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Trout fishing's deadliest dozen.

None of the manufacturers or brand names mentioned in this column advertises with my radio show. I will not receive a thousand lures at my house for plugging their product in this column. I will not be gifted a free fishing trip to anywhere for giving you my picks for the deadliest trout lures you can buy. I don't play that game. Never have and probably never will.

Let's ignore bait for two reasons. First, bait is dirty and a hassle. Carrying worms and salmon eggs inevitably will make your hands and clothing filthy. I like to stay camera ready. (smile) A minnow bucket hanging around neck while I fish is just not for me. Furthermore, a lure fisherman "is" a sophisticated bait fisherman without the stinky hands. You can do anything with artificials that you can do with bait.

A few years back I standardized on clear Stren Magnathin as my trout line of choice. Six-pound test is the same diameter as most manufacturers' four-pound test. It is supple, strong and almost invisible to fish. It has practically no memory. If my lures snag the bottom, I can usually get them back without a break-off. A good ball-bearing swivel is a must.

If I had to pick one lure that outfishes them all, it would have to be a 1/4-ounce, gold Cleo. It is a must for your tackle box. I have caught countless trout on this lure. It is my "go to" lure for tough days and new waters. The 1/4-ounce silver with an orange stripe Cleo is almost as good. In early season when waters are cold, you may get follows and not strikes. Simple, switch to 1/8-ounce Cleo's and they will take. I have seen this happen countless times.


The pearl Rooster Tail is almost as good as the Cleo. I started out using a 1/8-ounce on small streams, but soon discovered the 1/5-ounce is better. I got brave and started throwing a full 1/4-ounce pearl Rooster Tail and letting it settle on the bottom in deep water. A slow retrieve just over the rocks can be deadly for lazy browns. My largest was a 24" brown on this lure. Big smallmouth will also inhale it.

Most recently, I have come to rely on the silver Blue Fox Super Vibrax in #3. Size 2 will work, but it will ride higher in current. Sometimes you need to get this one deeper. I use the undressed version. My friends like the rainbow trout pattern. Keep a gold on hand for the days the sun is effecting clarity. The vibration from this lure is astonishing. I have trolled this lure in size #5 and #6 in lakes and had everything that swims strike it. It's a winner.

No box would be complete without Rapala's. You will needed jointed floaters and countdowns. Silver and gold are truly the only colors you need, although the rainbow trout pattern can sometimes draw vicious hits. I tend to go a little larger with this "big fish" lure. The 2.5" is good, but the 2.75" is better. I've had good success with countdowns, but tend to lose these lures most. Again, silver and gold are the standards under 3" long. Larger than 3" is more of a smallmouth lure, but there are no hard and fast rules in fishing. An old buddy of mine uses 4.5" countdowns in the fall for bass and catches huge trout. "You never know" what is going to happen until you try it. A downside to stickbaits is that you must remove the ball bearing swivel and retie directly to the line or use a snap only.

Never cast upstream even slightly and you should be able to recover most of your snags. Go directly across stream or even slightly downstream. Let it swing, let it sink, jig it and vary your retrieve speed. If you try 3 to 4 lures and don't get a follow, either the area's void of trout or they are "belly to the bottom" and not chasing. Jigging is tricky and you will lose some lures, but it can save the day. The alternative is to come back when temperatures rise and the fish are a bit more active.

As an "ace-in-the-hole" you must have a Rebel Crawfish or two, in natural. I never heard of a gamefish that doesn't eat crawfish. You can troll a Rebel Crawfish in open water and fish will come up and slam it. In certain conditions a Rebel Crawfish scratching the bottom will turn on big trout and bass.

Was that a dozen lures? I don't know. I wasn't counting. Try my picks and you will lose count of the number of fish you will be catching.

Jim Slinsky is the host and producer of the "Outdoor Talk Network", a nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website at
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Author:Slinsky, Jim
Publication:The Informed Constituent (Albany, NY)
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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