Deadly Offerings For Finicky Cold Water Trout!

Written By: FishSniffer Staff, December 2, 2013
Species: Trout

Deadly Offerings For Finicky Cold Water Trout!
Deadly Offerings For Finicky Cold Water Trout!

Be aggressive and troll fast. Zip into those coves and around those points at three miles an hour, challenging those aggressive trout to pass up your quick moving spoon or plug…

You’ve read my stuff, you know that fast and aggressive is the way I like to troll for trout and that tactic generally works…generally but not always.

At times the trout simply are not aggressive, are not chasing and to hook them on the troll you’ll need to get slow, get seductive and show them something that stays in the strike zone for a bit.

In recent years I’ve been using three offerings extensively when trout are the target and I have to slow my troll. Let’s take a look a close look at each of these offerings. I know if you fish them with confidence you’ll catch more and bigger trout this winter.

Now the first question you might be asking is why three offerings? Why not two or four? The answer is simple. Most of the time when trolling with a partner in an average size boat we run three lines when prospecting for fish. More lines often creates more tangles, especially when top lining is involved. If you run only two, you’re cutting your chances of a hook up by a third...

Mind you this three-rod business is just my theory, your mileage might vary. Anyhow I’ve babbled long enough, let’s fish!


Trolling Flies

While I do fish some “bug lakes,” most of the lakes and reservoirs I visit are “bait lakes,” meaning that the trout residing in them feed mainly on baitifish rather then insects. As a result, most of the trolling flies I use are either baitfish colored or brightly colored. If you fish waters with a strong insect forage base, by all means stock up on those olive, black and brown hues to “match the hatch”.

Looking at my fly selection most of my bright colored flies come from Sep’s Pro Fishing with orange being my favorite. For imitating baitfish, I’ve not found any flies better than those offered by Arctic Fox. Cop Car No. 2 is my hands down top choice, but I also utilize Rainbow Trout and UV White.

The dark over light Cop Car No. 2 pattern was specifically designed for lakes like Shasta and New Melones that have a shad based economy. This pattern features purple holographic and UV Flash on the back, making for an extremely realistic shad imitation when drawn through the water.

While a lot of guys have heard how effective trolling streamers can be, many of them don’t really understand how to fish them properly. I rig flies a few different ways. Teaming the fly with a clear Wiggle Disc is an easy and effective way to impart deadly erratic movement to your fly. To vary the action I monkey with the distance between the Wiggle Disc and the fly.

If the Wiggle Disc routine isn’t working I’ll sometimes team my fly with a small dodger like a Sep’s Side Kick or Strike Master. At other times I’ll run a fly behind a set of Vance’s Little Slim Willie flashers.

If you really want to give the trout something they haven’t seen try trolling a fly with just a split shot or two pinned on the line about 20 inches above the fly. With this rig run the fly back 150 to 200 feet behind the boat. Sometimes when the trout are really finicky they’ll inhale a trolled fly that exhibits very little movement. If you think you need some movement you can pick up the rod and experiment twitching and surging the fly thought the water. Keep the movements fairly subtle and experiment until you find what the fish want.



The first working prototype of the Flatfish crankbait was completed by Charles Helin, a Detroit autoworker, on September 12, 1933. Flatfish caught fish then and they still catch fish now, yet few anglers use them these days for anything beyond river salmon.

Here’s a news flash, as effective as those massive T-55s are at eliciting strikes from river run kings, smaller versions of the same lure are super effective for trout, when a slow moving erratically wobbling bait is needed.

Why are Flatfish such effective trout catchers? Clearly speed and action are the keys to the lure’s effectiveness. The lure provides lots of wiggle, putting off a ton of vibration and flash, yet do to it’s design it creates this disturbance at very low speeds. This means that the Flatfish offers a bunch of action and vibration, while staying in the strike zone for an extended period of time.

A glance at the Yakima Bait catalogue reveals that Flatfish come in 2 million colors and 1 million different sizes… Okay I’m exaggerating, but there are a bunch of choices to sort through.

For trout stick to baits in the F-2 to F-7 size range. I use F-4s and F-7s almost exclusively although I’ll upsize if magnum size trout are in the mix.

As a general rule, you want to match the size of the Flatfish to the size of the bait you believe the fish are feeding on.

For trout the all time hands down favorite color of Flatfish is Yellow Dot Frog. If you are a trout angler and you don’t have a Frog pattern Flatfish, it concerns me!

When the conditions are dark I like to run Flatfish in Frog and black w/chartreuse dots. When the conditions are bright, I like to go with flashy baitfish colors, with the California Watermelon finish being a real favorite of mine.

Bright orange, yellow or chartreuse hued Flatfish come out when the water is stained and at times when I’m probing deep water for trout or kings, I’ll often put a chrome/blue Flatfish on my line.

I don’t run Flatfish with blades or attractors, but I’ll often wrap or tip them to make them even more attractive. For tipping I use either a small anchovy fillet or a tiny piece of worm. For wrapping I employ nylon thread and a small anchovy or shad fillet. I apply it to the plug just as I would for river salmon, everything is just done on a smaller scale.



I can’t explain why a trout would hit a trolled worm, because a worm presented in such a way looks anything but natural. Yet many times trout will grab a trolled worm with vigor while ignoring all other offerings.

Trolling naked worms is the picture of simplicity. I take my main line and attach it to a high quality trolling swivel. To the other end of the swivel I connect a 24 to 36 inch 6 lb. fluorocarbon leader tipped with a No. 6 Owner Mosquito hook. Using a worm threader, I slide a whole night crawler up over the hook and onto the leader. I thread the worm on the threader such that about a 1/2 inch of worm dangles behind the hook. Rigged this way the worm will rotate when trolled through the water.

If the trout are near the surface, I add a couple slit shot above the swivel and topline the worm from 200 to 250 feet behind the boat while keeping the speed from .5 to 1 mph. If the trout are suspended I run the same rig minus the split shot 100 to 150 feet behind a downrigger weight.

My stealthily trolled worms have produced a lot of trout for me over the years, but other anglers do equally as well when they run a threaded worm behind dodgers or flashers. These guys are typically the old timers that grew up pulling worms behind blades. With blade set ups the areas for experimentation are whether you employ a whole crawler or only a portion of the crawler and how far you put the threaded bait behind the blades. Sometimes the trout will prefer a worm crowded tight to the rear of the blades. At other times they want a worm trailing as far as 6 feet behind the blades.

A Ford Fender teamed with a night crawler was the favorite trolling combination of our grandfathers because it produced trout and it will still produce trout today. Today’s trout angler may have gone high tech, but the trout haven’t changed.




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