Best Spinners for Steelhead: Our Expert’s 8 Top Lures

Spinner fishing is one of those legendary lure designs that just work for steelhead fishing, and they are probably the most productive of all conventional fishing lures for the species. …

Spinner fishing is one of those legendary lure designs that just work for steelhead fishing, and they are probably the most productive of all conventional fishing lures for the species. In this post, we will review our favorite steelhead spinners for you to try out the next time you hit the water.

The 8 Best Spinners for Steelhead

Fly fishing steelhead
Steelhead take spinners with gusto when they are in the right mood

1. Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Lure

The Blue Fox Vibrax spinner is an an absolute classic in the trout fishing world, and it has been a staple for any anglers tackle box for decades.

The Vibrax features the signature “dinner bell” body that features a hollow bell shape that shudders and clacks against the inner body, producing a ton of noise and vibration. The free-turning brass gear that is housed in the inside portion of the bell reduces bait roll/twist.

The main body is machined and the components of the Vibrax are made from brass, including the blade, which is stamped and coated in nickel, copper, or painted.

There are a ton of variations in the Blue Fox Vibrax spinner line, and they are available in both skirted, and un-skirted models. These steelhead lures come with a treble hook fitted as standard.

2. Panther Martin FishSee UV Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Lure

The Panther Martin fishseeUV Salmon and steelhead fishing spinners are great. The spinners are the same classic design that anglers love from panther Martin, but with an added modern twist.

The paint on the Panther Martin fishseeUV salmon and steelhead spinners feature a UV enhanced iridescent pearl based finish and colorful graphics optimized for high levels of visibility in the water.

Unlike humans fish, like birds and some other animals, can see UV light, and using UV paint accentuates UV light and appears very bright and vibrant to a steelhead, or any fish.

UV painted lures have been a trend in the musky fishing world for quite a while now, and it seems that this lure painting technique is carrying over to the trout world.

Treble hooks are standard on these steelhead lures.

3. Yakima Bait Wordens’ Original Rooster Tail Lure

The rooster tail manufactured by Yakima is the same rooster tail that used to be made by Wordens. If you have fished for trout conventionally for a reasonable amount of time, chances are you have used or own a selection of the original rooster tail, as it has been a staple lure for trout for the past 50 years.

The rooster tails’ design consists of a single willow blade that puts out some vibration and a ton of flash, which is characteristic of the willow blade shape.

The small tail of the rooster tail section is made from very fine and soft hair for increased flow in the current and the small treble hook allows for excellent hooking rates.

Due to decades on the market and high popularity, the rooster tail comes in pretty much any color you can imagine, allowing you to fish them effectively in any water clarity, sky conditions, or fish feeding moods.

4. Mepps K7 Alaska Bonanza Kit

Instead of one lure, the Mepps K7 Alaska Bonanza kit features six different spinners, all of which work great for steelhead fishing.

Don’t let the Alaska name fool you. While these spinners originally have salmon in mind, they work equally well for steelhead fishing, and the variety in this kit will suit you for a day on the water.

The Kit comes with naked spinners, and a vinyl body section that helps add a bit of a profile and color to the spinner.

The kit has a combination of the timeless Mepps Aglia spinner which is a classic that has caught more fish than anyone could count, along with the Mepps Flying C spinners.

All spinners feature a single hook configuration and bead bodies for weighting purposes.

5. Panther Martin Deluxe Fly Spinning Lure

This spinner is similar to the famous Panther Martin design, but features a bit of fly fishing flavor.

Instead of the typical squirrel tail or synthetic skirting that is typical with rooster tails, the panther martin deluxe fly spinner features a hand-tied fly similar to those used in fly fishing.

The fly/spinner combo give the trout and steelhead something different to look at, and on pressured waters, something different can make all the difference.

The rest of the design is the same as the beloved classic, and features a shaft-through blade design. This blade design keeps the blade close to the shaft of the rooster tail and allows for increasingly less drag.

The interesting blade alternation between convex and concave shapes gives the spinner a unique vibration in the water that calls out to the steelhead in a way that sets it apart from standard willow, French, Indiana, and Colorado style blades.

6. Blue Fox Flash Spinner Kit

The Blue Fox flash spinner is a unique spinner design that looks absolutely deadly and is a great lure.

The spinner offers a high amount of both flash and color thanks to its holographic blades and minnow shaped body section.

The blade is angled on the spinner which allows you to effectively work the spinner at depths ranging from just below the surface, to 4-6 feet below the surface.

The skirting on the Blue Fox flash spinner is on the light side, which isn’t a bad thing, and allows for deeper fishing, and it is also a combination of traditional hair and a flashabou type material for added flash.

Since this is a kit, you will get a selection of five different color patterns to suit your needs on the water.

7. Panther Martin Classic Spinner

The Panther Martin classic spinner is a staple for any trout fisherman, and most anglers have fished these great lures at some point.

The Panther Martin rooster tail features a shaft-through blade design. This blade design keeps the blade close to the shaft of the rooster tail and allows for increasingly less drag, allowing for easier retrieval, and fishing deeper in the water column.

The interesting blade alternation between convex and concave features creates a unique vibration in the water that calls out to the fish in a way that sets it apart from standard willow blades.

There are several different variants of this spinner out there, from naked, skirted, flash patterns with holographic paint styles, fly versions, and more.

8.Mepps Aglia Spinners

Mepps is probably the biggest name when it comes to spinners and spoons for virtually any freshwater species. They have been in operation for almost 100 years, a testament to the effectiveness and reliability of their lures.

The Mepps Aglia is the original French-style spinner design and Mepps offers the Aglia series in multiple sizes and design types including both naked spinners and skirted rooster tails, and a wide range of colors as well.

If you wish to try the non-skirted versions, the Aglia features a bright attractor sleeve on them to help give off some color and attract fish, and these naked spinners can seal the deal when the fish are being stubborn.

The shaft of the Aglia is stainless steel to protect against corrosion, and the blade comes in multiple finishes and colors including, gold, brass, copper, or silver finishes as well as painted blades. 

A treble hook is standard with Aglia spinners.

Best Spinners for Steelhead: FAQs

Steelhead being released with fisherman
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different color spinners

How Do You Fish Spinners for Steelhead?

Trout fishing with these spinners is fairly simple and is something that even novice anglers can learn with ease.
To fish a spinner, you simply cast at a specific target spot or fan cast throughout an area and retrieve. you can vary your speed to see what the trout like best or to get the lure higher or deeper in the water column as needed.
One tip when fishing a spinner for rainbow trout is to make sure that you engage your reel and get the blade spinning the instant it hits the water, this way if there is a fish directly below the lure it will strike immediately.
Spinners of various types and colors are a must have for anyone fishing rainbow trout, and it has been responsible for uncountable numbers of trophy steelhead, and will undoubtedly catch fish for you consistently.

What is best rod and reel type for spinning for Steelhead?

For steelhead fishing you will want to use a 7″ to 7’6″ length rod that has a fast action and medium to medium heavy power.
This is also a great rod for many other species, so if you are a multi-species angler you can use your steelhead fishing setup for other species like bass or walleye.

What kind of Water is Best for Steelhead Spinning?

While rainbow trout can be found in lake occasionally, with the most well known lake being the great lakes, when it come to rivers rainbow trout like moving water that is highly oxygenated, and typically these rivers or streams are found to have clear water conditions when the weather is stable.
deep holes and rapids are also a good sign to find steelhead, and if it is a tributary to the Great Lakes or in the Pacific northwest, the spawning runs can be action packed.

What are some other good steelhead lures?

Spinners aren’t the only lure that works well when steelhead fishing, and other lures can certainly seal the deal on any given day on the water.
spoons also work great when steelhead fishing, and at times can outperform spinners and be fished with variations in action and depth.
Live or imitation eggs or roe works well on a simple float right and single hooks during spawning runs, and if you harvest a female steelhead you can use fresh eggs on your rig, which is the ultimate roe presentation.
Even soft plastics and crankbaits can catch steelhead in the right conditions, so don’t be afraid to experiment when steelhead fishing.
One final tip is to use a snap swivel to make lure changes easy.

Final Thoughts on Steelhead Spinning

Spinners for all types of trout and salmon species will always be effective, and it isn’t exclusive to just steelhead fishing. Keep a variety of spinners in your box when you hit the rivers, and watch your catch rates climb.

One other thing to consider is whether you replace the treble hooks on your lures with a single hook for steelhead. Steelhead stocks are under threat and anything you can do to reduce the mortality rate if you are fishing catch and release is worth considering.

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AUTHOR
Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. Shawn's fished extensively for pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth and panfish species. He's developing a passion for chasing trout on the fly rod.