I hear this question get asked a lot by people looking to get into fishing during trout season. Thankfully there are multiple ways of catching any type of fish and trout are no different. Fly fishing is a great way to catch trout but it is not the only way.
So can you catch trout without fly fishing? Yes you can catch trout without fly fishing. A common way to catch trout is to simply fish with a worm and bobber. This is the easiest setup for trout fishing and can be done using a regular rod with a spinning reel.
Let’s take a look at what we really need to get started trout fishing without getting a fly fishing setup.
Trout Fishing Rig
Ultimately, any fishing rig can be broken down into 5 main components:
You can use any fishing rod for trout. This fish will rarely get large enough to risk breaking a pole unless you are fishing for Steelhead.
A lot of trout fishing anglers enjoy using an Ultra Light rated rod since it is the most sensitive rod to smaller fish. This will allow you to feel each bite and really fight the fish since these rods are relatively thin.
Personally I recommend getting a Medium action rod that is around 6 to 8 feet long since these are great all purpose poles. You will be able to use this rod for most freshwater fishing without any issues.
Make sure to get a fishing pole that matches the style of reel you are using. So if you have a spinning reel then get a spinning rod. Baitcaster reel… get a baitcaster rod. You get the idea.
You can use a spincast, baitcast, fly or spinning reel for trout fishing. Any of these reel options work as long as you can comfortably cast out.
I recommend using a spincast or spinning reel if you’re just starting out.
Baitcast reels have a steeper learning curve and can cause a lot of frustration when you’re still learning. So baitcast reels are for the more advanced anglers.
Similar to fishing poles, reels also come in different sizes. You can use the smaller size reels for trout since they are smaller fish.
I highly recommend getting a combination set that include both the rod and reel. This way the rod and reel will be matching styles and appropriate sizes for each other. That way your rod and reel will be nicely balanced.
Checkout the Ugly Stik GX2 spinning combo on Amazon as this is the most popular beginner rod and reel combo for trout fishing.
There are a LOT of fishing line options and this is where things can get overwhelming fast when you’re just starting off. Remember that trout are small fish so we don’t need line that can haul in 50 pound fish.
Simply get monofilament fishing line that is rated for 2 to 6 pound test. This will be the cheapest option and you can use this fishing line on your entire reel.
I go into depth on the Best Fishing Line Setup for Trout. Be sure to check that article out if you want to get a more long term fishing line setup for trout and other freshwater fish.
Hooks can be another area where it can seem overwhelming based on the variety of styles and sizes that fishing hooks come in. Remember that trout have small mouths so we need to use smaller hooks.
I recommend using size 10 to 14 for treble hooks and size 8 to 12 for single hooks. These size hooks will work for all trout bait.
Be sure to invest in high quality, sharp fishing hooks. A sharp hook will determine if a trout gets hooked or bites your bait and swims away. I provide a side-by-side comparison of cheaper versus quality hooks in the Best Hooks for Trout guide.
The final component to any fishing setup is the bait. Trout are known to be picky eaters but here are some great bait options that have worked for me.
I will cover the top 5 trout bait options below and how to fish each one.
Powerbait is the most common and strangest bait to see work if you’ve never gone trout fishing before.
These come in a variety of colors from bright pink, neon green, sparkly yellow, and more. You would think that this is some child’s Playdough mislabeled as bait. But this stuff simply works.
Powerbait is a moldable bait that you can roll into a ball and place over a treble or single hook.
Powerbait also floats which means if you put enough of it on your hook then your hook and bait will float.
This is perfect for fishing off the bottom by putting a weight 1-3 feet above your hook. The most common bottom fishing setup for trout is called the egg sinker rig.
You can also attach a bobber above your weight or leader so that the powerbait is suspended in the water. This will allow you to see when the fish start biting.
2. Powerbait Mice Tails
Berkley not only came out with Powerbait but also Floating Mice Tails which are incredibly effective at catching trout.
This bait combines two common trout foods, the egg and the worm into one single bait. These artificial worms are scented which draws the trout in since trout can smell.
They also have ridges along the worm body which causes these to dance in the moving water.
Similar to the original Powerbait we listed above, the mice tails come in a huge variety of colors as well.
I can personally vouch for the White/Bubblegum color which is the white egg and pink worm. The Chartreuse/Fluorescent Orange color which is the green egg and orange worm is another popular combination.
One thing is for certain, Powerbait mice tails work and are highly visible in the water.
The ole trusty nightcrawler lives up to the adage “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.” This is arguable the best bait on the list but I placed the Powerbaits higher due to convenience.
You will need to get fresh nightcrawlers each time you go out fishing since these worms will die if not properly stored in a cool area.
The huge benefits of using a worm is that these are cheap, easy to find, and will always work. All you need to do is use a single hook, place the worm through or on the hook depending on the worm length, use a bobber, and cast out.
This will cause your worm to be suspended in the water from the surface by the length of the bobber to your hook.
Worms do not float on their own so you should use a bobber when fishing with a worm. You can use an air pump to get the worm to float if you want to fish your worm off the bottom without a bobber.
Worms are just one option for live bait. There is a long list of other live baits that you can use including minnows, eggs, insects, frogs, crayfish, and so on.
Check with your state and local fishing authorities to see which live bait is legal to use.
4. Powerbait Power Eggs (Salmon Eggs)
I know you’re probably thinking I’m some sort of Powerbait fan boy seeing a third one show up on this list. I promise it’s only because Powerbait Power Eggs are the most available salmon egg online.
If you want more variety then you can grab regular salmon eggs at your local tackle shop for bait.
Either option is great and both look, smell, and feel like the tasty salmon eggs that trout love to eat.
In order to rig salmon eggs properly you should use a smaller single hook such as a size 10-14. Place however many eggs you want on the hook. I recommend placing three just in case one falls off then your hook is still baited.
Much like the other bait options, you can either fish off the bottom using weights or by using a bobber to suspend it in the water.
Corn might be another one of those surprise baits that you wouldn’t normally think fish would love but they do.
Now this one on Amazon is an artificial corn which is great since it will not go bad. However, you can grab a can of sweet corn from the grocery store and use that as bait.
Both are great options when it comes to fishing with corn.
Similar to fishing with salmon eggs you will want to use a single hook and place a kernel on it. Since the corn is larger you will want to use a size 8 or 10 hook.
Place one kernel of corn on the hook and test to make sure it floats. All you need to do now is add weights about 1-3 feet above the hook to fish off the bottom.
Add a bobber above the weights and then you will be fishing suspended from the surface.
Lures are a more active way to fish than the 5 baits we listed above. Baitfishing is the most passive way to fish where you just cast out and wait for the fish to bite. Lures, on the other hand, require you to imitate a food source that the fish wants to strike.
One thing is for certain, fishing with lures is the most fun way to catch fish including trout. Below are the top 5 trout fishing lures and how to use each one.
1. ACME Kastmaster Spoon
You will find these lures on almost every top trout fishing list and for good reason.
Use the 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce sizes since those have the best balance of enough weight to cast from shore yet still small enough to fit in a trout’s mouth.
I have caught and seen people catch bass, trout, and even bluegill with the smaller sizes. This all-purpose lure is a must have since it wobbles through the water imitating a bait fish and the solid brass material lets this lure fly on every cast.
These lures sink fast so be sure to have a steady reel in when fishing from shore.
2. Panther Martin Spinner
These lures are legendary in the trout fishing scene and you will almost always find one of these lures in an angler’s tackle box.
Go with the 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce spinners.
Just cast and reel in which causes the blade to spin and produce a thumping noise. This lure will earn the nickname ole reliable once you start getting more casts in.
Try different colors based on the weather and water visibility.
In darker waters the brighter colors tend to perform better while clear water the silver colors tend to get me more strikes.
3. Blue Fox Vibrax Spinner
The Vibrax spinner is a special lure that produces a unique rubbing sound when you spin the bell around the brass gear in the center.
Hearing it in your hand gives you an idea of how well this lure works as it’s getting reeled in through the water. This is another lure gifted with quality craftsmanship meaning you do not need any help to cast this sturdy lure far.
Like other spinners this just requires a simple cast out and steady reel in to let the lure rattle through the water.
Great for shore, pier, and boat fishing including trolling.
4. Yakima Rooster Tail Spinner
These are the original Rooster Tails that are widely recognized among anglers.
There are a ton of different rooster tail style lures, however, this one has the best ratio of weighted blade, body, and tail that taunts trout into biting.
This lure has a balanced weight which is great for shore fishing.
5.Trout Magnet Jig
Trout magnets are another one of those lures that show up on almost all of the top bait lists for trout.
They look so simple that they wouldn’t work but once you put one on with the tiny, slanted, shad jig head – the trout start going crazy.
The trick is that the unique jig head causes these worm like lures to dance in the water as they sink in the water.
There are multiple ways to fish for trout that do not involve a fly fishing setup. Thankfully, we have a lot of great options from the fishing rig itself to the bait and lures we can use.
I hope this guide helps get you out on the water catching some trout!