Improve your technique with the best rainbow trout fishing equipment


March 23, 2023


Facebook Email
Rainbow Trout fishing equipment

Rainbow trout is a prized catch in Canada. From recreational anglers looking for a spot of sport fishing with a combative fish to foodies looking forward to enjoying its soft flesh, rainbow trout is sought after by all. However, to experience the joy of catching a big specimen, you will need to start by sorting out your equipment and taking the right lures with you.

Mélissa, Antonin and Daniel, fishing experts at SAIL, are here to tell you which equipment to use for rainbow trout fishing. Whether you are targeting trout in the middle of summer or during an ice fishing outing, maximize your chances of success with the best reels, lures and fishing rods. And once you’ve got the right kit, you should probably get ready for some serious fun! Ready to go?

Shop trout fishing equipment

In this article, you will discover the equipment to use to become a rainbow trout fishing expert:

  1. Rainbow trout characteristics
  2. The best rainbow trout fishing equipment: going for lightweight gear
  3. Rainbow trout: lures and pro tips
  4. Sonars: an essential for rainbow trout fishing?
  5. Ice fishing : when, where and how?
  6. Other essential gear for rainbow trout fishing
  7. FAQ

Rainbow trout characteristics

Rainbow trout is a species of salmonid native to the west coast. Today, it is found in lakes, rivers, reserves and outfitters everywhere in Canada. It is plentiful in Quebec and Ontario and prefers cold and shallow waters, as well as moderate currents.

Small rainbow trout feed on invertebrate organisms, worms, and aquatic larvae. Bigger specimens expand their diet to eat shellfish, slugs, and smaller fish. This type of fish is a bottom feeder. However, hungry rainbow trout will not hesitate to come to the surface to forage for food. It’s up to you to use different techniques and presentations and to fish in more or less depth.

Rainbow trout is an average-sized (30–45 cm, or 12–18 in.) carnivorous fish that’s ready to eat just about anything. It is also strong and combative and will struggle as you try to pull it into the boat. Once you have a bite, you’ll need to work hard as it will not go down without a fight!

After all this, you’ll have earned the right to treat yourself. Conveniently, rainbow trout is known for its soft flesh and great flavour. There are many delicious recipes available to enhance the taste of your catch. So get your best fishing rod out and equip yourself with the sleekest reel!

The best rainbow trout fishing equipment: going for lightweight gear

Rod and reel combo

Choosing the best fishing rod for rainbow trout fishing

Rainbow trout fishing requires a suitable fishing rod. The goal here is to equip yourself with a rod that will let you feel the action – rainbow trout anglers can all agree on this point!

Ideally, opt for a light, or even ultra-light, fishing rod. Prioritize a light power spinning rod and reel combo. Avoid medium power rods, as they may not be sensitive enough. Same goes for the heavy power rods, which are not suited for rainbow trout.

The Okuma SST A rod (2 or 3 pieces) is one of the best options for rainbow trout fishing. However, a few other models are worth mentioning, including the light Fenwick spinning rods, for example.

The best reels for rainbow trout fishing

When it comes to reels for rainbow trout fishing, you may have guessed already: we’re going for spinning!

You can’t go wrong by looking at Okuma, Pfluegler or Quantum’s models.

We particularly enjoy the Okuma Ceymar spinning reel, which makes it really easy to reel back a rainbow.

Okuma rod and Reel

Rainbow trout: lures and pro tips

Fishing Lure

Find rainbow trout wherever they are

Rainbow trout are present in lakes, streams and rivers in Quebec and Ontario, as well as the rest of Canada. The ideal time to tackle this fish is from May to June.

Rainbow trout prefer lakes with a medium or great depth featuring plenty of vegetation and ledges. They also enjoy lakes, streams and rivers with gravel bottoms, and stay away from strong streams.

Once you are out and standing on the water’s edge, how can you actually find rainbow trout? Look for rocky peaks and pools of water with slower currents. Try waterfronts and shores, and if you spot overhanging trees, all the better!

Trying different approaches to catch rainbow trout

There are several techniques to consider for rainbow trout fishing. There is spinning, of course, but fly fishing and casting (with a wobbler spoon, for example) are also good options.
It’s therefore up to you to choose the technique you prefer, and with which you are most comfortable. The main thing is to know the best lures for rainbow trout fishing, and to pick the right ones for your chosen technique.

Your setup is also important. There are several types of setups that work well for rainbow trout. For example, stay hidden in the water by using a fluorocarbon leader at the end of your line, as it is invisible under water.

When fishing in rivers, don’t hesitate to try simple setups using a weight, a jig and a worm (or artificial soft bait).

Using the best lures for rainbow trout fishing

There is a wide range of lures available to help you catch the biggest specimen of rainbow trout. Wobbler spoons, hard baits… In short, many options. Some have proven themselves over the years and have made it to the top of the list of the best lures for rainbow trout fishing.

Amongst these: coloured spoons. You can’t go wrong with colours ranging from yellow and orange to silver. When it comes to safe bets, have a look at:

If you need to, don’t hesitate to try bigger lures. Sizes going up to 2.5 or even 3 inches will do the job, depending, of course, on the size of the trout swimming around on the day.

And speaking of the best lures for rainbow trout fishing, let’s not forget hard baits. Bigger rainbow trout are easily attracted by these fake fish. Try the Rapala range, and the jointed models in particular. Traditional Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow should also help increase your success rate.

In any case, don’t forget to take several types of lures with you. It’s best to have the option to try out different presentations than to go home without catching anything!

Don’t forget soft baits for rainbow trout fishing

Several rainbow trout anglers prefer not to use worms or natural baits anymore seeing as there are great alternatives that work just as well. Artificial baits are less messy, and much easier to store.

Several soft baits have proven themselves quite effective at attracting big fish:

Trying out fly fishing to attract rainbow trout

Fly fishing is a good option to catch rainbow trout. This species of fish does indeed come up to the surface to eat, particularly late in the season.

When it comes to picking the right flies, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Add these lures to your tackle box to target rainbow trout:

Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow

Sonars: an essential for rainbow trout fishing?

Fishing sonar

Before picking the recipe you’ll be using to prepare your freshly caught rainbow trout, you need to make sure you actually bring one home!

Can a sonar help you catch more fish as you tackle rainbow trout? Yes, absolutely. It’s an undeniable advantage when fishing from a watercraft, or while ice fishing. Particularly if you are fishing in water bodies that haven’t been properly mapped.

Depending on the model, a sonar can provide water temperature and depth, as well as scan the bottom of your chosen lake or river. More advanced ones will display data with a very high degree of accuracy. Picking the right sonar is therefore very important.

Your choice of sonar will be based on how you intend to use it. If fishing on a lake or river that you know well, there is no need for all the bells and whistles. However, if you enjoy exploring new locations, using a sonar will be the best way to locate schools of fish.

2D, 3D, with GPS or without, Panoptix… There’s something for everyone, for every purpose and for every budget. Come see us in store or shop online to find yours!

Ice fishing : when, where and how?

Ice fishing and rainbow trout do make a good combination. If you are a fan of the sport, you won’t have to wait for the warm weather to go out and fish for rainbow trout.

Just like brook trout, rainbow trout remain active throughout the winter. So here’s to beautiful days of ice fishing, be it in a reserve, at an outfitter’s, or anywhere else. You should still be ready for a good fight. Some rainbow trout are even more vigorous in the winter than they are during the warmer months. And no need to make dozens of holes: rainbow trout move about a lot, so they’ll end up finding you!

When it comes to gear, opt for an ice fishing rod. Shorter than a traditional fishing rod, an ice fishing one will measure between 32 and 36 in. (80–90 cm). Choose a medium to light model. As opposed to tip-ups, fishing rods will allow you to keep your bait moving, increasing your chance of success.

For your setup, go ahead with a 4 lbs or 6 lbs leader made for ice fishing, ideally fluorocarbon. Opt for a 10 lbs fishing line. Again, your fishing line should be designed for ice fishing to ensure it won’t break as it rubs against the ice of the hole.

Shop for lures specifically designed for ice fishing. Berkley’s Powerbait Micro Power Nymph artificial baits have a good rate of success. Consider smaller spoons as well.

You should ideally use a sonar so you can see everything that’s happening underneath the ice.

Other essential gear for rainbow trout fishing

Already know which rainbow trout recipe you’re about to try out? Good! The first step is to catch a fish you can put on your plate. To do this, better be well equipped.

Once you’ve got your fishing rod and reel combo, and that your lures are safely stored in your tackle box, what’s left?

The list of gear to bring on a fishing outing is quite long. Here are a few must-haves:

  • Your fishing licence
  • A map of the area and its water bodies
  • Fishing line suitable for the season and your fishing technique
  • A dry bag
  • A sonar (if using one)
  • The right clothing for the time of year (think of the rain as well)
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Gloves for ice fishing
  • Bug spray


From the west to the east coast of Canada, rainbow trout fishing has many fans. Known for its pretty colours and vigour (and also for its soft, tasty flesh), rainbow trout is a staple for anyone fishing in a lake, a river or even at an outfitter’s. Rainbow trout fishing will undoubtedly provide you with hours of fun, whether you catch and release or keep your catch. And now that you know how to equip yourself, you can maximize your chances of getting a bite!

Come see us in store to benefit from the advice of our specialists, or shop online for our rainbow trout fishing must-haves. Happy fishing!


Where can I find rainbow trout?

Rainbow trout or salmon: what’s the difference?

What’s the best bait to fish for rainbow trout?

You might also like