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Over 11 years ago, I started fishing when my Dad taught me how to spin for Trout on the Ngaruroro river which is located in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. We used classic black and gold spoons and eventually one day I managed to hook up to a fish. I landed it and took it home to eat.

Obviously that day is one I won’t forget. Most people in New Zealand start out fishing for Trout through the use of a light spin set up and I know many people who continue to use it with great success; on a variety of lures. This article will go over all the tips I have learnt over the last 11 years.

Choosing good tackle for Trout fishing can be critical says author Blair Whiting.  

What gear do you need to start spin fishing for Trout?

A spin rod and reel doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, you should be looking for a combo with the best quality that you can afford. Typically sets from $100 – $150 have excellent carbon fiber blanks along with light reels featuring smooth drag. That being said, some combos from $70 – $99 are more than capable.

  • Look for a length of at least 7ft (this is used for increased casting distance and turning power)
  • Choose a rod with a ‘medium – slow’ action (a slower action rod provides more sensitivity and makes it harder for a fish to shake the hook)
  • Choose a rod with a guide count of 8 or more (more line guides make the line flow in a direct curve with the rod without any nasty sudden angle changes between guides – this prevents line damage)
  • Look for a rod with a line rating of 2 – 4kg and lure weight up to 15g (the lighter you go the more bites you will get). Using a line with a 4kg breaking strain means you strike a balance between strength and stealth
  • The Black Magic Gladius™  Canal Classic rod is purpose built for the sensitivity required for egg-rolling while providing enough stiffness to set a soft plastic or spin-fishing lure
  • Make sure the reel has smooth drag, don’t worry about drag strength as 2 – 3lb of drag will beat fish up to 10lb. Make sure the line pulls off the reel smoothly as when a fish makes a sudden charge and begins to shake their head you risk losing the fish if the drag is not smooth enough to always keep slight pressure on the line
  • Line capacity – most trout only require 100m of line to beat, since you usually can follow them along a riverbed. To be safe I fish with 150m
  • Comfort – a reel should be light and comfortable to fish with all day
  • The amount of stress the line goes through is high, for example, when you cast or when you retrieve through a heavy current. You don’t want your favourite lure to snap off and be lost forever. Therefore, the mainline, leader and knots you choose are very important
  • Braid is a great option for your mainline when spinning, as it has more sensitivity and casts well which is important. Choose a good braid with a line rating of around 10lb-12lb. I use Black Magic Inferno Braid Elite® in 12lb because the quality is fantastic, and I like the high visibility. I find it great for bite detection
  • You then want to connect your braid to a quality fluorocarbon leader of 6lb -8lb, I highly recommend Black Magic Fluorocarbon because it’s made of 100% fluorocarbon, unlike some brands. I find this truly sets it apart in terms of strength per line diameter
  • For knots, I use a double uni knot for a mainline to leader attachment as its very strong and is quick and easy
spin fishing tackle trout nz black magic

The best Trout lures for freshwater spinning

BMax lures are plastic bibbed minnow style lures weighing around 4g. They are designed to dive down through the use of a bib shaped plastic attachment at the head of the lure. These lures wobble side to side while staying upright, the faster your retrieve the faster the lure will wobble. The vibration and colour entices a reaction to a trout’s lateral line and I have seen fish move up to 10 metres to hit them.

Enticers are a classic metal spoon style lure weighing either 7g or 12g. They incorporate extremely natural patterns which larger trout will take more readily than solid uniform colours. The rear side of the lure is a reflective silver and flashes as the lure is retrieved. Enticers spin in a circular motion while wobbling from side to side. This mimics a wounded or panicked baitfish.

The Spinmax lures are long inline spinner type lures which weigh between 4.6g, 6.5g, 9.3g and 13g. The spinning blade at the front is where most the action comes from. The rear hook is covered with flash to hide the hook. When the lure is retrieved fast, it lets off a tonne of vibrations.

Rattle Snacks are another metal spoon style lure similar to Enticers, which weigh between 7g and  14g. They a coloured more brightly than enticers to make fish strike out of aggression. The action is a slow wobble when retrieved fast. There is also an extra attraction from a rattle bead strategically placed on the rear of the lure which produces sound that makes trout enquire about eating the lure.

Important things to consider when spinning for Trout

Best places to target Trout with lures

Choosing the river section is key when using lures. Lower reaches in all river systems have the highest concentration of baitfish. Depending on the season, Whitebait, Smelt, Bullies and Mullet are all in plentiful numbers. Targeting these areas will bring more hits since these fish are more keyed into the prey. From the estuarine part of the river to a few kilometres upstream is the best place to start with silver, white or grey lures. If the river has some colour, (this is fairly common with estuaries) change to a darker black or brown. Flounder even become a food source to larger fish. On several occasions I have witnessed Trout chasing small flounder in the shallows. Keep this in mind.

Up higher in the river most Trout only have a few choices of baitfish for prey, these are predominantly Smelt and Bullies. Both can tolerate higher temperatures than Trout so you will almost never see fish actively feeding on these species.

Trout love slack water near their food source. Trout are unable to keep up with constant flowing water, so they sit just out of the current. Normally this will be near some structure like willow trees or submerged snags. Here are a few different examples of good Trout habitat.

Weather and water clarity when spinning for Trout

After some rainfall, rivers will rise and discolour the water, this is the perfect time to go spinning. Since Trout lose vision from their normal Nymph food they will react to movement in the water. Vision is a Trout’s main way of choosing what to eat, so when it is harder for them to see, your hit rate actually goes up. A Trout will no longer inspect your leader, mainline or your swivel before a take.

In the spring on a local Hawkes Bay river (the Tukituki), whitebait start to head upriver from the ocean, attracting both Brown and Rainbow Trout to feed on the rich food source. Often in spring the water is a milky blue colour which is perfect for casting silver spoons or retrieving small hardbodies through the slack water.

How to retrieve your lure to entice Trout

The depth or speed of the water should change how you fish a lure. There are a range of factors to go over: sink time, retrieve speed and varying your retrieve.

When I fish a stretch of water, I will work out if it is deep or shallow. If you can see the bottom, quite obviously it is shallower. A blue colour would mean deeper water. When fishing with lures you want to be fishing where the fish are – right on the bottom. Always get your lure down as far as possible.

When fishing in current you should use a heavier weighted lure to suit the conditions, a bibbed lure would also make sense in fast water. You should retrieve the lure at a speed which keeps it low in the water column. If in fast moving water slow your retrieve, the lure will work with the current flowing over it. Trout like a fast retrieve, but it must be slow enough for them to catch the lure.

Different Trout like different variations, slowing a retrieve down and then speeding up or putting some jerks into the rod while winding in, even completely stopping and starting is good practice. It all comes down to your own practice and preference. The more time you spend casting the better you will get. Make your first cast count as it will have the best chance of a fish taking your lure.

How to strike when a Trout takes your lure

Trout take prey by rushing forward and inhaling it into their mouths. There is some suction force too making it easier for Trout to direct food into the mouth. They then turn back towards shelter. Trout bite down on larger prey before shuffling it around in the mouth.

If it feels natural, they will swallow the prey. At times this can be all done in less than a second. When a Trout eats your lure, it will feel very out of place causing the fish to spit it out in under a second.

When a fish grabs your lure, it will be an obvious tug, all you will need to do is firmly lift your rod up quickly. Often, they will hook themselves as you wind in due to the hook finding the corner of the mouth.

trout strike

So now you know how it all works, go out, grab a rod and some spinners and start casting.
When a Trout hits your lure right in front of you, there’s nothing quite like it!

Blair Whiting –