There are 14 different species of trout in the world. Trout have specific needs for their habitat, and they aren’t able to thrive in every environment. Trout need cool, oxygenated water that teams with insect life. Since trout needs are so specific, they are found in certain pockets of the world. However, brown and rainbow trout are more hearty and popular than the other species.
Rainbow trout are the most common trout to catch. They’re native to several regions of the world, and game and fish departments regularly stock these fish in various bodies of water. They can live in streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams and don’t always need ideal survival conditions.
Rainbow trout are beautiful fish that are an absolute blast to catch.
Rainbow trout are native to many rivers and lakes across Western North America.
They’ve been introduced into waters all across the world, but their native area is fairly small in the grand scheme of things.
Rainbow trout get their names from their beautiful coloring. Their silver bodies, dark spots, and bright pink/purple lines stretching across the middle make them one of the most recognizable fish in the world.
Rainbow trout can grow up to 30 to 40 inches and weigh up to 50 pounds. However, they’re most commonly caught in the 10-20 inch and 3 or 4-pound range.
They have a slender body and are known for their extremely hard-fighting abilities.
Rainbow trout are considered to be carnivores. They have a large diet consisting mainly of insects, crustaceans, and smaller fish.
Most of their feeding is done below the water’s surface, but they will feed above it during hatches in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings.
3. Life Span & Spawning
Rainbow trout are known to live upwards of six years in the wild. By the time they reach age three or four, they’re sexually mature and able to spawn.
Like most other members of the salmon family, rainbow trout attempt to return to the same river where they were born and complete their spawning process.
Female rainbow trout will lay 200 to 8000 eggs per season. They lay their eggs in areas called Redds. These Redds get their names from the reddish hue that is found in the water in the spawning areas.
They’re an extremely delicate part of the river, so anglers must be especially careful in areas with spawning trout.
Generally, rainbow trout need water between 32 and 70 degrees to survive. If the water gets any warmer than 70 degrees, it’s not uncommon for rainbow trout to die.
Water in the mid-50s and low-60s is ideal for rainbow trout to survive. They want highly oxygenated water, plenty of insect life, and numerous areas to find cover.
They like to spend as much time protecting themselves as possible, and they’ll dive into the current and more open water if the proper meals present themselves.
Cut banks, eddies, pools, and pockets are the primary areas where rainbow trout are known to sit. They’re territorial fish, so they do their best to claim an area and will protect it to the best of their ability.
As long as there is cool, clear water and plenty of protection, it’s safe to assume rainbow trout are nearby.
I have written a thorough guide on the habitat of the rainbow trout. Do check it out!
How to Catch Rainbow Trout?
If you can locate rainbow trout, you have a great chance to catch them. Fly and spin fishing are the two primary ways anglers target these fish. Each can be successful if the proper bait and techniques are used.
Here is my suggested Trout Fishing Gear:
1. Fly Fishing
Fly fishing is the preferred way for many anglers to target rainbow trout. This timeless method presents its own challenges, but the efforts are well worth the reward.
Most anglers choose to use anywhere between a 3-weight and 6-weight fly rod for rainbow trout. The rods can be anywhere from 7′ long to 11′ depending on the type of water and your technique.
These fish don’t grow overly large, so a 6-weight is usually enough power to fight the especially large rainbow trout. Make sure you purchase a matching reel to the weight of your rod.
For a fly line, a floating or sink tip that matches the weight of your rod and reel is a good choice. Stick with a floating line if you’re fishing a river or stream.
If you’re fishing a lake, pond, or especially deep river, a sink tip line will get your flies down to where the rainbow trout are feeding.
Usually, a 3x or 4x leader and anywhere between 3x and 5x tippet does the job for leader and tippet. These fish can be spooky, so ensure you’re equipped with a light line to ensure they don’t notice it.
Some of the most popular rainbow trout flies are Woolly Buggers, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Stonefly Nymphs, Elk Hair Caddis, and Chubby Chernobyl.
Check with local fly shops to learn what specific flies are working best.
You want to ensure your fly looks natural when targeting rainbow trout. As a result, make sure you cast far enough upstream of the area you want your fly to look its best.
So, if you’re fishing a pool, cast a ways up into the riffles so your fly can naturally drift down the current and into the slack water.
If you’re fishing in lakes, cast your fly near a structure or anywhere you see a fish rising. Once your fly lands, vary the retrieval process until you find one the trout want.
Spin fishing is another common method anglers use to target rainbow trout. Whether you’re using lures or live bait, it works great.
Use a 6-8 foot light or medium light rod when targeting rainbow trout. This will let you fish in tighter areas but still have the power to fight them in case you hook into one with a decent size.
Use a size 2500 to 3000 spinning reel for trout. For line, 4 to 6-pound monofilament is a good choice. It is essentially invisible in the water, so fish aren’t spooked by it when you throw your lure.
Some common lures are Mepps Spinners, Abu Garcia Toby, Rapala Original Floater, and the Abu Garcia Droppen, some of the favorite lures for anglers.
You want your lure to get into the fishiest spots, like fly fishing. Don’t throw your lure in the middle of a pool. Throw it towards the top of the pool, let it drift down in the current, and then begin your retrieval.
Also, be sure to vary your retrieve! Don’t always reel in at the same speed. Go slower and faster until you find a retrieval method that entices the trout.
Rainbow trout are a beautiful game fish that every angler should enjoy catching. Thanks to many stocking efforts by local game and fish departments, anglers all over the world likely have access to these fish.
With the proper gear and understanding of these fish, they aren’t overly complicated to catch.
It takes time to learn their specific habits in their home bodies of water, but once you do, you’re in for an absolute blast.