Trout Fishing Rigs: 10 Proven Set-Ups

Trout can be caught in many different ways, from spinners to crankbaits and live bait. Live bait is the most popular approach for many anglers, and in this post, we …

Trout can be caught in many different ways, from spinners to crankbaits and live bait. Live bait is the most popular approach for many anglers, and in this post, we will take a look a the best trout fishing rigs, including how to make them and when to use them.

General Principles on Rigging for Trout

Trout fishing rigs can be as straightforward or as complicated as you want to make them.

In many cases, all you need is some split shot, a hook, and some bait, and in other cases, you will want to use something with a float or a rig you would typically see a bass angler use.

Let’s look at some great rigs for trout fishing for a wide variety of fishing situations.

Bobber rigs for trout

Bobber rigs like those commonly used by anglers since they were kids have a place in trout fishing as they do for panfish, and they work the same way.

Trout rig with a fixed bobber

How to tie it

This might depend on the type of bobber, but for simplicity, we will use a standard red and white round bobber rig with top and bottom attachments.

All you need to do for this rig is tie on an appropriate hook, add a couple of split shot sinkers above the hook, and hook on the bobber above the sinkers at the depth you want to present your bait.

When to use it

A simple bobber rig can be used in many fishing applications, and some of the most commonly found situations are to use bobber rigs to follow currently along with a deep cut or cover or to use them in a hole or eddy where you can have your bait sit for an extended amount of time to coax neutral fish into biting.

How to fish it

There isn’t much to fishing with a bobber rig, and once you cast to the desired locations, you watch the bobber to see if a strike occurs.

When fishing from one spot to the next, it’s essential to adjust the bobber for the depth of that particular spot.

Slip bobber rig for trout

How to tie it

Slip bobber rigs are similar to a standard bobber rig, with the exception of adding a bobber stop.

Slip bobbers typically consist of a foam or balsa wood float with a plastic tube running through the middle, and a piece of thread known as a bobber stop on the line to stop the bobber at the desired depth.

We need to put the bobber stop on the line first, and most bobber stops have the thread tied around a small plastic tube. Insert the line through the tube, then slide the thread off of the tube, and pull on each tag end to tighten while leaving an ample line for the bobber and hook.

After attaching the bobber stop, you then slide on the bobber and tie on the hook.

The bobber stop can be adjusted so you can fine-tune for depth.

When to use it

Slip bobbers can be used in most situations where you would use a standard bobber, but due to the narrow length and design of most slip bobbers, they might not be the best for heavy current.

They also excel when you need to fine-tune your bait depth, and since the bobber can slide down to your split shot, you can reel in more line and not have the bobber at the eyelet of your rod and still have an extended length of fishing line out when retrieving a fish.

The bobber sliding all the way down near your hook means you can fish intense water with a slip bobber.

How to fish it

You can fish a slip bobber the same as most bobbers, but they excel when fishing in deep water, where you need to have several feet of line between the bobber and the hook.

Bottom fishing rigs for trout

Slip sinker rig for trout

How to tie it

Slip sinkers like slip bobbers have a hole through the center of the weight and allow the line to slide through until it meets a stop. Slip sinkers have a few advantages that make them great for trout fishing.

To start, you want first to add the sinker you want to use by threading your line through it, and after you have the sinker on the line, you will want to add a barrel swivel to use as a stop.

After tying on the barrel swivel, you will want to decide how long you want your bait link section to be. Typically anywhere from 12 to 16 inches will work just fine.

After tying your bait link section, you simply need to add a hook, and your are all set.

When to use it

Slip sinker rigs are great for working a bait close to the bottom and in a static position like around or behind pieces of cover, like logs or rocks.

The great thing about slip sinker rigs is that when trout take the bait, they do not feel the heavy resistance of the weight, which can cause a trout to drop the bait before the hook is set.

How to fish it

Fishing this rig is simple, and using it is the same as with many bottom presentations, simply throw the rig and bait where you want it, let it hit the bottom, and wait.

Split shot rig for trout

How to tie it

The split shot rig is the simplest rig there is, and one that you have probably used many times growing up and fishing as a kid.

Simply tie on a hook and add as many split shots as you need about 12 inches above the hook and bam, you’re done.

When to use it

You would use this rig the same as you would any bottom presentation, and it’s great for working around cover or in holes.

This rig is very popular among trout anglers who fish tiny creeks and streams, as you can simply underhand flip the bait into very small and confined spaces, and most anglers use a snell hook for this style of fishing.

How to fish it

One thing to take note of is that split shot rigs are not the best option for very heavy current, as the small split shot will likely be taken downstream with the current.

On the other hand, some anglers might want the bait to move with the current on the bottom, so it’s really your choice, but there is a very high potential to snag doing this.

Simply throw the bait hook where you want it and let it sit for a bit. These simple rigs are great for coaxing trout out of tight cover.

Drop shot rig for trout

How to tie it

Drop shot rigs are slightly more complicated than your standard slip sinker rig or a split shot rig.

To start, you will want to thread a single hook on the line and leave a desired length of line for the tag end of the line. The tag end should be the depth you want the bait off of the bottom and can be anywhere from one, two, or three feet.

Once you have the desired tag end of the line at the desired length you will want to tie the hook using a Palomar knot. Palomar knots leave a tag end that is usually cut off close to the knot itself, but for a drop shot rig, this is where you will tie your weight.

After tying on the hook, simply tie your weight to the tag end of the line, you can use whatever ounce weight you want, but try to find a happy middle ground between light and heavy.

When to use it

Drop shot rigs are great for fishing around structures like rock piles or static areas where there will be concentrations of fish at a known depth.

How to fish it

Drop shot rigs are fished similar to vertical jigging presentations, and you will want to keep your line tight at all times to keep your presentation at the appropriate depth, and the weight should almost always be on the bottom.

You can give the bait a slight jigging action, but drop shot rigs are used for finesse fishing, and in most cases twitching or shivering the bait or soft plastic is all that is needed.

Ned rig for trout

How to tie it

The Ned rig isn’t really a rig at all, but a style of jig head that works great for finesse fishing.

Ned jigs are designed to present a short soft plastic similar to a Senko worm vertically and are a great tactic to catch finicky trout from the bottom.

When to use it

Ned rigs can be used in most bottom fishing situations and can be worked very slowly or in standard jigging retrieve.

The Ned rig can also be worked in most areas like rocky bottoms, around brush and timber, or any other type of cover where trout will be, but you can still get snagged due to the exposed hook.

How to fish it

Fishing a Ned rig is just like fishing a standard jig for the most part, though many anglers tend to not work these as aggressively as standard jigs, and instead quiver and shake the jig like that of a shaky head presentation it illicit strikes.

Lure rigs for trout

Spinner rig for trout

How to tie it

Spinner rigs are commonly bought complete, with the angler only needing to tie it on their fishing rods and line.

But if you wanted to create your own, you can relatively easily.

Starting with a foot long section of line, simply tie on your hook of choice, add around four beads or your liking, and they add a clevis and Colorado blade, when finished, tie a barrel swivel on the end to complete the rig.

When to use it

Spinner rigs are commonly used for species like walleye when trolling, but trout anglers have been known to use them as well, particularly in deep lakes for lake trout or any other trout species.

Using weights to get to the desired depth, trolling the deep lakes with spinner rigs can help you quickly cover large areas of water.

How to fish it

When trolling trout fishing rigs like spinner rigs, you can use planer boards or simply long line of the rig behind the boat without boards.

Spinner rigs can also be used in conjunction with a weight to fish in the heavy current where the current spins the blade and can be retrieved using a straight retrieve.

Trout rig with bobber and jig

How to tie it

Trout fishing with a jig and bobber is no different than fishing a simple bobber rig, but the hook is replaced with a plain or skirted jig.

When to use it

You can use a bobber rig with a jig like a standard bobber rig when trout fishing, but jigs like skirted jigs work even better when letting the current take them across potential fish-holding areas.

How to fish it

You can just “dead stick” fish bobbers with jigs if you want, or if you are using a skirted jig, tube jig, or similar presentations, you can incorporate pops and twitches to give the bait some like and entice trout to strike.

Choosing The Best Rigs for Trout

Best rigs for fishing worms and soft baits

For worms and soft baits, it’s hard to be an old-fashioned split shot rig in small rivers and streams, but for larger rivers and streams with more current flow, a slip sinker rig or bobber rig like a slip bobber rig will work great.

Best Minnow rigs for trout

Like with other species such as walleye, it’s hard to beat a slip bobber rig when trout fishing with minnows.

Slip bobber rigs allow the minnow to swim freely either close to the bottom or in deep water and are one of the most natural trout fishing presentations out there.

Other fishing rigs that work for minnows include jigs or slip sinker fishing rigs.

Salmon egg rig for trout

Egg rigs work great when fishing for trout in the spring when the trout are actively spawning.

Egg rigs can be used with actual fresh trout or salmon spawn, or anglers can use imitation beads, and rigging can be done similar to a split shot style of rig.

Final Thoughts on the Best Trout Fishing Rig To Use

There are many different rigs you can use for trout fishing, and they all have a time and place on the water, depending on your angling situation. Once you know how these rigs work and the best places and situations to employ them, you will start catching trout more frequently.

Shop where we do: Bass Pro

Grab a Bass Pro special
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Photo of author
Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x