Best Crankbaits for Trout – Our Full Guide

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Crankbaits for trout

Crankbaits are an extremely popular lure for bass fishing. Crankbaits for trout fishing are not used anywhere near as much though. However they can still be very productive for trout fishing if sized and used in the correct manner. 

What are the best crankbaits for trout?
The best crankbaits for trout will tend to be much smaller than a traditional bass fishing crankbait. Usually the thinner minnow type lures such as a Rapala lure are going to be more successful. However you can find that on certain days when trout are turning their nose up at the more lifelike looking crankbaits for trout that strangely the more artificial trout lures will be successful.

Crankbaits for Trout

Crankbaits have wider swimming action than than the thinner minnow type plug baits. They generally have a fatter bulky profile and a more aggressively down-turned diving lip. They can be fished deeper by increasing the retrieval speed or by adding weight or a down rigger when trolled from a boat.

How to Fish a Crankbait

​You've generally got two choices when fishing a crankbait twitch and jerk it just under the surface or get it down deeper to where the fish are hiding out.

When fishing a crankbait on the surface or just under it, it's best to add a little more action to it with the tip of the rod. As you retrieve try to lightly twitch the rod tip. If it's a floating crankbait then you can let it float back up to the surface to cause ripples.  This action mimic's an injured bait-fish that may temp the trout into a strike.

Deeper Water
Crankbaits can run down to about 4 feet when retrieved at a fast rate or they may be naturally sinking. If you are using a sinking lure then you can generally count them down to a specific depth. These kinds of crankbaits will generally sink at about a foot per second, but it might vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

You may notice that picky trout have a habit of following a lure that is retrieved at a steady rate but at the last moment turning off it. If this is happening often then you need to vary how the lure runs through the water. If the slightest change in how it swims may force a reaction out of the fish. When casting over sunken object or close to banks try to keep your rod tip up high so that you can avoid snagging on them at add a little action into the lure. Try not to fish the lure too quickly if any thing start out slow and see how things progress.


As a general rule the more natural looking baitfish imitating colors tend to produce the best. Silver on dull overcast days. Gold on brighter days. Both brown and rainbow trout crankbait patterns are reliable on most days and occasionally a perch pattern can be great. 


On most rivers and streams you are looking to keep the size of crankbaits for trout on the low side, generally less than 2 inches or if the water is dark or running a little bit high then you could stretch it to 3 inches. The slimmer shaped ones seem to be more effective than the fatter ones with the more aggressive diving lips.

Top 5 Picks

Rapala 1 1/2 Inch Minnow

​The weighted body and more aggressive lip on this Rapala lure means it has a much more crankbait like swim than the standard floating Rapala. At one and a half inches it's spot on for river trout.

Rebel Tracdown Minnow

Retrieved at a steady pace this minnow has a nice tight wiggle as it moves through the water. They tend to sink on the slow side when not moving.

Rebel Crickhopper Lure

One of the strangest looking lures you are likely to encounter the Crickhopper is best worked and twitched across the surface.

Rebel Wee-Crawfish

The Wee-Crawfish runs best at about 5-7 feet. Obviously this will work best on waters that have a natural supply of crawfish.

Rebel Hellgrammite Lure

Another odd looking lure but can be surprisingly effective.


Tackle for these light weight plugs is generally going to be light spinning or even dropping down to ultra light spinning. Line wise no more than 6lbs should be necessary and a rod length of about 6 foot for working along a tight river bank.