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Trout Fishing 101: Everything You Need To Know To Get Started

Trout fishing is an amazing hobby that combines the tranquility of nature with the challenge of the hunt. 

Whether you’re hoping to pull in some delicious trout to cook up for your family or trying to snag a massive trophy fish you can brag about for years, trout fishing is a great opportunity to get outside and start enjoying the wonders of the aquatic world.

However, it can be a bit overwhelming when you first step into the exciting world of trout fishing. What gear do you need? What clothing should you wear? What bait should you buy? How can you learn casting and fishing techniques?

Trout FIshing

Don’t worry. Our Trout Fishing Guide will tell you everything you need to get started, from where to learn trout fishing techniques to what kind of gear to get.  

You Can Learn A Lot Online

When you’re getting started with trout fishing, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out everything you need to know to start your trout fishing journey. Luckily, there are tons of online resources that can help you dip your toes into the water, so to speak – don’t worry, the trout won’t bite you!

You can read about trout fishing from these great websites:

Trout Unlimited

The name doesn’t lie! This print and online magazine will tell you everything you need to know about trout fishing and the culture and environment surrounding this amazing hobby.

Fly Fisherman

This website focuses on fly fishing, one of the primary methods for fishing for trout. You can even sort their information by location so you can find the right details for your area.

DUN Magazine

This gorgeous website and print publication covers fly fishing of all types, including trout fishing. Check out their helpful articles and consider ordering their print version!

You can also watch videos that will show you your way around the wonderful world of trout fishing! Check out these YouTube channels:

Fish Hawk

Fish Hawk includes fun videos and lessons explaining all aspects of the fishing hobby. 

Addicted Fishing

This personal, in-depth YouTube channel covers fishing as well as the people and culture of fishing. 

You Can Hire A Trout Fishing Guide

Let’s face it – getting started with trout fishing isn’t always easy to do on your own. If you’re finding that how-to articles and videos just aren’t cutting it, don’t worry! You can hire an expert trout fishing guide to help you out!

When you hire a trout fishing guide, you get to benefit from someone else’s expertise. Fishing guides know the best spots to fish in their local area, and often have special tips and tricks to finding fish based on the location, temperature, and time of day.

If you’re heading out onto the water, your fishing guide will be able to pilot and navigate the boat, leaving you free to focus on fishing!

A fishing guide will also help you set up and cast your line, and can show you the ins and outs of all your trout fishing gear. They’ll also show you how to clean any fish that you catch. 

You won’t be lonely or bored when you’re out fishing with a guide. Folks who work as fishing guides tend to be patient and personable, good at entertaining clients, swapping fish stories, and making sure everyone has a great time whether or not the trout are biting!

Get A Trout Fishing License

Before you start doing any type of trout fishing, you’ll need to get a fishing license. The great thing about fishing licenses is that the money spent on them goes back into programs that help keep the fishing hobby alive.

Sales of fishing licenses support conservation efforts such as fish management, habitat restoration, research, and educational programs for the public to make fishing and natural fishing areas more accessible for everyone.

Fishing licenses are different by state, so you’ll want to do a quick online search for fishing licenses in your state. Typically, you can purchase one online, over the phone, or even in person by visiting a local shop that sells fishing gear.

Make sure you fully understand the terms of your fishing license, including the dates of the fishing season and the size and quantity of fish you’re allowed to take. If you plan to use a catch and release method, there may also be guidelines for the safest way to release the fish.

Always have your fishing license with you whenever you are out fishing!

Man Trout Fishing

Finding The Best Places For Trout Fishing

Obviously, you can only go trout fishing in places where there are trout!

Trout like to live in cool water, so don’t expect a trout fishing trip to include a lot of swimming. They are generally found in lakes or streams, and you can find them in North America, Europe, and some parts of Asia. 

When choosing the best place for a trout fishing trip, consider what you’re actually hoping to accomplish. If you consider the “best” trout fishing location to be one with absolutely stunning and isolated natural surroundings, you may need to get farther from home – but if you want a more convenient day trip, you can often find trout in canals and rivers in more urban areas.

You should also consider how challenging you want your trout fishing to be. Some areas are better for trout fishing because they have a lot of trout that are known to be easier to catch. But if you want a more technical or unpredictable trout fishing experience, you might select for a different environment. 

The best way to find trout fishing locations is to do an online search for trout fishing in your area (or the area you plan to visit). You can also read about some of the top trout fishing spots at or Field & Stream. Or, try finding your local Trout Unlimited chapter.

Get The Right Trout Fishing Rig

The first thing you’ll need – after you get your fishing license, of course – is a fishing pole, also called a rig in the trout fishing world. Depending on the type of trout you’re fishing for, and the location you’ll be fishing in, you’ll want a different type of fishing rig.

If you’re fishing for smaller trout in an area with less water, you’ll want a more lightweight rod. It should be smaller, between four and five feet, to account for the natural obstacles present around smaller streams, such as underbrush. 

Consider getting a spinning rig, which lets you use a smaller and more flexible rod but also have a fully exposed spool that lets you see what you’re doing and manage your line. Some people buy these separately and set up their own trout fishing rig, but you can also buy a rod and reel that already comes pre-spooled with line.

Many people say that trout are “line shy,” meaning that if they can see the filament of a fishing line in the water, they may be wary of the bait and less likely to bite. Because of this, trout fishing generally uses the lightest line possible, which is clearer and harder for the fish to see. Of course, if you’re looking to pull in much larger fish, you’ll need a stronger and heavier line. 

If you’re fishing for larger trout in a more open area like a lake, you’ll want a bigger, tougher rig. Most people doing this type of trout fishing use a spinning or a spin-cast rig. The difference has to do with whether you push a trigger to let the line out as you cast it.

The best way to choose a trout fishing rig is to visit a fishing shop in person, so you can handle, test out, and ask questions about your new gear. However, you can also shop for trout fishing gear online, which lets you read reviews and price shop. 

Trout underwater.

Get The Right Trout Fishing Bait

If there’s nothing on the hook that the trout want, they certainly won’t be interested in biting for you! 

It can be fun and rewarding to catch your own bait in the area where you’ll be fishing. It also means you will offer the trout prey that they’re used to seeing in their own habitat, which may make them more likely to bite. Look around on the shoreline for bait animals such as worms, grubs, larvae, grasshoppers, and even small lizards or salamanders.

If you’re not interested in hunting your own bait, you can also purchase live bait at a tackle shop. Choose from a wide array of live worms and insects, or pre-packaged salmon eggs. You can also try a man made version of trout bait like pellets and dough products that come in a variety of flavors and colors.

To use these artificial forms of trout bait, simply press and mold the bait onto your hook in the shape and quantity that you want. You may also need to add a small amount of weight to ensure that the hook sinks to a level where the trout can find it.

Finally, some people like to make their own lures or buy lures made by others for trout fishing. These are not edible for the trout but look to the fish like tempting prey. There are different types of fishing lures, so it’s best to ask around and figure out what works best for the trout in your area. You should also try out a handful of different lures to see what you like best and what fits with your trout fishing style.

Spinners are lures with flat metal pieces. As you pull them through the water on your line, these metal pieces spin around, catching the light and looking to a hungry trout like a little fish darting through the water. Some spinners also have feathers or other materials attached.

Spoons are rounded metal lures that look like spoons. When in the water, their wiggling motion looks like the movement of a bait fish, catching the eye of a trout on the hunt. Finally, plugs are similar lures, made from plastic or a light wood, that also mimic the movement and visual qualities of the smaller fish trout like to prey on.

Get The Right Boots For Trout Fishing

Because trout live in colder waters, it’s important to wear the right clothing and gear to keep you warm and dry as you scout out the best spots to cast your line.

The first thing you’ll need to make sure you have in your trout fishing wardrobe is a good pair of wading boots. Having the right wading boots will keep you safe and comfortable all day as you pursue the best and biggest trout.

A good wading boot for trout fishing should be lightweight. Wearing heavy boots puts you at risk of tripping and falling, and will wear out your legs. They should also have rubber soles for better traction when you’re walking over slippery rocks and unstable riverbeds.

Make sure your wading boots drain well. If a boot holds or soaks up too much water, it will get sodden and heavy, which is both uncomfortable and unsafe for your feet. Check also to see whether the laces are strong, durable, and easy to tie and tighten.

Finally, one of the most critical aspects of a good trout fishing wading boot is ankle support. Nothing will ruin your fishing trip like a rolled or sprained ankle, and you need serious protection for your feet while you’re navigating through a rocky riverbed or lake shore.

Try visiting a local outdoor sporting goods store so you can try on some wading boots and check out their features in person. You can also check out reviews online to better understand the different types of wading boots out there and make a selection that way.

Get The Right Waders for Trout Fishing

Waders are waterproof pants that allow you to walk waist-deep or even chest-deep into water without getting cold and wet! 

You may not need waders if you only fish from a boat, or if you plan on fishing in an area that has water warm enough to wade into without discomfort. However, most trout fishing is done in environments that make waders an excellent investment. 

Although heavy rubber waders are perhaps the most familiar version of these trout fishing essentials, modern technology has allowed for more comfortable and breathable versions. 

Get your waders made out of a synthetic material like gore-tex so that your body can still breathe even while it’s protected from the water you’re in. Rubber waders are much less comfortable, especially in warmer weather.

The two types of waders are “bootfoot” and “stockingfoot” waders. Bootfoot waders have boots that come attached, making them a “one piece” outfit that combines waders and boots. These are better for insulation in very cold water, and for keeping water and dirt out of your boots. However, they are heavier, and they don’t give you the option of selecting your ideal wading boots.

Stockingfoot waders end in socks that you can then put inside a gravel guard and into your wading boots. This type of wader is more versatile and allows you to select your own wading boots and other gear. They are also lighter and easier to hike in. However, they can be prone to tangling with your line.

Get A Cool Vest For Trout Fishing

Perhaps the most iconic symbol of the fisherman, a fishing vest is a convenient and comfortable way to carry all your bait, hooks, snacks, and other gear with you wherever you go.

While you may be familiar with a tacklebox, try to imagine lugging that thing down the banks of a river or all the way into a lake. A fishing vest instead lets you fill your pockets with everything you need, leaving your hands free as you take in the beauty of your natural surroundings.

Make sure your fly fishing vest has enough pockets for the things you need, and that they are the right size to hold your gear. If possible, visit a sporting goods store in person and bring the exact items you plan to carry with you, so you can test out the pockets. Some vests have too many small pockets, but not enough larger ones, making it difficult to carry things like bait cups and even your sunglasses!

Although it can be tempting to save money on a cheaper fly fishing vest, make sure you get a well made one that won’t fall apart or otherwise let you down in the middle of a trout fishing trip. Think about it like your backpack while hiking – better quality is worth it when it comes to comfort and usability!

Trout Fishing Knots of Survival World

To wrap things up, here are some useful fishing knots that you can find here on Survival World. Check out all our knots here.