Rainbow trout are one of the most sought-after trout species throughout North America by avid fly fisherman. There is nothing like the anticipation of a rainbow trout taking your well-placed imitation fly on the surface of the water. Especially, if you’ve hand tied that well-placed fly yourself. Yes, rainbow trout love to feed on creepy-crawlies that float on the surface, however, rainbow trout can be very aggressive and consume much more substantial meals and when the bug eater turns bad, my go-to lures are Rapala Shadow-Rap jerkbaits.
Fishing River Trout
North America has hundreds of thousands of miles of amazing river systems and tributaries that rainbow trout and other trout species call home. Depending on the river system they can either be fished from a float tube such as the Fish Cat 4, or the Outcast Fish Cat Panther Pontoon boat, a riverboat or if the river conditions allow your Tracker boat. Many river systems are also ideal for shoreline anglers. However, a few years ago I truly learned the fine art of crankbait fishing rainbow trout on a guided fishing trip with Bow River Blog on the Bow River in Alberta, Canada.
|Rapala Shadow Rap Shad Jerkbait|
When Fishing Target River Corners and Current Breaks
Regardless of what you’re fishing from, anglers should target inside and outside corners, current breaks, and large rock areas where the current is interrupted. Rainbow trout will often rest in these areas to get a break from the current. However, as rainbow trout rest, they are also on the lookout for potential meals that may be washed past their hidden location by the current. In the river systems, rainbow trout hide and rest in the current breaks but as the current is washing potential meals past their resting areas they’re forced to make a quick decision if they are going to feed. Any hesitation means their potential meal is washed down the river with the current. Regardless of what you’re fishing from, casting Rapala Shadow-Rap Shad Jerkbaits in the 4 3/8" size to the inside and outside corners and any other area or structure that interrupts the current and provides a current break in the river is a great way to trigger bites from resting rainbow trout.
Position in the River Makes a Difference
I like to position myself up-river and cast my lure on the up-river side of the current break that I’m targeting. I cast my lure five or 10 feet short of my target then let the current take my lure past the target area. The Rapala Shadow-Rap Shad Jerkbaits working against the current causes the lure to swim and look like a natural potential meal as the lure moves past the current break at the same speed as the current. The lure and the speed of the lure have now become a natural river presentation that the resident rainbow are accustomed to seeing. If the lure makes it past your target without a strike anglers may get a second opportunity by retrieving their lure against the current and past the current break.
If a resting rainbow missed the lure or was hesitant on the first pass you have just provided the trout with a second opportunity to feed. This presentation has served me well as I believe the Shadow-Rap Shad being retrieved against the current now looks like a tired and stressed minnow fighting the current which makes an easy target for resting rainbows.Taking a page from the fly fishermen's handbook, anglers must be aware of their shadow. Whenever possible when fishing current breaks, be mindful of you or your boat’s shadow that it’s not casted overtop of your targets. Over the years my hookups have greatly depleted when my shadow was protruding overtop of my targets.
Preferences to Rod and Reel Combos
When fishing from my float tube or pontoon boat I prefer the 5’6” Bass Pro Shops XPS Bionic Spinning Rod and Spinning Reel combo in a medium-action. The shorter rod allows easier casting and positioning when working my float tube or pontoon boat in the current. When fishing from a boat I prefer the same rod reel combo but in a 6’ or 6’5” length which allows me to keep my boat further away from my targets and make accurate casts to my targets. And regardless of the brand, I highly recommend a no-stretch fishing line. Anglers are not only fighting the fish, they are also fighting the current and line-stretch in the current can cause an angler a great deal of grief.
This season when bug eaters turn bad, try casting a few Shadow Raps to the current breaks.
Watch Video: How to Use a Crankbait to Catch Trout