For many of us, when we think of trout fishing, we immediately think, fly fishing, but in fact, there are many other ways one can catch trout.
Methods using a spinning rod and spinning reel can be used to catch trout without fly fishing. Using a standard fishing rod with a regular fishing line on a fishing reel is often how we started trout fishing as young kids.
Those childhood memories helped us become better fishermen, whether we are using live bait, our own flies, or spinning rods. The natural desire to catch fish can be fulfilled by other methods of fishing as well. They may not seem the best alternative, and not everyone will agree, but they are very productive and, much like fly fishing, have their dedicated anglers that push the sport further each year.
In the below article, we will go through trout as a species and look at the various other ways to catch trout without going fly fishing.
Trout as a species
Fishing for trout and is exciting, challenging, and very rewarding. Of course, these fish are one of the most pursued fish in North America, behind the bass, of course. Many anglers catch these fish to eat regardless of the chosen fishing style, while most anglers catch and release.
Wild trout are generally smaller fish that are found in the more untouched rivers. The small fish will spawn each year and ensure survival each year. This is why fishing guides play such an essential role on these types of rivers, educating anglers on the proper techniques of catching and handling these fish species to ensure their future survival.
There are 11 species of trout in North America, two primary species that have a long history around the country and their sub-species.
The cold-blooded trout species of North America.
The two native Pacific trout species:
Native to the Pacific coast, where they run down from Alaska to the Mexican coast, the Rainbow trout can be found throughout much of southern Canada, in all the Great Lakes, and as far south as Georgia and Alabama. Their introduction into water systems worldwide has seen a rise to the extreme popularity of this species.
Identified by its beautiful pink side stripe and black spots, a few sub rainbow species look nothing like the rainbow as we know it. The Steelhead is an excellent example of this; they are sea-run rainbow trout. The Golden Trout and Redband Trout are sub-species you can only catch in certain rivers in the Mid West or Pacific areas.
They may not be bigger than their cousins, but they have a much cooler name which comes from the distinct red marking on the bottom of the gill plates, which look like the fish is bleeding. The Cutthroat has its residence stretching from the Rocky Mountains through to the Pacific Coast.
The Cutthroat has numerous subspecies that are present throughout the south part of the States and Canada.
The Brown Trout:
is closely related to the Atlantic Salmon, characterized by their brown, golden shine with red and black spots.
The Char species consists of the Brook, Bull, Dolly Varden, and Lake Trout. They aren’t a trout but rather a cousin of both the trout and salmon. This has been a misconception for years.
Two known hybrids:
As with most things in life, hybrids occur over time, and the chances of catching one of these species are likely. The Tiger Trout is a brook and brown cross, while the Splake Trout is a cross between a brook and lake trout.
Methods of catching trout
Fly fishing is probably one of the more complex methods to try and catch fish. Trout fishing with a fly rod and fly reel has numerous factors that can influence the outcome of the day’s fishing.
Learning the cast with a fly rod is a tricky technique to get right and can take years to master correctly.
The fly is very light, so the fly line is used to transfer the energy from the rod to the fly. Fly rods come in various weights and sizes, and not all fly fishing rods will work for multiple purposes. Many fly rods are designed for fishing a certain way, which is the only way the rod can be used on the river.
Catching trout on a fly is another technique to master as the angler needs to match the selected fly to that of the most abundant food source. This will boost your chances of fooling the fish.
Trout love moving bait, and that is why spin fishing for trout is a very popular method. Using a spinning rod and spinning reel spooled with a light line, many more accurate casts can be made from a distance.
Lure fishing gained popularity from bass fishing, but the trout fisherman has adopted this method and now successfully target trout. A spin fisherman can target trout in warm water, cold water, or even a calm pool. Their approach can be from a distance due to the length of the line that the angler can cast.
Trout fishing without treble hooks is best as this saves the trout’s mouth. Trout have soft, smaller mouths, and a lure with single hooks will work just as well.
Lures made to imitate bait combined with a spinning setup; the angler can cast upstream and retrieve the bait or lures back at a steady pace. Trout generally strike at the lures and get hooked.
One of the most useful things about using a spinning rod is that the fisherman can get a great distance from the cast. So if you want to fish that big rock out in the middle of the clear water, the best option to reach it would be a spinning rod with artificial lures. Being one of the best alternatives to fly fishing, it has gained traction over the years.
See our post here if you want to see the difference between fly fishing vs spin fishing.
Using bait to catch trout without fly fishing is the oldest method to fish for trout. Worms, beetles, hoppers, and live baits have been used to land fish on a simple rod, line, and hook for centuries.
A bait is placed on the hook and cast out into the water or upstream on the river. The baits usually sink to the bottom to be eaten by passing fish. The hook set is how you hook the fish after the strike; smaller hooks can be used to catch fish with small mouths. Fishing for other fish with bait is also very popular, and many techniques can be adopted from targeting these other species.
This type of fishing for trout is best done by casting the bait upstream and allowing it to sink. Keeping tension with the bait during the drift is very important. The angler will feel the tiny bites through the line and strikes when a heavy tug if felt.
Float fishing for trout is very similar to bait fishing for them, but using the float for a bite indication and keeping the bait in the correct feeding column helps tremendously. Trout fishing with a float is probably one of the most exciting fishing methods. Seeing that float bob and then disappear is an exciting experience, and it’s a great way to get the kids into fishing as well.
The float is positioned about 1 meter from the bait or depending in which feeding column the bait must drift. When the fish nibbles at the hook the float bobs and when the fish gets hooked and pulls the float under is when the angler must strike!
Armed with nothing but a fishing rod, lures, bait, or just a hook, it is possible to target trout. Trout fishing doesn’t necessarily need to involve a fly rod, and catching trout without fly fishing can be just as fun, so if you don’t want to fly fish and want to catch more fish, give one of the other methods a try. There are many things to learn and master in these different methods, and it surely will keep you entertained for some time to come. The most important thing to remember is to have fun with your friends and family while out on the water.