7 Best Trout Lures Used By Top Trout Guides: Best Of 2023

Lures for trout fishing after rain

As a trout guide with a team of guides, we have over 20 years of experience putting trout lures to the test in real trout fishing situations and under almost every condition and type of water imaginable. We think we figured out the best trout lures and we’ll tell you what they are.

The best lures for trout come in five types which unclude in-line spinners, spoons, crankbaits, plugs, and jigs or plastics. These lure types can cover all the different water types and conditions. Sizing and colors are also important factors when choosing the best trout lures.

Along with my list of the 31 best lures for trout, I will tell you the best colors, and the best sizes, and even give you some guide tips on how and when to use these lures so they are even more effective for you.

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How To Choose The Best Trout Lures

Choosing the best trout lures based on the conditions will improve your results.

Lure selection doesn’t need to be confusing, but in my experience, putting on any old lure without thinking about the conditions can be a big mistake and mean fewer or no trout.

When trout fishing, I recommend that trout anglers follow the same criteria that I and other trout guides use for determining the best trout lures to use.

This is because as we have determined, some lures will work better under different circumstances.

I decide on what lure I put on my client’s line based on:

  • Water type: Will you be fishing in a lake or river? If it’s a lake, do you need a shallow running lure or a deep running lure? I will choose a trout lure for lake fishing based on how deep I think the fish are. The trout will likely be deeper on brighter days but higher in the water column at dawn or dusk so I’ll use the lure type that best suits these variables. If I’m fishing a river that has a fast strong current, I know some of my best trout lures won’t run properly so they are practically useless, but if it’s a slow current or I’m fishing smaller streams, another trout lure might be best.
  • Water conditions: Is the water clear or dirty? While most of my best trout lures will work in clear water, I know that some colors, sizes, and types of lures will be much more effective when I am fishing in dirtier water. Here’s my guide tip for you, I have found that trout lures with some vibration or a rattle built into them will work 10 times better in low visibility water because the trout will key in on the vibration.
  • Water temps: In warmer water, the fish will be more active, and therefore bigger and faster-moving lures and lures with more action will work better, but in very cold water, a slower retrieve or a steady retrieve is best and some of my best trout lures work well with a slow retrieve while some others don’t.
  • Fish Activity Levels: I always have a good trout lure selection on hand to be sure I have what the trout want. When the trout are aggressive most trout strikes are hard, fast, and, maybe often. When they are aggressive a steady retrieve or a fast retrieve will work. But when the trout are inactive, a lure that I can twitch and pause and make it look like a dying baitfish will be my best option since even neutral fish have a hard time passing up on a wounded fish that is an easy target. For wary trout, a finesse presentation with smaller sizes will often get more strikes.
  • Fishing methods (trolling or casting): The fishing method you choose to use can also dictate the best trout lures to use. Trolling and casting are good options but not all lures troll well or troll the deeper water column well, so you will need to pick the lure based on the depth. Some lures also cast much further because they are heavier and the extra distance can pay off.

There are ways I and other expert guides and anglers use a lure to make it more effective. We consider and change based on depth, speed of lure or speed of current, action of the lure, and what lure is best for covering the water effectively or thoroughly. I discuss all of this in my article Lure Fishing For Trout: A Complete Guide

Our Best Trout Lure Quick Picks

  • Best Lure For Wild Trout: Rapala X-Rap
  • Best Lure For Stocked Trout: Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner
  • Best Lure For Winter: Kwikfish X-Treme
  • Best Lure For Trolling: Dreamweaver DW Spoon
  • Best Lure For Deep Fish: Hawken Marabou AeroJig
  • Best Lure For Brook Trout: Thomas Colorado Spoon
  • Best Lure For Big Trout In Rivers: VMC Twitchin’ Jig

The Best Trout Lures Used And Recommended By Guides

Best lures for trout catch big trout like this brown trout
The best lures for trout will help you catch big trout like this stream brown trout

These are the five categories of trout lures and I’ve listed each lure in order of most effective to least effective, but they are all great trout lures.

Jigs and Tube Jigs

Jigs are some of the best trout lures that I use and they are the right lures when I require a subtle presentation to attract trout. They are also a good trout lure when I need to fish in deep water or when I need to fish slower.

Quick Pick Jig List

  1. Hawken Marabou Series AeroJigs
  2. VMC Twitchin’ Jig
  3. Berkley PowerBait The Champ Swimmer Soft Bait
  4. Storm 360GT Searchbait Jig Heads
  5. Leland’s Lures Trout Magnet
  6. Tube and Tube Jigs

My favorite Jigs are:

1. Hawken Marabou Series AeroJigs

Hawken Marabou Series AeroJigs are good jigs for salmon

The Hawkens Aerojig is a jig I, experienced anglers, and top trout and steelhead guides use. This jig is known for the trout and steelhead jig pattern called the Nightmare Jig.

The reason this is my top trout jig is that the smaller versions can be fished under a float and the larger versions are great for casting and twitching.

Best Colors: Black and black and red combos, White, Yellow/Chartreuse. Size: 1/4 oz

2. VMC Twitchin’ Jig

VMC Twitching Jig for steelhead, salmon, and trout

When it comes to a jig for the biggest trout this is my go-to jig. It’s meant to be cast, twitched, ripped, and jigged.

The big eye actually calls for big predatory trout to hit it! The longer rabbit hair fur and long tail combined with the tinsel fibers, flashabou, and silicone strands give this jig a ton of movement that will catch trout.

For big trout this is my #1 jig. Best Colors: Black, Black/Purple, Black/Blue, White, Yellow, Chartreuse, and Orange. Size: 3/8oz and 1/2oz

3. Twister Tails and Paddle Tails

A big trout caught on a jig.
A large brown trout caught on a paddle tail jig by our contributing photographers Matt and Ryan from ne_ohio_anglers.

The twister tail is one of those soft plastics that has been around forever and it catches just about every freshwater fish species including trout.

The paddle tail grub is another great tail to add to any jig head and is effective at catching trout.

Try these paddle tail grubs Keitech Fat Swing Impact Shad and add these tails to a good jig head like the Z-Man Finesse EyeZ Jig Heads or a plain head like the Northland Gum-Ball Jig Head

For my killer trout combo paddle tail rig try the Berkley PowerBait The Champ Swimmer Soft Bait and combine it with the Storm 360GT Searchbait Jig Heads.

4. Leland’s Lures Trout Magnet

Trout magnets is a small jig that can be used under a small float or cast out and twitched or jigged along the bottom. It gets good ratings as a jig for any river with brook trout, rainbow trout, and stocked trout.

However, I personally think this is an over rated lure and I don’t use it for wild larger trout simply because there are more effective lures.

5. Tube and Tube Jigs

Not often thought about for trout by most fishermen, but soft plastics like tubes or tube jigs in natural colors with light line and spinning tackle can be super effective for big fish.

GUIDE TIP: I use a very light line or I will use a fluorocarbon leader to prevent line-shy trout from seeing the line when using slow-moving jigs or lures. I will also add scent to slower lures like jigs and tube jigs. Try a scent like Pro-Cure Super Gel or Pro-Cure Bait Oil.

In-Line Spinners For Trout

When it comes to favorite lures of trout anglers, in-line spinners are likely the most popular lure for trout, and for good reason, they work. The spinning blade creates a flash and vibration that attracts all trout.

My List Of The Best Spinners For Trout


  1. Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner
  2. Blue Fox Vibrax Bullet Fly Spinner
  3. Blue Fox Flash Spinners
  4. Panther Martin Classic Regular Series Spinners
  5. Panther Martin Hammered Spinners
  6. Blue Fox Vibrax Bullet Fly Spinner
  7. Mepp’s Aglia Spinner
  8. Joe’s Flies Short Striker Classic Spinner

1. Blue Fox Vibrax Spinner

Classic Vibrax Spinner
Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner

There are two blue fox spinners every trout angler should have. The Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner is my go-to spinner for trout.

It has a wider blade with a unique bell shape body that creates a lot more vibration than other spinners.

Best Spinner Sizes: 1 and 2 for small fish, and sizes 3 to 5 for big trout.

Best Spinner Colors: Silver, Gold, Copper, Black, Chartreuse, and Orange.

Shallow and/or Slower: I use the Classic Spinner with the wider blade for a slower presentation or when I want the spinner to ride higher in the water column.

Deeper and Faster: The thinner blade and extra weight of the Blue Fox Flash Spinners are great for faster retrieves and for getting more depth.

2. Panther Martin

The Panther Martin Spinner has a very different blade and looks compared to other spinners but the panther martin spinners are one of the most effective spinners for trout. I recommend the Panther Martin Classic Regular Series Spinners and the Panther Martin Hammered Spinners.

A similar blade to the Panther Martin but with more vibration is the Blue Fox Vibrax Bullet Fly Spinner.

3. Mepps Aglia

Mepps is a classic and they have a few great versions that are effective for trout. Try the traditional Mepps Plain Aglia Spinners or the Mepps Black Fury Spinners for slower and shallower presentations. For a faster and deeper presentation try the Mepps Aglia Long Spinners.

4. Joe’s Flies Short Striker Classic Spinner and Joe’s Flies Super Striker Spinner

Joes Flies Spinners are unique inline spinners with a single hook and a treble hook and a trailing fly, this is an in-line spinner that many anglers swear by.

Check out my in-depth tactics and tips for Spinner fishing for trout.

Spoons For Trout

A book trout with a spinner in its mouth

Spoons are great for big and small trout but be careful which ones you buy because some are best for casting and others are only good for trolling.

My list is not in order of best to least, each spoon serves a different purpose and should be used for those purposes.

Best Spoon Sizes: 1″ and 2″ spoons are great for smaller trout, and sizes 3″ to 5″ are what I use for big trout.

Best Spoon Colors: Silver, Gold, Copper, Black, Chartreuse, and Orange are my go-to colors.

Best Spoons For Trout List

  1. Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoons
  2. ACME Tackle Little Cleo
  3. Thomas Colorado Spoon
  4. Thomas Buoyant Spoons
  5. Dreamweaver DW Spoon
  6. Michigan Stinger Stingray Spoon
  7. Mepps Little Wolf Spoon

1. Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoons

Krocodile Spoon
Krocodile Spoon

Best Slender Long-Body Spoon: The Krocodile spoon is my favorite long-body spoon for casting rivers and lakes and it works for trolling.

There are times when a slender-bodied spoon will outperform other spoons.

A similar and close second is the Mepps Syclops Spoons.

2. Acme Tackle Little Cleo Spoon

Best Casting Spoon: The Little Cleo has been my favorite casting spoon for 20 years and judging by the positive reviews, it’s a favorite of many anglers. It is a heavier spoon, so it casts far and it will get deep so it’s not great on smaller rivers, however, it works great in lakes and for larger streams.

3. Thomas Colorado Spoon

Thomas Colorado Spoon
Thomas Colorado Spoon

Best Small Streams Spoon and Slow Presentation Spoon: This is my go-to spoon for small streams, shallower water, and when I need a slower presentation to get the trout to bite. It has a great side-to-side wobble even when slowly retrieved.

A very popular and highly rated close second is the Thomas Buoyant Spoons which I suggest you have a few in your box.

4. Dreamweaver DW Spoon

Best Trolling Spoon: The Dreamweaver spoon is a proven best trolling spoon around the great lakes and is used by many guides for trout, salmon, and trout. It is a flutter spoon and has great action when trolled but it does not cast well and doesn’t work well in strong current.

Similar lures and a close second choice is the Michigan Stinger Stingray Spoon. Bright colors with metallic flash are my most effective colors.

5. Mepps Little Wolf Spoon

Mepps Little Wolf Spoon
Mepps Little Wolf Spoon

Tiny Spoon: The Little Wolf Spoon is a small spoon that gets good reviews and is recommended by others, and although it does work for trout fishing I believe the Thomas Colorado Spoon is a more productive spoon for me and my clients.

For details on how to fish spoons effectively. See my article Spoon Fishing For Trout.

Crankbaits, Jerk Baits, Stickbaits

Crank baits are great summer trout lures
A few of the lures I pulled out of my tackle box for this article. They all work!!

Crankbaits, or whatever you call them are my favorite type of lure when I want to catch big trout in a river or lake. To take advantage of trout feeding behavior, I will use my crankbait with a jerking twitching motion most of the time, however, a straight retrieve can get you some strikes.

With two or three treble hooks, the hooking percentage is high.

A crankbait imitates natural bait like a small minnow, sculpin, and other baitfish very well which is why large trout prefer crankbaits over other lures.

A brown trout with a crankbait lures in its mouth.
Although spinners are the preferred lure for most anglers, when it comes to big trout I prefer a crankbait.

Some crankbaits with shallow lips do not work well in faster currents and will wobble up-and-out of the water or skim across the surface.

For faster currents, medium and deep lip crankbaits will stay down and wobble more at slower speeds and they are the best lures for trout in faster currents.

An effective method with the crawfish-colored deep lip crankbaits is to purposely bump the deep lip crankbaits off the rocks and then let them rise a foot or two and then repeat. This is an easy meal and works great for big browns, especially on larger rivers.

A big brown trout caught on a crankbait lure.
Eli from SBS Outdoor Action with a nice brown trout caught on a big crankbait. Watch the video by clicking the link.

Action and Retrieve: The jerk-twitch-pause repeat mimics an injured or struggling baitfish which in my opinion and proven in the bass world, this type of retrieve catches more fish.

Best Sizes: For smaller brookies or trout, 1 to 2-inch lures will work but for the big trout, 3 to 5-inch ones works best.

Best Colors: Color patterns will vary depending on light conditions and water clarity.

Crankbaits/Stickbaits/Jerkbaits List

  1. Rapala Original Floating Minnow
  2. Rapala Shad Rap
  3. Rapala Husky Jerk
  4. Rapala X-Rap
  5. Rebel Minnow
  6. Smithwick Suspending Rattling Rogue
  7. Rebel Wee Crawfish
  8. Brads Wiggler
  9. Luhr Jensen Kwikfish X-Treme
  10. Strike King KVD – Bonus Lure

1. Rapala Original Floater

It’s without question that Rapala’s original floater has caught a ton of trout over the years and this classic lure still works well today for trolling, casting, and river fishing streams.

The Original Rapala is good for shallow water or fishing higher in the water column and in slower currents.

2. Rapala Shad Rap: Best Deep Water and Fast Current

When I need to get my crankbait down deeper or when I’m fishing faster currents I prefer to use the Rapala Shad Rap which wobbles and stays down with just the use of the current. You can cast this across current and let it swing or twitch and rip it. The big lip keeps the lure down.

3. Rapala Husky Jerk

Don’t tell anyone but I catch tens times more trout and other species if I twitch and jerk my lures versus using a straight retrieve, and so do pro tournament anglers and other guides.

Therefore a lure I use a lot is the Rapala Husky Jerk which is one of my most effective twitch style jerk baits.

Although the Tennessee shad color is my favorite for pike and bass it has been good for trout too. Silver, Olive Ghost, Juicy Lucy, Glass Minnow, Clown, and Helsinki Shad are good colors for me.

4. Rebel Minnow: Best Small Crankbait

Lures in small sizes are ideal for most trout and since this lure ranges from about 1.5″ to 3.5 inches, it is a good small lure for shallow streams, lakes, and ponds. It’s a floating crankbait that can be retrieved steadily or twitched and paused. There are limited color choices but the colors it comes in are all good.

5. Smithwick Suspending Rattlin Rogue: Suspending Lures

I’ve mentioned I like the twitch and jerk type lures and this is one that suspends which means you can twitch and then pause it right in the trout’s face which will often drive them crazy. I prefer this on larger water and especially lakes.

6. Rapala X-Rap

Rapala X-Rap crankbait
Rapala X-Rap crankbait

A suspending lure that I prefer more than the Smithwick is the Rapala X-Rap. The Xrap has a nicer finish and works well in rivers when you want a slash and twitch action that will entice more bites. For me this is a more effective suspending crankbait.

7. Rebel Teeny Wee-Crawfish VS, Brads Wiggler

the Rebel Teeny Wee-Crawfish

A popular mini-crank bait that imitates a crawfish and is good for trout of all sizes is the Rebel Teeny Wee-Crawfish and the Rebel Wee Crawfish.

Although it works, I’m not a super big fan of it.

I’ve done better with lures like 2 1/4″ Brad’s Wiggler in the Natural Crawfish color.

8. Luhr Jensen Kwikfish X-Treme and FlatFish

Flatfish lure for trout, steelhead, and salmon

Considered by many as a plug, the Kwikfish and Flatfish lures are almost identical in shape and how they work. This is my go-to swim lure when the trout are inactive or when fishing trout in the winter because it has a very enticing wobble at a very slow speed.

It does not dive deep so a low rod tip and the addition of a split shot a foot or two up the line might be required. The 2 to 4-inch range is best.

Check out Crankbait Fishing For Trout page for in-depth information on how to effectively cover the water, get the right depth, and my most effective presentation methods for crankbaits.

Common Questions About Trout Lures

What colors are best for trout?

brightly colored spoons like these 4 spoons are some of the best lures for trout

Natural colors are great for fooling trout but at times bright shiny flashy colors will work equally well or even better. My go-to colors are black, silver, white, yellow, olive, and minnow or shad patterns.

It’s hard to say certain colors work best but if your tackle box has a variety of colors including the top colors which are silver, gold, copper, minnow colors, orange, and chartreuse you will be able to cover all conditions.

What Are The Best Trout Lures For Rivers?

The best trout lures for rivers are lightweight spinners, spoons, deep-diving crankbaits, or plugs like the Kwickfish. Jigs can also be a very effective lure for river trout. My most effective lure for rivers is the 3 to 4 inch Rapala X-Rap.

What Are The Best Trout Lures For Ponds?

The best trout lures for ponds are heavy spoons designed for casting far, but spinners and crankbaits are great for fishing high in the water column, and jigs are good for fishing deep and on the bottom.

What Are The Best Trout Lures For Lakes

The best trout lures for lakes are heavy-casting spoons like the Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoons, as well as larger spinners, and 3 to 5-inch deep-lip crankbaits are also very productive for getting deeper trout.

What Are The Best Trout Lures For Trolling

The best trout lures for trolling are flutter spoons and crankbaits with shallow or deep diving lips to get to different depths where the trout are feeding.

What Are The Best Lures For Stocked Trout

The best lures for stocked trout are slower-moving lures like jigs, wide-blade spinners that are retrieved in a straight line, spoons, and crankbaits.

What Is The Best Lure Sizes For Trout

The lure size you use will depend on the size of the fish. For small trout a 1 to 2.5-inch lure is good but for big trout a 3 to 5-inch lure is best.

What Is The Best Replacement Hook For Trout Lures?

Most lures come with a hook that is balanced and is the right size for the lure. If you need to replace your hook be sure to use the same size treble hooks that the lure came with. Use a high quality hook brand.

Can I use the lures in this article anywhere?

Yes, the lures in this article will work anywhere around the world and anywhere that the law permits. In some areas, single hooks are required so some of these lures are not legal or you need to remove the appropriate amount of hooks.

Final Thoughts

Head Guide Graham From Trout and Steelhead .net
Head guide Graham with huge brown trout

Conditions play a big part in lure selection and what actually is the best lure for trout at that time. Even wild trout will feed differently than freshly stocked trout so your lure choices may be different.

The key is being able to change and adapt which means changing size, color, and even type of lure to determine when the trout actually want.

If you have any questions or comments or have a great lure you would like to recommend, let us know in the comments section below.

Tight Lines,


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