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21 Trout Fishing Tips for Beginners: Mastering the Basics

Trout provide plenty of challenges to anglers. But the good news is that the years of experience of other anglers have produced many trout fishing tips.

Read on to discover some of those trout fishing tips and tricks. And pay attention to your own experiences. That way, you can develop your own trout wisdom to pass on.

Trout in a net and a fishing rod, trout fishing tips

Choosing a Trout Fishing Rod

Of course, choosing the right rod will be key to your success. Read on for some background on trout fishing rods.

1. Types of Trout Fishing Rods

You can still find trout fishing rods made of traditional bamboo, but there are also fiberglass, carbon fiber, and graphite rods. Beyond that are composite rods, combining fiberglass and graphite, or even carbon and boron.

Each of these rods has characteristics that make them popular. Bamboo, for instance, is a simple and inexpensive material. Fiberglass is also relatively inexpensive when compared to carbon fiber, graphite, or composite rods.

Carbon fiber rods are light and sensitive, making them a good choice for both beginning and experienced anglers. Graphite rods are similar, but their propensity for cracking means that today, graphite is found primarily in composite rods.

Composite rods give trout anglers the ideal combination of flexibility and sensitivity. They are more expensive than other rods, but the confidence they provide is worth the money.

2. Get Comfortable With Your Rod Handle

The handle of your fishing rod is where you’ll feel the action as a trout goes for your hook. It also will have the most to do with your comfort while fishing.

There are some things you should know about handle materials to ensure a comfortable choice. For example, cork is a popular rod handle material, but it doesn’t have a lot of “give” in your hands.

Most rods you’ll find in outdoor stores will come with EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam handles. EVA is soft and can be sanded to provide a custom fit for your hand.

You can also find carbon-fiber grips for your trout fishing rod. They are relatively thin, which means you’ll have a great feel for the end of your line.

Trout Fishing Techniques

Three of the most popular trout fishing techniques are spinner fishing, live bait casting, and fly fishing. Read on for some trout fishing tips on each one.

3. Movement is key in Spinner Fishing

Spinner fishing involves moving a spinner bait (a lure with at least one shiny spinning blade) through the water. The key to successful spinnerbait fishing is to vary your lure retrieval.

Techniques include repeatedly stopping and starting your retrieval, varying your speed, or jerking the spinner bait. Anything that quickly changes the spinnerbait’s track can cause a trout to strike.

4. How not to Lose Your Live Bait in Casting

Unlike spinnerbaits and other lures, live bait — mostly minnows, worms, or crickets — can fly off your line with careless casting.

The acceleration involved in casting your fishing line creates the possibility of losing your bait. The key to keeping your live bait on the hook is to control that acceleration. To do that, extend your rod behind you, and move it forward slowly but with purpose before sending your line.

5. Fly Fishing

Fly fishing for trout conjures up images of casting in graceful arcs until your fly bait gently hits the water.

But one of the most important trout fishing tips is understanding the goal is to get your fly to the trout, gracefully or not. Don’t worry much about your casting, especially if you’re a novice. One of the best trout fishing tips is learning that your casting will improve over time.

How to Choose Trout Lures

Looking at the proliferation of trout lures, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But there are some basics in lure selection that can help. Read on for some trout fishing tips on choosing lures.

6. Mimic Trout’s Natural Food Sources

If you’re fishing on a clear day in clear water, use lures that mimic the colors of the baitfish and insects on which trout feed. Some good examples are TRUSCEND fishing lures. A clear day also means you can use transparent or translucent lures, which will appear more natural to trout.

7. Lure Color is key to Successful Trout Fishing

Trout caught using a flourescent lure

When it’s cloudy over your favorite fishing spot, or if the water is murky, use brightly colored lures. One of our best trout fishing tips is to use fluorescent lures in shades of pink, orange, or green.

8. Try a Flatfish Lure

Another of the many trout fishing tips is to try a flatfish lure. Designed for trout, flatfish lures like the Yakima Bait lure work well when being cast and retrieved or during trolling behind your boat. In some instances, just leaving a flatfish lure still in the water will prompt a trout to strike.

Choosing Live Bait for Trout Fishing

Using live bait can be tricky. Without the right technique, you can lose the bait from your hook. Nonetheless, live bait is a great option for trout fishing. Read on for some trout fishing tips on using live bait.

9. Common Worms are Uncommonly Good

Worms are great trout bait because they make up part of the fish’s natural diet. One of the trout fishing tips for using worms is to try them after heavy spring rains. That’s when worms are likely to be a plentiful natural option for trout, and your worm stands a good chance of hooking one.

10. Crickets are a Ticket to Trout

Like worms, crickets are part of trout diets, so they make an excellent bait. However, there is an art to hooking a cricket to keep it alive as long as possible. To do that, hook the cricket through its back, which features a hard exterior that will firmly hold a hook.

When hooking a cricket, keep your hook away from its head, feet, or wings.

11. Minnows are Always a Good Choice

When no other lure or live bait works, one of the best trout fishing tips is using live minnows. Like worms and crickets, minnows are a natural trout food.

There are a couple of ways to hook a minnow. Inserting the hook on one side of the minnow’s dorsal fin will produce natural action in the water. But be careful not to pierce your minnow’s spine, rendering it immobile.

You can also hook minnows through their lips. However, that will keep water from entering their mouths and exiting their gills, so the minnows will eventually die. You’ll need to reel in your minnow periodically and, if it has died, replace it with a live minnow.

12. Check Your Kitchen for Bait

Another one of the great trout fishing tips for bait is to check your kitchen. For example, kernels of canned corn are popular bait among trout anglers.

And if there are take-out pizza leftovers on your kitchen counter, take some of the dough ball appetizers with you. Put bits of the dough balls on your hook and just wait for the trout to bite.

One of the more surprising trout fishing tips is that garlic-flavored dough balls do a particularly good job of attracting trout.

Where to Find Trout in Rivers

Trout are native to 38 of the 50 states and can also be found in other locations around the country. Native to rivers and streams, trout are also found stocked in reservoirs. Read on to learn some trout fishing tips for rivers.

13. Look for Slow Water

Trout in rivers can let the current do some work for them as it sweeps baitfish and other food up to their mouths. Of course, getting that nourishment means trout must hold their position in the current, which can be tiring.

Closeup image of steelhead trout

So, one of the best trout fishing tips for rivers is to find places where trout can hide from the current to rest. Casting your line behind big rocks or inside bends might land you a trout.

14. Find Cold Water

Trout prefer cooler water, so when you’re fishing on a river, anywhere that trees create shade over the water is a likely place for trout.

Another one of the many trout fishing tips for rivers is to look for places where springs enter the river. In summer, those springs will be dumping the cool water favored by trout.

15. Watch for Insects

Baits that mimic trout’s natural food supply can be particularly effective. That fact can also hint at where you might find trout. On your next day on the water, keep an eye and an ear out for crickets, and cast your line in that direction.

Where to Find Trout in Streams

Obviously, streams share many characteristics of rivers, and they offer similar shelter to trout. But there are specific places in streams where you should cast your line for trout.

16. Try Dropoffs

Places along streams where shallow water gives way to deeper water are almost guaranteed to be places where you can find trout. If a dropoff occurs at the end of a long stretch of shallow water, it will be particularly attractive to them.

17. Fish ‘Back Eddies’

Among our better trout fishing tips for streams is to fish in “back eddies.” Located along the shoreline, back eddies are places where the river current swirls around, heading back upstream.

Insects and other food for trout are often found in the slower-moving parts of back eddies, making them a great place to drop your line.

18. Try the ‘Glides’

Glides are sections of streams where water flows smoothly over a relatively flat bottom. Glides can be difficult to “read” in terms of whether trout may be present. But they’re always worth trying, particularly if they aren’t being fished by other anglers.

Where to Find Trout in Lakes

Where you’ll find trout in lakes depends on the season. In the late spring and summer, you’ll find trout in deeper water as they head for the coolest places they can find. In fall and winter, trout will most often be found in shallower water, closer to the sun’s warmth.

Read on for some other trout fishing tips for lakes.

19. Go Deep

One of our best trout fishing tips for summer is to fish deep. As temperatures warm up, trout retreat to deeper water to remain cool for most of the day.

And try various depths. Fishing at different depths, moving at intervals from 20 feet to deeper water, should get you to some trout.

20. Inlets and Outlets

Places where creeks and springs enter or leave lakes, are great spots to look for trout. Those are the places along which bugs, baitfish, and other food for trout will be washing into the lake. Getting your bait or lure into the path of a lake inlet or outlet is one of the best trout fishing tips we have for beginners.

21. Shoreline Fishing

One of the best trout fishing tips for shorelines is to cast and retrieve your line frequently. Each time, send your hook in a different direction. Eventually, this method should reveal where trout are located.

Closeup of a trout with a fishing rod in the background

Wrapping up Trout Fishing Tips for Beginners

Now that you have nearly two dozen trout fishing tips get out and try your luck. If you’d like to learn more about fishing, Life in Minnesota can help.