4 Tips for Trophy Rainbows

A few weeks ago I posted 5 Keys for Trophy Brown Trout, which received tremendous feedback. I try to be attentive and see what our readers want, so this seemed like the logical follow up. Brown trout and rainbow trout are very different fish from two different continents, and understanding those differences will help you catch more and bigger fish. The biggest difference is how the fish relate to current. Rainbows are current oriented fish, but browns tend to prefer slow water and relate to cover rather than current. Rainbows also coexist naturally with other species of trout and salmon, but browns rarely naturally coexist with other species of salmonids. With these two things in mind, here are my 4 tips for catching trophy rainbow trout.

Rainbow4) Use Junk Food
Rainbow trout naturally feed on eggs and sometimes even drifting flesh of spent salmon, and most experienced anglers will tell you that big bows have a weakness for bright pink flies. Browns don’t have the same “egg trigger” because they don’t often coexist with other salmonids. In conditions that you would generally throw large streamers for browns (high and off-colored water), you should throw egg patterns or San Juan Worms for rainbows. Don’t be afraid to up size to #8 or even #6 egg patterns.

3) Fish Current SeamsFish
Current seems are simply the edges between fast and slow current, and that is where big rainbows feed. Rainbows feed almost entirely in the current because it offers a constant flow of food, and the faster the current the more food it provides. On the flip side, it requires a lot of energy to swim in fast current for extended periods of time. Rainbows generally hold in slow water with a clear view of faster current, darting into the current to grab food. Putting your flies near the edge of the current puts them in direct view for the trout, increasing your odds of success. The biggest rainbow in a pool or run will generally sit in the area overseeing the greatest amount of flow. Look for areas where two currents come together and fish both seams carefully. Large rainbows will sit in the calm water between the two currents, watching for drifting food items on both sides.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES2)Get Your Flies to the Bottom!
Large rainbows feed heavily near the bottom for a couple of reasons. First, most drifting food items are near the bottom. The vast majority of insects live on rocks on the bottom of the stream until they ascend toward the surface to “hatch” or are swept from the bottom by the current. The flow at the bottom of the stream is also significantly slow than the rest of the stream, so it creates a bit of a natural “seam”. Rainbows also hold behind rocks on the bottom of the stream safely out of the current. Remember: the difference between a good trout fisherman and a great one is two split-shot!

1)Fish nymphs5190
Streamers are great for browns, and dry flies are fun, but nymphs are the ticket for big rainbows. It makes perfect sense that a current oriented fish would feed on aquatic insects, as they make up the majority of food items in the drift. Just like dry flies, you want to match your nymphs patterns to the most commonly available nymphs in your local streams. To help stock your box with the nymphs you will need for trophy rainbows, check out our Match the Hatch Subscription.

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