My Top 3 Fishing Setups for Lake Trout

by | Published on: Jun 5, 2023 | Lake Fishing, Trout

Do you find it challenging to select a desirable trout setup? Do you continually struggle to find the perfect rod & reel combination? Have you attempted to tie knots without any success? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I advise that you continue reading.

Lake trout fishing setups can be challenging to master. Here, we share valuable information to improve your setup for lake trout, whether you’re fly fishing, lure fishing or rig fishing.

My Setup for Fly Fishing on Lakes

My go-to fly fishing setup for lake trout is a double Rainbow Buzzer on a #5 weight rod.

Why This Fly Setup?

This wet fly setup is ideal for specimen lakes. In my book, a specimen lake is a stocked body of water that holds fish over 10 lb. This is my most productive fly fishing setup for such conditions; the micro-sized fly allows for high-precision casting, making it easy to target rising trout and to place your cast beneath overhanging trees.

Use this setup without a retrieve or a very slow retrieval pattern at most.

The Fly Setup

You will require a fly rod and reel combo for this setup. I use a Hardy 5 Ultralight Rod paired with a UD 5000 LA suitable for 4, 5, & 6 weight rods. Hardy is known for producing some of the highest-quality fly rods available.

Other rods and reels with similar specs will also work well with this setup.

My Hardy reel and rod combo

After adding an appropriate backing line and mainline to the reel (I recommend Rio’s Gold Elite products), feed the line through each eye of the rod.

Once the line has been placed through each eye, tie a sinking leader to the mainline using a perfection loop or an improved clinch knot. Then, attach around two feet of tippet to the sinking leader using a similar knot.

Directly tie each fly to the tippet, ensuring that the point fly (the fly at the end of the tippet) is the heaviest. Attach the second fly about 1 – 2 ft away from the point fly using a blood knot.

You can include a third fly if you wish, but if you have limited experience with fly fishing, it’s best to stick to two, as casting will be more challenging, and tangles are more likely.

My chosen mainline

Why Rainbow Buzzers?

Buzzers mimic the pupa form of an aquatic midge, with Rainbow Buzzers being the bead-headed versions of a standard buzzer. The beads are available in various bright colour patterns, giving the fly extra flair and often drawing in a strike.

As trout grow in size, they become less aggressive and more sluggish. Rainbow Buzzers are perfect for targeting larger fish as they should be very slowly retrieved. As well as being slow, they are small and easy to feed on. These two factors make them desirable to more prominent, older, and, most importantly, larger trout.

Check out our guide to learn about the various types of flies used for trout fishing.

Rainbow Buzzers, pictured beside a coin for scale

Fly Setup: A Topline Overview

  • I use a hardy rod and reel combo, but any high-quality, fast action, sensitive rod will work to ensure light takes are detected.
  • I like to use Rio Mainline, as it’s high quality and the line can be shot further.
  • Use a sinking leader. Rainbow Buzzers sink quickly in the water, making them ideal for lake trout fishing.
  • Using a tippet will increase the strike rate. Trout are less likely to notice tippet than thicker mainline.
  • Rainbow Buzzers are great for catching specimen fish; they can be fished in pairs or triplets and are small, accurate and easy to cast.

My Setup for Lure Fishing on Lakes

My go-to lure fishing setup for lake trout is a Mepps lure paired with a 36T Carbon blank rod. I adore using Mepps lures for hunting trout. The first time I threw one out, I quickly realised their quality and durability made them perfect for trout fishing. Plus, they are treble-hooked, a massive bonus in my opinion.

Why This Lure Setup?

This fantastic lure setup involves pairing an Abu Garcia Salmon Seeker Rod with a Penn Fierce III 4000 spinning reel. From my experience, Mepps are the superior trout fishing lure choice available today.

When retrieving a Mepps lure, the spoon spins in a circular motion. This movement creates vibrations through the water, similar to the vibrations caused by baitfish, and trout absolutely love it.

The Abu Garcia Salmon Seeker Rod has been my highest-performing spinning rod to date. It is set at a reasonable price of £100 and has a carbon blank with a strong backbone, so it has the strength to play any large lake trout.

The Lure Setup

This lure fishing setup is relatively simple to put together but very effective. You will need a rod and reel combination, a mainline, a swivel and a Mepps lure.

My Abu Garcia Salmon Seeker rod, perfect in this spinning setup

Feed the mainline through all the eyes of the rod. I recommend using a form of high-quality monofilament. Monofilament line is both durable and difficult for trout to detect. When fishing Mepps lures, you need a robust line that can be pulled out of snags without breaking.

Fluorocarbon line on the reel

After feeding the line through the rod eyes, tie on around two feet of fluorocarbon and your snap swivel. I recommend using an improved clinch knot for both of these joins.

Using a snap swivel really increases your quality of life out on the bank, as you can easily replace the lure without continually retying knots.

After securing the snap swivel, undo the clip and attach your Mepps lure. Redo the clip and straighten the line.

When lure fishing, it’s vital to straighten the line before casting. A tight line is required for faster strikes and sensing light takes. You can straighten your line by pulling and holding it taunt for thirty seconds.

Once complete, the lure is cast from the rod and should be given time to sink. Once submerged, various retrieval methods can be used to great effect.

For more information on lure fishing, check out our guide to mastering the art of lake trout fishing.

My Mepps lure selection

Why a Mepps Lure?

Mepps are highly versatile, and they come in many colours and patterns. I recommend using a lure with a colour palette of orange or purple, as I have found these to be the most efficient when fishing for lake trout.

Lure Setup: A Topline Overview

  • I reach for my Abu Garcia combo, but any other strong, high-quality rod capable of controlling large lake trout will also work.
  • Monofilament mainline is recommended as it’s durable, making it suitable for snags, in addition to being subtle and hard for the trout to detect.
  • Use two feet of fluorocarbon to decrease the visibility of your line further.
  • Snap swivels are great for this setup, enabling you to remove and replace lures efficiently whilst allowing the lure to move freely in the water.
  • I cannot recommend the Mepps lure more. It’s extremely high quality and closely imitates baitfish with a ripple effect.

My Setup for Rig Fishing on Lakes

My favourite rig setup for lake trout is a drop shot rig on a fast action rod. Both my father and I believe in the effectiveness of this setup for trout. In lakes, trout predominantly feed in the mid-tier section of the water column.

Using this rig makes it possible to suspend your bait perfectly in the mid-tier section of the water. Paired with a fast action rod, this setup is ideal for any rig angler.

Why This Rig Setup?

When stepping out rig fishing for trout on lakes, I reach for my Ugly Stik rod, and pair it with a standard Shakespeare 3:6:1 reel to ensure strikes can be taken as quickly as possible. It is essential to set the hook quickly with this rig. Failure to do so will lead to the trout digesting the hook, meaning the fish must be harvested.

The drop shot rig excels at holding your bait at a mid-column position in the water. Plus, its simplicity, requiring only a handful of components, makes it a popular choice among beginners.

The Rig Setup

The rig is approximately two to three feet long and designed to suspend a worm in the mid-tier water level. The entire rig is held in place using a small weight, which stops the rig from floating and swaying in the lake.

My rig fishing combination

As with the lure fishing setup, I recommend using a fluorocarbon line, approximately 8 lb in weight.

Start by feeding the fluorocarbon line through the eyes of your rod. Next, attach a hook using a Palomar knot directly onto the line.

When fishing with worms, concealability is not as necessary. The worm’s long protruding body, matched with its movement in the water, will be captivating enough for the fish to strike. That said, I still believe the stealth provided by fluorocarbon does offer some assistance.

A size 1 barbed hook

I recommend using a No.1 / No.2 hook. Larger hooks are essential when rig fishing, ensuring the trout does not consume the bait too quickly. When fishing with worms on small hooks, the fish can sometimes consume the bait too quickly and gut hook themselves.

After attaching the hook, add a 1-ounce drop weight to the point of the line. Drop shots can be added to the top of the line if you don’t have any drop weights. The weight will stabilise the worm in the water.

To add your worm onto the hook, push the point through the clitellum (the larger, ringed area). Barbed hooks are strongly recommended if possible as they stop the worm from coming off the hook.

Find more information about rig fishing for trout in our guide here.

Why Use Worms?

Worms are part of a trout’s natural diet, and trout will aggressively strike them. I have had 7 lb brown trout hit my drop shot rig with extreme force using this exact setup. Letting the tail hang loose within the water will help entice a strike.

Rig Setup: A Topline Overview

  • I use an Ugly Stik rod for this setup. Try to use a rod with a rigid backbone to ensure you can pull out large lake trout.
  • I recommend that you use fluorocarbon line. 8 lb will work well for mid-range trout.
  • Use size 1 to 2 barbed hooks; such hooks avoid gut hooks and prevent the worm from coming off the hook.
  • Using a drop shot/drop weight is a must to hold the worm firmly in place.
  • Live bait is often overlooked. Live worms are durable baits that create additional movement in the water to attract trout.


The above setups have been selected based on their overall performance. They are incredibly efficient at catching lake trout and can be fished in most conditions. A suitable fishing line setup for lake trout is usually created from fluorocarbon.

Get out there and give these setups a try! Tight lines!