Trout are challenging species of fish to catch.
We’re not going after the local pond bass anymore.
Trout have an amazing sense of smell, hawk-like eyesight, and they’re masters of disguise.
We can save you some frustration, time, and money by covering the essentials to a successful trip on the water!
Here’s a list of distinguished trout fishing tips and tricks to help you catch more fish.
Let’s dive in!
Tip #1 Use The Right Fishing Line For Trout.
I’m just going to cut to the chase.
You have to use fluorocarbon.
Now, it’s ok to use a monofilament or braid as a main-line. However, using a fluorocarbon leader(8″ – 12″ of line tied to the end of your line) is a complete necessity while you’re fishing for trout.
If your budget allows it, I’d recommend using an actual leader material.
It may seem like a small upgrade, but its a worthwhile investment.
Fluorocarbon (or fluoro for short) refracts the light in a way that makes the fishing line near invisible to the fish.
Monofilament has micro air pockets in the line. While still being a pretty clear line, mono doesn’t quite do the job as well as fluoro.
Now there are a couple reasons why fluorocarbon is the superior line for trout fishing, lets start with the obvious:
It’s near invisible to the fish.
Imagine if you had a perfectly clear acrylic plastic cylinder and you put it in water. Now if you looked at that cylinder underwater, you wouldn’t be able to see it.
It’s the same idea with fluorocarbon.
Now leader material or tippet material is also made from fluorocarbon, but it’s a more “pure” version of fluoro. It has fewer imperfections and a smaller line diameter.
The other reason you would want to choose a fluorocarbon line is that it doesn’t float!
This is a big deal if you’re fishing in water with a significant current(faster than walking speed.) It’s an even bigger deal if you are float fishing.
In the sport of trout fishing, being natural as possible is your key to success. Because fluoro is non-buoyant, it drifts at current speed and yields a very natural presentation. It also gets to the strike zone quicker(Couple inches off the bottom or where the fish bite.)
More time in the strike zone = More bites.
Monofilament, on the other hand, floats in water. This causes the presentation of your lure to drift unnaturally in the water column.
Another factor to consider is that fluorocarbon line doesn’t stretch as much mono.
Now this can be a double edge sword. You will get more hookups and better hook sets using fluoro, but the fish can spit the hook easily. With mono, its the complete opposite. Since the line tends to stretch you might miss a few hook sets, but when you do hook them, you often have a better chance of landing the fish. This is why many anglers choose to go with a mono main line(line on the spool) and fluoro leader.
Lastly, when it comes to the size of line, or line diameter, use a line that’s rated the weight of fish your fishing for. For a 10 pound fish use a 10 pound line. If you’re not sure, then start with 4lbs and work your way up.
Flouro has a thinner line diameter than mono. So once again it just makes it that much more of a discrete line choice.
Another determining factor when it comes to choosing line size(diameter+test) is the color of the water. If the water color is really stained and looks like chocolate milk than a heavier line should be fine. Or, If the water is crystal clear use a lighter line.
Tip#2 Know the Best Time of Day to Fish for Trout
“The fish were biting earlier!”
It’s important to the water at the right time.
Sunset and sunrise are generally going to be the best time of day to catch trout.
The fish are the most active in both moving and feeding at these times.
The afternoon is what you would call a lull. This is where not much activity happens and the fish are pretty dormant.
Time of day will impact the location and baits you are using.
Trout will often move to the darkest part of the water.
So if its noon and the sun is shining straight down on the water, head towards the banks with overhanging trees, deep pockets in the water, or any other cool and dark locations.
Depending on what season or time of the year you are in you may find that certain flies or lures are more effective earlier in the day or in the evening.
The amount of light and clarity of the water will help determine the color of lure you want to be using.
When its bright and clear you will want to go for something that is small and very natural looking.
On the flip side, in dark murky conditions a brighter and bigger pattern will be better. A go-to color, would be a black or white bait, something with strong contrast to its surroundings to help it stand out.
If your fishing during the spawning season bright colors such as hot pink, purple, and chartreuse are going to be a better option for stained water.
Another variable to take into consideration while determining the time of day will be the amount of pressure from the other fisherman on the water.
Trout will bunker down and be more selective with their feeding habits if they are being over targeted.
Avoiding crowds is going to benefit you as an angler and will often give you more chances to hook up.
Trout tend to move upstream if they are spooked. So if you’re not seeing any fish activity downstream than move ahead and get further upstream of the other anglers.
Tip #3 Switch up Your Types of Trout Bait
Trout are predatory fish and will strike at a lot of different baits.
However, they are very picky eaters so knowing your fish and what they’re eating at the right time of the year well net more fish.
I want to address trout bait in much more detail and that in itself may be a post of its own.
But for now, I want to touch on some of the basics and must have lures to catch yourself a trout.
Whatever season you’re in will be a significant element that dictates what lure you should use.
Anytime besides spawning season, lures that imitate prey are best. That will be things like spinners, small plastic worms, real worms, minnows, and small crank baits.
Throughout the day its good to try different types of baits.
So that means switching between colors, sizes, and types of lures.
Here’s the secret: When you catch a fish, take a note of what you used. When the fishing slows down, change baits but keep one trait of the lure in common with the next one.
For example; you caught a trout on a pink plastic worm. The next bait to select could be a different colored plastic worm, a real worm, a pink spinner bait, or a different size pink worm.
Keep doing this until you’ve ran out of options and then start over.
Here’s a quick shopping list of some of the essentials you should always have in your tackle box and tend to work year round for trout.
Tip #4 Learn Different Fishing Knots for Trout Fishing
This may go without saying but good knots can make or break your catch, literally.
If you don’t know how to tie a good knot, please don’t take the “if you don’t know how to tie a knot, tie a lot” mentality.
Just like casting accuracy, knot tying is another quintessential skill to learn in fishing.
One last note: if you see your line is “stretched” or damaged in some way.
It will be worth fixing your line now, than to lose a fish later.
Quick side bar: A good knot will save you money when comes to losing less equipment/tackle on the water.
Breaking off a lure or hook can put a fishes life at jeopardy.
So take the time, invest in your knot tying education before your next adventure to the stream.
Tip #5 Bring a Trout Net
Besides carrying a high quality fishing scale with you, fishing nets always come in clutch.
Nets are great to have and they make landing a fish much easier.
More importantly, if your practicing catch and release a net is essential to keeping the fish safe.
It keeps the fish safe in a couple ways:
- You have more control to get the hook out quickly.
- The fish’s protective slime coating will stay intact since you shouldn’t have to put it on the ground.
- You should also be able to keep the fish in the water longer.
The best fishing nets for trout have a thick rubber/plastic coated mesh.
These type of nets protect the fish and keep your hook from getting tangled in the net.
Those cheaper nets with the strings and knots will tear off the scales of the fish along with there slime and usually destroy your hook in the process.
Tip #6 Talk to the folks at the local tackle shops
Anytime I visit somewhere new to fish this is one the first things I do.
This is also probably one of the most effective tips on this list.
Tackle shop owners normally fish the local waters themselves and if they don’t they have regulars in there shops that do.
Most shop owners want you to catch fish.
This way you come back and buy more gear.
Be honest with them, let them know if your experienced or not. Tackle shop owners can usually tell you what’s working and what the fish are biting at!
Tip #7 Know how to locate Trout
In tip #2 we talked about how trout move throughout the day.
But where specifically do they move too?
Fish are pretty simple creatures the eat, sleep, and spawn.
Yes fish sleep.
Getting back to the question,
Trout move to where they can eat. (without being eaten themselves)
So how do we feed a trout?
The right bait + Strike zone = Fish bites
The strike zone will be where the zone where trout eat.
Trout are predatory fish. An ideal strike zone is where a trout can ambush their prey and protect themselves at the same time. Trout predators are birds, other fish, fisherman, and many other things.
So in the water this will translate to areas that are a bit deeper, behind large boulders, in turbulent current, and undercover.
The only exception to this is during the salmon spawning season.
Trout are notorious for following right behind spawning salmon and eating or crushing the eggs as they drift by in the current.
So in conclusion avoid areas in direct sunlight with little to no cover.
Tip #8 Try different fishing methods
Different fishing methods such as fly or centerpin fishing have different advantages that could be more effective for your scenario.
It’s never a bad idea to switch up your approach from time to time. You’ll inevitably learn more about fishing and fish behavior when practicing a new fishing style.
Tip #9 Use small tackle
When in doubt, scale down.
What do I mean by this?
Well trout are very skittish fish. If you’re using tackle that is to big, you’ll spook the fish.
A good indicator to start scaling down is when everyone around you is catching fish but your not.
Chances are you’re either using the wrong bait, or your set up is too big and not very discreet.
If your not too familiar with tackle, check out our complete guide on terminal tackle.
Tip #10 Try new things
Fishing is a labor of love that will test your patience any time it gets a chance. There is no way around the learning curve to become great at fishing.
But the most direct way is research, and trial and error.
Try new things. Whether it’s a new bait, pole, hook, or whatever.
Trust us on this.
Not only will you catch more fish, but the satisfaction of discovering something new and that works is what will get YOU hooked.
Have fun fishing. Enjoy your time on the water. Don’t forget to be a respectful sportsmen by taking care of your trash and taking the measures necessary to protect the fish.