Spoon & Spinner Tactics for Trout

By Nick Simonson

At this point in the year, stocked trout are acclimating to their new homes, and a variety of fishing options can be used to land them.  Stabilized and more educated to their environment – and the anglers surrounding it or boating through it – they may be a bit pickier.  However, as the water warms and they go a bit deeper, tactics to target the flashy silver-sided rainbows or the feisty spotted browns, among other species stocked in North Dakota’s small trout lakes, should be adjusted to continue spring success into early summer.  Two great lures that are versatile at various depths and catch trout in the cool of early morning or throughout the warming days are spinners and spoons. With some refinement, both can become go-to lures in any trout angler’s arsenal for fast action on any water.

Gear Up


Dynamic Duo.  Small spoons and spinners can work wonders on trout in still waters. Simonson Photo. 

Few lures produce a reaction strike in trout – wild or stocked – like an inline spinner.  Whether dressed with squirrel hair, flash or other material, or left plain, the whir of the blade draws fish in for a look and a strike.  Options like the Mepps Aglia, the Panther-Martin, or Worden’s Roostertail run the gamut of sizes and styles necessary for a broad spectrum of tackle and are relatively inexpensive when it comes to building an arsenal for any trout water. Additionally, small spoons, like Daredevles, Kastmasters and dozens of other brands and models offer up an enticing wiggle and flash that trout can’t resist.   Top metallic colors include gold, bronze and silver, accented with a variety of paint hues, with red, black, or popular baitfish patterns for an accent.  Match the size of the spinner to the appetite of the trout in a given water, going as big as three inches for larger stocked trout, but having a few undersized models available for smaller fish.  In those rare lakes where holdover fish make it from season to season, don’t be surprised if they smash a spoon or in-line that’s a bit bigger – say one that could be used for pike or smallmouth bass.

Depending on water clarity, one can get away with using thin superline, such as PowerPro or Berkley Fireline in 10-pound test but having a spool of monofilament in six-pound test ready to go for casting or trolling these metal options for trout is also a good idea for those gin-clear waters.  Be certain enough line is on the spool to make some long-distance casts and that the weight of the spoon on a long bomb doesn’t leave the spool empty.  Light to medium-light rods in lengths of six to seven feet will cover most trout duties, and a respectable reel with a good drag mechanism can handle the outlying larger trout in any water.

Count Down

Simply due to their heavy nature, spoons and spinners can be used as search lures to help find where trout are holding.   If fish are on the rise and feeding near the surface, an angler can start the retrieve as soon as the lure splashes down.  When there’s no topwater activity, each cast can be counted down to get the lure lower in the water column.  Try fan-casting spinners and spoons in an area around a boat or shore with a quick countdown of two or three seconds, and if there are no takers, try counting down further, such as five or even 10 seconds to find where fish are holding.  While some trout will relate to the bottom, they are likely to suspend somewhere in the water column of a given lake.  Keep that in mind when searching.  Vary the speed or impart subtle twitches in the retrieve for a quick spasm of action to set following fish off and trigger a bite.

In addition to casting and counting down, spinners and small spoons can be trolled for trout.  As long as the speed is enough to turn the spinner’s particular blade or make the spoon wobble with a seductive side-to-side action, it should attract trout while in motion around a body of water behind the boat. Use the main motor or a strong enough trolling motor to impart the action, and slow down to put the offering in a deeper strike zone or speed up when fish are active up top.  Pop the rod time from time to time to make the lure jump and trigger following fish into biting. Hold on tight as even a moderate-sized trout can provide a jarring strike.

With a selection of spinners and spoons and a bit of experience with them on the water this time of year, it’s easy to find fast action for stocked trout.  Before things get too warm and the dog days set in, stack up the memories at the start of summer and enjoy some success with a bit of flash and fun built right into each cast or troll.

Featured Photo: A brown trout fell for a Mepps Aglia worked high through the water column. Simonson Photo. 

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