Spinning for Trout
Spinfishing is the forgotten freshwater discipline: flyfishing is more glamorous, trolling more popular–and arguably easier–while jigging is the latest thing. Too often spinfishing is relegated to the kids, or the wife.
But spinfishing is a highly effective method of catching trout and salmon; in some situations, spinning is the best technique.
Spinfishing–casting and retrieving a lure–is an excellent way to cover a lot of water. In the hands of a skilled caster, a spinning rod is an amazingly accurate tool, able to drop a lure hard against the opposite bank, under a tree or in gap between the reeds.
While the basics of spinfishing are pretty quick to master, consistent success is the reward of the thinking angler. Spinfishers who take the time to read the water they’re fishing, and who learn to choose suitable lures and fish them at the correct speed, do well.
Lakes are favourites with spinfishers. Large expanses of seemingly empty water are quickly and efficiently covered using a spinning rod. By changing lure weight or type, the angler can fish at different depths. Lure changes, or variations in retrieve speed, may be enough to trigger a strike.
Spin gear is at home on big water. The deep, slow-moving lower reaches of many of New Zealand’s rivers contain good numbers of trout, many of them large. Large, deep pools, typical of so many of our best trout rivers, are impossible to fish effectively using flyfishing tackle; a spinner is the only way to explore their depths.
But spinning tackle needn’t be confined to big water. It can be used with success in streams and small rivers, provided the angler scales down the terminal tackle.
The ability to read the river is just as important for the spinfisher as it is for the flyfisher. To be successful, an angler must work his spinner past the nose of a trout.
Spinning tackle can be employed effectively in narrow streams and shallow riffles, but it pays to use small lures.
Modern trout-spinning gear is a pleasure to use: the rods are light and responsive, and able to cast the lightest of lures, while the reels are smooth and cast well. Drag systems have improved so that they’re up to the challenge of stopping the biggest of trout.
There’s more to choose from in the way of lures, too. The advent of small soft plastics (don’t forget that scented or flavoured lures are illegal for taking gamefish such as trout and salmon) is opening up new possibilities for the spinfisher. Superbraid lines are also gaining a following, just as they have in saltwater.
For most trout spinning, a rod between 2m and 2.3m is ideal. It should be lightweight but capable of fishing lines of between 2–4kg breaking strain. In some instances–big, heavy water or when salmon are a possibility–heavier tackle may be advisable.
A good selection of lures–spoons, plugs (Rapalas and similar lures), Cobras, Tasmanian Devils and lures with spinning blades–all in a variety of sizes and weights, will give the spin angler the ammunition to tackle most fishing situations.
As a bonus, spinning tackle is versatile enough to fish bait where allowed, or fish nymphs or wet flies with the aid of a small sinker, split shot or a float. Fishing rivers and lakes with a bubble-float half-filled with water and trailing a couple of nymphs or wet flies is a popular spinning technique. A few split shot and a bubble float or two, along with a couple of popular flies, should find a home in every spinfisher’s tackle box.
Spinning for Trout