Can You Use A Baitcaster For Trout? (And How To Do It)

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For the first 20 years of my fishing career, I only really used a spinning rod to troll for kokanee and trout. I got my first baitcasting rod a year or so ago and in this post, I’m going to be talking about whether or not you can use a baitcaster to catch trout.

The simple answer is yes, you can use a baitcaster to fish for trout. You can use them to troll with or to cast from shore, and I actually do prefer using them over spinning or other fishing rods. They are a bit harder to use and will take some practice, but they are more fun to fish with and you can get better hooksets when you use them. If you could only have one setup I’d probably recommend a spinning rod, but if you wanted a second rod I’d definitely go with a baitcaster.

I’m going to be going over the exact setup I use for trout fishing and how to actually fish for them. We’ll cover what baitcaster I like best, what fishing line I normally use, the perfect lures/baits, and a few other tips. Continue reading or watch the video below for the full trout fishing details.

Best Baitcaster For Trout Fishing

I haven’t been able to try every single baitcaster out there so I can’t say for sure what the best one is. I’ve tried a few though and I’ll be talking about which ones I liked best and why. One will be for beginners or people on a budget and the second will be a bit higher-end. Both work awesome though.

The very first baitcaster I bought had a Shimano SLX reel with an Ugly Stik Elite casting rod. The entire setup was less than $150 and I do think it’s the best option under that amount. It’s not the smoothest or most powerful setup but it’s always done the job I needed it to. The reel was smoother than some of the higher-end reels I’ve used and the rod was super strong (I got the medium-heavy option). You can see a full review of them by clicking the links above.

If you want to spend a bit more money to get a slightly higher quality reel then I’d recommend the Shimano Scorpion (see it on Amazon). You could toss it on the Ugly Stik rod or the Dobyns Fury (check the price on Amazon) is an awesome rod as well. There really isn’t too much of a difference when it comes to the reels. The Scorpion will cast a bit farther and be a bit smoother on the retrieve. The Dobyns rod will be much more sensitive (feel the small bites better) than the Ugly Stik.

If you’re just going to be fishing for smaller trout then you’ll probably want to get a medium or medium-light fishing rod. They aren’t big fish and you’re not going to feel the bite as well with a heavier rod. I got a medium-heavy rod for my baitcaster because I use it to catch bigger fish as well. It still works well for trout though and I like it because it’s versatile.

How To Setup Your Baitcaster

There really isn’t one right way to set up your rod but I’ll show you what I do. I use a very similar setup for most of my rigs because I like to keep things as simple and easy as possible. I don’t want to have to change everything depending on what I’m fishing for and I’m sure you’re the same. You will have to make small tweaks though.

The first thing we’ll talk about is what fishing line to use. It’s not really a huge deal what you use but I almost always go with a 20 lb braided line with a 4 lb fluorocarbon leader (you could use straight fluoro or mono if you want). The reason I go with braid is that it casts farther, is more sensitive, lasts longer, and is stronger than mono or fluoro. I’ll use a fluorocarbon leader because it’s the hardest for trout to see.

Somewhere around 4 feet long should do the trick for your leader. The difference between a spinning and baitcasting setup is that you don’t need to use a swivel to attach the two lines together. You can tie them directly together using the Surgeon’s knot and they won’t twist (video below). If you’re using topwater lures then you’ll want to use monofilament instead.

The final thing we need to figure out is what lure/bait to use. You’re going to need something fairly heavy when you’re using a baitcaster, so you’ll probably want to stick to something like a crankbait, spinnerbait, stickbait, etc. You can cast lighter lures but you’ll need quite a bit of experience to avoid tangles. My favorite lure to use would be a 1/4 oz Panther Martin spinner in silver or gold (see our favorites here). It doesn’t work all the time but it seems to be the most consistent for me.

How To Fish For Trout With A Baitcasting Rod

It’s really going to depend on where you’re fishing but the main thing with these lures is that you need to retrieve them right away. With some lures, you can just let them sit in the water (Powerbait) or twitch them around, but with a spinner, you’ll want to constantly be reeling it in. Here’s a video showing how to catch trout with a baitcaster:

One of the main reasons I like a spinner is that it’s so simple to use. Yeah, it’s not the best option if you’re looking for a lazy day out on the water but it does work. All you have to do is cast and reel in. The next thing you’ll need to do is figure out where the trout are. That’ll all depend on where you’re fishing.

Let’s start with lakes and ponds. Trout will normally be swimming around looking for food and a lot of it will depend on what time of year you’re fishing. Trout will be a lot deeper in the summer compared to the spring and fall because the water is cooler. In the spring and fall, they’ll tend to be near vegetation in the lake, near a stream coming into the lake, or around areas that have places to hide (rocks, trees, etc). You can also use Navionics to find good fishing spots.

Now for the streams and rivers. Trout will normally be sitting in certain spots waiting for the current to bring them food. The first place trout will be is going to be near hiding places such as bushes, trees, rocks, and sandbars. The next place they like to hang out is near drop-off spots near the bank. The last place they’ll most likely be is in deep pools with slow-moving water. All you have to do is find these spots, cast near past them, and swim your lure through them.

Until next time, happy fishing. If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm Jon and I'm the creator of Backcountry Cariboo. I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. This is where I test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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