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Rainbow Trout Fishing Guide

Rainbow Trout is a medium-sized trout species, are probably the most common and easiest to catch of all trout and can be found and is is one of the most commonly stocked fish in North America.  Rainbow Trout can be fished in various rivers, lakes, streams, ponds as well as urban and community lakes.

Rainbow trout are voracious predators and can consume a huge amount of insects and larvae and can be identified with their visible pink-lateral stripe and brown spotted backs, rainbow trout are a very sought after trophy fish.

One thing you need to note is that Rainbow Trout are very sensitive and fragile fish and need to be handled very delicately compared to Bass or Walleye. Before you touch the fish be sure your hands are wet, try to hold by the mouth or mouth and belly only and don't let the fish drop to the floor or ground and return the fish to the water as fast as you can if you are releasing the fish back to the water.

Rainbow Trout Fishing guide


  • Rainbow trout are only native to rivers and lakes in western North America.
  • Rainbow trout can reach 16 inches in length and 2 to 8 pounds of weight.
  • Largest recorded specimen had 48 pounds of weight.
  • Rainbow trout are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • This fish has been commercially farmed since 1870.
  • Rainbow trout can only survive in clean water.
  • Rainbow trout eat various types of small fish, eggs, insects and larvae, crustaceans and carcasses.

Rainbow Trout "Quick Bites"

Rainbow Trout "Quick Bites' is a quick and easy guide to help you catch Rainbow Trout.

Best Bait to Catch Rainbow Trout

  • Cheese, Kernel Corn
  • Nightcrawlers, Red Wigglers
  • Meal worms, Salmon Eggs

Best Lures to Catch Rainbow Trout

  • Small inline spinnerbait or spoon


How to Catch Rainbow Trout in Various Seasons

Rainbow trout are probably the most common and easiest to catch of all trout and are usually range from 1/2 to 3lbs in size and can be found across North America.

Rainbow Trout are usually stocked in various rivers and lakes every year and sometimes multiple times a year and can b fished with a wide variety of fishing lures and fishing baits.

You can fish for Rainbow Trout in a variety of rivers, lakes, ponds as well as community and urban lakes. Whether you fishing from the doc, fly-fishing or fishing from a boat, Rainbow Trout fishing is a great time.

Rainbow Trout prefers an optimum water temperature for is to between 50 and 68 °F. If the water temperature is below or above this the Rainbow Trouts feeding habits will slow down, which may mean you need to change your fishing strategy.

Water Temperature Guide for Rainbow Trout

45º and below Trout are usually slower in movement and feed intermittently
50º Trout begin are little more active in moving and feeding
55º This is around the optimal temperature for both Brook Trout and Brown Trout
60º  This is around the optimal temperature for Rainbow Trout
65º Trout start heading towards deeper waters and their feeding starts to slow down.
70º and above Dangerous to lethal temperatures where the Trout can start to die off.


  • Fishing for Rainbow Trout during the Spring time usually means colder and higher water levels. Rainbow Trout will tend to swim to the surface for warmer waters, which will encourage them to feed from.
  • If your fishing in cloudy or murky waters during this time use weighted spinners with flat blades at a slow pace with will give off plenty of vibrations and help Rainbow Trout find your spinner.
  • If you are fly fishing in a river or stream cast out a casting a nymph or streamer pattern to the areas that has a slower water current.
YouTube video

Rainbow Trout are pretty much everywhere.


  • During the warmer summer months the best time to fish for Rainbow Trout is either early or late in the day as Rainbow Trout usually feed at first light and again near dusk time. This is when Rainbow Trout will be the most active.
  • Rainbow Trout will tend to swim out to the top 10 feet of water from an hour before sunrise to mid-morning and then swim out again from late afternoon to an hour or two after dusk.
  • Regardless of what water you fish, there are certain locations that draw Rainbow Trout during the summer time which are any inlets and outlets which provides oxygenated and cooler waters as well as food and nutrients.
  • Rainbow Trout prefer Deeper pockets of water at this time since it will be cooler and more comfortable for Rainbow Trout during the summer minths.
  • Dams are another great spot to fish for Rainbow Trout as the Dam offers deeper cooler waters and serves a habitat for baitfish and other food sources for Rainbow Trout


  • Fishing for Rainbow Trout during the Fall time can be one of the best times to fish for Rainbow Trout since they begin to start feeding  aggressively during this time of year to start preparing for spawning activities.
  • Since the Rainbow Trout are more aggressive during this time, it's a great time to use chase baits liek spinners and crank-baits near river and stream inlets.
  • Plus, since the water temperature is falling during this time of year it enables the Rainbow Trout  to feed more throughout the day, which gives you more fishing opportunity and time to fish.


  • It's usually a slower time for fish for Rainbow Trout, but they are still catchable. Rainbow Trout will be slower to feed and respond so you shouldn't make them work too hard to chase your bait.

Best Places to Fish for Rainbow Trout

The best places to fish for Rainbow Trout can range depending on the time of year. Normally Rainbow Trout will usually stay near cover to hide from predators and seldom venture off and prefer deeper, cooler waters, especially in the hot summer months. You can find Rainbow Trout around rocks, logs, fallen trees, stumps, or other structure, aquatic vegetation such as grassy or weedy areas and certainly near water inlets where streams will flow into rivers, lakes and ponds. This is a great area to fish and this fresh water brings in oxygenated water and food supply which Rainbow Trout love.

The best time to fish for Rainbow Trout is pretty consistent is usually in the early mornings. Rainbow Trout really don't like to feed in bright sunlight and want to stay in cooler water and being protected. In addition, cloudy days are a good time to fish as well.


Troll Large Water for Wandering Fish

Another great way to fish for Rainbow Trout in a larger body of water is to start trolling up and down the lake or river, which you can usually catch larger Rainbow Trout this way.

The best way to catch Rainbow Trout is using spinners, plugs or spoons, Usually trying a variety of different lures at one time on different lines (check local laws first on how many lines/per person you can use first) to see what's working best.

When trolling for Rainbow Trout keep a close eye on your trolling speed (slow) depth finder, rod tips as well as other boats and people in the water.

Best Rainbow Trout Fishing Rods & Reels

Rainbow Trout Fishing Rods & Reels

Fishing for Rainbow an ultra light to medium rod and reel are usually sufficient to land most trout in still waters and gives you a better sensitivity level. However, if there is a steady currently (water flow) you'll probably want to use a medium to light setup for catching Rainbow Trout.

Rainbow Trout Fishing Line

Rainbow Trout have very good eyesight and will often be scared away by line that is too visible so you will usually want to use the lightest fishing line I can possibly get away with. I generally recommend fishing with 2lb - 6lb test line when your are fishing for Rainbow Trout. Usually the lighter the line the better.

Rainbow Trout Fishing Hooks

As for Rainbow Trout Fishing Hooks goes, use smaller hooks so you can have more of a successful hook set and is easier on the Rainbow Trout's delicate mouth and way better for catch and release.

Rainbow Trout are a more sensitive and fragile fish so try to pinch down the hook barbs or use barbless hooks to help minimize hurting the Rainbow Trout.

Barbs on a fishing hooks is there to help keep your fish on the hook. However, the barbs on the hook makes it more difficult to remove the hook and can possibly harm the fishing further during the removal process.

Hook sizes should range from 4 to 8.

Best Rainbow Trout Fishing Bait & Tackle

Best Live Bait for Rainbow Trout

To catch Bluegill using live bait you have a variety of options from using Minnows, Red Worms, Wax Worms, Meal Worms, Maggots, Crickets, Snails, Crayfish. You can also use nightcrawlers, but you will want to break them up so you don't attract larger fish. Please  note that Bluegill have smaller mouths so the bait doesn't have to be as big.

The following are some of the best Rainbow Trout live baits:

  • Nightcrawlers
  • Minnows
  • Meal Worms
  • Wax Worms
  • Maggots
  • Red Worms
  • Crickets
  • Snails
  • Crayfish
  • Tadpoles

Best Lures and Spinners for Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout can be caught on a whole range of lures, spinners and flies, etc need to mimic naturally occurring bait such as minnows, smelt, mayflies, nymphs, and sculpins.

If you prefer to fish with spin-casting gear use spinners  as they give off vibrations that will help Rainbow Trout find your lure in cloudy or murky water.

  • Worden’s Rooster Tail
  • Blue Fox Vibrax
  • Panther Martin
  • Joe’s Flies Short Striker
  • Mepps Aglia
  • Small Spoons
  • Jerkbaits
  • Small Spinners (dressed & undressed)

Best Artificial Bait for Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout can be caught on a whole range of artificial baits such as doughs corn and worms.

Rainbow Trout artificial baits:

  • PowerBait
  • Worms & Nightcrawlers
  • Salmon Eggs
  • Sweet Corn
  • Small Crankbaits
  • Small Spoons
  • Jerkbaits
  • Small Spinners (dressed & undressed)

Best Fly Fishing Bait for Rainbow Trout

If you’re headed out into the waters to do some great fly fishing make sure you have plenty of flys and that you fly box is filled with these best flies for fly fishing.

Please note that there is no such thing as the single “perfect” fly. I wish! Rainbow Trout will bite on different flies depending on a variety of factors such as color, species, depth, weather, time of year, location, etc. So with that said make sure you're prepared and stock your bag or pack with a wide variety  of flies to ensure you don’t go home empty-handed at the end of the day.

A good fly can make or break your fishing adventure, so be prepared with our list of the twenty best flies of all time.

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