Are Spinning Rods Good For Trout?

Catching trout is extremely rewarding, and having the right equipment will increase your chances of having a successful angling trip. Many people will instinctively head for the fly rod to hunt for trout, but there is another alternative, and that is the spinning rod.

Spinning rods are good for trout fishing. This type of rod is mostly used for casting and retrieving artificial lures. Spinning rods can be easier to learn with, offer more precise casting and allow you to cover more water in a shorter space of time than fly rods.

Trout fishing with a spinning rod requires the correct equipment. You will need the appropriate rod for the water you are fishing, as well as choosing the right bait to entice the trout to bite. Below, we’ll take a closer look at spinning rods and why they are a good option for trout fishing.

What Is A Spinning Rod?

A spinning rod is one of the most popular types of fishing rods. They are designed to work with a spinning reel, which sits on the underside of the rod. This means the line guides are also positioned along the bottom part of the rod.

Modern spinning rods are usually made from carbon fiber, with models also made from fiberglass or graphite. They typically range between 5 ft to 9 ft in length and can be quite diverse in weight. The differences in lengths and sizes available make spinning rods very versatile.

This versatility makes spinning rods adaptable for most types of fishing, including trout fishing. A spinning rod is generally used to cast and retrieve lures, but live bait can still be applied to replicate the natural food trout feed on.

Trout Fishing With A Spinning Rod

When trout fishing with a spinning rod you generally want to look for an ultralight or fast-action rod, one with a line rated range between 2 lbs and 6 lbs. A spinning rod allows for more precise casting and helps you to cover larger areas of water quicker.

The lightweight nature of these rods also means you can use lighter lures and more lightweight line as part of your spinning rod setup. This can be particularly useful in shallower water as trout are quite a shy fish and easily spooked. Therefore, a reliable lightweight spinning setup can pay dividends.

Rod Length

The length of the rod required depends on the waters you are fishing. When fishing for trout in an open stream you may need to cast further, requiring a longer rod which measures 8 ft to 9 ft in length. However, for a shallower pool of water a 5 ft or 6 ft spinning rod is better.

A spinning rod needs a suitable spinning reel, and if you’re trout fishing with an ultralight rod then you will need a comparative reel. The correct pairing of rod and reel will aid precision in casting. Anglers new to the sport can find a spinning rod easier to use when trout fishing, and buying spinning combos can make pairing rods and reels much easier for beginners.


Once you have your spinning rod and reel gear, your mind will quickly turn to your line. It’s best to avoid the temptation of using line with too large a diameter. In most cases 2 lb to 4 lb line is preferable as it less conspicuous to the fish. Larger diameter line can also reduce the cast-ability of the line.

It is highly unlikely you will lose a trout because the line breaks due to the size of the fish compared to the strength of the line. It’s more likely to break due to a poorly tied knot or because the line was compromised in the first place. Unless you are hunting after a particularly large trout you can go light when it comes to your line.

Baits For Trout Fishing With Spinning Rods

When it comes to bait, nothing can truly replicate the trout’s natural food source better than live bait. However, artificial lures can also be effective when trout fishing and are easier to use with a spinning rod. Trout don’t bite just to feed as they are an aggressive fish that guard their territory, striking out at intruders on their patch.

Different anglers will have different opinions on whether live bait or artificial lures are better. Many different factors including water depth, water speed, and the light level can determine how a trout bites. As with most fishing, personal experience and knowledge of the water will influence your choice of bait.

Live Bait

While spinning rods are largely used for casting and retrieving artificial lures, live bait remains the preferred bait for some anglers. When drift fishing with live bait you cast upstream and allow the current to drift the bait downstream. Using lighter tackle is often advised for live bait as it gives you better feel, as well as more control when casting.

A spinning rod can be the best option for fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout in moving waters such as rivers and streams. One thing you need to keep in mind when using live bait is that you are more likely to throat hook or gut hook a trout compared to artificial lures.

Therefore, if your intention is to return the trout back to the water and you are using live bait, you should look to set the hook early. This way you are more likely to achieve a nice lip hook and make for a safer release.

Popular live baits when trout fishing include:

  • Worms
  • Minnow
  • Grubs
  • Waxworms
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets

Trout love bugs. So, any bait which mimics the bugs native to the water you are fishing is a good place to start. There are also a few non-living baits you could consider, such as cheese, bread and corn, all of which seem to appeal to trout and are easy to acquire.

Artificial Lures

Artificial lures can be easier to use when trout fishing and can be a good type of bait for beginners. They are also quick to apply, allowing you more scope to cast and cover a stretch of water faster compared to using fiddlier live bait. As with live bait you are looking to match the trout’s natural food source.

When the water is a little discolored from recent rainfall, it can be a good time to use lures. Trout rely on their vision to eat and will strike at any movement they see. When the water isn’t crystal clear they can’t easily distinguish natural food from artificial bait.

Rooster Tails are one of the iconic inline spinning lures, with a strong track record for catching trout. They are available in various sizes and colors to help match the natural conditions of a waterway. Their steady movement and pulsating action when retrieved make them attractive to trout.

There are hundreds if not thousands of types of artificial lure on the market, which can seem ultra-confusing to begin with. By talking to fellow trout anglers and gaining your own experience you can build up an appreciation of the best lures to use.

Still Water vs Moving Water

Fishing for trout on a spinning rod can be fruitful in freshwater lakes, rivers and streams. It tends to be easier in moving water, particularly for beginners. In moving water, you can use the current to help locate the most likely position of the trout.

Trout are often found in places where they can rest, such as eddies and slower moving water beside a faster current. From these areas of rest the trout can wait to ambush their prey. Bait cast upstream of these areas will drift down and entice the trout to bite.

If you are using lures, you ideally want to retrieve them slightly faster than the current after casting. With live bait you want to cast towards the outer flow of the current in order to attract the attention of waiting trout. Trout like to be close to currents as the water will be more oxygenated.

When fishing for trout in still water, you want to focus on areas of shelter such as large rocks or boulders where the trout may be resting. With all types of water, you need to assess the depth and where the food source is most likely located before casting.

Final Thoughts

Spinning rods are good for trout fishing. They are easy to use and can be the best choice when fishing for rainbow trout, brook trout and brown trout in moving water. More water can also be covered in a faster time, which can be particularly useful when you have limited fishing time.