Rainbow Trout Fishing Tips – How to Catch Rainbow Trout

Welcome to our section on Rainbow Trout Fishing Tips. If you are new to rainbow trout fishing, then you can use this guide to get started. Even if you have some experience fishing for rainbow trout, you will find advanced tips and tricks to improve your skill. I hope this Rainbow Trout Fishing Tips guide will help you learn How to Catch Rainbow Trout.

This tutorial is a part of our Fishing Tips series. Other fishing guides in this series are Fishing Basics for Beginners, Fishing Tips for BeginnersBass Fishing Tips, Trout Fishing Tips, Rainbow Trout Fishing TipsCrappie Fishing TipsFly Fishing TipsLake Fishing Tips, Pond Fishing Tips, Surf Fishing Tips, and River Fishing Tips.

Now, let us move to Rainbow Trout Fishing Tips.

Rainbow Trout Fishing Tips

The rainbow trout is a popular species among fishermen. People have fished for trout for generations on end, so the rainbow trout fishing techniques gave significantly evolved as fishermen seek the best way to catch them. I will share these useful tips on how to make your rainbow trout fishing successful:

  • What is a Rainbow Trout?
  • Where do Rainbow Trout Live?
  • When do Rainbow Trout Spawn?
  • Where to Catch Rainbow Trout?
  • Rainbow Trout Fishing Bait
  • Rainbow Trout Fishing Lures
  • How to Catch Rainbow Trout?
  • Rainbow Trout Fishing Tips for Beginners
  • How to Handle Rainbow Trout?

Rainbow Trout Facts

Let me first share some important facts about rainbow trout. You will need this information to fast track your first catch.

What is a Rainbow Trout

The rainbow trout is a popular game fish that lives mostly in freshwater.  It is popular not only with anglers but also at the dinner table. Experts say that it comes 4th in popularity after bass, panfish, and catfish.

They are known to live up to 7 years. Rainbow trout reach up to 12 inches long, and their main diet is smaller fish.

The rainbow trout is known for its acrobatic skills that can leave even experienced anglers agape. They can, in fact, make you feel a little sorry for yourself. It is said that they live so long because of their intelligence in escaping predators.

Where do Rainbow Trout Live

You will normally find them in the cool waters of streams and lakes. They may, however, spend some time out in the ocean but always return to freshwater to spawn. This migratory behavior gives their body a silvery tint, which is the source of their name.

They are very difficult to see even in clear waters. Their underwater camouflage can indeed be considered perfect. This camouflage helps them to hide from predators like eagles and bears.

Their temperament varies with the seasons – the way they take your fly in summer may not be the same in winter. A sizeable percentage of their diet consists of subsurface insects and larvae, and they are not as fond of surface vertebrates.

Another interesting fact about trout is that they are lazy. They are the kind of fish that would rather wait for food to come to them instead of hunting for their food. This is possible because of the water current. The rainbow trout is therefore common in rivers with moderate flowing waters.

When do Rainbow Trout Spawn

The rainbow trout spawn in the spring. They spawn in creeks, which they find safe. You will, therefore, want to look for the big fish around creeks if you are fishing in spring. Take note that the fish do not actively feed while spawning. Your bait may not be of interest to them at that time. So you should use big streamers or egg patterns to catch their attention.

In summer, look for rainbow trout in holes and deep pools. It is here where they hide in cooler waters while the temperatures near the surface are high.

Where to Catch Rainbow Trout

Now that you know about important rainbow trout facts, let us now see what specific areas in a river or lake may harbor a large number of trout. The first place to consider is a local creek. Do not rush into fishing big rivers before learning the basics. Creeks, simply put, are tiny rivers that may have plenty of fish. These are a good place to learn the fundamentals of rainbow trout fishing.

While on these creeks, you will have to learn how to read the waters. Try locating any big rock in the creek. You will notice that water moves slowly behind such a rock. There is a high chance that a trout or two are hanging around there. Cast your fly as close to the rock as possible.

The next feature to consider is deep holes; you are likely to find trout here. They love deep pools because of the security they offer and the colder waters present.

Once fish get attached to a kind of habitat, they are likely to stick there for years on end. Therefore, after locating a favorite hole, stay there for an appropriate length of time before moving on. When you break after an extended period without fishing, come back to the same hole and you will find fish.

Another area where water moves slowly in a creek is around a bend. The circular current also means deeper waters, which is a favorite place for rainbow trout.

Rainbow Trout Bait and Lures

It is important to buy the right bait and lures for rainbow trout as this will increase your chances of hooking up. There is no single bait or lure that is better than the rest. The feeding habit of rainbow trout is varied and you must likewise be dynamic in your approach.

Rainbow Trout Fishing Bait

The best one to start with is the live bait. Look at what lives on the shore of the river or lake you are fishing in. This is what is native to the trout in that river or lake and it is an excellent idea to imitate this.

Nightcrawlers, minnows, and crayfish are especially effective in catching rainbow trout. You can also try critters such as grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles. These fall into the river quite often and so rainbow trout are used to feeding on them.

Rainbow Trout Fishing Lures

Some of the artificial lures you can use include tubes, spoons, and spinners. Tubes resemble zooplankton. Spoons are normally flashy and tipped with feathers. Their flashiness helps entices the fish to bite.

Spinners are the most popular with anglers. They have flapping blades which add flash to the lure, attracting fish.  Swimbaits and worm imitators will also do you good.

Avoid tiny haired imitators because the trout diet is mostly smaller fish, worms, and shrimp. Power bait is also not a wise choice when it comes to fishing rainbow trout in rivers and lakes. Power bait resembles the pellets that are used to feed stocked trout in hatcheries and farms. Wild trout have no appetite for such pellets.

How to Catch Rainbow Trout

Fly fishing is one of the most popular rainbow trout fishing techniques. I will now explain step by step how to cast.

  • Approach the stream from the downstream end. Make sure to be quiet, so as not to scare the fish away. Scientists say that if you spook a trout, it will forget its need for food and just swim away to protect itself.
  • Cast the fly line upstream so that the fly drifts naturally towards you. Keep a steady eye on the line and the fly so that you are aware when the trout strikes.
  • The fly should be presented to the trout in the most natural way possible. The problem arises when you cast in holes where the water is slower than that at the point where you are standing. You will tend to move the line faster than the flow of current at the hole. The trout are smart enough to know that this is a fake fly, and will not bite.
  • The best approach is to first position yourself on firm ground on the bank of the river or slightly in the river. Hold the fly rod with your thumb on top of the grip.  Now raise your forearm, with the rod straight, until the rod is slightly past the vertical position above you.
  • Move your wrist back and forth to straighten the line. When it just begins to form a narrow loop, make a forward stroke towards the target. Stop the rod when it is at a 45-degree angle to the ground.
  • If you are casting into the wind, it is important to angle the rod down during the forward cast. This prevents the wind from catching the line and blowing it back towards you.

Rainbow Trout Fishing Tips for Beginners

Patience and Practice

Fly fishing is a skill that takes time to become an expert in. I often tell enthusiasts to keep an open mind in learning the ins and outs of fly fishing. Give yourself enough time to learn the sport, and it will prove worthwhile in the end.

Time may not allow you to access the stream whenever you want. But this should not keep you from practicing. Ever thought of fly fishing in the parking lot? Or your yard? Try this to improve your casting technique. And when you access the creek, it will save you tons of time for trial and error.

Rainbow Trout Bait and Tackle

Being organized is the key to success in trout fishing. What do I mean? Catching trout by fly fishing requires more energy and concentration than still water fishing. It is widespread practice to walk up and down the river banks looking for that prolific spot.

This requires you to have a handy tackle box which you can easily carry along with you. Invest in a fly fishing sling pack for this same purpose. Always remember to carry plenty of flies. You do not want to run short of flies midway into the fishing session. You may have many bites before making a catch.


Invest in a good pair of drab clothes. Your aim is to keep out of the trout’s sight. Drab clothing will also help you blend with the surroundings, a sort of camouflage for the predator you are.

How to Handle Rainbow Trout

Most fishermen who have just started out do not know exactly how to handle the fish after the catch. It is important to know how to handle the trout. This depends on the intention of your fishing. You may be fishing for fun, where you will need to release the fish back to the water (after a nice photo!), or you may be fishing for food.

Note that trout need to be in the oxygen-rich water. Staying out of water for as little as 15 seconds can kill the fish. Do not conclude that the fish has survived if you see it swim away.

When you catch the rainbow trout, keep it in your net and immerse the net in the water. Turn the fish upside down to disorient it- it becomes easier to hold them. When the photographer is ready, hold the trout gently for just a few seconds out of the water. Hold it with one hand just in front of the tail. Do not hold it too tightly as this may tempt it to wiggle away.

If you want to release the fish, you must remove the fly in its mouth. Use a good pair of forceps for this job. Remember to always keep the fish in the water. Once you remove the hook, release the trout preferably into some quieter water. If the fish is bleeding, it is better to keep it because the chances of survival are low.

Take care not to drop the fish onto the bank, especially from a great height. Their survival rate is reduced if they end up flapping on the rocks.

If you intend to keep the fish, it will be good of you to kill them quick. You do not want to keep them suffering for no reason.


You are now well equipped to go rainbow trout fishing. Here is a five-point summary on how to catch rainbow trout:

  1. Learn the character and nature of the rainbow trout before going out to fish.
  2. Have the right equipment for fly fishing. The higher the quality the better, but of course it should fit into your budget.
  3. Purchase the right bait that matches the natural diet of the rainbow trout
  4. Develop the right casting technique. This may require practice and lots of patience.
  5. Remember to check the necessary laws and permits on rainbow trout fishing. These vary from state to state, so it is best to confirm for your specific state.

You can share your rainbow trout fishing experience via comments. I will be glad to hear from you.