Trout fishing on the ice can be a highly fruitful and exciting activity if you are equipped with the proper tools.
The experience is totally different from traditional fishing methods. So, you will need a different mode of setup as well. And in this article, we are going to detail the most effective ice fishing baits you can use for capturing trout.
Best Ice Fishing Baits for Trout
1. Tube Jigs
Simple in design but highly effective when used, the tube jigs are some of the best lures you can deploy for lake trout. They have hollow bodies and come in assorted colors. You can cast these with a plain lead or a minnow-shaped jig.
We recommend the Strike King line of tube jigs. They are instilled with an organic, coffee aroma that is alluring to trout. Plus, they come in a wide array of colorful options that are sure to catch the attention of your target. These are ideal for both novice and experienced anglers.
The Rapala Jigging Rap has a very alluring spiral descent that fish like trout cannot resist. These are designed specifically for ice anglers. These are some of the best lures for vertical fishing.
The perfectly balanced Jigging Rap has a ring-shaped swimming motif that naturally invites in predators. They are built in such a way that they sink rapidly in the water without losing their shape.
We suggest selecting the 3.5-inch model as this size is ideal for rainbow trout. Pick a bright color that stands out.
Using this lure is not difficult or complicated. However, you do need to practice the speed of your casting. You can launch it hurriedly so that it sinks a lot quicker. But if you want to fully utilize the spiral effect, you can slowly drop it in the water.
This lure is designed to resemble minnows. So, if you add some random movements, you increase the chances of fooling your target.
The first aspect of this lure that comes to mind is its amazing flexibility. Whether you are trolling, casting, or jigging, you will feel so good about using this tool. They are particularly potent in luring trout.
There is a reason why so many top anglers prefer this piece of equipment. They are durable, versatile, and work on a variety of species. The design is aerodynamic so that you can cast with terrific precision over a great distance. Just tie one to your hook and throw it and you will most likely catch something.
They are manufactured with multiple color and pattern choices. Some of them resemble a spoon while others are similar to minnows. Plus, the majority of them come with a glow function.
We have found this equipment performs best with a bait caster setup. But you can employ it with a spinning setup without a problem. For smaller fish, we will often use the 1/8 oz model. But for a larger, bulkier target we suggest upgrading to ¼ oz.
A product specifically designed for ice fishing, the Swedish Pimple is exceptionally efficient in drawing trout. They come in two weight classes; 1/10 oz and ½ oz. They are also made in 4 different colors with varying price tags. The majority of the time, you will end up casting with the lighter model.
This rig is developed to mimic the motion of a dying baitfish. Once they hit the water, they produce an erratic movement that is easily noticeable. This is an effective strategy for capturing trout. The pattern on the body looks like crushed ice.
Traditionally, you would add a little minnow or an earthworm to one of the hooks. Make sure to give it a smooth jigging motion when you are trolling. This will draw attention to it faster.
Here is an entry that works great for both vertical and horizontal presentations. It is a versatile piece of equipment, able to perform effortlessly in frozen lakes and open water.
You will notice that it is constructed to mirror a juvenile baitfish. This allows for an organic presentation. The design is its main advantage over other choices. It simply looks like a real live baitfish.
Now, the model we want to highlight is the 3/8 inch version that weighs ¼ oz. So, they are better suited for bigger targets. The weighting profile means that it sinks to the bottom in next to no time but still gives you great control over its movement.
Presenting a more recent take on the ice bait concept. Usually, they are made with carbon or stainless steel. But Kenders has produced these tiny jigs with tungsten.
Despite their small stature, these jigs are pretty heavy. They travel down the lake very quickly and get into position. But they are also sensitive and allow you to feel even the tiniest of bites. You can employ them for various species such as trout, bluegill, crappies, etc.
Due to their weight profile, you do not have to place any extra weight. That part takes care of itself. They are 3 mm in size and are crafted for #16 hooks. We suggest picking any bright color that immediately pops out. Keep shaking it gently as it goes down. Remember to feel the line with one of your fingers for those small nibbles.
The second entry from Strike King. This one is a lipless crankbait that is widely used by many professionals. When you retrieve a lipless crankbait in a vertical presentation, it creates a very natural shake. That sort of tipsy movement is the main appeal of this brand of fishing gear.
Now, the Strike King Red Eye comes in over 57 color pallets. The eye is crafted in such a way that gives a very realistic feel. There are also multiple weight choices though we usually prefer the ¼ oz for trout.
Use it for a vertical presentation but not very deep. Reel it in with some force to sell the naturalistic and erratic movement.
Contrary to the name, it is not an actual piece of magnet. But it attracts trout of any variety with such efficiency that it earns the title of trout magnet.
Each kit houses lures of 7 different colors. They are significantly lighter than most of the entries on this list. Its shape mirrors the shape of larvae or crustaceans found in almost every body of water that is inhabited by trout. So, they are a normal part of the environment that they come across. This makes them highly deceptive.
These are made for horizontal casting and presentation. Since it is so lightweight, use it like you are fishing with finesse techniques. Do not shake it aggressively rather let it fall with a gentle shake.
This is also a spoon jig made by the Clam corporation. The pattern on its body reflects light in such a way that it gives the illusion of fish scales. Its capability is further enhanced by the fluttering movement from which it derives its name. All this makes it a potent tool for drawing attention.
The distinct feature of this product is its ability to stay in the water for an extended period. This is possible because of its low weight. The more time it remains in the water the better your chances of landing a bite. A size 8 hook is recommended for this product.
Bucktail jigs have been a popular choice among the masses for a long time now. They are particularly adept at enticing lake trout.
The Sea Striker Bucktail series is constructed from all-natural animal hair. When they move through the water, they have a pulsating motion. They are a great choice for horizontal presentation. They have a link on top of the head.
This is a more recent edition of top-of-the-line ice baits. They have a few desirable traits that increase their effectiveness. First of all, they mirror the common minnows pretty nicely. You can spot the difference but most fish will not. These tackles are also very visible in low depth due to their refractive and vibrant color.
Another selling point is their rattle. The sharp rattle spreads to a wide area and is very noticeable. So, try to use that noise to your advantage as much as you can. Initially, you do not have to worry about scaring your target. Lure them in first with the noise and then slow down.
This model was originally made specifically for trout. It is a versatile spoon that works in frozen and open water. They are 2 inches in length and are ½ oz in weight.
The shape is very aerodynamic and smooth. So, you can cast it at any speed without worrying about loss of action or anything. We find they are better suited to going deeper than other spoons. Mix up the speed of decent to boost your chances further.
This is a staple of ice-fishing used for various species. When submerged, the Do-jigger produces a unique and easily noticeable shimmering motion. The shape is also quite aerodynamic. They are made for horizontal jigging, but you can switch up your moves.
They have a single three-headed hook on the tail. The color is a combination of white and any other vibrant shade. We mainly prefer them for targets that are bigger than normal. They have a hefty price tag. But for those big catches on the ice, they will be worth it.
14. Rapala Rap Snap
This is the modern variant of the traditional jigging rap. But performance-wise, they are as effective as ever.
This new model features a wider hook gap and also has more colors to choose from. They are extremely durable and ideal for all types of species. You can cast them to the bottom of the lake without worrying about any damage to the tool. Similar to the Swedish Pimple, they also mimic the movement of a distressed baitfish.
We suggest you bring this out when you sense the fish are deeper than usual. Pick the two largest sizes for the lake. Bring it down with a steady and subtle shake. The natural movement of this jig will complete the rest.
How Do You Attract Trout to Ice Fishing?
It is normal to think that fish are far less active in the winter period than they are in spring or summer. However, they are still mobile and abundant in the right places. And with the help of some nifty techniques, you can bring in a whole lot of them. So, here are some of the tricks that we have found helpful:
The first method we want to discuss is the use of fish attractants. These attractants are usually made from 100% organic substances. So, they are completely safe for the fish and the environment. They produce bubbles and an enticing aroma that draws in fish from a wide radius.
They come in various shapes and forms. Some come in a bottle that you can spray onto your gear. Others are in the form of jelly or a ball-like substance. Regardless of their configuration, they are not complicated to use. Simply apply them to your lure or drop them into the water and you are good to go. Just remember not to overuse them.
Another trick worth trying is to change your approach. If you have been fishing with the vertical presentation for a long time switch to a horizontal one and vice versa. This will prevent the fish from becoming accustomed to your strategy. Some days you will have success with one strategy while other times you will not.
Furthermore, you should move around your lure in unpredictable manners. Try not to repeat the same pattern over and over again. Give it some added flare by twisting the line.
What Depth Do You Ice Fish for Trout?
Locating the areas where you have the most chance of capturing fish is essential. Generally, trout prefer to stay in cool, clear water. In the summertime, when the water is hot, they dive deep. But this is not an issue in the winter. So, most of them will be much closer to the surface than you might think.
10-15 feet deep areas are typically the hot spot region when it comes to trout. Of course, every region is going to have variations. But more often than not you will find your target within this depth.
This species loves to stay in pockets or holes where the current is relatively less rapid. This saves them energy. You will find these pockets of water 30-40 feet down under, closer to the bottom of the lake. If you think you have found such an area, let your lure all the way below.
Another potential region is the shallow bays and coves. These expenses with a muddy bottom and plenty of vegetation are ideal hunting grounds for trout. They will be roaming these places in search of food. Once again, you are looking at a depth of 10-20 feet.
What Colors Are Trout Attracted to?
Whether color plays a significant role in capturing fish remains a debated topic. Some give it more importance than others. But a majority of anglers do believe that the right color increases your chances of catching a bite. So, let’s look at the ones that work for trout.
White, gold, yellow, red, black, pink, green, and orange are the most widely used color for catching trout. Now, the choice of color will depend on a few factors. But more often than not, these are the ones that have seen the most usage.
When choosing the right design, a general rule to follow is “matching the hatch”. This means using a bait or lure that resembles the natural forage available in that region. If it mirrors something common in the fish’s diet, they are more likely to take a bite.
So, pay attention to the natural food source available in the lake such as minnows, insects, larvae, etc. Then choose a color that closely resembles those creatures.
Another thing to keep in mind is the natural light. At night or during a cloudy afternoon, you will find the colors black or violet more successful. When it is clear and sunny, bright colors such as red, yellow, orange, etc. will do the trick. Also, metal lures can reflect light and spread it all around the area.
Your bait selection has the potential to make or break your day’s effort. Hopefully, with the knowledge and options provided, we have provided, you can make the correct choice for your situation.