Trout Fishing Rigs Setup 101: The Best Trout Rigs To Use

trout fishing rigs setup
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Trout anglers will tell you that catching trout isn’t as easy as throwing any old rig in the water and hooking one, as most anglers might have thought at some point. Catching trout requires the use of multiple fishing tactics as they are smart fish with very particular feeding habits that change on any given day.

When I started trout fishing I thought all I had to do was cast my fishing lures or bait in the water until I hooked a trout. While this did work, I could wait 10 or 12 hours before getting a single trout bite. 

Then I started using different trout fishing rigs and everything changed. I could access different depths, use different lures or natural baits, and my success rate went through the roof.

Join me as we take a look at all the different trout fishing rigs setup so you can use the right trout fishing rig at the right time and catch more fish than ever…

The Three Main Types Of Trout Rigs

Trout Caught On a Line
Trout Caught On a Line

When it comes to trout fishing rigs setup there are three main types to choose from. Each type either gives you access to a desired depth or to use a desired lure or bait that will get the trout biting. The trout rigs can be for:

  • Artificial lures that allow you to cast and retrieve across the water
  • Taking you bait to the bottom in deeper water using a sinker
  • Holding your bait suspended at a depth you choose

Between these three categories of trout fishing rigs you will be able to use a range of baits or lures and access different depths in order to find where the trout are feeding.

Trout Rig Setups You Should Know

There are lots of trout fishing rigs in each of the categories of rigs mentioned above, which we’ll look at in detail now. We’ll discuss each trout rig, how to tie it, and how & when to fish it.

Before you start trying to make all these trout fishing rig setup, first make sure you have all the right gear and tools ready out of your tackle box.

  • A range of trout lures
  • Floating jig head & soft plastic
  • Split shots
  • Bullet sliding sinker
  • Barrel swivel
  • Snap Swivel
  • Hooks size 8 – 14
  • Plastic beads
  • Bobber stop
  • Slip bobber
  • Fixed bobber

Once you have all of this ready, you’ll be able to make all the trout rigs we are about to run through.

Bottom Fishing Trout Rigs

Trout Swimming at the Bottom of the Water
Trout Swimming at the Bottom of the Water

We’ll start by looking at each trout fishing rig that is perfect for fishing your bait near to the bottom. These bottom fishing rigs are ideal when the fish are feeding at the bottom in deep water.

Slip Sinker Rig

The slip sinker rig is the most basic trout fishing rig and it has been around for hundreds of years and it still works today too.

How To Tie A Slip Sinker Rig

To tie this trout fishing rig, make sure your fishing line is pulled out your rod tip before you start and then follow these instructions.

  • Add a sliding slip sinker to your main fishing line
  • Tie on one of your barrel swivels
  • Add 3 feet of fluorocarbon leader
  • Add a hook to match your bait size
  • Add a floating bait

How & When To Use a Slip Sinker Rig

This trout fishing rig is ideal to use when fishing in shallowish water around 10-15 feet deep when trout fish are sitting near the bottom. You can cast it a good distance from the shore which makes covering ground quick and easy.

It’s important your bait floats as your bait presentation needs to be off the bottom to attract trout and for the trout to eat it, and to stop the baited hook snagging on the bottom.

When fishing this trout rig, simply cast it out and wait for a bite. Be sure to check if your bait is there often.

Split Shot Rig

The Split Shot rig is a subtle rig that is great for trout fishing in overfished areas or rivers and streams that have super clear water.

How To Tie A Split Shot Rig

  • Add some split shots to your main fishing line
  • Put one of your barrel or snap swivels beneath them
  • Add a few feet of leader line
  • Add put a floating lure on to the end of the leader fishing line

The reason you should add a floating lure to the fishing line is so that it swims at the right depth and makes a good action in the water the trout can’t resist.

How & When To Use a Split Shot Rig

This trout rig is perfect for use when trout are being fussy as it’s very stealthy which also makes it ideal for use in small waters and/or crystal clear ones too.

Fishing this rig is simple, just cast out as far as you can and let it sink to the bottom. Then slowly retrieve the rig back to you using jigging and pause movements.

This keeps the lure moving and at different depths to tempt the trout. Try changing the retrieve speed to catch trout if a slow one doesn’t work.

Carolina Rig For Trout

Bass Caught with Carolina Rig
Bass Caught with Carolina Rig

The Carolina Rig is usually used for bass or walleye but it works for trout too. It’s a great rig that can be used with lures or natural bait and it gets whatever you’re offering nice and deep.

How To Tie A Carolina Rig For Trout

  • Add a sliding bullet sinker to your main fishing line
  • Add a sliding bead after the sinker
  • Tie on one of your barrel swivels
  • Add 1-3 ft of leader fishing line
  • Tie on your lure or hook with bait

How & When To Use A Carolina For Trout

Since the carolina uses a heavy sinker it’s ideal one of the ideal trout fishing rigs when you want to fish close to the bottom, especially in deeper waters of lakes, reservoirs, and big rivers.

You can choose to fish the Carolina with a static bait on the bottom but it is far more effective if you fish it with a lure that floats in the same way as the splitshot trout rig.

Let the trout rig sink and then bring the lure rig back slowly and then vary speeds until you get a bite. You can even pull it quickly over weed beds if you want to. You can fish this trout rig from the shore or from a boat, it’s super versatile.

Drop Shot Rig

The drop shot rig is a great trout fishing rig when you want to catch trout right up from the bottom. This trout rig puts your lure right in the strike zone where most trout, particularly big lake trout, like to hang out. Speaking of lake trout, we also have an article about lake trout lure, that you might want to read later.

How To Tie A Drop Shot Rig

Tying a drop shot rig is a little more complicated when it comes to knots and you’ll need to know the double-uni knot and a palomar knot.

  • Tie around 5 feet of fluoro fishing line to your mainline with a double-uni knot
  • Tie your bait hook 3 feet from the bottom of the fluoro using a palomar knot
  • Leave the 3 ft tag end and put it through the eye of the hook again
  • This should make the line perpendicular to the hook
  • Tie on your sinker to the end of the tag end
  • Add your soft plastic lure to the hook

How & When To Use A Drop Shot

How to Catch Trout with a Drop Shot

This trout fishing rig is designed to be fished right off the bottom. You should drop it to the bottom and then slowly lift the rig up and down to give the lure rig some action, jerking it up and down and back towards you.

This rig works well in deep and shallowish water so you can use it in any depth where trout are feeding near the bottom.

Bobber Rigs

A bobber rig is one of the most effective trout fishing rigs you can use when the fish are feeding shallow, meaning closer to the surface in deep waters, in streams, creeks, rivers, or up in shallow bays.

Slip Bobber Rig

The slip bobber rig is an awesome trout fishing tool as you can literally adjust the depth of the rig to any depth you like. This allows you to explore and find the depth the fish are feeding at.

How To Rig A Slip Bobber

  • Slide a plastic bead and then a slip bobber on to your main line
  • Then add a sliding sinker beneath the bobber
  • Tie on one of your barrel swivels
  • Tie your 3-5 ft of fluoro leader fishing line to the swivel
  • Add your hook to the end and then your chosen bait
  • Set the depth you want the bait to be add by adding a bobber stop to anywhere on your main line

How & When To Use A Slip Bobber Rig

This is a great trout fishing rig to use when trout are in either shallow or mid-water as the rig allows you to fish anywhere from 20 to 3 feet under the surface by moving the bobber stop.

To use this rig, simply set the bobber stop to the depth you think the fish are feeding at and then throw it out to your desired spot.

Fixed Bobber Rig


This one of the simplest and effective rigs you can use for trout fishing, like rainbow trout fishing, as all you need to do is tie on a bobber, a hook, and add some weights. The depth you fish at will depend on how long the fishing line between the bobber and the hook is.

How To Tie A Fixed Bobber Rig

  • Add a swivel to your main line to stop line twist
  • Tie a long 10-12 ft section of fluoro leader to the swivel
  • Tie your float to the leader ‘
  • Tie your hook to the depth you want your trout bait at
  • Add split shots to hold your bait deep

How & When To Use Fixed Bobber Rig

This is the ideal rig to use when fishing for trout in shallow water, drifting bait down a river or stream, or when trout are feeding in the first few feet of the water column.

It’s best to fish the rig by leaving it with bait until you see the bobber “bob” when you get a bite and hook up to a trout. It works well if you just leave it or drift it down the river.

Lure Rigs

Using a lure rig for trout is one of my favorites as it is a way more active form of trout fishing since you are casting and retrieving the whole time working fishy bits of water. There are a few to choose from, here they are:

Spinner Rig

The spinner rig is the most commonly used trout fishing lure rig and it uses a spinner lure in conjunction with or without some split shots. You can put any lyre on the end of this rig you like but the spinning action does make trout go crazy.

How To Tie A Spinner Rig

  • Add a swivel your main mono or braided line
  • Tie on 3 – 5 of fluoro leader
  • Add a few split shots above the swivel on the main line
  • Tie your spinner or other lure to the end of the leader

How & When To Use A Spinner Rig

This is one of the most versatile trout fishing rigs out there as it works well in every kind of water from shallow streams to deep lakes. The shiny spinner makes a lot of noise and trout come from far to see what it is and eat it.

To fish it, simply cast it out, let it sink for as long as you like, and then slowly wind it in to make sure the spinner is spinning well. Don’t wind too fast or too slow as the lure will jump or not spin enough to attract some fish.

Ned Rig

Trout Getting Reeled In
Trout Getting Reeled In

The Ned Rig is the easiest rig to build as all you need to do is add a mushroom jig head and a soft plastic to your leader. The genius behind this rig is using a floating plastic tail to create an action the fish can not resist.

How To Tie A Ned Rig

  • Tie 6 ft of fluoro leader to your main line with double-uni knot
  • Tie the mushroom jig head to the end
  • Add your tail floating soft plastic

How & When To Use A Ned Rig

This is an ideal rig to use when the fish are feeding near the bottom but don’t use it around vegetation as chances are you’ll end up getting snagged.

Fishing the rig requires letting it sink to the bottom and then slowly jigging it back towards you and waiting for the trout to inhale it.

Trout Rig With Bobber And Jig

This is an excellent rig to use when fishing above weedy areas as you can control the depth of your lure with this trout rig and therefore not get snagged in the weedy areas.

How To Tie Bobber And Jig Rig

  • Tie a bobber to your leader
  • Add a jig and soft plastic to the end of the leader
  • Use a bobber stopper if you want it to be adjustable

How & When To Use A Bobber & Jig Rig

This is a great rig to use when fishing in shallow areas with snags on the bottom. Simply adjust the depth to match the bottom or to keep it shallow. Cast out the rig and let it sink, then jerk it back with long 1-2 minute pauses between each jerk to let the lure sink and get a good action.


How Do I Choose The Right Rig?

The hardest thing when trout fishing is working out what depth the fish are feeding at as they could be near the bottom, taking aquatic insects off the surface, or anywhere in between.


If you think about temperature, you’ll find trout quickly. Trout go deep when it’s too cold and too hot, and when the temperature is ideal they go to where the food is. Look for signs on the surface and experiment with different depths by using different rigs.

What is the best fishing rig for trout?

The best fishing rig for trout is the one that gets your bait or lure in front of the trout. A spinner rig is a great searching pattern in all water types but it doesn’t go deep, so try out a bottom rig or a slip bobber rig to find out where they are feeding.

Rigging Out

Thanks very much for reading my trout fishing rigs setup article. I hope you enjoyed it and have found all the trout fishing rigs you will ever need. Each rig works well in a different fishing situation so don’t be shy of using them all to work out where the fish are feeding.

Please share the article with your fishing buddies, leave us a comment with some questions, and check out some of our other articles – we cover everything from rods to reels, fish finders and other rigs too.

For another interesting trout related article, You might want to check out this Best Trout Trolling Lures article.

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