Tips and Tackle for Dirty Water Trout

Offer advice to go with a selection of proven lures when high water reduces clarity

Tips and Tackle for Dirty Water Trout

Springtime rain, snowmelt and runoff cause high water levels and turbidity in streams and rivers. That creates challenges for anglers looking to hook into a trout, but offering a little knowledge and the right lures will go a long way toward increasing your customers’ success. And that’s good for sales. Provide helpful advice that can be understood by anglers of any skillset. Chances are if a customer has questions on what lures are working well at the time, they will be happy and open to receive any advice on how to catch more fish.

Seek slower water

High water means fast water. During these conditions, trout will leave the fast current in search of slower water where they are able to feed while expending less energy. Let your customers know to focus casting efforts in pools, eddies and inside seams. Anytime the river or stream has a turn or bend, the inside of that bend will provide a good area for trout to set up out of the main current. These areas provide the perfect spot for fish to ambush food as it passes by in the current.

Don’t be afraid to fish the new habitat

When water levels rise, new parts of the stream or riverbank will become flooded and different habitat will be underwater. These areas can prove worthwhile as fish will often utilize the new structure even if wasn’t there a few days before. Often times, these are areas of slow water that offer great ambush points, especially if on inside banks.

Use big lures

Recommend large lures and flies to combat the dirty water. Larger lures will stand out better in the turbid water and will also move more water when retrieved. When clarity is low and vision limited, fish will rely more on other senses to help capture food. When a larger lure moves more water, it helps fish detect its location through vibration.

Focus on color contrast and flash

The first thought is often to use white or bright colored flies, spinners or minnow imitators in stained water. In many cases that choice works quite well, and fish will react, but don’t forget about dark colors. Black lures are actually some of the most visible in dark colored water. Have customers shy away from natural greens and browns and steer them toward black lures or the complete opposite spectrum with colors like chartreuse, orange or red. A classic gold- or silver-bladed inline spinner can also be a great choice offering flash and vibration.

Stocking Options

Stock a diverse selection of lures for springtime fishing that will appeal to anglers of all skillsets. And be sure to address both trout fishing genres — fly fishing and spinning. A few proven stocking options are listed below.

Woolly Buggers

The woolly bugger fly has been attracting trout for decades. Not only is this fly style great for trout, but extremely effective for other popular fish species such as bluegill and bass. Large in profile and offered in black and dark color combinations, a woolly bugger like the example below from Orvis is a good option for stained water. Woolly buggers are offered with a tungsten weighted cone head that is very helpful in fast and muddy water.

Tungsten Missile Nymph

Nymph-style flies are another popular choice for fast, turbid water. Utilizing a tungsten bead for weight, this Holly Flies missile nymph fly is able to quickly get deep in the water column and is less affected by fast current. The bright bead and shiny tinsel add visibility. This fly is available barbless for quick and healthy releases.

Blue Fox Vibrax

Inline spinners are a great choice anytime for anglers fishing with spinning rod combos. Their versatility makes them a dependable recommendation for anglers of any skill level, and another option for dingy water. The Blue Fox Vibrax is designed to emit low-frequency sound vibrations when retrieved, helping fish locate the lure when clarity inhibits site feeding. With numerous color options, it has become a proven choice among trout anglers. Blue Fox is a Rapala brand.

Rapala Original Floater

Minnow imitators are another versatile lure choice for trout anglers. There are a lot of options on the market, but there is a good chance many of you are already stocking Rapala’s Original Floater. The lure is well known and proven effective on almost every species of freshwater gamefish. Trout are no exception. Recommend smaller sizes to shoppers looking for trout lures like Rapala’s size 03 or 05. It’s good to offer a large selection of color options for anglers to choose from but steer them toward brighter colors for dirty-water scenarios.

PowerBait Floating Trout Worm

Soft plastic worms paired with a small split-shot weight can be extremely effective for finicky trout in fast water. By fine-tuning the size of weight, anglers can adjust lure presentation for the speed of current they are fishing. Product lines like the PowerBait Floating Trout Worm from Berkley present life-like presentations in several color options and are scented so fish can smell them in stained water.


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