Trout fishing provides an exciting experience for beginning and even expert fishers. Trout species are intelligent, hard-fighting, and capable of exciting fishing experiences. However, catching one requires carefully choosing the best hook, bait, and line options. You must start by selecting the best size hook and then pairing it with appropriate bait. Doing so will make it easier to pull these beautiful fish out of your favorite lake, pond, or river in no time at all.
Generally speaking, when trout fishing, select between an 8-14 single-hook design or a 10-14 treble-hook size. The combination of options here depends on the size of the fish you’re going to catch (or are likely to see) and what kind of bait you use. The following section will discuss how your hooks vary depending on your appeal and why this matters.
That’s why it’s probably best to have a variety of different hook types available when fishing for trout. However, if you want an excellent middle option, a hook that should work for just about any situation, go for a 12 single-hook. This choice works well with most types of bait and most fishing situations. Treble hooks are a better option if you plan on catching larger or harder-fighting fish.
How Do Hooks Vary Based on Your Bait?
Although you might be aiming for a reasonably large trout (say, over two feet long and about five pounds), you need relatively small hooks. That’s because trout have a surprisingly small mouth compared to their overall size. You also need to adjust your hook based on the bait you plan on using. We’ll breakdown bait in more depth later but can give you a basic idea of what to expect here:
- Worms – 8-14 single-hook works best
- Spawn Sac – 6-8 single-hook provides the best option
- Powerbait – Choose 8-12 single-hook or 10-14 treble-hook designs
- Corn, Salmon Eggs, and Beads – Pick between 10-12 single-hook style
As you can see, most of the bait options listed here do not include treble hooks. Why is that the case? Treble hooks are bigger and bulkier than single hooks and not always a good choice for trout. However, they work well with powerbait and should make it easier to catch trout. Before moving onto the best bait options, it is essential to discuss a still somewhat controversial point among fishers: barbless hooks.
Should You Use Barbless Hooks for Trout?
Most fishing hooks have a barb on the end that faces backward to make it easier to hook a fish. However, some anglers now prefer using a barbless hook because they believe it to be a more humane option. That’s because it doesn’t cut as much into the fish’ mouth and is supposed to cause minor bleeding. Therefore, catch-and-release fishers may prefer this option. But does it work well with trout?
Barbless hooks don’t have the same kind of staying power as barbed hooks and are more likely to fall out of a trout’s mouth during a tough fight. Surprisingly, most studies find that barbless hooks cause the same bleeding and injury that barbed hooks cause. As a result, you don’t see many professional trout fishers or other experts using barbless hooks.
However, some experts may use barbless hooks for practice as a way of feeling out a lake and gauging what the fish in it may offer. If you’re interested in this kind of practice fishing, barbless hooks may work well for trout. Catch-and-release fishing may also be a good time for barbless hooks. Generally, though, you should use a barbed hook if you want to catch and keep trout on your line.
What is the Best Bait for Catching Trout?
Trout anglers use many baits to allure these tricky fish. That’s because trout don’t have excellent eyesight and have a broad diet. Trout aren’t particularly picky and will eat just about anything that catches their attention. The challenge when fishing for trout isn’t in getting them to bite but wearing them down and reeling them into your boat – and a good hook can snag your trout more easily.
Generally, trout are more likely to hit live bait, like worms and minnows. Worms typically make a strong bait option because they are inexpensive, easy to find, and simple to hook. Trout also have a pretty big appetite for worms and enjoy a variety of types and sizes. A full-sized worm can be between 5-10 inches, so choose carefully based on the trout you plan on catching. For example, smaller worms work best for smaller trout – you can also split larger worms in half, if necessary, for smaller trout.
In a pinch, you can also use bubblegum pink plastic worms to catch larger steelhead trout. Typically, plastic worms work best in rivers or streams because the moving water will provide a nice little shake that will catch the trout’s eye. They also don’t wiggle off the hook like a live worm. Size your plastic worms the same way you do live worms to ensure you focus on the appropriate trout size.
Many trout anglers focus on worms and use them to catch a broad range of fish successfully. However, you don’t have to use worms if you don’t like them or if they aren’t working for you. Fish can be strange creatures and may get bored with the same food all the time. As a result, it is vital to understand a few different options that work well for your needs, including:
- Fish Eggs – Fish eggs work exceptionally well for trout, otherwise known as spawn bags, spawn sacs, or roe. Trout instinctively recognize them as an excellent food source and will hit both real and artificial egg sacs. Plastic beads and rubber eggs may work well for many anglers.
- Grubs – Wax worms, grubs, mealworms, and even maggots work well as trout bait. Try to use a 10-12 single-hook setup for these baits. They’ll wiggle very heavily in the water and can live a surprising amount of time immersed. Artificial or imitation grubs work well and require a similar hook size.
- Nymphs – Mayfly nymphs work exceptionally well for trout fishing, particularly for fly fishers. The heavy concentration of these flies throughout the early spring may make it a good choice for these seasons. Artificial options are available, as well, and work best on an 8 single-hook size.
- Crayfish – Hook a crayfish (natural or artificial) on an 8 single-hook setup to attract trout Crayfish are common throughout many rivers and lakes and draw trout very heavily. Try to find 1-2 inch crayfish to interest just about any trout.
- Leeches – Most serious fishers consider leeches a bass bait and rarely use them for trout. However, trout enjoy a fat leech when they’re adequately hooked (on a 10 single-hook setup) and carefully looped around the hook to avoid falling off. Leaches will naturally wiggle in a way trout can’t resist.
- Other Live Bait to Consider – Trout anglers can also use small mice, grasshoppers, minnows, baitfish, crickets, beetles, aquatic insects, and much more when another bait isn’t doing the trick. Use a 12-14 single-hook design to keep this bait on the hook and avoid losing your trout.
If you are fly-fishing, you need to select a broad array of float or bottom-bounced flies. The colors should vary, depending on the season. Try to mimic flies that exist in your area to attract the most trout. Don’t forget this simple fact: you don’t have to fly fish to use flies. Depending on your lake, river, or pond, flies often work well for cast fishing or trolling.
Which Fishing Line is Best for Trout?
You can have the best hooks and baits for trout but still miss out on the biggest fish because you don’t have a strong enough line. Most trout anglers prefer a 4-6 pound test line. Fluorocarbon works best for trout because it is quite light and hard to see in the water. It pairs well with most lures and rigs, including the broad range of hook sizes discussed throughout this article.
Can you upgrade your line to a higher test? Yes, some people prefer an 8-10 pound test when they’re going trophy fishing. If you anticipate catching trout heavier than 5-8 pounds, upgrade to the 8-10 pound test range. Fluorocarbon line at this test level should work just fine for trout, as well. However, you may also want a monofilament or braided fishing line for certain circumstances.
Monofilament is a good option for beginning anglers because it is very versatile and easy to use. That said, it does tend to be more visible in clear water. We suggest only using it if you’re in murkier water or trolling in a faster-moving area. The line should be harder for the trout to spot when trolling, as it is less likely to reflect light while moving.
Braided line is great for more advanced trout anglers who want a very sensitive line. Its unique thinness makes it easy to spot even light strikes from a nibbling trout. Even better, it works well with both lightweight and heavier lures, making it a very diverse option. However, beginners may find it harder to use, as it requires skilled casting and is often visible in even the darkest waters.
Where to Find This Equipment?
If you’re interested in trout fishing and want the best equipment, you can usually find options in supermarkets, sporting goods stores, a specialty fishing shop, and even online. In-person fishing stores are often your best option because the owner and workers can give you even more tips on finding the best hooks for trout fishing.
My name is Ruben. I love fishing like most guys I know. Fishing is so much more than just an outdoor activity- its an escape, its therapy and so much more. I put together a team of other professional anglers in order to create the most inclusive fishing resource.