Sticking It To Trout With Stick Baits

Most trout anglers fall into one of a few categories when it comes to bait/lure selection: flies, spinners or bait. But there is another category which is often overlooked, even though it can produce big fish – the stick bait.

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The stick, or jerk bait, is a simple inline lure which usually resembles a small minnow or forage fish and is outfitted with 1 – 3 sets of treble hooks. Larger models, 6 or more inches, are popular for a broad range of game fish and the smaller models are perfect for coaxing out weary trout. This is especially true when nothing else is working, say on a heavily fished section where the trout have had everything but the kitchen sink thrown their way.

Honestly, I do not know why more trout anglers do not use stick baits. Trout, especially big browns, and rainbows are meat eaters and naturally prey on other smaller fish. Sure, they will take a fly when hungry, but a real meal is what they are looking for. This is exactly what stick baits are made to resemble. Because they are usually painted in flashy, bright colors or even with realistic fish designs, they are also a good choice when trying to entice a reactionary strike.  There are two reasons trout strike – hunger or curiosity and the stick bait works in both situations.

Many varieties of stick baits are available, and the trout isle of your local tackle shop probably has several on hand. But skip past these and go to the bass tackle section. Although the trout models will work, I have found they are only 2-3 inches in length and tend only to attract average sized trout. Instead, I suggest you give the 4-6 inch models a try. These are still small enough to throw on most trout waters but are a bit more tempting to the big boys.

Fish them the same as an inline spinner, focusing on locations where trout are likely to hide or feed. In shallow water areas or those with a lot of cover and snags, go with a floating model. When fishing deeper pools tie on a suspending or sinking model, which are easier to present at the correct level and work well when there is no chance of underwater snagging. As far as color goes, look around and see what the natural baitfish look like and try to copy that. Black, silver or gold are good all-around patterns and those specifically painted to resemble brown or rainbow trout are excellent as well. Otherwise, I would suggest white combined with pink, blue or even yellow.

Give stick baits a chance and you may soon find yourself out fishing your buddies with the more traditional lures. Plus, once trout season is over you can use them for a variety of other species as well. More fish in you creel and more reasons to use your new lures – a real win /win for everyone.

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