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Winter is upon us, and bass fishing has officially slowed to a crawl.
Don’t get me wrong – bass can still be caught!
But the bites in winter are few and far between.
Does this imply that fishing is not worthwhile in winter?
On the contrary!
Even as winter’s arrival brings a slow bass bite, it also gives us the perfect conditions to fish for a species that survives and thrives in the winter.
Welcome back to Jig Is Up Lurecraft! Today, I will be revealing how great winter trout fishing can be, as well as 5 effective techniques you can use today to catch trout in the dead of winter!
Trout Fishing Is A Great Winter Activity
As stated a moment ago, bass fishing slows down significantly in winter. Big bass can still be caught, but it’s very rare to catch big limits during this time of year.
Why is this?
Put simply, bass metabolisms are much less active in winter. This means bass don’t eat near as often and, in turn, do not bite artificial lures with as much regularity as they do in the warmer months.
In contrast, the same cold water temperatures that slow bass down are what trout thrive in. In fact, trout cannot even survive in the hot water temperatures that most bass endure in the summer!
Trout’s love of cold water makes them a great species to target during the winter. The acrobatic, swift trout makes a stark contrast to the sluggish, lethargic winter bass!
Now that I’ve explained how active trout are in cold weather, let’s look at the tackle setups that are best suited for trout fishing!
Trout Fishing Tackle
Light Tackle Is Key
Light tackle is critical for trout fishing, for two important reasons.
For one, light tackle allows you to easily cast small lures for trout.
Trout typically feed on small forage, such as nymphs, flies, and small baitfish. Small lures are what best resemble these tasty little morsels!
Additionally, light tackle allows you to use very light line when trout fishing.
When it comes to trout fishing, the importance of light line cannot be overemphasized.
Trout are renowned for their good eyesight, and can be very easily spooked if they detect fishing line in the water.
Light line such as 4-lb and 6-lb mono is very thin and not easy for trout to detect. As a result, these line sizes are very effective for trout fishing!
Spinning Tackle Setup
Spinning tackle is naturally equipped for slinging small lures and, as a result, is the perfect choice for a trout fishing setup!
My personal setup starts with a Berkeley Lightning Medium-Light Spinning Rod. This rod has plenty of flex and bend, which allows it to handle the surges and jumps of a trout on the end of the line.
On top of that, this rod allows me to cast small lures with very little difficulty.
If you are searching for a good trout rod, most spinning rods in the Ultra Light to Medium Light range should be similarly suited for trout fishing.
I paired up my Berkeley Lightning rod with a Daiwa Regal 1000 reel. This compact reel is very lightweight and contains plenty of room for 6-lb fishing line.
I like the 1000 size reel because it is so lightweight. With that said, any 2000 or 3000 size spinning reel will work just as well.
Spooled on the reel is PLine CX Premium 6-lb fishing line. CX Premium is one of my favorite fishing lines, for multiple reasons. It is not only very thin and easy to use, but it is also very budget friendly!
4-lb and 6-lb line are my personal choices for trout fishing. These line sizes are thin, making them virtually invisible in the water. At the same time, the line strength is very capable of handling even trophy-sized trout.
Now that I’ve described the optimal tackle for trout fishing, let’s dive into 5 fantastic lures you can use today to catch trout!
5 Effective Trout Fishing Lures
1. Small Jerkbaits
Small, minnow jerkbaits are timeless, classic trout catchers. In fact, Rapala has achieved a huge following in the trout fishing community based upon the decades-long effectiveness that their small jerkbaits have demonstrated for catching trout.
The benefits of small jerkbaits lie in their simplicity and ease of use. The most amateur of anglers can cast a jerkbait out and slowly reel it back in.
This does not imply that professionals abstain from these lures. Rather the contrary! Many professional trout fishing guides use small jerkbaits extensively to bag impressive limits of trout!
Small jerkbaits have a lot of action built-in. As you reel them in, they wiggle and dart enticingly for any trout lying nearby in ambush.
Additionally, the sharp, dangling treble hooks offer easy hook-ups. Any trout swiping at the bait is sure to get hooked!
2. Inline Spinners
Inline spinners offer many of the same benefits of a small jerkbait, but in a compact, flashy package.
Just like small jerkbaits, inline spinners are beautifully simple to use to catch fish.
Simply cast the spinner out and start reeling it in. As you reel it in, you will see the blade flickering and thumping in the water.
The flash and thump is enough to trigger aggressively feeding trout to bite.
Once a trout does commit, the small treble hook at the back of the spinner ensures the fish is easily hooked.
One of my favorite things about spinners is in fact how good a value they are. Whereas Rapala Jerkbaits can easily cost several dollars, the vast majority of inline spinners are usually around $3 to $4.
Not only that, but inline spinners are also very easy to make! In fact, I consider inline spinners to be the perfect lure for anyone who wants an easy introduction to the world of lurecraft.
You don’t need any special equipment, and can make your first inline spinner in less than five minutes!
Do yourself a favor and give this affordable trout catcher a try.
3. Small Jigs
Ah jigs. I have a great fondness for both making and fishing jigs.
The versatility of jigs for trout fishing is one reason why they are a favorite of mine.
Want to swim a jig for aggressive trout? Cast out the jig and reel it back in!
Want to fish slow for finicky trout? Drift a jig slowly in the current for any trout waiting for an easy meal.
However the trout may be biting on a given day, jigs have you covered.
Many trout anglers employ a hair jig when the bite gets tough. The hair undulates slowly and gently in the water, giving it a very natural appearance to any trout lying in ambush.
Personally, I prefer a simple ballhead jig with a curly tail grub trailer.
1/16 oz ballhead jigs are my go-to for most situations. If the water is extremely shallow, I will downsize to a 1/32 oz ballhead jig. Bright jig colors like white and pink are particularly effective.
For my trailer, I like to use a 2” curly tail grub. Effective grub colors include Blue Shad, Tennesse Shad, White, and Pink.
The color I use is dictated by how the fish are biting.
I prefer natural colors like Blue Shad and Tennessee Shad to start with. If I don’t get any bites with those, then I might move on to White and Pink to see if trout are biting those colors on that particular day.
Check out my complete guide on ballhead jigs to learn more about how to fish these effective lures.
4. Worm And Bobber
When trout are not acting very aggressive, it can be very difficult to get them to bite.
The worm and bobber rig is designed for just this situation.
In stark contrast to the fast moving jerkbait, the worm and bobber rig presents a slow-moving, unobtrusive bait to lightly biting trout.
To rig this presentation, tie a #6 or #8 baitholder hook onto the end of your line.
Carefully thread a trout worm or a live nightcrawler onto the hook.
Then, attach a bobber further up the line.
The bobber keeps the worm at a constant depth below the water’s surface.
In a lake, this means you can keep the bait in the same spot indefinitely.
In a river, this means the rig will float lazily down the current. As the bobber bobs up and down in the current, the worm will gently rise and fall beneath the surface.
Trout waiting in ambush in a river are especially susceptible to this technique.
The slow drifting of the bait gives the lure a very natural appearance to hungry trout waiting downstream.
If you haven’t used a worm with a bobber before, give it a try! It’s a super easy rig that catches trout everywhere!
5. Worm And Split Shot Rig
The split shot rig is another effective rig for when the trout bite is finicky.
Just like with the worm and bobber rig, you start this rig with a #6 or #8 baitholder hook on the end of the line.
However, instead of putting a bobber on, use a pair of pliers to crimp a split shot weight 12-24 inches up the line from the hook.
Whereas a bobber keeps the worm at a constant depth from the surface, a split shot weight keeps the worm closer to the bottom.
I generally fish the rig by slowly reeling it in. This allows the worm to slowly rise and fall along the bottom.
With that said, I also drift this rig in river current just like I would a worm and bobber rig.
The split shot rig will freely and naturally drift along the river bottom, inviting strikes from any trout looking for an easy meal.
This rig is actually very near and dear to my heart.
The day I first got hooked on fishing, I was fishing a nightcrawler on a split shot rig in a slowly drifting river. Within a few hours, I had hooked several rainbow trout!
That thrilling experience led to the arrival of my first fishing setup a few months later, and the rest is history!
Conclusion – How To Catch Trout: 5 Easy Ways For Any Angler
The arrival of winter does not mean you have to pack away your fishing equipment!
Fact is, trout thrive in cold weather and can be caught all winter long.
Set yourself up for success with a light spinning setup.
Then enlist any of the 5 trout fishing techniques unveiled here today to catch yourself some great trout!
Have you had success catching trout with one of these techniques? Leave a comment below!