Trout fishing offers a plethora of techniques and lures to choose from. From bobbers and bait to spinners and crankbaits, each method has its own merits. But if I had to choose one technique to fish for trout indefinitely, it would be using spoons.
Why spoons, you may ask? Not only are they incredibly versatile, but they also provide one of the most exciting and active fishing experiences. Whether you’re trolling deep for lake trout, casting and retrieving in lakes or rivers, or fluttering them through small streams, spoon fishing is an art that even beginners can master.
Spoons come in countless variations, but the best of the best have stood the test of time. In this article, I will introduce you to the only seven spoons you’ll ever need to catch trout. Each spoon offers subtle advantages, ensuring that you always have a trout-slaying lure in your tackle box.
So, what exactly is a spoon? A spoon is a simple, oblong-shaped piece of shiny metal with a concave surface, resembling a spoon. While their designs may differ, the primary goal is to wobble and flutter when retrieved, reflecting light at various angles. This action mimics small baitfish that aggressive, adult trout feed on. Even trout that primarily feed on insects can’t resist the wobble, triggering their instinct to strike.
Before diving into the rankings, let’s touch on some essential factors to consider. When it comes to spoon fishing for trout, simplicity is key. Simple retrieves are usually best, but certain spoons, like the Kastmaster, excel with erratic retrieves. Others, such as the Little Cleo, are perfect for casting upstream and reeling very slowly through a run or tailout. Lastly, some spoons, like the Krocodile, are designed for trolling, making them ideal for deep lakes or targeting lake trout.
Best Line for Spoon Fishing Trout
When it comes to selecting the best line for spoon fishing trout, a general rule of thumb is to use 4-6 pound test monofilament line for easier casting. However, if you’re targeting lunker brown trout or sizable rainbows, sizing up to 8 or 10-pound test may be appropriate. For steelhead fishing, 12-20 pound test line is recommended, depending on water clarity. Fluorocarbon leaders are also advantageous, as they sink quickly in fast water. Pairing fluorocarbon with 10-pound test braid provides excellent performance in cutting through currents.
How to Retrieve Spoons
The beauty of spoon fishing lies in the multitude of retrieve styles each spoon offers. While this article focuses primarily on spoons, it’s worth exploring other trout lures, such as spinners, jigs, and crankbaits. Each spoon has its own unique retrieve, but a typical steady retrieve, slightly slower than that of a spinner, is effective for most spoons. However, spoons like the Kastmaster perform exceptionally well when retrieved erratically, allowing their action to shine. On the other hand, flutter spoons like the Little Cleo excel when cast upstream and reeled very slowly through runs or tailouts. Lastly, spoons like the Krocodile are designed for trolling, making them perfect for enticing lake trout or large rainbow trout lurking in deep waters.
Now, let’s delve into the rankings of the best trout spoons based on popularity, reliability, and personal experience.
As many trout anglers can attest, if you only buy one spoon, make it a Kastmaster. What sets the Kastmaster apart is its unparalleled versatility. Its unique flat shape allows it to be fished in numerous ways, including trolling at high speeds, casting long distances, and vertical jigging. With a wide range of colors available, gold and silver remain the go-to choices for trout fishing. Opt for weights ranging from 1/12 oz to 1/4 oz, with 1/8 oz being the sweet spot for rivers, lakes, and shallow creeks.
#2. Acme Little Cleo
Being from the northwest, I am partial to the Acme Little Cleo lure. While the Kastmaster takes the crown for versatility, the Little Cleo is a finesse spoon with its own charm. Its action relies on the river’s current, making it a fantastic choice for swinging through tailouts and slower water. Cast slightly upstream, keep the line tight, and reel very slowly to imitate a wounded baitfish being swept downstream. Blue and silver in 1/6 oz or 1/4 oz are the go-to colors, but solid silver, solid gold, and silver and red combinations also prove effective.
#3. Luhr Jensen Krocodile
Ranked third is the Luhr Jensen Krocodile, primarily renowned for its effectiveness in trolling. Its elongated design and spin create an aggressive flash that entices super aggressive trout. Its length sets it apart from other spoons on this list, with the smallest option measuring 2 1/4 inches. This spoon is perfect for speedy trolling in lakes, as its weight and elongated body keep it in the strike zone. The hammered finish in silver and gold adds extra flash and allure to the lure. Select the size according to your target species, with larger options ideal for big lake rainbows and smaller sizes suitable for bank casting.
#4. Thomas Bouyant
The Thomas Bouyant claims the fourth spot due to its unique capability of working exceptionally well at slow speeds. This spoon is perfect for high mountain streams and shallow creeks, where a slow and fluttery presentation is crucial. Avoid cranking it in as it spins more than it wobbles, which can easily tangle your line. Instead, flutter it and retrieve it slowly to entice strikes from cautious trout. Copper is the preferred color, although the “firetiger” variation can be effective in finicky situations. Stick to the 1/6 oz option for small stream fishing.
#5. Acme Phoebe
At first, the Acme Phoebe may seem gimmicky with its baitfish design, but it proves its worth as a trout catcher. Similar to the Thomas Bouyant, it spins rather than wobbles and sinks slower than most spoons. It performs exceptionally well at slow speeds, making it an excellent option for small streams and shallow creeks. Silver and gold in 1/12 oz or 1/8 oz are reliable choices, with the rainbow trout color also proving effective.
#6. Eppinger Dardevle
Though other spoons have caught up in recent years, the Eppinger Dardevle remains a classic. This iconic spoon, released in 1918, has a rich history of landing numerous trout. The red and white striped version evokes nostalgia and remains highly popular. However, silver and gold also work well, with various color variations to choose from. This heavy spoon is ideal for a fast retrieve, making it suitable for lake trout, big river rainbows, and northern pike. Opt for sizes between 1/4-1/2 oz for targeting big, aggressive fish.
#7. Blue Fox Pixee
Completing the list is the Blue Fox Pixee, a favored lure among Northwest natives. Originally used for king salmon in Alaska, it also excels at catching trout. Due to its weight and size, it is best suited for long casts in deep water. While it may not be the go-to spoon for smaller streams, it proves its worth in fast and deep waters. Popular color choices include silver with fluorescent red or orange accents.
Spoons are simple lures, and even off-brand options can catch trout. However, the spoons on this list have earned their spots. They have withstood the test of time, boasting durability, quality hooks, and materials. While exploring cheaper brands is always an option, be sure to check the sharpness of the hooks and avoid painted spoons, as the quality of paint can be compromised. Keep in mind that many off-brand spoons are designed to imitate the classic seven mentioned in this article.
Spoons epitomize trout fishing at its finest. Their reliability, ease of use, and versatility allow you to fish any water you encounter. By carrying a selection of these spoons in your tackle box, you will always have a secret weapon for catching trout.
For more information on spoon fishing and other trout lures, visit East Coast Paddle Sports.