Blog Posts Fly Fresh Tips and Hacks

Tips and Hacks: Brown Trout

Brown trout (salmo trutta) can be found in cool freshwater — think high latitudes and high altitudes — across the United States, Europe, New Zealand, and Asia. They are a favorite target of reelers around the globe, even supplanting the popularity of native brook trout in the U.S. once they were introduced in the late 19th century.


They come in all shapes and sizes, but the biggest tend to be the lake and sea run browns that live in large bodies of slackwater and migrate up rivers and streams to spawn. You can chase browns in any season, but if you’re hunting the big ones, there’s no better time than autumn.

The reason browns can get so big (40 lbs. plus) is that once they make it through a couple spawning seasons, they’re pretty much the top of the food chain. Brian Wise, a fly fishing guide in the Ozarks — home to some world-class brown trout fisheries — says, “Once a brown trout reaches a certain size, they become major meat eaters. These fish get very predacious (think musky here) and will literally eat fish that are half their size.”

Fly reelers recommend saltwater-sized fly rods, sinking lines, and oversized flies when chasing big browns.

“I am pretty stuck on the 9′ 8 wt. Sage Salt for my main streamer rod. It is aggressive, but easy to cast sinking lines. As for lines, I am pretty partial to the new Cortland Compact Sink series. I always have 3 Allen reels spooled in the boat at all times, one with a T3, one with a T6, and one with a T9,” says Wise.

@TheFlyDudes @Andy_EngelPhotography

Out in Logan, Utah, Andrew Engel chases big brown beasts when they get aggressive during the pre-spawn. He favors a Spey rod and casting a baitfish pattern with streamers at a 45-degree angle to the river. Closer to the spawn, he’ll switch up to an egg pattern when the trout are trying to drive out rivals to the gene pool.

Bigger browns are such voracious eaters that they’ll attack small mammals in the water. So, Engel will occasionally use a wooly bugger fly or even try a mouse pattern with his fly rig.

Photo by: David N. Braun @d.n.bPhoto

Brown trout don’t all have to be big trophies, though. Chelsea Baum has had luck hooking browns in the 12” to 16” slot on the Truckee River in California with a nymphing pattern.

Most fly reelers agree, however, that when you’re chasing browns, you’re probably going to be stripping and more than likely, using streamers.

If you’re using a spinning or baitcasting rig, you can sometimes get big browns to chase a crankbait. A well-placed salmon egg or wax worm can also agitate a brown into a strike.

Regardless of the kind of gear you’re using, try to avoid bright sun. Brown trout of all sizes can be shy of shadows — especially in low-water situations. And if you can cast without wading, stay on the banks so you don’t disturb the water.

Another thing you’ll want is the thinnest line or leader possible. If a brown trout — especially one that’s been around the block a few times — can see your line, you’re going to have a really long day on the river.

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Catching One of Wisconsin’s Bruising Trophy Fish

If a fish could be sneaky, this would be that fish. But who doesn’t like an awesome challenge in the search and landing of a nice trophy fish? Not only that, they’re beloved by fishermen because of the challenge they pose and are therefore found in the majority of creeks, rivers, and seas throughout the world. They’re beautiful (brown) fish and generally on the large side so fishermen enjoy trying to catch them just to get a glimpse. The current world record brown trout is held in New Zealand, weighing in at 42 pounds and 1 ounce.

Reeler Jake Bowles lands a monster Brown.

Brown trout are some pretty big, pretty cool fishies. They generally eat their food under the surface too, so don’t be looking for them super close to the surface. Something fairly confusing to me is the fact that a good portion of brown trout live in the sea. I mean, obviously I know that there a ton of fish that live in the seas, but trout? I’d always experienced the trout in rivers and creeks, not in salty oceans. They do migrate every year to fresh water to breed though. So I guess when I see the trout they’re getting lucky or about to get lucky. Which makes me feel a bit guilty about catching them for dinner every summer. The brown trout does push out around 10,000 eggs though, so, not too guilty. Sure, a good majority of these eggs don’t hatch or survive past a few weeks of age. But they have a better chance at popping a couple hundred of fish that will mature into adulthood than say, humans do.

Brown trout can be found across the globe along with having been stocked in 45 states throughout the USA. These trophy fish are commonly found in the colder rivers, where they’ve grown smart enough to refrain from feeding on prey closer to the surface. At least until nightfall when fishermen aren’t around to try and catch them. So they recommend (experienced fishermen, not the trout), to go fishing for these guys in the early morning and late evening. Even then, the brown trout tries to stay out of sight and pull the flies into the water to avoid being caught.

Night fishing pays off for @TheFlyDudes

Top fishing professionals say that the bamboo fly rod works the best to catch these guys. This type of rod has been around since the 1800s and is generally used for its smooth precision in placement. Due to this, its performance has been praised as being similar to playing a fine musical instrument. The back cast is smooth and fluid with a damping effect at the end, while the forward cast throws the line with the same damping effect at the beginning.

And you should hit up the Wisconsin tributary rivers soon since the remaining stock of the brown trout will be dying off. Budget cuts this year by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, or the WDNR, have cut over 50% of the budget to stock the brown trout. Unfortunately, this means that Lake Michigan won’t be stocked with these big buddies, which means there won’t be anywhere to rear them.

Underwater photography of The Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) in a mountain lake.

Now you know where to find these trout, how to fish for them, and even some weird tidbits about them. Go fish for these trophies and be joyful!

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Fin-Telligence: Trout

After a rainstorm, if you’ve got a puddle of water in your backyard, chances are there’s trout in it. Think I’m kidding? Trout are among the most prevalent gamefish on the planet. According to wildlife biologists, there are 34 recognized species in North America alone. Double (some experts say triple) that figure on a global scale when you include all the hybrids and crossbreeds. Streams, lakes, rivers, seas and oceans all have some form of trout lurking within. But besides their massive numbers, trout have another claim to fame—they’re the reason fly-fishing was invented. Many centuries ago, observant anglers watched fish they had been unable to catch (trout are notoriously finicky) pluck insects off the water’s surface. Floating artificial baits were created and the rest is history.


Trout are everywhere. No matter where in the world you are, chances are good that there are trout nearby. Even desert climates—especially the Southwestern United States—have trout in their waterways. But if you want to get specific, the regions und Denver, Colorado, Bozeman, Montana and the New York Catskills  are considered the trout flyfishing capitols of the U.S.

Salmon River, NY
Salmon River, NY. Yeah, its not the Catskills but you do not need to be in one of the trout capitols of the world to get your trout on. They are literally everywhere.


Like any species, there are always monsters among the masses. But the majority of trout you’ll be fishing for are probably in the 12”-18” range. So if you’re routinely catching two-foot trout, keep that fishing spot a secret! That said, trout are best pursued on light line, around 12# test or less. Some Reelerz believe 6# to 8# is the ideal poundage, providing both a good test for the angler and a fair fight for the fish. Spinning, bait-casting, fly—no matter which discipline you enjoy, match your tackle to the line. You don’t need trolling rigs spooled with heavy braid to catch trout.

Dude lands a trout
This guy was probably using the right tackle because he landed a beauty!


Trout are voracious eaters, and have been known to chow down on fish up to half their own length. Besides other fish, trout feed on mealworms, bloodworms, flies, mayflies, dragonflies, caddisflies, zooplankton, mollusks (clams and mussels), and small eels. There are even stories about Reelerz catching enormous brown trout using chunks of uncooked hot dogs. When using artificial lures or flies, try to select designs that mimic the usual food sources of the trout in that specific area.

Taste & Nutrition

Not only are trout delicious, they are among the healthiest fish you can eat. Generally speaking, trout are extremely low in mercury content, including farm-raised trout. They are also low in fat (around 6 grams for a 3-oz serving) and very high in protein (20-21 grams per 3-oz serving). They can be served any number of ways, but because the meat is delicate be mindful not to overcook it, dry it out and ruin the flavor.

These trout are probably from Whole Foods.
Not sure what this chef is cooking up in this amazing stock photo it’s got peppers and my mouth is watering already.

Other Facts

  • Trout have exceptional eyesight, and can focus out of both corners of each eye simultaneously, translating into seeing in every direction at the same time. They’re also keen at spotting fishing line.
  • If caught, pregnant female trout should be released immediately. They usually carry between 900-1,000 eggs per pound of bodyweight and are the key to keeping the species thriving.
  • Trout and salmon can interbreed, producing a wide variety of hybrids.
  • Brown trout can live to be upwards of 20 years old.
  • Trout are not considered man-eaters, but there is an unconfirmed tale about a man bathing in an African river who was devoured by fish thought to piranha turned out to be a species of highly aggressive trout.


  • Current IGFA all-tackle world record for brown trout: 42 lb 1 oz, caught by Otwin Kandolf on March 8, 2013, in Oahu Canal, New Zealand.
  • Current IGFA all-tackle world record for rainbow trout: 48 lb 0 oz, caught by Sean Konrad on September 5, 2009, in Lake Diefenbaker, Canada.
  • Current IGFA all-tackle world record for lake trout: 72 lb 0 oz, caught by Lloyd Bull on August 19, 1995, in Great Bear Lake, northwest Territories, Canada.
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Often Overlooked, Never Underappreciated

Every savy angler knows about the trophy ‘bows lurking in the Taylor River in the mountains above Gunnison, Colorado.  In the shadow of these beasts, live the most unique and colorful brown trout we have ever seen.  Their spots and tails can be such a vibrant hue of red that we regularly mistook them for rainbow trout while sight casting.  Be it genetics or diet, one thing is for certain – the browns of the Taylor are a gem among their kind.

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Louis Cahill Is The Voice Of Responsible Fly Fishing

John Cagle – contributor


Louis Cahill is on a mission to instill responsible fly fishing practices in every angler working our fragile rivers and streams.


The professional photographer and editor of the website Gink & Gasoline has spent just as much time fly fishing over the last thirty years as he has looking through the lens of his camera, and his unique perspective has led to his vision of a world where topwater anglers work toward protecting the fish they land for love of the sport.


The popular fly fishing website, which garners roughly two million unique readers each year, helps Cahill get his message of conservation, best practices, and legislative news across to an angling audience that can make a real difference.


“We’re in pretty close touch with groups like Trout Unlimited, Wild Steelheaders United and Native Fish Society,” Cahill said in a recent interview. “We have friends at the upper levels of all these organizations, so we get made aware of stuff that’s happening. All those folks know that our social media channel is there to help them so if something needs attention we’re happy to help and get the word out about it.”


Cahill’s passion for spreading the good word about responsible fly fishing through his website is profound, and demonstrates his desire to couple fishing video tutorials and blog posts with a message of conservation designed to keep cold-water fish thriving in our rivers and streams for generations to come.


“Gink and Gasoline sees roughly two million unique readers a year. If you look at how much information we put out on how to fish, and you think about two million people out there reading that information, we are affecting the landscape of angling by making a whole lot of people more effective anglers–and I’m thrilled with that. I think everyone should be able to go out there and pick up a fly rod and catch a fish. I think it’s the most amazing thing in the world. It saved my life.


“But at the same time, if I’m going to educate that many people on how to catch fish, I need to work twice as hard to make sure that they’re responsible anglers, because otherwise they’re destroying the resource that I love.”


To learn more about Louis Cahill’s mission to bring the world of fly fishing to every angler while preserving marine wildlife and habitats for generations to come, check out his website at Be sure to like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter.