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Plug Your Way to More Trout

Plug Your Way to More Trout

Consider trolling plugs as trout fishing action heats up across the West.

trout fishing

As winter gives way to spring, trout fishing is heating up throughout the West. If you have a boat and are looking to break away from traditional trout fishing approaches like floating bait or pulling cumbersome hardware, consider trolling plugs.


Floating plugs 2 to 3 inches in length are ideal for trout trolling this time of year. Avoid plugs that sink, as they will move out of the strike zone. Having a variety of plugs that dive from 2 to 12 feet deep is great for covering water at different depths.

Invest in a half-dozen plugs of various shapes, bill designs and colors. Gold, silver, blue and orange plugs are solid bets at this time. Having an assortment of short, wide, long, and narrow bills is good when trying to find an action the fish like. Some days trout may want a plug with a slow wobble, and other days they may prefer a fast, sporadic movement.


"Most of the trout we've been catching on plugs since January have come from 3 to 12 feet deep," shared guide Austin Moser. "That's the great thing about this approach — it allows you to cover so much water."

No matter how many rods he's running, Moser likes putting them all at slightly different depths. "In lakes, trout suspend at different depths," Moser continued. "Where they are, exactly, depends on water temperature, food, boat traffic, sunlight, and more."

When running six rods in the boat, Moser's presentation works. Directly out the back of the boat, flatline two plugs. One plug might dive 2 feet deep, the other 4 or 5 feet deep. Letting 150 feet of line out on these plugs ensures they get well behind the boat and dive as designed. If you're wanting to send one plug a bit deeper, simply add a 1/2- to 1-ounce trolling sinker or cannonball sinker on a short dropper.

Moving to the sides of the boat, using a pair of downriggers helps attain precise depths. With one downrigger on each side of the boat, a plug of choice can be attached and then let down to the target depth. If you don't have a downrigger or two, simply use 1 to 2 ounces of lead to get the plugs down.

trout fishing

Out the sides of the boat are two more rods, each fishing a plug attached to a side-planer. The purpose of the side-planer is to carry the plug way to the side of the boat, away from other plugs. A side-planer can be run anywhere from 20 to 100 feet to the side of the boat, or even farther.


More Western states are adopting a two-rod endorsement. This means that for a nominal fee, one angler can purchase the endorsement and fish two rods. It's worth it, as running twice as much gear greatly increases the odds of catching more fish.

If a buddy comes with you, and you both have the two-rod endorsement, that's four lines in the water. Three anglers means six rods.

Adding scent to your plugs can help entice trout to bite. In cold water, Pro-Cure's line of Super Gel scents work effectively.

Before heading out on your next trout adventure, consider trolling plugs. You'll be amazed not only with the amount of water being covered but also by how ravenous trout can become once their predatory instincts are triggered by plugs that simulate baitfish.

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