The last snow and ice cover has melted and with rising water levels in lakes, rivers, and streams, it could only mean one thing. It’s the time of year for the restocking of the spring trout fisheries. The days of casting your line in hopes of catching any sluggish fish that might bite are over. Instead, the early morning rises and wades into bone-chilling water as the first orange glow of the sky peaks over the treeline are here. It won’t be long before it’s time to yell “fish on!”

But before covering the essentials, there are some key characteristics you should understand about the trout species to select the best gear.

Insight into Trout Behavior

Whether you’re fishing for rainbows, brook, cutthroat, or brown trout, by nature, trout species are shy. Sometimes described as timid, unlike a pike or bass, who heave at your line when on. Thus, to catch this elusive species, it will take some strategy and some savvy to get them hooked.

The best time to target trout is in the early morning or at night, they prefer the colder water. Hence it is unlikely that you will catch them in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. Secondly, they avoid exposure to bright light since potential predators might catch a glimmer of them. In general, trout prefer open and fast-moving water near damns,  in streams, in eddies, or resting in the swift current of a gravel bed. Here’s a tip, you won’t find a trout in an area where the water is murky. Like so, catching trout can be a challenge, but not if you have the right gear. Here are the essentials that every angler should have in their spring trout-catching arsenal.

Essential Gear for Trout Fishing

1. Neoprene Waders 

Wading into chilly water is inevitable for catching trout and most would consider it too cold to dip a toe into. It’s best to have a pair of chest or hip waders. These neoprene waders are coveralls or leg covers that are made from neoprene rubber and filled with tiny nitrogen bubbles. Therefore, due to its rubber base, it has some insulating properties and will keep you warm and dry from the line out to line in.

2. Spinning Reel and Rod

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There are hundreds of trout species and subspecies, and they don’t all come in the same size. Spinning reels are ideal for fishing in the large area open water areas that are deeper, when fishing near a dam or over an eddy. Since trout are timider than other species that they share the same waters with, the rule of thumb is to use a shorter and more sensitive set-up. An ideal spinning rod and real set-up would be 5ft or 6ft in an ultralightweight model, such as the Ugly Stick GX2 Trout Fishing Reel and Rod Combo.

3. Swivel Lines

When fishing in fast-moving waters, it is ideal to add a swivel line attached to your mainline and hook. Swivel lines serve multiple purposes from adding length to your mainline, but more importantly, the swivel allows for your line to untwist. For best practices, use these with heavy or spinning bait to avoid any tangles or snags when retrieving your line.

4. Monofilament line or Fluorocarbon Line

Selecting the right line for a spinning rod and reel set-up can make or break a catch. Whether using a monofilament line or Fluorocarbon line, regardless, you should stick to the 4-6 lb weight range for trout. When fishing under clear skies, it is best to opt for the Fluorocarbon line, as this will appear nearly invisible in the water. But can break more easily because of its thinner diameter compared to monofilament, which stretches more than fluorocarbon and has higher abrasion resistance, and is ideal for areas of gravel. However, if you’re after a trophy fish, it’s best to go up to an 8-10 lb weighted line.

5. Landing Nets

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Don’t forget to leave home without bringing a net. This is critical to reeling that fish and adding it to your fish count. Rubber nets are best, they reduce any harm to fish as it thrashes around and is in general more hassle-free compared to nylon nets that can not remove scales if you’re practicing catch and release.

6. Fly Rod

Fly-fishing is ideal for areas where you can wade, such as shorelines, river beds, or gravel-laden creeks with a current. Fly rods have long been the popular choice for catching any of the Salmonidae species. In particular, an example of a trout fly rod set-up can vary from 7 ½ ft to 9 ft. This will vary on personal preference, weight, and casting technique and paired but best paired with a floating line or weight forward line.

7. Fishing Vest

When you’re casting out on the water and nowhere near your tackle gear, but you need to switch up your bait, then it’s time to consider a fishing vest. This inexpensive fishing accessory is a tackle box worn around your chest. Stuff it full of baits, lures, forceps, insect repellent, sunscreen, clippers, you name it, and never lose out on your prime fishing hole again.

8. Fishing Forceps or Pliers

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Trout have teeth, that can cause injury if snagged or bitten. It’s best to have a pair of forceps to release the fish from the hook. But, if you are fly-fishing, this piece of equipment has a dual purpose with using smaller flies and the sharp tip can help with adjusting tippets. If you’re using a spinning rod and reel combo, have one of these on hand to get yourself to snag if you need to cut your line. Alternatively, if you can get your hands on a pair of forceps, pliers are just as effective in removing hooks.

Essential Bait for Trout Fishing

9. Best Spinner Kits For Spring Trout

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Panther Martin Deadly 6 For Trout

If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck that has a variety of different colors, then search no further than the Panther Martin Deadly 6 for Trout. Best known for capturing “gill flash”, these red hook spinners appear like a bleeding gill of a baitfish, enticing trout to strike, and are simply a must-have in every tackle box.

Mepps Trouter Kit

Coming in a variety of colors, this compact, yet deadly kit is ideal for those who need a small tackle box, such as portages and hikers. It includes 4 of Mepps, well-known spinners, including the battle-tested Agila in both variations of this kit. Thus, making it one kit that should be at every angler’s disposal if targeting brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, and graylings.

10. Best Spoons for Spring Trout

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Panther Martin Classic or Holographic Spoon Series

Whether you’re after Dolly Varden, Arctic char, or cutthroat trout, Panther Martin offers a variety of spoons in many colors and sizes. Although Panther Martin spoons are known for its gold undertone. It’s their wobbling motion that makes them distinctly appear like baitfish to trout. Ideally, for targeting spring trout, you want to stay within the size 1 or 2 hook range. 

Acme Kastermaster Spoon

Rising to notoriety as one of the best spoons for trout, the Acme Kastmaster is essential in every tackle box. Despite the unique shape and thick body, this spoon and all of its varieties are different from others on the market. Furthermore, it is recommended to use in areas without obstructions. Although the heavier weight will get you a longer cast, it can easily snag in weed beds. Thus, try a size 1/12th or 1/18th oz in the gold Kastermaster. Other honorable mentions include any of the silver/blue spoons, fire tiger spoons, or metallic perch spoons.

11. Best Soft Plastic Baits for Spring Trout

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Berkley Powerbait Worms

Soft plastics are easily as effective as using a spoon or spinner. With a lighter weight, they are more buoyant and can mimic the appearance of natural food sources. The wacky rig concept has been around for a while. Alas,  no one does it quite like Berkley and its bubble gum pink Power Worm. This soft plastic bait allows for more sensitivity, and you will be able to feel every nibble, try sizes 2 ½ inches or 3 inches to optimize your catch.

Berkley Powerbait Power Tubes

Although used for smallmouth bass, the Berkely Powerbait Power Tubes have proven to be just as effective for trout. This soft plastic lure comes in 3 sizes and is colored in a way that they perform like natural baitfish with its molded tentacles. The tubes are hollow and can be filled with an attractant or placed on a jig head. For trout fishing, the 2 ½ inch lures are recommended in white or green.

12. Scent Bait For Spring Trout

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Berkley’s Powerbait Trout Bait

Berkley’s Powerbait Trout Bait is a staple among trout anglers. It was created to mimic the natural hatchery of what trout eat. Powerbait comes in a variety of colors and forms like pellets, pastes, and roe. However, to use this bait effectively, try it on stocked rivers, lakes, and streams, as natural-born trout have never laid eyes on it or it, and the scent is unknown to trout. 

13. Best Eggs For Spring Trout

Pautzke Ball O’ Fire Trout Eggs

Trout feed on eggs in the spring, it’s part of the natural diet, so equipping yourself with artificial roe will increase your chances of catching one. When it comes to eggs, there’s one name that has been around since 1934, Pautzke. The Ball O’ Fire Trout Eggs are perfect for targeting trout, steelhead, and salmon, and come in 2 scents; premium and natural. Use them loose or tie them into an egg sac, this versatile scent has been a favorite among anglers for almost a century.

14. Best Flies For Spring Trout

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Wooly Bugger

 Predominantly a fly for fly-fishing lure, the Wooly Bugger can be used in a spin set-up as well, when weight is added. An expensive bait that acts as a dead mayfly or caddisfly in the water, trout won’t be able to resist the urge to nibble on one of these. The trick is to let the lure do all the movement, using a slow reel and pause method to let the woolly bugger fall in the water column. These flies are available in every color and hook sizes 12 -16 are recommended.

Marabou Jigs

Heavier than a Woolly Bugger, and perfect for pools or deep pockets like an eddy, the Marabou Jig is another must-have.  These flies, suck to the bottom of a riverbed and are best used with a slow retrieval. However, a word of caution the Marabou jigs need to be watched as they can and snag. It is not recommended to use this area with rocks and fallen trees.

To Sum It Up

With many lures and gear catered to trout fishing on the market, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. With these tried and tested essential baits and equipment, you will be sure to land one of these ambiguous fish. Perhaps, even a trophy to mount on your walls or that one fish that you tell a story about at the dinner table.