Trout fishing doesn’t require you to master the art of fishing with a fly rod and reel. It’s quite possible to have just as much fun using an ultralight rod and a small spinning reel to catch trout in lakes, rivers, and streams.
If you’re interested in trout fishing, there are a few specific items you’ll need if you want to be fully prepared. We’ve compiled these items into a list to help you get started.
A high-quality fishing rod is a key to being able to truly enjoy your efforts when it comes to catching trout. Most anglers prefer to use an ultralight spinning rod and reel in their efforts to catch rainbow trout and other species.
There are some distinct differences between a fly fishing rod and a spinning rod that revolve around the casting motion you’ll use for fishing in a small river or stream. A good trout fishing rod will typically be anywhere from 6′ to 8′ in length.
It’s better to select a 6′ rod, or even shorter if you’re going to be fishing in tight quarters around narrow mountain streams, but if you’re fishing in an area where the shore is more open, you can get away with having a longer 8′ rod which will give you more casting distance.
As with any type of gear or equipment item when it comes to trout fishing, or going after any other species, a more expensive product is typically going to be a better long-term investment compared to purchasing a cheap rod. However, there are some outstanding trout fishing rods that are usually available at a very reasonable price.
One of my personal favorite trout rods is an Eagle Claw Featherlight spinning rod in 6′ length in ultralight power. If you’re willing to spend more for an exceptionally great product, the G. Loomis Classic Trout rod is a trout fishing rod that’s superior to just about every other brand on the market.
You won’t necessarily need to have a rod that’s made to have brute strength for trout fishing, but there are some specific characteristics you should look for in ideal spinning outfits. Trout fishing involves using very small, lightweight lures and tackle, which means any reels you use must be capable of adequately casting these smaller lures.
A spincast or baitcasting will not be a good choice for trout fishing since they are designed for casting larger, heavier lures and handling fishing line that is usually above 8 pound test. A small spinning reel is, by far, the best choice for trout fishing as it well-suited for being used with light fishing line.
Look for a quality-made spinning reel that’s anywhere from a 1000 to 2500 size. It’s key to have a capacity for around 100 yards of 4 to 6 pound test fishing line that’s either fluorocarbon or monofilament.
I generally look for a reel that’s made with durable, long-lasting components and offers a smooth casting and reeling action. Having a smooth reel plays a major role in the overall action and appearance of your lure (from a fish’s perspective) as it’s being retrieved in the water.
A great reel for beginner trout fishing anglers is the Lew’s Laser Lite spinning reel. This is a modestly-priced option that I’ve used to catch numerous smaller fish like rainbow trout, brook trout and other freshwater species.
Trout tend to have very keen eyesight and are able to easily detect foreign objects, such as heavy fishing line, especially in very clear water conditions. This is the main reason why it’s important for anglers to have lighter pound test fishing line.
It’s not a requirement that you should have the same type of floating line that’s used by fly anglers. Most trout fishing enthusiasts will opt for monofilament or fluorocarbon when fishing with a spinning setup.
I personally prefer to use a high-quality fluorocarbon line as this becomes virtually invisible underwater and makes it much easier to get a bite from finicky trout, especially in heavily-pressured waterways.
A good choice of line for trout fishing that’s affordably-priced is 4 to 6 pound test P-Line Floroclear line.
The type of clothes you wear for a trout fishing trip might be vastly different compared to what you’d have on for saltwater fishing or even targeting bass on a large lake. This is mostly because being successful in trout fishing commonly requires wading into the water and getting closer to your target.
Trout thrive in cold, clear waters, so the average water temperature in most trout fisheries is likely too cold for most anglers to comfortably wade into while wearing normal clothing.
Having a good pair of chest waders is a must for serious trout fishing anglers. If you’re able to find a good set of waders, it will have a significant effect on your efforts to catch trout in both lakes, rivers and small streams as it will allow you to be much more comfortable while you fish.
Any serious trout anglers should have some type of waders as part of their fishing equipment, especially in larger streams and fast-moving rivers. It’s important to consider the water level of the river or stream as this will determine whether you require pant waders or chest waders.
A high-quality pair of waders can be quite expensive, especially if they aren’t boot waders and you are required to purchase your own pair of wading boots. It’s important to note that felt-soled wading boots that have studs or cleats on the bottom can cause damage to drift boats and many trout fishing guides don’t allow anglers to wear them for this reason.
My personal preference is TideWe Breathable Stockingfoot Chest Waders and I consider these to be one of the most important items among my assortment of fishing equipment. TideWe is a brand known for making quality products and their breathable waders are a truly good pair that won’t have the usual hefty price tag that other breathable waders come with.
The types of lures you will use for trout fishing compared to those that are commonly used in fly fishing are quite different. Fly fishing anglers often use very small, tiny flies that weigh almost nothing at all. These flies can be cast out using a fly fishing rod and reel, but a spinning setup is not very well-equipped to handle such tackle.
The go-to tackle and lure choices for many avid trout fishing anglers are small inline spinners, rooster-tails, and other baits.
Inline spinners are likely the most common type of bait used by the average trout angler. It’s a simple type of bait that’s very easy to use and is capable of catching plenty of fish when used properly.
There are seemingly endless combinations of blade types and colors, as well as the body designs and color combinations used for various spinners. It’s fairly common to find a wide assortment of spinners at any local bait and tackle shop, but every angler should be prepared and have a good number of these in their tackle boxes at all times.
Spinners are light lures that you can apply in just about any situation to catch more fish. They sometimes don’t function well on fly rods and fly anglers aren’t usually afforded the advantage of being able to throw a good spinner into promising pools where trout like to congregate.
I always make sure I have plenty of spinners in my tackle box, as well as my fishing vest and fly boxes. They are incredibly easy to tie on and throw and are very effective. My favorite type of spinner lure is the Panther Martin 1/4 ounce spinner in either gold or rainbow trout pattern.
When fishing in larger rivers where trout grow to enormous sizes, many anglers will throw small minnow-like artificial lures to catch these monster fish.
One of my absolute favorite trout fishing lures is the Rebel Lures Tracdown Ghost Minnow. I can fish this minnow lure near the surface or at the bottom of a deeper pool by letting it sink. It has a small, slender profile that trout can’t resist and you can catch more fish by using a variety of retrieve methods with the Ghost Minnow.
Soft plastic lures are often one of the more overlooked types of bait that trout anglers love to use. This is another type of bait that fly fishing anglers often neglect to use with fly rods, so spinning setups deliver an advantage in allowing you to fish with a huge variety of different kinds of plastics.
You can retrieve plastic baits in the same way you might reel in spinners, or they can be fished using a split shot sinker on the bottom.
This split shot rig is one that I personally love when fishing for rainbow trout, as well as browns or brook trout and I always use the Berkley Gulp! 2.5″ Floating Trout Worm. Another fun plastic bait to fish with is the Savage Gear 3D PVC Mayfly Nymph.
Whether you’re trout fishing with spinning gear or fly fishing equipment, you should always use a landing net—especially if you’re catch and release fishing. A good landing net ensures that you won’t risk losing fish while using light pound test line and also makes it much easier to wrangle in feisty trout without letting them slip away.
It’s also been noted that trout have a protective coat of slimy material all over their body. Using a landing net allows you to keep control over the fish without having to handle them too much, which might disrupt this protective coating on their skin.
I like the classic wooden landing nets that are available online, but the Aventik Floating Fishing Net Carbon Fiber Landing Net is said to be one of the overall best nets for trout.
Another must-have trout fishing equipment item is a good pair of sunglasses. This will not only protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays, but a quality pair of polarized sunglasses provide a major advantage in allowing anglers to see into the water.
Brands like Costa Del Mar, Ray-Ban and others are outstanding, but if you’re looking for a more affordable pair that will work well, the Bircen Mens Polarized Carbon Fiber Sunglasses are a solid choice.
There are a few other accessories that trout fishing and fly fishing anglers should look for if they truly want to maximize their efforts on the water. Any serious trout angler knows that a good fly fishing vest is a must-have item when it comes to their overall fishing gear selection. The Flygo Men’s Outdoor Fishing Vest is a reasonably-priced option that is well-worth the extra cost.
When fishing in an especially fast-moving river or areas like lakes where there might be slippery rocks, having a wading staff provides a noteworthy advantage that allows you to maintain your balance. The Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff is a handy addition to your overall equipment and comes with its own carrying pouch for quick and easy storage and access.
Headwear is another essential item when it comes to any form of fishing, you might not always need a lot of sun protection when fishing shaded mountain streams, but it’s good to have something more than a simple baseball cap if you’re spending many hours at a time outside. I always wear a Columbia Bora Bora Booney cap to keep the sun off my face and neck and ensure that I stay cool at all times.