Merwin: Trout Spinner Primer

To fish upstream or downstream? That's a perennial question when it comes to trout tactics, especially so when tossing spinners such as the Mepps shown here. I'll say first that I don't hesitate to cast a spinner in any direction relative to the current as long as I think that cast might take a fish. More times than not, though, I'm fishing spinners by casting upstream and retrieving with the current.

Casting a spinner across or down-and-across the current is certainly a lot easier. A great many people fish that way. And yes, many trout will whack these lures as they swing across the current on a tight line. Because the current also tends to bouy a swinging spinner upward and away from the bottom, you'll get hung up less often his way and will lose fewer lures.

If casting upstream, on the other hand, your spinner will run a little deeper as it's brought back with the flow. In many cases, deeper is where the trout are. Your spinner will be traveling faster, too, as your downstream retrieve must be fast enough to make the spinner blade revolve even as the lure is carried toward you by the current. Trout are accustomed to grabbing things quickly as a rushing current carries them past, and I think a downstream retrieve thus gets stronger reaction strikes more often.

Trout lie facing upstream in the current, of course. If you're fishing downstream, they're facing you and might spook. If you're fishing upstream, you're behind the fish and less likely to scare them. That's my theory, anyway. But let's hear your ideas.

When you tie on a spinner and step into a trout stream, which way do you cast?