Favorite Lures of the Trout Guides
Trout are without a doubt one of the pickiest species out there. So to be a professional trout guides means knowing your targets and what they'll hit regardless of the lake or stream conditions. Here are the lures that get it done all the time for some of the best trout guides from across the country
Captain Ernie Calandrelli’s giant trout
Location: Niagara River, New York
Credentials: For 22 years, Calandrelli has been guiding clients on the Niagara River to lake trout, brown trout, and steelhead weighing up to 22 pounds.
Number of years guiding: 22
Contact: (716) 609-3064
Favorite Spinner: Mepps Aglia Long
Weight: ½ oz.
Details: “Truthfully, I’ve been using these lures since I was a kid and they’ve always produced. They just catch everything, so I’ve never switched spinners. I like to run spinners off of three-way swivel rigs. I tie the main line to one eye, a four-foot leader connected to the lure on the second eye, and a sinker on a second leader to the third eye. Not only does the rig get the spinner down, but there are a lot of snags and spinners aren’t cheap. Usually all you lose is the weight if you hang up.”
Favorite Spoon: Little Cleo
Weight: ¾ oz.
Details: “Cleos are a little wider than other spoons, so they produce a slower wobble. Slow speeds catch more fish in my area, and with these lures you don’t have to rip them to achieve the right action. Getting a spoon in the zone on days when wind and current are running the same direction can be tricky. Don’t be afraid to use your trolling motor to counteract that and slow the boat down. Spoons that don’t get near the bottom won’t catch anything.”
Favorite Jig: Riptide Shad
Color: Black Pearl
Size: 2 in.
Weight: 3/8 oz. jighead
Details: “Soft plastic with kicking tails really have an advantage in faster water because the vibration they produce helps the fish feel them. That’s important when the jig is only in the zone for a short time. I rig shads on a 3/8-ounce jighead and fish them a lot for lake trout on the famed Niagara Bar. The trick for success is not to jig aggressively, but let them drift naturally. You want the jig bouncing, if not dragging, across the bottom.”
Luhr-Jensen Kwikfish K10
Favorite Hardbait: Luhr-Jensen Kwikfish K10
Size: 3 3/16 in.
Details: “Even when the fishing is very tough, Kwikfish have always produced for me. Of course, you’ve got to be able to fish them correctly, but troll one in front of a steelhead any time of year and you’re hooked up. Most guys run Kwikfish on three-way rigs, but I prefer to slide a worm sinker on the main line ahead of a barrel swivel, then tie a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader with lure to the swivel. This rig seems to hang up a lot less and gives the Kwikfish better action.”
Guide Chuck Kashner
Location: Battenkill River/Otter Creek, Vermont
Credentials: Both a fly and spinning specialist, Kashner has over 170 miles of streams mentally mapped and knows just where to find the biggest brooks, browns, and ‘bows in Vermont.
Number of years guiding: 18
Contact: (800) 682-0103; vermontfishingtrips.com
Favorite Spinner: Panther Martin
Weight: 1/8 oz.
Details: “Any stream that gets run-off from the Green Mountains tends to have a tannic color. The gold always seems to show up best, and you can get a Panther’s blade turning with very little effort. I always cast a spinner upstream and work down. I believe that bigger trout are more apt to grab a bait or chase prey as it moves down stream. This presentation also allows the spinner to get down deep. Quatering the current will make the lure ride too high to be effective most of the time.”
Favorite Spoon: Thomas Buoyant Spoon
Weight: 1/6 oz.
Details: “Thomas spoons have been highly effective for me over the years. Here too, gold is going to be the best given the tannic quality of many streams I fish. At times, spoons can be more effective at working deeper holes. I use them a lot in slower water.”
Mister Twister Meeny
Favorite Jig: Mister Twister Meeny
Size: 3 in.
Details: “Sometimes anglers fishing streams overlook curly-tail jigs. I don’t use themthat often, but in dirtier water they come in handy. The vibration catches the attention of larger fish, and the black color has always produced. I’m not sure if it’s that it mimicks a leech or just gives sharper contrast, but it works.”
Favorite Hard Bait: Rapala Countdown Minnow
Size: 1 1/2 in.
Details: “If I’m sepcifically targeting larger trout, I’ll often go with a larger lure like a Rapala Countdown. You can work them effectively at almost any speed and they handle current when presenting downstream. Because these lures sin laterally, the stop-start retrieve works really well.”
Guide “Crazy” Mike Neher
Location: White River, Arkansas
Credentials: Guiding on the White River since he was 15, Mike Neher has a reputation for putting clients on brown trout tipping the scales over the 20-pound mark.
Number of years guiding: 34
Contact: (870) 453-8502; crazymikefishing.com
Favorite Spinner: Bluefox Classic Vibrax
Weight: 3/16 oz.
Details: “It doesn’t take a lot of effort to get the blade on a Vibrax turning. That makes it easier to work effectively on a slow retrieve, and, in turn, helps you keep the lure near the bottom. The closer you can get a spinner to the fish the better, especially in clear water. White River trout aren’t going to rise or chase the lure a mile, so a slow, steady retrieve just off the bottom gets it done.”
Favorite Spoon: Thomas Buoyant Spoon
Weight: 1/6 oz.
Details: “Thomas spoons have a nice, slow flutter without a lot of spin. That flutter really attracts the trout. Stop by any resort along the White River and I promise they sell these spoons. Like spinners, I always fish spoons very slowly really close to the bottom. Because these particular spoons have such a natural flutter, it pays to just let them fall now and again.”
Favorite Jig: P.J.’s Marabou Jig
Weight: 3/32 oz.
Details: “P.J.’s jigs are standard in this area. Because the marabou is tied all the way up to the head with no chenille between, the jigs have a ripple action from head to tail. You can’t jig a P.J. too aggressively. You don’t want it rising at an angle towards the boat, but that’s not easy when you’re drifting. What we do is jig with a slack line so the jig jumps straight up and down. The trout either grab it as it falls, or we actually see them hit it.”
Smithwick Rattlin’ Rouge
Favorite Hardbait: Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue
Color: Chrome/Blue Back/Orange Belly
Size: 4 ½-inch
Weight: 1/3 oz.
Details: “The favorite food of a big brown trout is a little rainbow trout, and this jerkbait in this color matches them perfectly. Large trout want a big meal. To be successful with this lure, you always have to keep it moving. If you stop, the fish will look at it and figure out it’s fake. Maintain an erractic twitch to keep the lure rolling and flashing.”
Captain Lonnie Osterholm
Location: Priest Lake/Columbia River, Idaho/Washington
Credentials: With 25 years experience, Osterholm is a master angler on both big-water rivers and deep lakes of the Northwest, boating rainbow and lake trout heavier than 40 pounds.
Number of years guiding: 25
Contact: (208) 610-3535; bigfishtales.com
Favorite Spoon: Hopkins NO=EQL
Size: 3 in.
Weight: 1 ¼ oz.
Details: “No matter which bait is prevalent, from herring to needlefish to sardines, this lure matches it perfectly. It’s an old stand-by. When you’re fishing a lake where the trout could be holding at 200 feet in one spot and 40 at the next, you need a heavy lure like a Hopkins to get down, but to make them work, you have to be non-rhythmic in the presentation. I let them hit bottom, crank up a few times, jig a bit, then change it up. Just make sure you re-find the bottom every minute or so.”
Favorite Jig: Northland Magnum Air-Plane Jig
Weight: 1 oz.
Details: “The action of an Air-Plane jig is hard to beat. They spiral on their way down and when you jig one they have a funny, erratic action that they trout seem to love. Jigging in deep water isn’t easy, because sometimes the lure is so down so far it’s hard to feel a strike. That’s why I don’t recommend fishing a lake like Priest without braided line. You can feel the fish fart, even down 200 feet.”
Favorite Hardbait: Luhr Jensen Kwikfish K15
Color: Rainbow Trout
Size: 5 in.
Details: “Kwikfish dig into the bottom, float up, and lose their action until the water catches it and it starts that wide wobble again. That pattern of movement triggers strikes. You always want to use a floating plug if you’re going to pull it on a downrigger. Since you often want the lure to bounce off the bottom, a sinking plug is likely to hit an obstruction and hang, whereas a floater will often deflect and rise up out of the rocks or whatever it might encounter.”
Luhr Jensen Teespoon
Favorite Spinner: Luhr Jensen Teespoon
Color: Chartreuse/Silver Blade
Weight: ¾ oz.
Details: “The way the beads are set up on a Teespoon makes them clink together on the retrieve. I think that sound has a lot to do with their productivity. The beads combined with vibration from the blade works really well. Trolling a spinner is all about finding the lure’s sweet spot. I generally start trolling around two miles per hour, but some days the water conditions, whether it’s wind or color, force me to change speeds. Guys tend to stick with one speed no matter what and it’ll cost them fish. “