Speckled sea trout are one of the most fun fish to catch on artificial lures. Their aggressive nature and their tendency to hit a wide variety of bait makes them one of the best inshore targets to keep you busy all day long.
No trout lure is a sure-fire, one-size-fits-all option though. Different conditions call for different lures and some lures are much better than others for quality and quantity of fish.
This guide covers all of the best lures for trout. From jerkbaits to twitchbaits, jigs, soft plastics, and topwaters, these are the lures that are always in my tackle box. Everything you see here has been extensively tested over a long period of time and has proven to catch fish.
#1 MirrOLure Mirrodine
About the lure
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the MirrOLure Mirrodine. It’s an outstanding lure for catching trout, along with almost every other inshore fish. Matter of fact, the Mirrodine is also my top pick in a guide that I wrote to the top lures for catching snook. Here’s a link to that article for anyone interested in targeting snook too.
The Mirrodine is a suspending twitchbait that can be fished in many different ways and in many different situations. It’s one of the most versatile hardbaits that I’ve ever used and you’ll never find me without a handful of them on my boat.
The suspending nature of the lure means that you can fish it all over the water column. It will drop very slowly if you stop your retrieve. This gives you a lot of control over the lure’s presentation.
How to fish it
A Mirrodine is an outstanding choice if you’re looking for a single lure to do it all. Since it’s designed to allow you to suspend the lure in the middle of the water, you’ve got total control over speed, depth, and retrieve style.
The best way to fish the Mirrodine is to go relatively slow, using twitches alone to move the lure along. Your goal should be to find the right retrieval speed to keep the lure at a good medium depth.
Mirrodines are designed to sink very, very slowly if left completely alone. This means that you can give it a twitch or two, then let it free fall for a moment before you start twitching it again. Done correctly, the lure will closely mimic a wounded baitfish and trigger a ton of strikes from nearby trout. You’ll typically find that most of your strikes will come as you let the lure fall in between twitches. This is the most common time for aggressive fish to scoop up the lure and make a run.
Rod choice is important for proper twitchbait action, so make sure you’ve always got the right one for the job. Go for a rod with a fast tip anytime you’re using a twitchbait. This allows you to twitch the lure in the water much more naturally when you pop the rod.
Whether you’re fishing the flats, the beaches, or open water in general, the Mirrodine is always my first choice for reliably putting trout in the boat.
#2 Rapala Skitter Walk
About the lure
The Rapala Skitter Walk is my personal favorite topwater lure for trout and for every other inshore species. It ranks high on my list for two reasons. First and foremost, it catches a lot of fish. Second, it’s a blast to work with, producing some of the most exciting strikes you’ll ever experience.
The Skitter Walk is a walk-the-dog style topwater with an internal rattle that adds to the presentation. The motion is as good as you’ll find with a topwater lure and it produces a steady “click” as it works its way through the water.
It’s extremely satisfying to see a fish blow up a Skitter Walk. There’s really nothing that can beat a topwater strike when it comes to pure excitement. It’s especially fun when you can see the fish on its way to your lure beforehand.
How to fish it
A Skitter Walk fished properly will have a steady back-and-forth motion in the water. This is called “walking the dog”.
The lure is heavier in the back than in the front. This means that, with every jerk of the rod, the front of the lure should swing from about 45-degrees to 45-degrees.
To achieve the perfect motion, you first want to make sure that you eliminated any leader from the equation. Skitter Walks (and most topwaters in general) work best when you tie your main line directly to the lure. Leaders don’t do anything but get in the way of the proper action. My preference is to use braid, but standard monofilament works too. I like the braid because I feel that that the lack of stretch gives me maximum control over the lure by letting the rod tip do most of the work.
Once you’ve got your line set up correctly, working the lure is simple but takes some practice. There should be just enough slack in your line to comfortable jerk the rod tip and move the lure just enough to “pop”. Immediately follow that up with another jerk and another until you get a steady rhythm going. You’ll know you’ve got it right when your Skitter Walk is moving from side to side and its rattle is making perfectly synced clicks as it goes.
Trout love this kind of topwater action and they’ll usually go well out of their way to strike it. The best time to use it is always early morning and late evening when the water is calm. That said, I’ve also had plenty of success fishing Skitter Walks all day long when the conditions were right.
Last word of advice is not to worry if a trout misses the lure when it first strikes. This happens quite a bit when fishing for trout with any topwater lure. The worst thing you could do would be to give up and completely stop your retrieve. When the fish misses, keep the lure going with the same steady motion that produced the strike. Trout will often circle right back around and make another run at the lure.
The Skitter Walk also takes the #2 spot in our big guide to redfish lures.
#3 DOA Shrimp
About the lure
Trout love live shrimp, so it’s no real surprise that they also love a good artificial shrimp. DOA’s option is one of the best and I don’t believe any saltwater fisherman’s tackle box is complete without it.
The DOA Shrimp is a soft plastic lure that closely resembles a live shrimp both in its appearance and its motion underwater. It’s beloved by inshore fisherman whether they are beginners or pros.
Unlike many other lures, the DOA Shrimp can be a top choice all year long. It’s season proof from my experience, working just as well in the heat of summer as it does the cold of winter. Personally, I use the DOA as much as I use any other lure in the colder months when I move toward using more soft plastics in general.
How to fish it
Slow, slow, slow. The DOA Shrimp is very easy to use and there are several ways to fish it, but it’s almost always going to work best when it’s fished extremely slow.
The ideal retrieve should allow the shrimp to literally crawl along the bottom. Cast it out, let it sink, then start reeling very slowly. Add in a quick twitch every once in a while to further mimic a live shrimp.
DOA Shrimp work well in grass flats too, but you’ll want to make a slight adjustment to your retrieve. Your goal is the same, only that you want to keep the shrimp at the top of the grass as opposed to on the absolute bottom. This is easily accomplished by simply raising your rod tip and changing the angle of your line. A higher rod tip will keep the shrimp on top and keep it from pulling directly through the middle of the grass.
The other style that’s particularly good for catching trout is to combine the DOA Shrimp with a popping cork. Use 2-3ft of flourocarbon leader between your cork and your shrimp, then throw it out there. All you need to do is give your line a good tug, pause, then repeat. If there are trout nearby, chances are good that you’ll bring them in this way.
#4 Johnson Silver Minnow
About the lure
The Johnson Silver Minnow is a spoon lure that is about as simple as it gets. I prefer to use the gold color Silver Minnow, but it’s a good idea to have both gold and silver in your tackle box. Other brands have plenty of additional colors, but the Johnson spoons are the tried-and-true classic.
You really can’t ever go wrong with a gold spoon. They work extremely well for trout and they are extremely easy to use. Working a spoon is really as straightforward as reeling.
Spoons are a purely sight-based lure, catching light and brightly flashing as they are pulled along through the water. Aggressive predatory fish love them and can spot them from quite a ways off.
How to fish it
Fishing a spoon is really easy, so there’s not too much instruction necessary. You’re basically just going to reel.
The primary trick to properly fishing a spoon is to find the right speed. Too fast or too slow and you’ll keep the spoon from wobbling the way it’s intended to. A proper retrieve will have the spoon quickly wobbling back and forth as it pulls through the water, sharply reflecting light as it goes. Since they are sight-based lures, spoons work best in clearer water conditions where light can travel the farthest.
Also, keep in mind that a spoon is a great choice for covering a ton of water quickly. Their shape and weight allow them to be cast very far and the retrieval speed is quick. One of the best ways to locate trout in open water is to fan-cast 360-degrees around yourself with a spoon.
There are plenty of fishermen who will tell you that there’s nothing more effective than a gold spoon for targeting trout. This is a lure that works pretty much anywhere, anytime. You can always find them and they’re inexpensive, so there’s no reason not to always have a few in your collection.
#5 Heddon Chug’n Spook
About the lure
The Heddon Chug’n Spook is a topwater popper-style lure. The front of the lure is designed to create a blunt force against the water, causing the lure to “pop” when pulled.
There are plenty of good poppers out there. I lean toward the Chug’n Spook with its straightforward design. The whole lineup of Spook lures are great, especially their regular walk-the-dog Zara Spooks. I decided to rank the Chug’n Spook over the regular Spook since I already covered standard topwaters with the Skitter Walk.
How to fish it
It’s hard to mess up fishing with a popper. The whole point is to be aggressive and make noise to coax fish into striking.
You can overdo your popping, but other than popping it too often or as hard as you can, it’s really hard to mess up. It should look and sound natural when popped, not like miniature explosions going off in the water. Give it a few good pops, let it sit, then repeat. That’s pretty much it. Change up your popping speed and rhythm until you find something that works.
Some of the most explosive strikes come from overly-aggressive fish blowing up a popper. It’s hard to beat the thrill of a popper when everything is clicking the the fish are biting.
#6 Sebile Stick Shadd
Sebile makes a lot of really nice saltwater lures and the Stick Shadd is my favorite of the bunch. It’s similar in action to the Mirrodine but it has a different movement in the water. The bottom of the lure has a keel that causes it to dart a little more sharply when it’s twitched. It’s an awesome lure for all species and I’ve caught a ton of trout with it.
#7 Gulp! Shrimp
I jokingly added Gulp Shrimp to a “Dishonorable Mention” category on my list of favorite snook lures, as it’s one of the most polarizing artifical baits. Some fisherman love it and some hate it. Most of the naysayers simply don’t like dealing with extra pinfish or catfish that are attracted by the lure’s strong scent. Bottom line is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using Gulp and they can catch you a ton of trout. If you’re striking out with every other lure in your tackle box, switching to a Gulp is often the best way to get hooked up.
#8 Yo Zuri 3D Inshore Minnow
Yo Zuri does an outstanding job of creating detailed hardbaits that are designed to move really well in the water. The 3D Inshore Minnow is one of my favorites to target trout in shallow water. The Minnow has a lip, but it also floats. This makes it highly fishable over deep grass flats. Soon as you get too deep, you just let up on your retrieve to let it rise back up. The motion is really good and it attracts a lot of quality strikes.
#9 Zara Spook
In the inshore fishing game, the Zara Spook is a heavyweight topwater contender. It could easily be interchanged with the Skitter Walk for best lure of its kind. The two are very similar and trout will snatch up either one.
It doesn’t matter who you are or how long you’ve been fishing- you recognize a Rat-L-Trap when you see one. They’re classic. They’re also often overlooked for inshore applications. Rat-L-Traps check all of the boxes for trout fishing and you can catch a ton of fish on these simple lures. You can find them in almost any color imaginable, but I like to go with the classic silver mirror finish.
#11 Bucktail Jig
A good bucktail jig is pretty much universally appreciated by saltwater fishermen. While I prefer to use them more for scenarios in which I’m targeting snook and redfish, they also do a good job at catching trout. Regular jigging styles are best, but you can fish them a number of different ways. They’re cheap, they’re durable, and they reliably catch fish.
If you told me I had to go out and catch a limit of trout right now, these are absolutely the lures that are going with me. The order is simply my personal preference. On any given day, you may find that the bottom-ranked lure here will outfish the top-ranked one. It’s all about matching the hatch and testing the waters.
I’m confident that anyone can find a something from this list that fits their preferred style of fishing. If you’re anything like me, you’ll latch on to one or two lures that you’ll use more than everything else combined.
Let us know what your favorite lure is. We want to if you have a personal favorite, especially if this guide helped you to find one!