29 Trout Fishing Tips for Beginners: How to Catch Trout


Trout fishing is one of the most popular species to target in the US. They live in a variety of locations from streams to lakes, and can be found in large numbers. They can be caught with a number of techniques such as fly fishing, bait, or lures. This article was written to highlight some important trout fishing tips for beginners to help you to have success on your first trip.

Trout also live in some beautiful locations – clean, crisp water far away from modern civilization.

Species of Trout in North America

There are 11 species of trout that you can target which all have slightly different preferred locations and behaviors:

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Brook Trout
  • Bull Trout
  • Dolly Varden Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Splake Trout
  • Tiger Trout
  • Golden Trout

For anyone planning to go on an adventure to catch their first trout, regardless of the type, we have put together a comprehensive list of things to consider that will improve your experience.

Trout Fishing Tips

  • Pick the correct time to fish – learn when the fish are feeding, normally dawn or dusk
  • Get the right rod for the job – we have put together the best 10 fishing rods for trout to help you decide.
  • Get the right fly reel for trout.
  • Look for fish movement – this indicates that trout are active and will be more interested in your lure
  • Keep out of the water – trout are often found in shallow water, and causing large bow waves as you walk through the water can scare them away
  • Learn when to change your fly – there is a balance between changing your fly after every cast and staying with one fly all day long. Sometimes fish just aren’t hungry.
  • Copy their food source – if you can figure out what the trout are eating then you can replicate that with your lure and have more success.
  • Don’t use a flashlight – bright light sources can scare the trout away, particularly at night.
  • Vary your retrieval – if you aren’t getting any takes then change your retrieval style. Faster or slower or even no retrieve until you find something that interests them.
  • Only take what you need – trout fishing is one of the most popular fish to catch. So leave plenty for other fishermen or even your future self.
  • Trout Powerbait will only work on stocked fish as they have been raised on pellets. This will not work on native fish.

How to Fish for Trout

  • Get a fishing license – most states require a fishing license, so make sure you are following all the applicable laws.
  • If you are targeting larger trout then switch to a lure that looks like a worm or large bug. After about 1 foot in length trout stop targeting smaller insects like flies.
  • Look for areas in high flow rivers that have a low current area – trout like to rest here before moving on.
  • Look for birds diving – they are often hunting baitfish that trout might also be chasing.
  • Use the lightest line you can get away with – trout have good eyesight and can be scared off by the heavy line.
  • Use a sensitive rod that will absorb the head shakes of rainbow trout without pulling the hook out of their mouth.
  • A heavy sinker can scare trout away – use the smallest sinker you can get away with.
  • Use chemically sharpened hooks – trout have a strong jaw that a blunt hook may not set in.
  • If you catch one trout, then stay in that same location – trout are rarely alone.
  • Heavy rainfall puts big trout on the feed – so don’t get scared away when fishing when it is raining.
  • Even though some larger fish have sharp teeth, don’t use a metal leader – this will scare the fish away. You just have to take your chances.
  • Target shade under overhanging branches – this provides shelter from predatory birds and can find trout hiding.
  • If you are going to stand in the water then get a quality set of neoprene waders – this will keep you dry and warm and give you a better fishing experience.
  • Identify an ambush point – trout are an ambush predator and will often hide in good spots to ambush their prey.
  • If you intend to release your fish then use barbless hooks – this reduces the risk of injuries the fish when you remove the hook.
  • Don’t set your drag too tight – or you could pull the hook right out of your fish’s mouth. Let them run before bringing them in.
  • Trout love structure – try fishing around logs or rocks in fast moving streams.
  • Use a net to land your trout – this is more likely to end in success than beaching it.
  • Trout are most active in comfortable water temperatures between 34 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit – taking the water temperature can give good insights

There are plenty of resources for you to learn more about trout fishing. There is a fantastic book by Landon Mayer with 101 trout fishing tips that you may want to read to get even more knowledge before you embark on your next trout fishing trip.

Trout Fishing Tips Video

I am constantly learning new and interesting things about how to catch more and larger fish, including trout. If you have any tips of your own that you would like us to add to this list then please let us know in the comments below.

I have also written an article on the best ways to catch other fish species throughout North American that you will enjoy.

Happy fishing!

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Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.