Fishing Gear Basics – Trout

Trout is a great way to get into the fishing lifestyle.  There are stocked rainbow trout in every state across the US and it’s a great beginner fishery to learn the foundation skills to expand into other fisheries easily!

Here is a basic list of everything you’ll need to go to your local lake or river and catch any species of trout from the bank or boat.

Rod, Reel, and Main Line

Rod

For most trout fishing, a light rod will be perfect to start.  Something 5-7 feet long with a weight rating of 4-8lbs.  If you know you want to target some trophy trout, you can bump up the rod weight a bit to 6-10lbs.  Since this is a beginner guide, we’ll be focusing on spinning rods and reels.  They tend to be a bit nicer to newbies and are just as capable as baitcasters.

Budget Recommendation – Okuma Celilo (<$30)

This is a great lightweight rod that will catch almost all trout in your local waters.  If you were aiming for trophy trout, you may want to bump it up to the 6.6 foot version.

Overall, General Recommendation – Okuma SST (<$50)

The SST is a solid all around rod that offers a higher quality built and materials for only a bit higher cost.

Reel

The reel should match the rod.  You want a light reel for a light rod.  The heavier the rod, the larger the reel you’ll want.  For our purposes, a 2000 sized reel will be a great, versatile match for either of the above rods.

Budget Recommendation – Okuma Alaris (<$25)

The Alaris doesn’t have any fancy bells and whistles, but it is an effective beginner reel that will catch you fish.  And the price-point is great for folks who are just getting started trout fishing.

Overall, General Recommendation – Okuma Ceymar (<$50)

This is my go-to reel in all sizes.  My Ceymar C-20 has caught countless fish.  I’ve caught a steelhead with this reel and a lightweight trout rod!(Check it out here!)  For just a bit more than the Alaris, this reel is a great bang for your buck.

Main Line

This is one item I wouldn’t recommend going super cheap with.  Nobody wants to lose a fish because their line was cheap.  Decent fishing line will last you a season or two at least, so splurging a tiny bit here would be cost effective in the long run!

Recommendation – Maxima Monofilament

Make sure you buy enough to spool your reel.  Typically 220 yards is more than enough to fill the recommended 2000 sized reels above.

For weight, I use 6lb, but 4lb is decent, too.  I like to err on the heavier side just in case I hook into a bigger fish I have a bit more leeway!

Combo Option

If you’d rather buy a combo bundle with a rod and reel together, I recommend the Okuma Safina (<$30)

I actually used this very combo growing up, and we still use the rod for trout.  In fact, we are fairly sure it has some magical fish attracting properties because it’s caught more trout than almost all of my other rods combined…

The rod is fine and the reel is passable, but the overall quality will be a bit lacking compared to the non-combo options above.  It IS how ever the most cost effective option, and it WILL definitely catch you fish!

Basic Tackle List

Terminal Tackle

You’ll need a set of basic terminal tackle to get started fishing with bait and some lures.  Terminal tackle includes swivels, weights, bobbers, hooks, and leader line.  With just terminal tackle and bait, you’ll be able to get started fishing!

Hooks

To get started, simple baitholder hooks work perfect.  They are easy to tie and easy to put bait on.

I would recommend size 2-8 for most applications.

Eagle Claw is a solid, cheap option.

You can also get a kit with various sizes like this.

Weights

Fishing with floating bait or bait that needs to be near the bottom?

I recommend getting a small kit with different types and sizes of weights.  Having different types will help in different situations.  This is a pretty versatile kit for getting started with trout fishing.

Bobbers

Sinking bait?  Let’s get a few bobbers to keep them floating in the water column!

Easy choice here.  Go with the tried and true red and white ones.  This kit has a few sizes and enough bobbers to hold you over for a while.

Swivels

Again, a small kit of various swivels will help ensure you have the right gear for all the different rigging options.  This basic kit is a good start.

Leader Line

In many situations, you want to have a length of leader line that’s slightly lighter than your main line.  This helps hide the line from wary fish and also helps if you get snagged and need to break off.  You’ll often break off at the lighter leader and save some of your tackle!

I recommend the same brand, Maxima Ultragreen.

Just get a weight lower than your main line and you should be good!

Bait

So now that you have all the basic terminal tackle, we need some bait to put on it!

Powerbait

This is by far the most common and easiest bait for beginners to use.  Don’t have to deal with slimy worms or eggs and because this is pretty much the same stuff that they give to trout in the hatcheries, the trout are pre-programmed to eat it.

Color doesn’t really matter, just pick one that you like and it’ll work for you.  I prefer the rainbow color personally.

This bait floats, so you’ll want to use it with a sinker setup.

Salmon Eggs

These baits sink, so a bobber is the best way to use them.  These are very basic and very old baits that work well in almost all situations.

Canned Corn

Yup.  Canned corn.  Easy, clean, simple, effective.  Just put a couple of these on the hook under a bobber and wait!  You may even hook into a carp or catfish with these!

Worms

You can get cartons of worms at any bait shop or even Wal Mart.  Buy them fresh and make sure they’re lively before you check out.  These are perfect for pretty much all types of fish, trout included.

Lures

There are plenty of ways to catch trout without bait altogether!  Here are just a few recommendations.

Inline Spinners

This is one of my favorite ways to catch trout.  Simply cast out as far as you can and slowly retrieve to allow the spinner to spin.  The flashing and vibration will incite aggressive hits and the fish will fight hard when hooked.  You also (mostly) avoid the gut-hooking that happens more often with bait fishing.

Here’s a couple of spinners that I like:

Blue Fox – These are simple and fun.  You can even get the bigger ones to fish for salmon and steelhead later!

Panther Martin – Classic and effective.  Can’t go wrong with a Panther Martin spinner.

Rooster Tail – These are another classic spinner.  Great for all types of water and trout.

Spoons

Similar to inline spinners, these spoons are a simple cast and retrieve option.  They are simple and effective and I definitely recommend have a few in your arsenal.

Dick Nites – These are super small, super light spoons that are great for trout of all sizes.

Kastmasters – These are solid for all sorts of fishing.  You can catch bass, trout, panfish, surf perch, and many other fish with these.  Snag a few with silver or gold and you’re set!

Other

Here’s a couple random lures that don’t really fit into any specific category.

Trout MagnetThese are small jig heads that come with small soft plastics.  They make great cast and retrieve lures.  Instead of a slow and steady retrieve, you often have to jig or twitch the lure up and down as you reel in.  The erratic motion can often entice a bite!

Rapala CrankbaitThis is another lure that can catch many types of fish.  Instead of being flashy like the inline spinners, Rapalas and other crankbaits have a more baitfish/swimming motion back and forth.  Grab a couple colors to have a bit of variety to your arsenal!

There are an endless amount of fishing lures, sizes, and color variations to all of these listed above.  Browse around, pick a few different colors, try out a variety and you’ll find your favorites and learn how to fish the best lures for each different situation!

Miscellaneous Gear

Alongside the rod, reel, tackle, bait, and lures, I recommend a couple other items to ensure your fishing day is comfortable and smooth!

Net

I recommend a rubber net, as it’s the nicest on the fish’s scales.  If you are planning on keeping the fish anyways, you can go with a regular rope/string net.

Rubber Net

This is the net I use and it works great.  It can even hold a small-ish steelhead!

Regular Net

A bit cheaper, and collapsible if you are tight on space, this is a great option in general!

Fish Stringer

If you are planning on keeping the trout to eat, a way to hold onto them throughout the day is smart.  You can bonk them and clean them right away and keep them on ice, but if you aren’t, a stringer is a good way to keep them alive until the end of the day.

Hiking/Camping Chair

I love this chair.  It folds down into a tiny bag and weighs almost nothing.  When you’re hanging out waiting for the fish, you want to be comfortable right?  This chair is surprisingly comfy.

Rod Holders

These are great if there are no decent sticks nearby.  If you can get a nice Y shaped stick, this won’t be necessary, else-wise, these help!

HAVE FUN!

This is a comprehensive list of gear and tackle.  Everything you’ll need to go out and catch trout from your local waters is included.

Be sure to read your state’s rules and regulations and purchase the appropriate license so you don’t get in trouble.

Finally, HAVE FUN!

If you use this guide, send me pics!  you can send them directly to my Instagram here:

@pnwfishandforage

I’ll even feature your pics on one of my upcoming videos!

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