Spin Fishing for Trout in Montana

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Video trout fishing with spinning reel

There is no shortage of information about chasing trout on with a fly rod but it seems that not many folks want to talk about spin fishing for trout in Montana. Why is that? Some think that fly fishing is the only answer, or some folks are afraid of spin fishing for trout in Montana. Well, Montana Fishing Guides is here to let you know how to spin fish for trout in Montana.

I’ve done thousands of guided trips and I would have to say that 99% of them have been on a fly rod and I could count on both hands how many spin fishing trips I have done. Why is that? Well, most folks want to use a fly rod when they come to Montana or maybe spin anglers are discouraged to use spinning rods on guided trips. Maybe spin fishing for trout in Montana gets a bad rap. I’m not really sure why it is but let’s talk about a few things and get you all dialed in.

Gear for Spin Fishing for Trout in Montana

I like a medium to medium-light action spinning rod about 6’ to 7’ in length. There are so many options in rods out there so pick one that fits your budget and will pass your wiggle test. Slap on a decent spinning reel with 6 lb test and you’re good to go. Looking to get a bit more techy with your setup? Spool it with a good 8lb braid and tie on a leader section of fluorocarbon and there you go. The braided line has a small diameter, casts a mile and is extremely sensitive. Pair that with low line stretch and your hook sets are on point!

Lures? OMG, there are so many of them and it can be overwhelming to know what to buy? Gold, blue, black, silver, green and so many options. Spinners, spoons, crankbaits, Rapalas, jigs, plastics and again where to start? Let’s start with those hooks.

Gear for Spin Fishing for Trout in Montana Spin Fishing for Trout in MontanaIf there is a take-home from this article I think it should be this… Think about getting rid of all those hooks. There is no need for all those hooks when spin fishing for trout in Montana. Take off those treble hooks and replace them with a single-pointed hook. No matter how blue in the face you might get by this it’s true that you don’t need treble hooks when spin fishing for trout in Montana. Don’t want to remove the hooks and put on single-pointed hooks? That’s even easier, take you hemostats and break off two of the three points on the treble hooks and all you’re left with is a single-pointed hook. Well, what about hook up ratios? Good point! In my experience, there is no difference in hook up ratios with treble hooks and single-pointed hooks. That fish smashes your Rapala or Meps spinner the single-pointed hook is going to get’m just the same as treble hooks do. You’ll miss fish with treble hooks just the same as single-pointed hooks.

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What lures should you be thinking about when spin fishing for trout in Montana? I would keep it simple. Panther Martins are a classic for trout fishing. My all-time favorite is a brown and gold Panther Martin spinner. If you’re looking for a few other options grab a gold one and a black one. How about spoons? I’m a big fan of a gold Cast Master. Hard to beat. Maybe grab a silver one and a blue and silver one if the gold is not working. How about a Rapala? Rapalas are great options when spin fishing for trout in Montana. I like the rainbow and silver-colored Rapalas. What sink rate? That kind of depends on where you’re fishing. Typically a running depth of 5’-7’ covers most of the water you’ll be spin fishing for trout in Montana. If you need to run shallower slow your retrieve down. Need deeper? Speed up the retrieve to get a bit deeper. So all these lures I just talked about all have treble hooks on them, so if you care about the trout that swim the water break off two of the points or replace those treble hooks with single-pointed hooks.

Water to Fish When Spin Fishing for Trout in Montana

Gear for Spin Fishing for Trout in Montana Spin Fishing for Trout in MontanaWhere should you be fishing that Rapala or gold Cast Master? Think like a fly fisherman! Look for that fishy water where the trout live. I like to have folks cast downriver from the boat at a 45-degree angle. Keeping that rod tip pointed at where the lure is and focus on your retrieves. I like to start out with a fairly quick retrieve with some pauses in it. It seems the pause is the key. Lots of fish will take it on the pause or just right after you start to move it again. Just like streamer fishing, the pause is key when spin fishing for trout in Montana… Or anywhere else you may be fishing. After you get your retrieve dialed start looking for some fishy water. Fishy Water? Just a few types of water to pay attention too… Long slow banks about 4 feet deep with good boulder structure, the inside bends of big runs, deep pools, boulder gardens and just about any riffle you can find. I like to have folks fish the same water when spin fishing for trout in Montana as I do with a fly rod.

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A Few Take Home Points When Spin Fishing for Trout in Montana

Spin Fishing for trout in Montana gets a bad rap for sure but let’s talk about how to improve that rap! I won’t beat this to death anymore about the treble hook thing but it is really an important point. It’s hard to argue that treble hooks don’t do any damage when you see it on a regular basis. Hooks, in general, do damage to fish, so it’s important to minimize that damage. Three points do more damage than one point. So it’s best to keep with the Single Pointed Hook practice. What about using bait when spin fishing for trout in Montana? This is a tough one, some places it’s legal and some places it’s not. Just be sure to check all regulations before you use bait. No need to get a ticket for using bait. I’m not a fan of using bait when spin fishing for trout in Montana. I feel it’s really not necessary to use bait, lures are just as effective if not more effective in rivers. Lakes might be a different story but in general, using bait in Montana rivers is not necessary. Another issue with using bait is fish mortality.

Water to Fish When Spin Fishing for Trout in Montana Spin Fishing for Trout in MontanaBait kills fish at a way higher rate than anything else. Trout take bait way deeper and hooks do way more damage when taken deep. Some folks think this isn’t a problem since they’re keeping fish… But if you catch a fish that you can’t keep or don’t want to keep it’s a real bummer to see that guy gut hooked and sink to the bottom of the river. Let’s protect our trout and keep them healthy! What else should you be thinking about when spin fishing for trout in Montana? Etiquette… We all need to get along, fly fisherman, spin fisherman or anyone who is out there fishing and enjoying our great state. Generalizations of anglers are usually very inaccurate. That stuck up fly fisherman, well, he’s usually a pretty cool guy and isn’t any different than you are. How about that metal chukker folks like to point out? He’s no different than the fly fisherman. They’re just looking to have a fun day on the river and catch some fish. There’s no reason someone spin fishing for trout in Montana and someone with a fly rod can’t all get along.

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If you’re looking to do some spin fishing for trout in Montana and don’t know where to start… Give us a call and we’ll get you dialed in!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>