A light – make that ultralight – touch is all it takes to be a successful trout angler and we have all the basic gear and the hottest new baits and lures to help you get bit.
Catching trout is very simple and extremely fun when you stick to a simple plan and fish with really light line. That means no more than four-pound test in most instances, barring huge fish and extreme conditions like heavy weed beds.
The biggest mistake most beginning trout fishermen make is to fish with line that is too heavy. Not only do you get fewer bites, you miss out on a great battle when you do get bit. Even smallish trout can zing line off a spool and a big trout's leaps, lunges and runs while tackled on the proper outfit will give you a thrill you won't forget for a long time.
You will be surprised how big a trout you can land with the right ultralight equipment. And how much fun you will have.
Sight and Smell
Trout are in the same family as salmon and have a highly advanced sense of smell that can differentiate between molecules in parts per million. Yet smell alone is often not enough to make a trout feed. The lure or bait has to either be close enough for the fish to smell, triggering a feeding reaction, or the action of the bait or lure has to be enough to entice the fish close enough for smell to close the deal. Sight alone can be enough to hook up with trout. (Fly fishermen use no scent at all and catch fish through a presentation tailored to look and action alone. We have an extensive selection of fly fishing products for everyone from the beginner to expert, if that's the trout fishing approach you want to take.)
It's easier to catch fish using the benefits of both sight and smell and light line helps you do that. Light line is thinner, sinks faster, causes less drag on a bait or lure, casts small lures and baits farther and is all but invisible. In other words, you can put your lure where you want it, impart the action necesssary to get the trout's attention and not scare the fish off with heavy line. You'll get more bites. Here's how:
Line It Up Right
Line manufacturers have done a lot of experimenting with polymers, fibers and resins to compound a myriad of line choices. We stock all the top brands of fishing line and we can make sure you spool up with the right choice for the way you like to fish and the conditions you will face. The number one choice for ultralight trout fishing is a monofilament or co-polymer. Those are big words that mean the line is made of extruded plastics, as opposed to braids that are made of wound fibers.
There are fantastic braids and hybrids you can consider, but our advice is stick with the softer lines in the style of monofilament. They are much easier to tie good knots with and offer excellent strength and stretch in a tiny diameter. The basic rule of thumb is 2-pound test for fishing bait and small plastic lures and 4-pound test for metal lures, hard plastic minnows and cranks and trolling.
The Right Bait Or Lure
The most reliable bait for trout is as old as time: a worm or a nightcrawler. Nightcrawlers are a large worm that will squiggle on the end of the hook and often just half of one is enough, which adds the benefit of smell in the water. When still fishing, an air injector called a Worm Blower is used to put a bubble into the nightcrawler that makes it float up off the bottom. Another enticing natural bait is roe, which is commercially packaged in jars as salmon eggs and enhanced with scents and colors.
Equally productive are the scented floating baits which come in a variety of doughs and pre-formed portions in bright colors with added sparkle. As with an injected nightcrawler, the flotation moves the bait off the bottom and into the trout's feeding zone. Or you can combine a nightcrawler with a floating bait and get the best of both worlds. Just make sure the hook you use is not too big, since a big hook can sink the bait and offset the benefit of the minimal resistance of light line.
Small plastic grubs, tubes and worms are also effective at attracting bites from trout. These are baits fished on the move, sometimes with a steady retrieve, at others with the most sensitive of twitches. The advances in scent technology have been applied to these baits, making them even more deadly. One of the top trout lures combines a tube with a small plastic worm.
The first fishing lure unearthed by archaeologists is the metal "spoon," so called because of its cupped metal shape that causes a wobbling action. Other metal lures rely on beveled surfaces or a bend in the metal, while others have blades that spin. These inline spinners usually have another attractant like beads or colored synthetic or animal hair. All are heavy enough for easy casting, especially on light line, and catch fish either retrieved or trolled.
Minnow imitations and small crankbaits rely on a "lip" or articulated body or both for action and offer both a realistic look and a motion hard for a trout to resist. They can also be easily cast or trolled, especially since we'll help you pick out the right rod and reel.
The Right Rod And Reel
The light line trout fishing we're talking is all about the right spinning reel and rod. The reel is an easy choice – an ultralight 500 size for 2-pound test and a 1000 size for 4-pound test. We have an extensive selection of price ranges. We'll help you decide between price and long-lasting quality.
The rod you buy depends on a simple factor. Do you fish more often in streams or on lakes? A short ultralight rod in the 5- to 6-foot range is perfect for poking around in the brush and overhang of streams. A long ultralight rod in the 7-foot size offers the ability to cast small baits and lures like tubes farther and cover more ground on the open water of lakes.
While you'll find it's beneficial to have at least two rod and reel outfits when trout fishing, both 2- and 4-pound setups, what's most important is to get you outfitted with your first proper ultralight outfit. The choices might seem overwhelming when it comes to lures and baits, but with the right rod and reel, the great advice of our pros and a few select tackle choices, you'll be on your way to catching lots of trout.