Trout Species Guide

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trout species guide on rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout

Welcome to our Trout species guide covering the three popular trout out there: Brown, Brook, and Rainbow. In this packed guide, you’ll find the best trout fishing gear as well as general information you need to succeed.

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Trout Species guide: Rainbow Trout

In this section of the Trout species guide, we’re talking about Rainbow Trout. Rainbow trout are some of the most liked fish to catch in lakes and rivers. Doesn’t matter if you’ve been fishing for years or if you’re just starting—this guide has everything to make you better at catching rainbow trout. We’ll talk about where these fish like to swim and what kind of fishing stuff works best to catch them.

Fish Description: Distinguishing Features

​Rainbow trout are known for their vibrant colors, which can range from steel blue to olive on the back, transitioning to a silvery white on the belly. They are easily identified by the pinkish stripe that runs along their sides and the small black spots that dot their fins and tail.

Size Range: Understanding the Size Spectrum

The size of Rainbow Trout can be really different. Most of the time, they are about as long as a ruler or a bit longer, from 12 to 30 inches. In some special places, you can even find huge Rainbow Trout that are longer than 30 inches and weigh more than 20 pounds.

Habitat Preferences: Where Rainbow Trout Thrive

Rainbow trout can live in lots of different places, like small creeks, big rivers, lakes, and even man-made ponds. They like water that’s cool and clear, with temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees. Good spots to find them have rocks or sand on the bottom and lots of plants or things like logs in the water.

You can find lots of Rainbow Trout in the mountain streams of places like the Rocky Mountains, and in clear lakes in the middle of the country. They’re also in some ponds that people stock with fish.

Feeding Habits: What’s on the Menu?

Rainbow trout eat whatever they can find. Most of the time, they eat bugs, little fish, and things like crawfish. The best times to catch them eating are early in the morning and late in the afternoon. That’s when they’re usually looking for food the most.

Migratory Patterns

Rainbow trout like to move around a lot, especially going up rivers in the spring to lay eggs. Knowing when and where they do this can really help you catch more of them.

When to Fish: Timing

The best time to catch rainbow trout is in the spring when they’re laying eggs. But you can catch them any time of the year. The early morning and late afternoon are usually the best times of the day to find them looking for food.

Best Rod for Rainbow Trout Fishing:

​For Rainbow Trout, a medium-light to medium rod with fast action is ideal. I’d recommend the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod or the Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod, both available on Amazon. Pair it with a quality reel like the Shimano Stradic FL or the Penn Battle II, also available on Amazon.

Live Bait Options: Natural Choices

For those who prefer using live bait, nightcrawlers, minnows, and even small crayfish can be effective.

Artificial Lures: Best Rainbow Trout Lures

When it comes to artificial lures, spoons like the Acme Kastmaster and soft plastics like the Berkley Gulp! Minnow are highly effective. Fly anglers might consider using nymphs or streamers that mimic local insect life. Additionally, fishing spoons for Rainbow Trout can be highly effective.

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Casting Techniques: Mastering the Art of Casting

Casting works really well in lots of places, like moving rivers or calm lakes. For casting, a medium-light rod that moves quickly is a good choice. When you cast, throw your fake bait up the river and let it float back down with the water. While it’s floating, keep your reel ready but turn it slowly. This makes the fake bait look like real food, so you’re more likely to get a fish to bite.

Float Fishing for Rainbow Trout:

Drift fishing is great in rivers and streams with moderate to fast currents. For this technique, you’ll want to use a floating rig for trout to control the depth of your bait. The Thill Gold Medal Supreme Mini Stealth Float available on Amazon is a good choice. Attach your bait below the float and cast it into the current. Allow your bait to drift naturally downstream. The float will help you keep track of your bait and alert you to any subtle bites. This method is particularly effective when Rainbow Trout are holding in deeper pools or along current seams.

Fly Fishing for Rainbow Trout

Fly fishing is a unique and rewarding experience when targeting Rainbow Trout. For this method, a 5-6 weight fly rod is good enough. The Redington Fly Rod Combo is a solid choice.

There are tons of fly fishing flies for Trout, like the Elk Hair Caddis and the Woolly Bugger are popular choices. When you’re fly fishing, try to make your fly look like the bugs that are around—that’s called “matching the hatch.” Throw your fly up the river and let it float back down, making it look like it’s a real bug. This way of fishing needs some practice, but it feels really great when you catch a fish doing it.

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Trout species guide: Brook Trout

Physical Traits: What Sets Brook Trout Apart

In this section of the Trout species guide, we’re talking about Brook Trout, a fish that comes from the eastern part of North America. You can tell it’s a brook trout by its greenish body that has special wavy or worm-like lines all over it. The belly is usually lighter and can even look a bit reddish.

Size Range: How Big Do They Get?

Brook trout are usually smaller than other kinds of trout. Most grown-up brook trout are about as long as a school ruler, from 10 to 12 inches. But in some places where people take really good care of the water, they can get way bigger, even longer than 20 inches and weighing more than 5 pounds.

Where to Find Brook Trout:

Brook trout like to swim in cold, clear rivers and creeks that come from springs. You can usually find them in places with mountains, but they also live in flat areas if the water is good for them. Even though they mostly like streams, you can find brook trout in lakes and ponds too, especially if the water is cold.

When to Fish

Brook trout eat pretty much anything they can find, but they mostly like bugs, little fish, and things like crawfish. They like to look for food when the sun is coming up and when it’s going down, so those are the best times to catch them. The best seasons for fishing for them are spring and fall, when the water is between 45 and 65 degrees. Early morning and late afternoon are usually when you’ll have the most luck.

Best Rod for Brook Trout Fishing

For Brook Trout, an ultralight to medium-light rod with moderate to fast action is your best bet. The St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod is a fantastic option available on Amazon. It offers the right blend of sensitivity and strength, making it ideal for these smaller fish. Another great choice is the Fenwick Eagle Spinning Rod, known for its lightweight feel and fast action.

Pair your rod with a quality spinning reel that has a smooth drag system. The Shimano Sienna FG Spinning Reel is a top pick available on Amazon. It’s known for its durability and smooth drag, making it perfect for Brook Trout. Another excellent option is the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel, which also offers a smooth drag system and is highly rated by anglers.

Best Fishing Line for Brook Trout

For Brook Trout, a 2-6 lb test line is generally sufficient. Berkley Trilene XL Monofilament Fishing Line is a reliable choice available on Amazon. It offers low memory and excellent knot strength, making it ideal for this type of fishing.

Best Brook Trout Lures

​Brook trout are often less selective than other trout species but respond well to small spinners like the Rooster Tail or Blue Fox Vibrax. If you prefer natural bait, something like Berkley PowerBait Floating Mice Tails mimic the scent and texture of live bait. Tiny spoons and soft plastics can also be effective. For natural bait, consider using worms, small minnows, or even insects like crickets.

Best Hooks for Brook Trout

For catching brook trout, you’ll want hooks that are size 6 to 12. If you’re planning to let the fish go after you catch it, circle hooks are a good choice. They usually hook the fish near the mouth all by themselves. But if you want to keep the fish, J-hooks work better. You have to pull to set these hooks, and the fish are more likely to swallow them. To finish setting up your fishing line, you’ll also need a few swivels, some little weights called split shot sinkers, and small bobbers.

How to Catch Brook Trout:

Casting Techniques: How to Cast for Brookies

Casting is an easy and good way to catch Brook Trout, especially in small rivers and creeks. A light or medium-action spinning rod with a line that can hold 4 to 6 pounds is usually all you need. When it comes to fake bait, little spinners, spoons, and soft things that look like bugs or small fish work really well.

Float Fishing for Brook Trout

Drift fishing is a great way to catch Brook Trout in big rivers and streams. With this way of fishing, you let your fake or real bait float along with the water. You can use real worms or fake bait like soft plastics. A light to medium-action rod with a tip that you can feel easily is good for this, so you can tell when a fish bites.

Here’s a pro tip: Use a float or a bobber to keep your bait at the right depth in the water. This also helps you see when a fish is biting. Change how deep your bait is based on where the fish are, which can change with the seasons and how warm or cold the water is.

Fly Fishing for Brook Trout

Fly fishing is seen as one of the best ways to catch Brook Trout. It’s a bit tricky but really fun. This works best in clear, shallow water where you often find these fish. Using flies that look like local bugs, small fish, or crawfish usually works the best.

Here’s a pro tip: Keep an eye on bug activity on top of the water. If you see a lot of bugs, switch to a dry fly that looks like those bugs. This can make the Brook Trout want to bite because they think it’s real food.

trout species guide on brook trout

Trout species guide: Brown trout

Overview of the Brown Trout:

Physical Characteristics:

In this section of the Trout species guide, we’re talking about Brown Trout. You can spot Brown Trout by their special gold-brown color. They have dark brown or even black spots, but they don’t have the pink stripe like Rainbow Trout do. What’s cool is that their color can change a bit depending on where they are. Things like how clear the water is and what the ground is like under the water can make their color look different.

Size Matters: What to Expect

The size of Brown Trout can really change depending on where they are. In small rivers and streams, they’re usually about as long as a school ruler or a bit longer, from 12 to 20 inches. But in big places like lakes and large rivers, you might find some that are super big, longer than 30 inches and weighing more than 20 pounds.

Where to Find Brown Trout:

Brown Trout are good at living in lots of different places, from small creeks to big lakes. They like water that’s a bit cool, usually between 55 and 65 degrees. When you’re looking for a good place to fish, keep an eye out for spots with things like logs under the water, big rocks, or places where plants and branches hang over the water.

Behavior and Feeding Patterns:

Brown Trout aren’t picky eaters. They’re opportunistic predators that feast on a mix of insects, crustaceans, and smaller fish. Their feeding habits can change based on various factors, including the water temperature and the availability of prey.

Timing is Everything: Best Times to Fish:

The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the Brown Trout. Early mornings and late afternoons are prime fishing times, especially during the transitional seasons of spring and fall. In the heat of summer, aim for the cooler parts of the day to increase your chances.

Best Rod for Brown Trout Fishing

For a balanced and effective setup, I’d recommend going for a medium to medium-heavy rod with fast action. The St. Croix Premier Spinning Rod is a solid choice for its sensitivity and strength. It’s available in various lengths and power ratings, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your fishing style.

Complement your rod with a high-quality reel that has a smooth drag system, capable of handling the spirited fights Brown Trout are known for. The Penn Battle II 2000 Spinning Fishing Reel is a fantastic option. It’s lightweight, durable, and has an incredibly smooth drag system that can handle the pressure.

Best Fishing Line for Brown Trout

When it comes to fishing line, a 10-20 lb test monofilament or fluorocarbon line is generally sufficient. Berkley Trilene XL Monofilament is a reliable choice for its low memory and excellent knot strength. If you prefer fluorocarbon, Seaguar InvizX is highly recommended for its low visibility and abrasion resistance.

Best Brown Trout Lures

For lures, consider using spinners like the Mepps Aglia Spinner or spoons like the Acme Kastmaster. These lures have proven to be effective for Brown Trout in various conditions. If you’re using natural bait, nightcrawlers, minnows, and even corn can be effective. The Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnow Soft Bait offers a great artificial alternative that mimics the scent and texture of live bait.

Techniques for Success:

Casting: The All-Rounder

Casting is a solid way to catch Brown Trout, and you can do it in both rivers that flow fast and lakes that are still. A medium-action rod is pretty much the perfect choice for this. Pair it with a spinning reel, and you’ve got a setup that can cast your bait far and handle most fishing situations.

Float Fishing for Brown Trout

Drift fishing is really good for rivers and streams that have water moving at a medium to fast speed. Using a float helps keep your bait at just the right depth in the water. This lets your bait float along naturally with the water, making it look more like real food to the fish.

Fly Fishing for Brown Trout

Fly fishing is a special and fun way to fish that feels really good when you get it right. Use flies that look like the bugs or small fish that are in the area. A fly rod that’s a 5-6 weight, along with a reel that goes with it, should work well for most times you’re out on the water.

Trout Species Guide Final Thoughts

That wraps up our trout species guide on fishing for Rainbow, Brook, and Brown Trout. We’ve covered everything from their favorite hangout spots to their meal preferences. If you’ve been on the hunt for the best rod for trout fishing, searching for the best trout lures, or maybe just general information, we hope this Trout species guide has helped you. Now, it’s your turn to take all this info and put it to good use. Time to grab your fishing gear and head out.