How to catch trout on spinners

Spinners are effective lures for trout. People have been using them for decades. They are pretty basic and easy to use. You can cover a lot of water with a spinner and find actively feeding fish. Even a total novice is often able to catch some trout on a spinning lure. Though if you want to consistently catch trout on spinners then you do have to put in some thought and effort.

Spinners seem to work by triggering a feeding or territorial instinct in trout. They may also remind trout of a wounded fish. They don’t look a whole lot like anything a fish would actually see though once spinners are moving in the water they could send off some of the same signals as a wounded baitfish or some other sort of prey.

I trout fish with spinners from time to time. To be honest I do not think that spinners are necessarily the best trout lures in the world. They are good and reliable though, and they certainly have their place. So I often suggest spinners to people who are just starting to lure fish for trout, as well as those who feel more comfortable with a classic spinner than a crankbait.

Don’t get me wrong. I am certainly not above throwing spinners. They can even be my go to lure when I am fishing for unpressured trout out in the American West. I don’t use them as much as I used to when I was young, but I would never count them out. Some people I fish with regularly use spinners all the time and they catch plenty of fish.

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How to choose a spinner for trout

When people talk about using spinners for talk they are specifically referring to inline spinners. These are age old lures built around a straight piece of wire. A thin metal blade that spins in the water is added to the wire, giving the lure its name. Some sort of body is also added for weight and a hook is attached at the back.

Inline spinners come in different varieties and sizes. The biggest are used for large predators like pike and musky. The smallest are usually meant for catching trout in small streams or perhaps perch and crappie. Some spinners are measured in blade size with 0 being the smallest. Other spinners are measured by actual weight. Spinners with a 0, 1, 2 or 3 blade, as well as spinners in the 1/24 to 1/4 oz range, will work for trout.

panther martin spinners for trout

There are tons of different spinners on the market. To some extent this is just a result of different people trying to cash in on a popular way of fishing. Most inline spinners will catch trout. But there are actually spinners that work better in some situations than others.

A classic spinner like a Swiss Swing is a general lure that will cover most situation. Heavy body spinners like the Panther Martin and Blue Fox Splash can be cast longer distances and are great for covering fast or deep water. A Joe’s Fly Spinner or Thomas Special Spin is good for catching trout in smaller streams and creeks.

How to trout fish with a spinner

Trout fishing with a spinner can be broken down into two main approaches. First you have still water fishing in lakes and ponds. Then you have moving water fishing in creeks, streams and rivers. Of course you can break each of these down further, but for our intents and purposes lets stick to these two main situations.

Spinners can be good or even great for lakes because you can cover lots of water. Trout are usually spread out or cruising around these still waters. By bringing a moving lure through the water you have a good chance of intersecting some. When it comes to lake fishing you want to use fan casting.

To fan cast you start by casting as far off to the left as you can. Then retrieve. Move a little to the right with each cast until you’ve covered all the water in front of you. Until you have found the fish, you may want to try different depths too. So on the first few casts you start to retrieve as soon as your lure hits the water. If that doesn’t work you let your lure sink a few seconds before retrieving.

Still water, swift water, and spinners

Remember that in still water it will mostly be up to you to give the lure action. You can play around with the speed of your retrieve, varying from fast to slow until you find out what will trigger the trout to strike. But you want to reel at least fast enough to engage the spinner blade and make it spin. You don’t want to reel so fast that the lure is out of control either.

In moving water things can be a bit different. Here you will want to let the current do a lot of the work. The typical approach when spinner fishing moving water is to quarter your casts downstream. This is similar to the “swing” that anglers use when fly fishing. You stand upstream from the spot you want to fish (while doing your best to remain concealed from the fish). Next, cast your spinner downstream and across to the other side. Finally, you turn the reel a few cranks to engage the spinner blade, then you hold the line and reel in slowly so that the spinner drifts from one side of the water to the other.

In fast water you can just hold the line steady as the current pulls the lure down and across. In slower water you have to help out a little by reeling in. Remember, you want the blade to spin but you don’t want the lure to race out of control either.

Those are the basics when it comes to catching trout on spinners. There is only so much I can explain here with the written word. The main thing is to get out on the water and try different things until you start catching fish. You’ll know when you’re doing it right. The bite on a spinner is unmistakable. The fish will hit the spinner hard and you’ll have a fish on. Then just when you think you have it all figured out, you will have to change up your tactics when you face different conditions. That is angling!

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