I was taught how to fish for and catch rainbow trout almost thirty years ago by a man that I have always considered a ‘trout fishing master’ of sorts because he was able to catch trophy sized rainbow trout out of the heavily fished rivers in Central Pennsylvania where I grew up. When I use the word “trophy” when referring to a rainbow trout I’m talking about fish that meet or exceed the twenty two inch mark. This man accomplished catching these trophies while using ultralight gear (including four pound test monofilament line), a practice that I continue to use to this very day.
In any event, about 10 years ago I moved to Northwest Montana and have begun fishing for and catching trophy sized trout, just like my mentor did all those years ago. Although truth be told, the rivers and rainbow trout here in Montana come from a much more plentiful bloodline and receive much less fishing pressure than he dealt with all those years ago. But still, these trophy rainbow trout are by no means easy to locate, hook, and land and below I will reveal a few tips for catching trophy rainbow trout wherever it is that you fish for them.
The first thing that you need is patience, which of course sounds like a cop out, but having patience when finding and fighting trophy trout is of the utmost importance nonetheless. Remember, there is no need to be in a hurry and being rushed will do nothing but cause you to make mistakes, and all a trophy rainbow trout needs is one mistake by the angler, and it’s free from your hooks. Patience also comes into play when you are fishing for trophies. Be sure that you fish area’s very thoroughly. I have been known to fish a 100 yard stretch of river for upwards of two hours when I’m sure it contains a “big boy”.
Next we have the area where you fish. Within any given river system, you will find a variety of riffles, runs, deep runs, bends, pools, and undercut banks. Since you are looking to catch trophy sized rainbow trout, your fishing efforts should be focused on the area’s where large trout are more likely to be found. Some of these area’s would include undercut banks (especially near deep water), deep runs (especially in the bend of a river), and pools. These three types of water will tend to hold a trophy sized rainbow trout or two, so it’s a good idea to focus your fishing efforts on these area’s. Also, large rainbows will tend to not move too much once they find a good feeding area, so if you hook (or “jag”) a nice sized rainbow, don’t be afraid to fish that area over and over again.
Always remember that trophy rainbow trout didn’t become trophies by accident. They have survived many seasons of fishing and have likely been caught and released multiple times. This tends to make them very weary and intelligent, which in turn makes them much more difficult to hook and then catch. The good news is that you can become equally as “seasoned” as the trout by spending as much time on the water as you can. The more experienced that you become, the more likely you are to begin to consistently catch trophy rainbow trout.