It was difficult selecting the top trout lures of all time. There are hundreds of lures which can catch trout, we attempted the impossible to task, listing the 21 best trout lures of all times. These lures are all proven trout catchers with well deserved reputations. All spinning lures on this list are excellent and are worthy of consideration. With one or two exceptions, they all should be widely available no matter where in the world you trout fish.
Fishermen make convincing arguments for their favorite trout lures, and no single lure or design is the best. Many factors from location, skill and the mood of the trout all determine what lure performs the best on any given water.
Localization is a big factor, very successful lures such as the Abu Garcia Toby or the Tasmanian Devil which dominate some markers, and all but absent in others. They are good lures, despite being popular in only limited markets.
1) Mepps Agilia
Inline spinners are some of the best trout lures available. No matter if you fish in North America, Europe, Oceania or South Africa inline spinners are readily available.
Out of all successful and highly effective inline spinners one name comes to the forefront most often. That is the Mepps Agilia.
The Mepps Agilia edges out the just as capable Panther Martin because it seems to have slightly stronger international support. No matter where you are trout fishing, chances are the local store would have a selection of Mepps Agilia on display.
The Mepps inline spinner was invented back in 1938. It is deadly at catching trout, the solid construction makes for long casts and deep runs. The durability is excellent with lures more likely lost than damaged. I have written a review of the Mepps Aglia over on my in-line spinner guide.
2) Panther Martin
Panther martin has been making in-line spinners for over 63 years, along with Mepps they were a pioneer in the development of in-line spinners. The most disincentive feature of the panther martin is the larger than average blade. This allows the lure to work efficiently even at lower retrieval speed.
Earlier this year I did an online survey asking for the most popular trout lure and the Panther Martin was the clear winner. They are a classic which has widespread community support. They might even br the most popular trout lure in America. read my full review in my in-line spinner guide.
3) Original floating Rapala
The floating Rapala is my personal favorite trout lure. I have caught more wild brown trout on floating Rapalas than any other lures. Invented in 1936 the floating Rapala might just be the original Jerk-Bait.
It has spawned countless variations, imitations and competitors. The floating Rapala is one of the most successful and dependable trout lures ever made.
Floating Rapalas are excellent lures for targeting wild brown trout, equally successful in streams to the larges of lakes. I will never go spinfishing without a floating Rapala.
A great alternative to the floating Rapala is the Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow. It casts even better.
4) Abu Garcia Toby
The Toby was invented in 1956 Denmark. It might just be Abu’s most successful lure ever. The Toby mimicked the Tobis fish a slim minnow. Toby’s have tiny wings, or fins which makes the lure more buoyant through the water. If interested in history. There is a great blog including discussions with the inventor over on realsreels.com
All Toby’s get cut from solid brass. The concurve side gets painted. This is by design, and not a cost saving measure. As the lure rotates through the water, the plain side gives off a series of flashes.
Tobys casts like bullets. A great lure for prospecting from the shore, or to troll at high speeds. Tobys are almost indestructible. Popular colors include bronze, silver and black/gold.
The Abu Garcia Toby spawned an entire class of lures which separated them from the Spoon category. A black and gold swiped Kilwell Turbo, a lure based on the Toby is New Zealand’s favorite trout lure.
While popularity has waned in recent years, especially in North America where it’s hard to find. The Toby remains a top pick for many trout fishermen. Some popular imitations include the Thomas lures Speedy Shiner and the Kenley Toby Wever.
5) Hex Wobblers / Acme Kastmaster / Slices/ Ticers / wedges.
Countless lures belong in this category, with little separating the various models. For this reason, I included all these solid metal bullets in one category. These lures dominate one niche, and that is long distance casting.
In North America the most popular lure in this category is the Acme Kastmaster. During the retrieve they have a tight back and forth wooble. The bright chrome gives off plenty of flash. These lures like a fast retrieve, often the faster the better. The occasional pause or jerk also does not hurt.
A silver hex lure was the first lure I learned to fish with. I have caught countless fish on them over the years. In small sizes they cast like a bullet, making them excellent, second only to the Toby above for prospecting large water. In my tackle box I have hexes from half a dozen manufacturers, and I never noticed much difference between them.
Their popularity as trout lures has declined somewhat in recent years. They lack the refinement and details many competing lures offer. In my home fishery, when the fish are in close inline spinners, jerkbaits and streamers consistency out perform them.
For an affordable, which can cast a mile they can’t be bet. When casting into a howling head wind, or when every yard counts they remain the best option. I have found most species of fish, including trout prefer the smaller size.
There are many spoon variations, too many to rank separately. So,I will cover most as a single category. Spoons are easy to use, but difficult to master. In skilled hands they are as effective as any lure.
The Eppinger Daredevle might be the lure which best represents this category. With over 100 years of history it is a proven trout catcher.
Spoons, can be cast, trolled, jigged or even fluttered downstream. I like to fish spoons when I want to fish deep and fast. Targeting trout holding near the bottom in deep fast pools. Cast out, and across and allow the spoon to drift downstream bouncing around.
When casting, avoid a steady retrieve. Impact more movement through rod twitches and the occasional pause. Every spoon design responds slightly differently, so it takes a lot of trail and error to figure out the ideal retrieve speed.
Popular spoons and alternatives include, Acme Little Cleo, Thomas Colorado, Husky Devle Spoon, Len Thompson Original Series and the Zed Spinner.
7) Worden’s Original Rooster Tail
Another inline spinner, developed in the 1950’s the Wordens Orignal Rooster Tail well deserves a spot on this list. Like all inline spinners, the Worden’s Original Rooster tail is a deadly trout catcher. It is no surprise that the combination of the rapid spinning action and pulsating hackle really trigger trout to strike.
I consider the Worden Rooster Tail just as good as any inline spinner on the market. Just because it is lower on the list does not make it a lesser lure.
8) Tasmanian Devil
The Tasmanian Devil was designed in the 1970’s to catch Brown trout in the Derwent River, Tasmania. Along with similar Tilliens cobra these lures are the most popular trout catcher in Australia. The Tasmania devil casts well and is a deadly trolling lure.
It sinks like a slow falling spoon, and wiggles through the water like a crankbait. As a releaveily new design, the Tasmania Devil successfully made a name for itself against many established models. The revolutionary plastic wings, cause the lure to swim erratically. Darting and diving in such a way to trigger strikes.
Australians seem to like them in green and gold. I suspect that is because it matches their national colors. The main competitor to the Tasmania devil is the Tillins Cobra.
9) Joes Fly
This lure combines an inline spinner with a fly. Like all spinners, they catch fish. I have always been on the fence regarding the combination. Dragging a mayfly behind a lure does not seem that natural to me. Which is why I prefer Joe Flies with a trialing streamer.
Weighing approximately 1/4oz (7 grams) they are quite lightweight lure. Best suited for smaller streams and lightweight techniques.
10) Yakima Wordens Flatfish
The flatfish is a classic which first hit the market over 50 years ago. Like many older lures they been overshadowed by newer flasher lures. But, there are still a sizeable number of flatfish fans.
When I first started out, I read an article in a old fishing magazine singing the virtue of flatfish lures. So I gained a large selection of second hand flatfish from an auction. They seem to work best trolling at slow speeds where they generate a nice wide wobble.
For their size they are quite a lightweight lure, making them difficult to cast. Which makes them a difficult lure to prospect open water with.
11) Blue Fox Vibrax
There is a lot of inline Spinners on this list because they are such successful trout catchers. The Blue Fox Vibrax is heavy for its size. Allowing for longer casts and deeper runs than comparable size inline spinners.
I have written a longer review of the Blue Fox Vibrax over on my in-line spinner guide.
12) Storm Wildeye and Berkley Powerbait Swim Shads
These pre-rigged, inexpensive and extremely lifelike synthetic soft plastic lures surged in popularity in the early 2000’s. Many companies produce them. Including Storm Wildeye’s and the Berkley powerbaits. They were excellent fish catchers and were a fraction of the price as most hard body lures.
I still remember the first time I fished them. Near my house there is a plunge pool where an irrigation canal goes through a culvert and discharges into a long settling pond. I wondered what would happen, If I fished one of these new Shads just below the outlet. The answer, over 15lb of trout, landed in fifteen minutes of fishing. The largest being 4lb. They went crazy over them. They are now my favorite lure to drift through fast water, I was a swim shad convert.
Many of these lures come scented, normally aniseed. At the time my local fishing regulations prohibited the use of scents lures in spins or fly fishing water. While the rangers turned a blind eye, they technically did not meet the criteria of bait.
I eventually discovered the Tsunami Pro Holographic Swim Shad, they looked the part and had no scent. The Tsunami Pro Swim shads remain my first choice even after the regulations got relaxed. Maybe controversial, but I doubt the scent makes much of a difference. Especially when fishing fast water.
There are a few downsides. Despite marketing claims the plastic is not durable. Tails lost, or the hooks well pull out. I also find trout swallow them much deeper compared with hard lures. Making catch and release more difficult. I only fish them when I want some trout for the table.
13) Jointed Rapala
Another classic trout lure from Rapala. The jointed Rapala exaggerated action is deadly at slow retrieve speeds. This is a very popular winter or early spring lure. With a slow retrieve, the lure springs to life. These lures work best in still or slow water. Where trout take plenty of time to inspect their prey before swimming in for the kill.
Downsides, I find them harder to cast than normal Rapalas, and if fished too aggressively, they are prone to tangling.
14) Rapala Countdown
The third and final Rapala on this list, the countdown has a special trick. Every second it remains stationary, it sinks another foot. Great for targeting trout lower in the water column. I personally consider the countdown one of my must have lures, the floating versions are great. But, sometimes you need to present the lure much closer to where the trout are holding. The Rapala countdown makes doing so easy.
15) Acme Phoebe
These little spoons somewhat resemble tiny fish. The curve design allows it to be fished at all speeds and depths. It runs quite close to the surface, so a good option for fishing shallow water and ripples. Great for working the shallow edges of a river or lake.
hey are a decent casting lure, and can be used for prospecting big water.
16) C.P. Swing
These French design inline Spinners are not as popular as they once. Yet, the design has successfully been catching trout for over 50 years. The design is brilliant in its simplicity. The beaded body provides weight, while the scaled blade sends reflections dancing through the water.
They are lighter than many inline spinners, which can make casting difficult. The fine gauge wire is prone to bending. The lightness of design allows sinks slowly fluttering through the water column. Popular early spring spinner, because the blade rotates at even slow retrieval speeds which gives sluggish trout time to pounce.
Only available in three colors. Brass made from brass blades and beads, copper featuring copper blades and beads. The silver version has matte silver blade and brass beads.
17) Thomas Bouyant
Like many lures on this list, the Thomas Buoyant has been successfully catching trout for decades. The Bouyant, has some features which separate it from the more mainstream spoon models. The obvious difference is the slow rate of sinking, the rear cut-outs gives the lure an erratic wooble even at low retrieve speeds.
It is the perfect spoon to reach for when slowly covering shallower water, or when the trout are still sluggish due to cold water temperature. The 1/6oz an 1/4oz are great weights for targeting trout in small streams.
Another distance casting champion, the Krocodile gives a perfect combination of a true spoon shape and excellent casting distance. They cast far and sink fast. A great prospecting and big water lure.
19) BLUEFOX MORESILDA TROUT
These little metal lures look just like tiny fish. Being streamline and dense, they cast like a bullet. There is a slight curve which allows for a slight wobble on the retrieve.
It also sinks rapidly, making it a good option for fishing deep water. To keep it off the bottom, and to avoid snags a fast retrieve is required.
I have not tried targeting trout, but similar lures can be effectively jigged. Maybe an option for deep lake fishing.
20) DEVON MINNOWS & Trillens Ashley Spinner
If you get taken spinfishing by elderly flyfishing purest chances he would have a Devon Minnow or Ashley spinner neatly tuck beside a few vintage in-line spinners and a wooden flatfish.
These are a very old lure design which predates all other lures except the spoons. They come in both floating and sinking versions. The floaters are crafted from wood, and the sinkers from brass.
The sinkers cast well and sink fast. On the retrieve, they spin around creating an extreme amount of line twist. Although, with modern swivels, and improved spinning reels the issue of line twisted is reduced. Using a superline should eliminate it entirely. Most anglers today use them when targeting salmon, but a small, if mostly elderly group of trout fishermen still find success.
21) DEPOSE broken-back minnow
The origins of these hand painted hard plastic French made minnows seems lost in time. They first hit the market sometime in the 1970’s. They were a popular seller, and retailers had trouble getting consistency of stock.
Fishermen I have asked had polarising feedback regarding them. Some had great success, while others could not seem to make them work. I was in the later group; I purchase several of these articulated minnows when new to trout fishing. They swim like a minnow or bully darting across the bottom. The upwards facing bib, seems to cling the lure to the bottom and it sends up a trail of sediments as it wiggles along. It looks quite lifelike.
Having spoken with fishermen who had success, the secret was to fish them in fast water. Cast out, and let the current do the work. Work them slowly through the water column and let the current do the work. They certainly do not require a fast pace retrieve, and I have never heard of anyone trolling them.
These lures have several major flaws which probably contributed to them disappearing from store shelves. Their bottom hugging retrieve found every rock, log or weed in the river. Many got lost. The little upwards facing bib were notoriously fragile, hitting a rock or log was enough to cause them to break off. Finally, the lure was quite lightweight, which limit their use to smaller waters and short casts.
Several variations were made. Including by Teal in New Zealand, and Superflex in Australia. Pesco, marketed a larger version which I have never seen. As recently as 2010 they were still being advertised for purchase in the United Kingdom. Despite frequently visiting tackle tours on my travels, I have not seen them in stock for several years. The company also made a French eel lure, which was marketed under many names. This one made it to North America under I think Gracia branding. I once read it was a killer pattern on sea trout.