07 - Tips for Lure Fishing

Top 10 Lure Fishing Tips for Stillwater Trout

Ok, so it’s not strictly traditional, at least in British fly fishing. But there’s something thrilling about catching trout on lure style flies. Also sometimes known as “streamers”, these flies work all year too. In fact, they are some of the best flies to use in the winter and early spring, or whenever natural hatches are scarce.

Don’t be fooled into thinking there is no skill when it comes to fishing for trout with lures either. There is far more to it than simply casting out and pulling in. Here are ten hints and tips from Dom Garnett and the Flies Online team.

  1. Tackle up tough

When you’re pulling back big flies for aggressive fish, you don’t need to faff about with ultra light leaders. In fact, fine lines can run the risk of break offs when takes are violent. There is little point going below an 8lb tippet. Fluorocarbon is ideal for the job. Quicker sinking than regular mono, it also makes life easier with standard floating fly lines.

Don’t go too light when fly fishing with lures. Should you want to alternate between streamers and more delicate nymphs, Cortland Ultra Premium fluorocarbon is wickedly thin but very strong. Click HERE to see our leader and tipper materials.

  1. Pack the right rod

What weight fly rod is best for fishing lures? That depends on a few things. Most of all, the size of the flies you use and the conditions are critical. If it’s calm you may get away with as little as a four or five weight. However, for the gold head flies typically used, not to mention tackling any kind of breeze, the best rods for casting lures and streamers tend to be in the six or seven weight range. An eight is sometimes helpful if it’s very blustery.

  1. Find their level

Are the fish willing to chase in the upper layers, or do you need to get down to them? This is a key question to answer on any stillwater fishing trip. Try counting down your fly to different depths after casting out. It sounds obvious, but try to keep track and make mental notes as you go. It’s very easy hook a fish and completely forget the depth you counted to!

  1. Experiment with colours

There are endless colour variants when it comes to choosing lures, from natural to provocative. Perhaps the best all-round colours are black or white, perhaps with some added contrast in the head or body. Black and green or white and red are classics. Don’t be afraid to go really bright for stocked rainbow trout though: pink, orange and yellow all have their days.

  1. Ring the changes

Even with stocked fish, a certain fly pattern or colour can quickly go “off” if you show it to the trout a lot of times. So, if the bites dry up try a change. With wilder fish, or those that have been caught before, it’s worth switching to more somber colours like black or olive. The safest bet is to keep a healthy selection of flies: we stock dozens of lures HERE, so you’ll never be short of options.

  1. Get the right retrieve on the day
How quickly do you need to bring in your lures? Keeping them lively is a must; but this doesn’t always mean breakneck speed. Quite often in cold weather you might find the fish deeper or less willing to lash out, hence you might want to start with a steady figure of eight retrieve.

Every session is different though and getting the right retrieve is all about finding out what fish want on the day. If they’re really in the mood to chase, you could even try the so-called roly-poly retrieve. This is achieved by tucking the rod under one arm and continuously bringing the fly in with both hands, (as shown below)! It’s more work but can be brutally exciting, with sudden attacks occurring just under the surface.

  1. Keep your rod tip low!

Among the most common fly fishing mistakes when fishing lures and streamers is having the rod at the wrong angle. Keep the tip low as you retrieve, as if you were pointing almost directly at the fly. If your rod tip is even just a foot or two above the surface, you will be producing more slack and a less direct connection (below left). You will feel (and hit!) more takes by keeping the tip right down low to the water (below right). Only lifting at the very end of each retrieve to recast.

  1. Shorten the odds to fool tail nippers

If you regularly get little tugs that don’t develop into a bent rod, the trout might be nipping at the tail rather than fully committing. This is quite a common problem and can be frustrating. If it keeps happening there are two obvious solutions. One is to switch to a smaller mini lure pattern; the other is to trim off a few millimetres of tail material with scissors or your nails!

  1. Converting follows into takes

Another common frustration when lure fishing are trout that show interest but give up the chase. How do you make these hesitant followers take the fly? Well, your natural instinct might be to slow down as the pursuer closes in; but if anything you are better off speeding up! Remember, you are trying to make the fish react, rather than stop and examine the fly.

  1. Stay sharp!

It’s important to keep your edge when lure fishing; not only in terms of concentration but quite literally, with a keen hook point! Trout have bony mouths and over time even the best of points will get more blunt. The simple answer to this is to carry a hook sharpener and use it to liven up tired flies. If you don’t do this, you’re sure to connect with fewer bites after a while, especially with favourite patterns that have survived more than one outing.


Here at Flies Online, we sell a heck of a lot of lure style flies and streamers every season. However, if you were wondering where to start, or which to tie on first when you hit the bank, here are five that have proved consistently popular and effective for our customers: ABOVE (L to R):

Appetiser: A classic fly for trout, originally designed to mimic fry.

Orange Dancer: A bold and deadly streamer style fly, great for coloured water.

Consett Budgie: With not one but several vivid colours, they can’t miss this one.

Red Bead Damsel: Not our most natural damsel, but an excellent fish catcher.

Loynton Guinea: A classic and highly effective lure. Black can be good for brown trout as well as rainbows.

Click HERE to browse our extensive range of lures and streamers for trout. Prices start at just 65p per fly, with quality materials and proven fish catching patterns throughout the range!