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"A Trout Fisherman's Tricks of the Trade"

by "Floatman", Jim Britt


Thinking back over my many trout fishing trips as a child to the present, I have learned many tricks to help me catch trout. On many of those trips we used “bait” offerings to entice these fish to our hooks. We used a few artificial lures as well.

Small or large, these trout can be eating machines and will aggressively feed on a variety of items. I have listed a few of my favorite offerings and tips in an attempt to make your next outing a success.


Being a “float” fisherman, most of my time spent fishing for trout has been with extra long rods and spinning reels and now with float-fishing/center-pin setups. My rigging has been fairly simple.


Rod / reel / 4# line / float / split shot / swivel / leader /  kahle style hooks. 

kahle hook   


This floating rig affords me many less snags in the rivers and streams I prefer to fish by keep my offerings off the bottom and where most snags occur.



Checking or Trotting ? – Over the years, I have learned that when allowing my offering to drift down stream, if I slowed or stopped my drift to allow the offering to lead the terminal tackle (swivel / split-shot) I was rewarded with many more strikes.


Basically, I am attempting to keep my terminal tackle directly below the float, but have the offering precede through the feeding lane first, thus minimizing any spooking of the fish. Back then we called this “checking the bait”.


Since I began centre-pin float-fishing, I was told that this is also called Trotting. Call it what you like, but this is one of the most effective and rewarding parts of float-fishing to me.



 Worms / Crawlers – I prefer to hook a worm through the collar in slow water and through the head in fast water. I like the way the worm undulates on the hook in slow water when hooked thru the collar. I like the way the worm pivots in the faster water’s current on the hook when hooked through the head.


Minnows – I prefer to hook a minnow through the eyes to allow it to pivot on the hook in the current.

Tip:   If you are prone to casting off your minnow with this method or when fishing fast turbulent water – add a small piece of rubber band to the hook after placing the minnow on (rubber band to be slightly larger than the minnow’s eyes) to hold the minnow in place. The rubber bands can be reused several times before wearing out.

Prepared Baits – (cheese, marshmallows, jar baits ie: power-baits) These offerings have their place in the arsenal, especially when fishing with kids. They are easy to use and not as “icky” as the live baits.

Tip:  The above offerings are very prone to being knocked off in moving water. I’ve learned to tie these items in the same netting as I use for tying spawn sacs. When in the netting, you will lose less bait and may even catch several fish on a single offering.

Spawn sacs / single eggs – There are many methods and techniques for tying these offerings. However, I think the quickest way is by hand - lay out a square of netting, place the desired amount of eggs in the netting, form the netting around the eggs and with a few wraps of “magic” thread, close the sacs and trim off the excess netting and thread. There are quite a few styles and colors of netting, try them all and see what works best for you. Some proven netting colors that I prefer are chartreuse, pink, peach & red.

Using single eggs can also be very productive in low / clear water as well.

Tip:  Adding a couple small colored styro-foam floaters pellets in the egg sacs will help keep the sacs off the bottom and maintain close to neutral buoyancy. 

 Crawfish – Yes, trout do eat crawfish! I found they do prefer the smaller ones. Hook these through the meaty portion of their tail.

 If live crawfish are not available, try a fly pattern that resembles a crawfish in size and color.

Tip:   Craws, will grab onto anything they can when drifting with the current, so pinch off the two main claws to minimize their ability to grab.

Maggots – A favorite bait of mine for steelhead when added to a 1/32 – 1/64 – 1/80 jig or just bunched up on a small hook. These are hard to knock off in the current, so they are used often by fisherman.

Tip:   When placing maggots on a hook pierce it near the fat end and you will get more wriggling from the bait. This is important when fishing slow moving water, and especially in lakes or ponds and is very effective on weary trout.

 Plastics – My use of plastics baits has been limited when trout fishing, however I have used the curly tailed plastic baits in a variety of colors, with black, white and chartreuse being my favorites. Most fisherman prefer to use these baits on jig heads in 1/32 to 1/100 in size.

Tip:   Try using these on a light wire hook with no weight, in a tandem rig, when float-fishing, it has been very productive for me.

As you may have already guessed, there are many ways to be productive and successful when trout fishing.  Give of few of these tricks a try and I am positive that your hook rate will increase when trout angling!


"Floatman", Jim Britt















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