give them what they have been waiting for!
First, make sure you have a good swivel on your line before your spinner so you don't have too many line twist problems. Invest in some easy-spinning swivels.
Use a 10 lb. test braided line for your main line and if you want to, tie a 6 lb. test mono or fluoro leader to it. A small reel that can hold 100 yards of line is fine, as is a light-action rod rated for 2-6 lb. of pull. This will ensure you feel every movement of the lure and every bite.
Specific Spinner Lure Techniques to Catch More Trout
- Stop and start. Cast your spinner out and let it fall a little into the water. Start your retrieve for 5 or so rotations of your reel handle. Let the spinner fall again a bit. Repeat. This makes it seem as if the baitfish is wounded and sinking sometimes. This can trigger strikes.
- Twitch your rod. Cast out and during your retrieve, twitch your rod tip a bit. This can trigger the spinner's action and start the blade spinning. It's also a shock for the fish to see this 'fish' drop straight into the water and start swimming furiously. This would happen in nature when a bird drops a bait fish it just caught. A sudden twitch may also help a trout that is chasing your lure to come close to the fish. Instinct may cause it to strike fast or it could end up losing its prey.
- Keep it slow. Most often a trout is not going to move very fast to chase after prey. Slow it down and you'll catch more fish. Try all different speeds of slow, all the way down to barely moving the reel handle. Some lures are better with slow retrieves, others are better while moving a little quicker.
- Vary your speed: Fish don’t typically swim in a straight line at a constant speed, so slow down, speed up, and move the lure up and down at various depths occasionally to help trigger strikes from hungry trout.
Using Spinners in Lakes and Ponds
In still water, like ponds, you're going to want to be able to cast far out so you can hit more areas. If you can walk around the pond or lake, great, you'll want to increase the area you're fishing to give you the best chance of finding fish.
Using a heavier-weight spinner is a good idea here, or adding a couple of split-shot to the line will help add some weight. Go a bit deep on your first couple of casts. Let your lure sink for a while and start your retrieve with a slow flick or two to get the spinner moving.
Take your time and keep the spinner down in the area you think fish are waiting. Vary depths until you find the level the fish are at. Typically they'll all be around the same depth where the temperature is ideal for them.
Remember, don't turn the spinner blade too fast because trout will be confused by it, not attracted to it.
Using Spinners in Streams and Rivers
In a river moving with some current, you have few options for catching trout with spinners.
It can be tempting to just cast out into the current and let the spinner spin while the lure sits in one place. You may get lucky doing this, I've caught fish this way sometimes, but it's better to use some other approaches.
Start by casting upstream and let the current carry the spinner down with the current. Reel in a bit to take up slack in the line. As the lure is downstream from you and you feel the spinner moving, reel slowly toward you with occasional twitches of the rod tip.
Cast far and close to cover more area. You may be surprised to get a hit as your spinner is moving from up-current down with the current. Trout are waiting by facing into the current and they may think your spinner is attractive enough to strike at. Lucky you!
Another technique is to cast straight out perpendicular to the current and retrieve it back to you. Do this at different depth levels so you can reach fish at any level. When you fish like this, the spinner spins, and more fish see you crossing their path and you should get some strikes if the fish are there.
Another technique and this one will catch the least number of fish, but it occasionally works, especially in a slow current, is to cast downstream and slowly retrieve the whole way back. As I said, the fish are facing the current, so you'll be coming up behind them. This happens in nature, so they are also looking for it and will strike your lure as a result of this technique.
Don't use this one first, but do try it after you've exhausted all other means to catch fish!
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Are Spinners Good for Trout?
Spinners are excellent lures to use to catch trout because they attract their attention and trigger their instinct to strike. The combination of spinning, flashing blade, baitfish-like appearance, and movement like a fish prove too much for trout and they inevitably strike spinner lures often enough to make them one of the best lures for catching trout in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers.
Spinning lures are great for searching for fish by covering a lot of water in a lake or a pond. You can easily see where you get strikes and focus there. That’s why spinning for trout is one of the first tactics many anglers employ when they start fishing a new lake or pond.
Spinner Setup Tips for Trout Fishing
The first thing to do is set up a proper trout rod, line, and reel. Here are the important tackle components to have:
- Rod: Approximately 6 to 7 feet, light action (2-6 lb.)
- Main Line: Use a 10-pound test braided line as standard.
- Swivel: Get a size 10 barrel or snap swivel but most importantly it must rotate easily.
- Reel: Choose a 1000 to 2000-level spinning reel.
- Leader: If used, try 4 to 6-pound test fluorocarbon or mono.
Using a super light rod will allow you to cast lightweight spinners of 1/32 to 1/2 oz. at a greater distance than using a stiffer rod.
If fishing a stream or river with lots of trees or bushes around you might choose a 6-foot rod. If you need longer casts, buy a 7-foot-long rod to reach greater distances.
Light rods are also key because you will be able to feel every movement of your spinner on the end of your line with a super-light rod. You'll be able to land any size trout or bass too, and the light tackle will make it seem so much more exciting.
My favorite spinning reel size for this technique is a small spinning reel (1000-2000 size), Daiwa or Shimano because it can handle light lines and small lures better. If you’re using braid, choose a line that is around 10 lb. test because it comes off the spool easily and you can cast farther with it.
Braided line is very inelastic. It doesn't stretch much at all. That means it is sensitive to everything going on as you fish, especially when paired with an ultra-light rod.
How To Rig a Spinner for Trout Fishing
If you are using spinning lures to catch fish that are not line shy, you can tie your line directly to a good swivel and attach it to the eye of a spinner. This can be used when you think the fish don't really care about the braided line you used.
When the water is murky, fish are less prone to care. When they have experienced less fishing pressure (fewer anglers) they won't care about the line as much for a while until they learn what it means.
Using a direct swivel to lure connection makes it easy for you to switch out lures.
If you are using spinners and you want to use a leader with it, choose a 4 to 6-pound leader depending on the size of the fish you plan on catching. Of course, you can adjust it anytime.
When lakes and rivers are heavily fished, the fish will be shy about taking a spinner when they can see the braided line. You'll need a leader. This is especially true when you fish in clear water. Tie a 1 to 3-foot leader of 4 to 6 lb. test fluorocarbon or mono.
Here is a short video to demonstrate.
Fluorocarbon line is nearly invisible in the water when compared to mono and more so compared to braided line. Mono stretches more though, and if you find that you're ripping the hook through the fish's cheek or lips, you probably need to go with mono with some stretch.
What Is the Best Size Spinner for Trout?
Generally speaking, the best lure size to use for trout fishing depends primarily on the size of the trout you’re expecting to catch. Here is a general overview of trout size compared to the recommended weight of your spinner.
- 1/64 oz. – Small brown and brook trout in streams because hard to cast far
- 1/16 oz. – Average-size rainbow and brown trout
- 1/8 oz. – Small brown and brook trout in streams
- 1/4 oz. – Average-size rainbow and brown trout
- 3/8 oz. – Big rainbow and brown trout
- 1/2 oz. – Big rainbows and browns and Steelhead
- 5/8+ oz. – Steelhead
Don't get me wrong, sometimes you can catch large trout by casting a small spinning lure (or vice versa), but you generally catch bigger fish like spotted trout and walleye when you cast a big lure (or vice versa).
Using the list above for example, when you want to catch brooks or browns in a shallow stream, use the smallest size you can get away with. These fish will flee from a big lure!
What Color Spinner Should You Use for Trout?
It is actually impossible for even experienced anglers to know what color and size of a spinner is best for catching trout on any given day on any body of water unless they have had experience there or heard from somebody else what to use.
Novice anglers are often frustrated because they only bring a couple of colors or maybe one size of lure and it just happens that it doesn't match what the fish are biting that day.
Experienced anglers know to bring a wide range of colors, color combinations, and sizes of lures to test a variety of options. This is usually what is necessary to catch fish.
However, if you visit the same spot during the same time of year every year you can probably be assured that the colors that worked last year will work this year. You can also usually be assured that the colors and size that worked yesterday will work today. The cycles do change, but they are slow.
You can use this information to catch more fish over time.
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Things To Keep in Mind About Spinner Color Selection
Keep the weather in mind when choosing what spinner lures to fish with. You can match lures to the sun's color and those that match the color of a cloudy day. You can use dark colors on sunny days and bright colors on overcast dark days.
Study the baitfish in the water. Try to match the color of your spinner to them.
The depth of the water can affect the color of prey trout will target. If fishing deep in the lake where the light is weak, use bright flashy colors. If fishing near the top of a stream, bright and flashy may work, or dull and dark may be better. You can try both.
Don't forget that trout are picky eaters. They may hit something you don't expect them to hit too. Wild trout will sometimes eat their own spawn, when they get hungry, they just don't care. Their hunger drive is very strong.
A shiny blade on your spinner is going to help more than the color of your lure in general. You must get their attention and sometimes the flash is enough. It's almost always true (and not just for trout) that bright colors and reflections of light from the spinning blade will help you catch more fish in dark waters.
In clear water, less colorful spinners are effective because they are more like the water the trout is used to seeing.
Generally, nothing pays off more than having a wide variety (dozens) of colors of spinners available when you are trying to catch trout in a new location.
If you’re having trouble catching fish with the usual colors you use, try something completely different (gold or silver, neon or brown).
Try colors, and color combinations, try different sizes, try different areas, different depths, different speeds of retrieve, and different types of retrieve (steady vs. twitchy vs. sinking). Don't think too hard about which one you're choosing, just start trying a different plan of attack!
For trout in some areas, a productive color combination is a golden blade with a black body or a silver blade with a yellow body to attract the fish’s attention. Because trout are often triggered by the contrast of several different colors of spinners, it's always good to try what you have.
Where to Use Spinners for Trout
You can cover a lot of water area by casting a spinner lure out into the water. Then you can test different places to see if the fish are biting. Here are some areas you shouldn't miss while trying to locate trout.
- shore points and underwater structure
- inlets of tributary streams for lakes
- old river channels in reservoirs
- drop off zones along weed flats
- stocked trout areas
Of course, you can use spinners wherever you are, and they're great for finding the fish so to speak. If there are trout where you're fishing, the chances are a spinner will find them.
One thing that may not be obvious is that trout are less prone to stick around one area because they don't want to move. They are highly mobile and can go from one place to the next easily.
If you cannot find any fish that day, but they were in that spot yesterday, just move on to the next spot and see if they're there. If you know the best spots to get fish in your lake, try fishing there first.
Casting Spinners for Trout from a Boat
When you have a boat, it's easier to reach more areas to fish and you don't have to rely on how far you can cast and walk around the body of water you're fishing in. You can fish in some deeper water than from the shore.
Trolling for Trout with Spinners
Trolling is a good way to catch fish in a lake that's big enough to troll in. You'll need to get your lure down deeper to the area you want to fish, where the fish are, with more weight. Your main line would need to be 20 lb. braid and maybe a 6 lb. mono or fluorocarbon line leader.
You can cover a lot of area by trolling slowly with an electric motor on a Jon boat or skiff. Slow trolling is a relaxing way to catch fish! Anglers can become addicted to it because they can eat and talk and pick up a rod when they get a bite, land the fish, and repeat.
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What size spinner should I use for trout?
Match smaller fish to smaller spinner sizes of 1/32, 1/16, and 1/8. For the biggest trout like steelhead, use heavier lures in the 3/8 to 1/2, 5/8 weight.
Are spinners good for trout?
Inline spinners are perfect for catching trout because the spinning blade on the shaft attracts attention and the lure action and shape cause the fish to strike. Flashes of light caused by the spinning blade mimic the flash from the sides of small fish trout feed on, thereby stimulating their feeding response.
Should you use a swivel with spinners?
Though spinners are meant to be able to spin freely without a swivel, many get stuck and twist the line. We recommend you use a swivel from the mainline to attach to your leader. If the swivel is small enough, you can attach your lure directly to your swivel. Pull it through the water a few times close to you so you can see if the action is affected. If so, find a different solution.
What color lures do trout like?
Brown, black, white, yellow, and chartreuse are all colors that trout like. The combination of strong contrasty colors also can work very well. Try chartreuse and white, red and white, black and white, brown and white, or yellow and brown. These combinations have good contrast and can do well in any lighting conditions.
Do you add bait to spinners?
Adding some organic bait to your spinner is not a good idea. The shape and weight of the bait will interfere with the action of the spinner and cause it to look unnatural.
Instead, add some fish attractant oil or spray to the lure which can draw in fish without affecting the action of the spinning lure.
Can you catch rainbow trout with spinners?
Trout of all kinds, including rainbow trout, love spinners and can be caught using them. Not only trout, but all kinds of fish hit spinner lures because they seem to trigger the attack response in fish that are feeding. Some can even be coaxed into feeding when they see spinners.
Match the size of the spinners you're using to the size of the rainbow trout, and you should catch fish when you figure out what colors and sizes the rainbows are feeding on.
There are many other lures out there, but the best spinners for trout mentioned above have become some of my absolute favorites over time. They’ve caught countless fish for me over the years and I've shared that success with other people I fish with.
Keep in mind that there are hundreds of color combinations you can choose to use when fishing for trout. Do your homework and try to find a fishing report if you don't know anyone personally who has recently fished the spot you're going next.
Intel can be hard to come by, but make the effort so you don't waste a couple of hours figuring out which color and size of lure to use.
The spinning lures above – work. That's known, 100%. The color and size that catch fish for you in the spot you're fishing needs figured out! Once you do, write it down so you don't forget. You'll use this knowledge later on when you return!
Write down the depth of water, temperature, where the crucial structure is located underwater, the line strength and type, lure size, and depth. This data will help you next time. Accumulate data and use it for the rest of your life!
Lastly, buy as many color combinations as you can afford. One may consistently hit and one may never hit. Write it down! Having the right color combinations can make all the difference between catching fish and going home empty-handed.
Whichever spinners you find helpful for trout fishing, please share your experience with us in the comment box below.
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