July 1, 2022

The Best Trout Lures of All Time: Spinners

While they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, a typical spinner features a metal blade, often oblong or oval in shape, that spins freely along the top of a straight-shaft lure body, usually made of metal, and has a single or treble hook at the tail. The defining aspect of a spinner-style lure is the blade, which spins around the lure body when cast and reeled in. The spinning blade creates vibrations, noise, and flash in the water; all of which are attractive to trout. Like just about everything else, not all spinners are created equal. Each type of spinner features different aspects that appeal to trout in different ways. The following spinners are among the most popular ever created. These are in no particular order of effectiveness, popularity, or any other way of classification; you’ll just want to have a few of each. Trust me.


Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner
First on our list is a great river and stream spinner. The Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner is a compact lure with a stocky body that casts a long distance, even in the lighter weights. A fitting name, the Vibrax produces a lot of noise and vibration in the water which is ideal for attracting fish from a distance and helps trout locate this lure in low-visibility conditions. A staple lure among Rainbow Trout and Steelhead anglers, the Vibrax is available in a wide range of colors to offer an attractive presentation to all trout species, as well as many non-trout species. The smaller sizes up to 1/4 oz. make for ideal meals for stocked trout, while 1/4 to 5/8 oz. sizes are great for casting to staging Steelhead and salmon from shore and off river mouths. These do tend to sink relatively quickly, so you’ll want to make sure to keep up a moderate cadence to your reeling speed to prevent snags on the bottom. Like most lures, you can’t go wrong with black, silver, white, gold, and other natural color variations. But the Vibrax also comes in unique and highly effective colors that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in other lures; Cerise Scale Blue Tip UV is a low-light Rainbow-catching machine and the same is true for the Green Scale Chartreuse Tip UV and Brown Trout. You’ll definitely want a few of the Silver/Chrome Blue in your box, too. There’s really nothing bad to be said about these lures. They are an all-around workhorse that has proven themselves worthy in so many circumstances.


C.P. Swing Spinner
Here’s a favorite among more the more senior angling crowd (please don’t take offense to this; you all have it right!). Many younger anglers may have never seen or heard of the C.P. Swing, but my goodness, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is one of those lures where I honestly cannot recall a time hearing someone say anything negative about them. You may not hear much chatter about the C.P. Swing these days, and many folks consider them a sort of relic among the overcrowded spinner category available to anglers today. But for those who have fished them, you’ll consistently hear statements such as “the best lure ever made” and “I’ve caught more trout on them than anything else” to describe this classic. The C.P. Swing follows the K.I.S.S. principal and has an impossibly simplistic design (which is a compliment!). A long, textured blade revolves over a beaded body to produce flash from an infinite number of angles. You’re not going to find a lot of color options, but this lure doesn’t need all that glitz and glam. Stick with Brass, Copper, and Silver/Brass color variations and you’ll be set. I find the mid-range sizes #3 and #4, 1/8 and 1/6 oz. respectively, to be effective in most situations and for just about any species I’m targeting. As the name hints, this lure is extremely effective when cast downstream and quartering across the current in moving water. Let the lure swing perpendicular to the current and try to work it just behind submerged boulders. If you hit your target spot 2-3 times and don’t get a strike, chances are good that there wasn’t a trout in that location anyway. If there was, you would have likely been bit on the first pass.


Joe’s Flies Short Striker Classic Spinner
A personal favorite and one that has acquired a dedicated repertoire from many anglers, the Joe’s Flies Short Striker Classic Spinner is more or less a hybrid of several things. Yes, this is technically a spinner-style lure. However, it’s claim to fame includes the body of a hand-tied fly with a stinger (trailing) treble hook. These are beautifully crafted lures that are appealing to a broad audience; the most important of which is trout! The blade spins at a moderately fast pace, even when reeling in slowly. The fly body doesn’t really have much of a defined motion, rather it tends to run straight and true, wobble slightly, rotate slowly, or a combination of these. While strong for such a delicate lure, Joe’s Flies are tied on a relatively thin wire which can be prone to bending. If the entire lure is wobbling during the retrieve, it’s likely that the wire needs to be straightened (which is generally pretty easy). These lures are very light and usually require some type of additional weight, such as split shot, a few feet up the line to make further casts or to get this lure into deeper water. But don’t let the light weight or seemingly fragile nature fool you; Joe’s Flies are designed this way on purpose and you’ll see the positive results on the water. Many folks prefer the slightly larger size #8 lures, but I’m a big fan of ultralight rods, reels, and tackle, and I prefer the smaller size #10 in most situations. If you’re a fan of small stream fishing for Brook Trout, you’ll love casting these spinners. Brookies tend to hammer them. To be honest, there isn’t a bad color in the entire lineup. I’m a big fan of the March Brown, Royal Coachman, Little Brookie, and Black Gnat, but there’s a special place in my vest for the aptly named Joe’s Favorite.


Mepps Aglia Spinner
Let me establish this before saying anything else: NO assortment of trout casting lures is complete without a few Mepps Aglias. I don’t care what top list of trout lures you’re reading. If the list doesn’t include the Mepps Aglia, then you need to stop reading it because the author doesn’t know what they are talking about (My apologies to all other authors out there but if you don’t consider the Aglia among the greatest trout lures of all time, can you really consider yourself knowledgeable enough to write an article on the topic? No offense, just the honest opinion of anglers far and wide.) Dubbed the world’s #1 lure, the Aglia in its many styles is simply a trout-catching machine. In fact, it will catch just about any type of fish out there. I challenge you to go to any garage or yard sale where fishing gear is being sold and not find an Aglia. It’s a pretty difficult task because this lure is so universal and has been around for decades. With a slim profile, signature blade, flashy mid-body, and overall classic look, this lure embodies everything a good trout lure requires. The Plain Aglia Spinner comes in a variety of colors perfectly tailored to fishing in a number of water conditions. Hot Chartreuse, Copper, and Gold/Red/White colors in the 1/8 and 1/4 oz. sizes are my preferred choices for casting to stocked Browns in slow-flowing and deep creeks. I’ll often turn to Blue Platinum, Hot Pink, and Red Dot in 1/8 oz. when casting to stocked rainbows and all the way up to 1/2 oz. sizes when casting to Steelhead from shore. The Dressed Aglia Spinner (some top performers include Brown Trout Blade/Yellow Tail and Silver Blade/White Tail) and Aglia Flashabou Spinners (Silver Purple/Pink and Hot Firetiger Black/Orange/Chartreuse) are great variations on the Plain Aglia for fishing stained water and when a bigger presentation is needed. Upscaling these lures to the 1/2 oz. size makes for a fantastic Musky lure. In all models, the blades spin at a moderate pace and the bodies swim straight with very little wobble when retrieved. The Mepps Aglia is what all other lures strive to be: nearly perfect in all regards.


Panther Martin Regular Series Spinner
These are great little spinners with an oversized blade and treble hook on a squat body. At first glance, they may look a little disproportionate, but put any judgements aside before you pull these out of the package. This is another spinner that hasn’t been around for over a half-century for no reason; they simply catch fish. What I really like about the Panther Martin is the angle of the blade relative to other spinners. When retrieved, the blade is angled more face-on into the water, causing it to spin faster than most other lures. This produces a pulsating flash and violent vibration which nicely imitates a baitfish trying to quickly scurry for cover. All spinners resemble a helicopter in the water, but the orientation, fast rotation, and oversized nature of the blade really helps to move a lot of water and keep this lure at your target depth, even during slow retrieves. Panther Martin’s cast a good distance, although you will probably want to add a few small split shot to your line when fishing the smaller 1/16 and 1/32 oz. sizes to reach further targets. There are several other similar styles of Panther Martin lures, some of which have some pretty attractive colors and features, but the Regular Series is fairly plain-Jane in terms of color options (and that’s just fine with us!). You’re not going to find a bad color option in the Regular Series, but definitely consider adding a few Silver Black and Copper Yellow models to your arsenal. If you fish in stained water conditions or primarily for Brown Trout, you’re going to want the Silver/Chartreue/Orange and Silver/White/Red variations.


Worden’s Original Rooster Tail
The storied history of this spinner dates back to the 1950’s when Howard Worden created one of the most innovative, productive, and popular lures to ever whet the appetite of trout all over. Fast forward to today and Worden’s Original Rooster Tail is still a stalwart among trout anglers. Rooster Tails feature a relatively long oval blade, a cylindrical body, and a treble hook dressed with hackle feathers. The blade rotates at a moderate pace and gives off a great flash in the water, especially on sunny days. Available in a number of weights, the 1/24 to 1/8 oz. are very popular for smaller trout, while the 1/4 and 3/8 oz. models are great for casting to large trout and Steelhead. What I really like about these lures is that even the smallest sizes cast quite far without needing extra weight added to the line. This also means that they have to be retrieved somewhat quickly to prevent them from sinking too low in the water and snagging on the bottom. While I know that the best color is among an angler’s list of questions for any lure or bait, I can honestly say that this is one lure where I haven’t personally found a color that seems to outperform the others. I like the Brown Trout, Frog, and Rainbow variations, and of course Black and White are standards that you should have, but I’ve had good success on every color Rooster Tail I have in my box. It’s a common theme among spinners, but they catch a lot of species other than trout, and this lure is no different. They attract consistent strikes from bass, panfish, crappie and pike. Maybe it’s coincidence, but when it comes to trout fishing, I’ve heard from more than a couple folks that Rooster Tails seem to attract a higher number of Rainbow Trout than other species.

Spinners are elegant lures that have been catching trout for decades, and they’ll continue to do so no matter what other new types of lures may hit local trout waters in the future. These six spinners have pioneered the way for so many other lures to become popular among trout anglers, and I’m confident you’ll enjoy the success they’ll bring you when you get them on the end of your line. Spinners are totally different than other type of lures, so let’s look at some classic spoons and hard baits for more options that will bring a lot more trout to your net.

Read on for Part 3: Spoons

FishUSA Staff

Fairview, PA FishUSA Staff is comprised of several anglers with various backgrounds working for FishUSA. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FishUSA Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fishusa/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/fishusa

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