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8 Best Trout Lures for Streams, Rivers and Lakes [[year]]

a spinner like the rooster tail is one of the best trout lures of all time

The Best Trout Lures for Streams, Rivers and Lakes

Whether it’s casting from the bank or trolling behind a boat, I prefer to use lures when fishing for trout.  In this article I’m going to share  what I’ve found to be the best trout lures for streams, lakes, rivers and everywhere in between.

I’ve been fishing for trout my entire life, and over the years, I’ve caught hundreds of trout, including rainbows, browns, brookies and my favorite… sea run trout species such as cutthroat trout and steelhead.

During these years of fishing for so many different species of trout, I’ve tested and trialed an insane amount of trout fishing lures.  And like most experienced fishermen, I’ve settled on my own list of what I believe to be the best trout lures. So keep reading to find out what that list of trout lures is…

Note: I’m covering quite a bit of ground in this post, so please feel free to jump ahead to the section that you feel might best answer your question. 

The Best Rainbow Trout Lures

I want to start out this list with the best lures for rainbow trout.  That’s because rainbow trout are insanely popular to fish for here in the United States, and in many other parts of the world.

You can pretty much be sure that any popular trout fishing locale you hit will have rainbow trout stocked, and if you’re lucky, rainbows that are native to the water you’re fishing in.  

So what are the best rainbow trout lures?  Well, for me that’s an easy choice.

There are three fishing lures that work well with catching rainbow trout.

1. Panther Martin Lures

Panther Martin Spinners

"The Greatest Fish Catcher of All Time!"

  • Best Spinner For Rainbow Trout
  • Easiest and fastest spinning action in the world
  • Irresistible to many species of fish
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02/18/2024 12:11 am GMT

Panther Martin lures are “The Greatest Fish Catcher Of All Time”, according to their own website.  And I’m not going to disagree with them, at least when we’re talking about what might be the best lure of all time for rainbow trout.  

Panther Martin trout fishing lures were my top choice as a kid, and remain my top choice even today.  With a multitude of colors and patterns to choose from, you won’t have any problem at all finding one that works for you.  I’ve caught many different species of fish with this lure, but none more than the rainbow trout.

Panther Martin makes a variety of spinners and lures for many different species of fish. But my favorite Panther Martin lure for catching rainbow trout is the classic teardrop spinner.  This particular trout spinner has a black body with yellow dots and a yellow blade with black dots.

I prefer to troll for rainbow trout with these lures because the light weight nature of the lure makes them somewhat difficult to cast, unless weight is added.

I like to use the smallest sized Panther Martin lure as possible, especially when fishing lakes and other calm bodies of water.  I like to fish for rainbows close to the surface of the water. And a smaller, lightweight spinner will tend to stay close to the surface.

On the other hand, if fishing for rainbow trout in the river with faster water, I’ll move up a couple sizes because I like to cast the lure in these situations.  The larger trout lure not only provides a small amount of additional weight so I can cast farther, but it also allows the lure to drift closer to the bottom where the fish lie waiting in the current for their meal to come to them.

2. rooster tail Spinners

Original Rooster Tail Spinner
  • Pulsating Hackle Tail Attracts Fish
  • Unique Spinning Action
  • A killer on trout, bass, crappie and much more
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Unlike the Panther Martin spinners, which are short with a round tear drop appearance, the Original rooster tail is a longer and skinnier type of trout lure.

And whereas the Panther Martin is typically just a body and a blade, the rooster tail spinner features a longer style blade as well as a longer body.  A small tuft of feathers over the trailing treble hook completes this go to trout spinner.

I’m convinced that sometimes this little tuft of feather over the treble hook is what makes the difference between a trout striking the lure or simply passing on it all together. And that’s what makes a good trout lure!

rooster tail spinners are great because they come in an almost endless variety of colors and sizes.

What size rooster tail is good for catching trout? I like to use smaller lightweight Rooster Tails for the same reason I prefer to use smaller Panther Martins…to fish the top of the water colum.

But if I’m fishing a stream or river, I’ll increase the weight by just a very small amount. rooster tail spinners seem to cast much farther compared to Panther Martins and troll just a touch deeper.

3. Mepps Agila Trout Lure

Mepps Aglia Spinner
  • The original French spinner
  • Extra sharp treble hook
  • World's most popular fishing lure

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02/18/2024 03:24 am GMT

This list of the best trout lures would not be complete and would be a total failure if I didn’t mention the original Mepps Agila inline spinner.  I mean, it’s known as the “Worlds #1 lure”. Raise your hand if you’ve ever caught a trout on this little guy…yep…a lot of you have, I’m sure.

This basic trout spinner from Mepps has been around for a long time. You’ll probably even find one floating around your grandpa’s old tackle box.  That’s because this trout lure is tried and true, proving to be one of the best spinners for trout over and over again.

As a matter of fact, the Mepps Agila made #4 in Field and Stream’s list of the 50 greatest lures of all time!

Even though Mepps creates many different styles of lures, nothing beats the original undressed inline spinner.  I almost always prefer to use the simple brass colored spinner over any other color.

The basic brass colored Mepps inline spinner is just that. It’s a simple inline trout spinner with an elongated oval blade.  The body of the lure is a ribbed metal piece that helps provide the weight to the lure. Trailing behind the body is a treble hook with a red plastic piece along the shank.

I’m not sure what it is about this fishing lure, if it’s the sound and vibration that the spinning blade makes, or if it’s the  color combination, but it is without a doubt one of the best trout fishing lures available.

Best Trout Lures For Lakes and Lake Trout

A trout is a trout, right?  Not quite. Fishing for rainbow trout is one thing, but lake trout are another beast. Lake trout can grow to be quite large and like to eat large prey. They’re an aggressive fish and will strike fast moving lures.

Lake trout are by far the largest of all the trout species. It’s not uncommon for these monsters to grow up to 40lbs ! Thats huge. Catching a large lake trout can be like landing a salmon. As a matter of fact, that’s why lake trout are also called Salmon Trout.

Due to the size of these trout, as well as the fact that lake trout are typically found in much deeper waters, especially in warmer weather, the best lake trout lures are much larger than lures used to catch their smaller cousins.

With that said, here are some of my favorite lake trout lures.

4. Trout Magnet Trout Crank Fishing Lure

Trout Magnet Trout Crank Lure
  • Deadly on all species of trout
  • Jerk Bait Action Irresistible to Fish
  • Runs Shallow (2-4 feet)
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02/18/2024 12:11 am GMT

During the spring and fall months when the water temperatures are cooler, lake trout can easily be caught much closer to the surface. And that’s when crankbaits become a very important trout lure to have in your tackle box.

For lake trout, you want to try to use crankbait lures that are between 4 to 6 inches long. The color of crankbait to use for lake trout really depends on how deep your going to be fishing in.  But since we’re talking about shallow water here, and light is still able to penetrate quite well, colorful crankbaits work quite well. So bright colors such as red, orange and yellow are excellent choices to use for lake trout.

Take a look at the Trout Magnet Trout Crank fishing lure made by Leland’s Lures. These crankbaits are available in 6 different colors, which are good for working different depths.  And even though this lake trout lure does a great job at remaining at whichever depth you decide to fish it in, they’re not designed to go much deeper than 4 feet.

5. Rapala Trout Lures

Rapala Scatter Rap Countdown
  • Aggressive, evasive, erratic sweeping action mimics baitfish
  • Variable diving depth
  • Balsa body construction
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02/18/2024 12:11 am GMT

Chances are you’re familiar with Rapala lures. And chances are, you might only associate Rapala with bass fishing. But did you know that they also create great trout lures?

One of my favorite Rapala trout lures is the Rapala Scatter Rap Countdown. It’s only 3 inches in length, but don’t let that stop you from using it for lake trout.

That’s because it’s not the size of this trout lure that makes it work so well, but the action of the fishing lure. The action of the Rapala Scatter Rap Countdown is evasive and erratic, which does a great job of mimicking scattering baitfish.

It’s this evasive and erratic movement that drives lake trout crazy and almost forces them to strike.

6. South Bend kastaway Trophy Trout Spoons

South Bend Kastaway Spoons
  • Great for Trout, Panfish and Bass
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When dragged at slower speeds, trout spoons can make an attractive lure for lake trout because of their slow and steady wobbling action.  It’s this wobble that can provoke some seriously fierce strikes. So be ready!

One of the nice things about using spoons for lake trout is that there’s so much versatility in targeting multiple depths, which is really helpful since lake trout can be located in very deep waters as well as in shallower waters, depending on the time of year and the temperature of the water.

There’s a lot of different kinds of trout spoons on the market, but you’ll catch lake trout all day long with these South Bend kastaway Trophy spoons. These spoons are surprisingly heavy for how small they are, which makes them perfect for casting on windy days in addition to trolling.

Need to fish deeper waters to target the monster lake trout?  No problem. All you have to do is adjust your retrieval rate, but not by much. A little slower retrieval speed, and you’ll find these spoons start working their way to deeper water.  But be careful, because you’ll find the bottom before you know it, so don’t get snagged.

The Best Trout Jigs

You’ve might have jigged for bass or crappie, but have you ever jigged for trout?  Believe it! Jigging is a great way to catch monster trout, and that’s why trout jigs have made their way onto this list of best trout lures.

The reason trout jigs work so well is because the heavy weight of the jig head quickly sinks the lure straight down through the water column and right to the depth you know the trout are hanging out in.  

And during the warmer summer months when the trout head deeper in search of cooler water temperatures, jigging for trout becomes one of the best lures to use, especially for lake trout.

7. Marabou Trout Jigs  

Aerojig Company Marabou Jig
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Drives trout crazy!
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02/18/2024 05:19 am GMT

There are a few different kinds of trout jigs out there that work really well, such as marabou jigs, tube jigs, soft plastic jigs and hybrid jigs.  But in my opinion, one of best trout jigs is the old school marabou jig. That’s because the marabou trout jig is designed to imitate nymphs, injured baitfish and even small crayfish. All things that trout love.

The first marabou jig was created by Bill ward in Warsaw, Missouri, with trout fishing specifically in mind. And the marabou has been a popular trout fishing jig ever since. With a fluffy tail of soft colorful feathers, these trout jigs are irresistible to many different kinds of trout.

My favorite marabou jig for trout fishing is the Areojig Company Twitching Jig. At the time of this post, there are 14 different color combinations available.  

Of course, there are many factors that will come into play when it comes to deciding which colors to choose, but my go to color combination is the red body/black tail with white head.  The other color trout jig I always make sure I have in my tackle box is the all black jig.

Not only are the Areojig Twitching trout jigs deadly against trout, but are also awesome jigs to use for steelhead and salmon.

Best Trout Lures For Streams And Rivers

Trout are such a fun species to fish for because you can find them in lakes and ponds as well as in streams and rivers. But the way you fish for trout in each of these bodies of water is quite a bit different.

Here are what I believe to be the best trout lures for streams and other bodies of water that have current and are on the move.

8. Blue Fox Spinners

Blue Fox Classic Vibrax
  • Legendary Flash and Action
  • The free-turning brass gear housed within the lure reduces twist and adds vibration as it rattles against the outer body.
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02/18/2024 06:37 am GMT

Blue Fox spinners are by far the best trout lures for rivers. Blue Fox has been a staple spinner for trout in my tackle box for years now. Not only have I caught hundreds of trout on these spinners, but I’ve also caught steelhead, salmon, bass and even carp while tossing these incredible lures through the currents of the river.

The reason I like to use Blue Fox spinners for river trout fishing is because of their ability to cast far as well as the way they handle in the moving currents.  

In my opinion, the best trout lure for streams is the Vibrax Orginal Blue Fox Spinner. The other spinners and spoons that Blue Fox make are also great options, but you can probably tell by now, I’m always loyal to the originals.

There’s a wide variety of color combinations to choose from, but the colors I typically keep on hand are the all copper and the all silver spinners.  I fish many other color combinations of Blue Fox, but those are the two colors that will always be on hand.

When it comes to choosing which size spinner to buy, it really depends on the speed and depth of the current of the river or stream you’ll be fishing in.  

I’ve found that the secret to fishing a Blue Fox for trout in a stream is to cast it up stream, carefully bring in the slack to the point you can feel the vibration of the spinner and allow it to drift down stream.  Ideally, the spinner will be drifting just off the bottom, where the trout are lying in wait. Once you feel the spinner reach the end of the drift, then slowly real in.

In my experience, it’s during this middle drift period that you’ll experience the bite. So be ready to set that hook!

Final Thoughts

That pretty much sums up my list of what I believe to be the best trout lures.  This list was compiled from my own experience of fishing for trout for many years.  Are their other trout lures out there that work really well? Absolutely! And I’m always trying out new lures and spinners every chance I get.

But sometimes, we just need to come back to what we know works…to the things that have been proven to work for our own fishing style.  And that’s what this list is made of. I hope you find it helpful, and that you get a chance to get out there soon and land more trout!

Are you a trout fisherman? What’s your best trout fishing lure?  Take a second and share it with the rest of us. I’d love to give it a try the next time I’m out on the water.

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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