Adding flash to your trout lure selection and presentations can make your trout stream outings extra productive.
Trout were following my lure back but wouldn’t quite commit, and changes in presentations, colors and lure types hadn’t altered that fact. Some adjustments prompted more follows or even scattered tentative slaps at the bait, but nothing was making them strike. Staring into a box that held mostly minnow baits and micro jigs, I spotted a Rooster Tail that I’d found in a stream at some point. For no good reason, spinners and spoons didn’t play much of a part of my trout fishing approach at that time, but I needed to try something else.
You probably know where this story is going. I pitched the bait barely upstream and started reeling to watch it and gauge presentation speeds, and watched a rainbow appear from nowhere and inhale my bait. The change was like turning on a switch that day, and it marked a turning point (or an expansion, at least) in my total trout approach. I bought more spinners before my next trout outing and soon after began to experiment with spoons.
I had long since known that lures with flashy metallic finishes sometimes worked best and had found success fishing jigs and flies tied with flashy material, so I sort of knew flash could make a difference. I just hadn’t put things together. Today the role of flash is an important consideration as I seek to unravel any given day’s most productive pattern on a trout stream. We’ll look more closely at that role and how to use flash to catch more trout.
There is no use trying to get scientific on this one, because most answers would truthfully be guesses. The best reason I know to add flash to your trout fishing game is because the trout respond favorably to it. Simple as that. Whether it’s a fully flash spoon or a splash of flash from a spinner blade, there’s something about metallic flash that draws fish that draws trout from hiding spots and triggers strikes.
Flash isn’t magic. At times, flashiness isn’t best. In fact, flash can spook extra wary trout that are relating heavily to dark, drab forage. That said, flash triggers strikes frequently enough that it belongs in your trout arsenal. At times you’ll catch far more fish by tying on an offering that includes an element of flash.
Flash can be beneficial in most stream fishing situations. The two times when it typically does not provide benefit are when the fish are ultra fussy, typically due to over-abundant forage of one kind or ultra-low and clear water, or at the opposite extreme, when dirty water minimizes reflections and highly visible opaque colors tend to work better.
Silver & Gold
While shiny metallic versions of many colors can be created and often get used in color patterns, most flashy trout lures have a base color that is either silver/chrome or a darker copper or gold. Light or dark is often a core question for picking which flashy lure to try first. Major factors include conditions, prevalent forage and water color.
The brightness of the sky is consideration No. 1 in the minds of many veteran trout anglers, and by far the most popular philosophy is to use silver or chrome for fishing under bright skies and copper or gold for fishing under dark skies. In between leaves options more open.
One exception, in the minds of many anglers, is when a primary forage species is very silvery or has notably darker tones that are better represented with copper or gold.
Water color considerations are often low on the spectrum simply because so many trout streams clear most of the time and because genuinely dirty water dictates very dark or bright colors, more so than metallic tones. That said, copper or gold often outperforms silver in waters that are clear but dark and waters that are lightly to moderately stained.
Of course, all those indicators only give you a starting plan. Some day the trout’s preferences will break all the rules!
Not Necessarily Metal
It is important to note that adding flash to your trout fishing approach does not necessarily mean fishing with spoons or spinners. Paint, foil inserts and metallic fleck add flash to several other types of lures, adding significant versatility in lure profiles and actions and ways you can fish and still offer flash.
Hard baits ranging from the 1 5/8 TD49 Rebel Tracdown Minnow to larger jerkbaits like Bomber Long As and Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogues are available with flashy gold or chrome sizes, and you can really see the flash when you work these baits on sunny days.
Many soft-plastic colors feature a big splash of metallic fleck and shimmer like real baitfish as they come through the water. Several baits from Bobby Garland, which were created for crappie but work wonderfully for trout, are available in flashy colors like Grenada Gold and Double Silver Rainbow.
Jigheads are often painted with shiny metallic finishes, and even hair jigs and flies are commonly tied with flashy materials for the reasons already noted.
You know how you often don’t see a trout, even in clear water, until it rolls on your bait and “flashes” its sides, or how you might not see shiners until you spook the school? Those sudden direction shifts catch the light from many directions and consequently add flashy visibility from many directions.
Flashy lures are similar. Swimming steadily, tight actioned baits create a very controlled amount of flash, and the flash is somewhat rhythmic. Lures with more erratic wobbles and inline spinners that go all the way around the shaft hit far more angles. Rod twitches and pauses that make any lure more erratic likewise creates bursts of flash.
Neither steady nor erratic is necessarily better. The same accentuated flash that triggers attacks in one situation will spook trout in another. That’s part of the patterning process and something you need to discern. Trout that follow lures are often visible in you water the water behind your lure. Pay attention to the fish’ reactions when you mix up the lure’s action.
When bursts of flash are triggering strikes, it’s also important to figure out the ideal frequency and the best times to add flare and flash, which might be just as the lure hits a key ambush zone or late in a presentation with fish that won’t quite commit.
5 Fabulous Flashy Lures
Lindy Rattl’n Quiver Spoon, Chrome or Gold, 1/8 ounce – Although designed for ice-fishing, the slow fluttering fall, narrow profile, moderate wobble and rattles make this an ideal spoon for casting in trout streams.
Worden’s Rooster Tail, Black or White, 1/24 ounce – The Rooster Tail provides a small profile, a splash of flash and a steady pulse in a lure that’s simple to fish effectively
Rebel Tracdown Ghost Minnow, Tennessee Shad or Brown Trout – Flashy finishes, a broad range of enticing actions and a sinking design that helps it perform well in current, making the Tracdown Ghost Minnow a gem for trout
Rebel Teeny Wee-Crawfish, Chrome/Black Back – Even the iconic Rebel Crawfish comes in a very flashy pattern and simply casting reeling engages the dive and wobble to send flash in every direction.
Tasmanian Devil, Silver Bullet, 7 gram or 13 gram – A Silver Bullet Tasmanian Devil provides the silver flash and water displacement of a big spoon, but clear wings keep the profile narrow, matching real baitfish.