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Small stream tackle boxes.

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Small Stream Trout Fishing 101

Written by : Len Harris

Photos by: Len Harris

It is mid January and Wisconsin small stream trout fishing has been closed since September 30th.

Season has been closed for almost 4 months. You are feeling the need to have a large Southwestern

Wisconsin trout on the end of your line. Because season is closed, the only things you can do is read

about trout fishing and clean your gear and stock up for the upcoming season.

New line is a must for the beginning of the season. My favorites are 6 and 8 pound test Trilene in clear.

My favorite superline is Fireline in smoke color in 6 and 8 pound test (use mono backing for Fireline). A close

examination of your rod eyes and your bail guide are a must when using Fireline. Fireline may cut grooves

in your ceramic guides. Many reel and rod companies have metal guides that work perfectly. Don't cut

tags too short with Fireline or you might lose your lure on a hard set.

I separate my boxes. One is the stick bait box and the other is the spinners and other box. The below

tackle boxes are exactly what I have in my boxes and are tried and true for (BIG) trout in small streams

in Wisconsin.


( Must have snap swivels on stick baits.) You lose lots of the action if you tie

directly to the line)

Stick Bait Box:


a. Countdowns in size 5 and 7and 9 in gold or silver or blue or brown trout

b. Floaters in size 5 and 7 in silver or gold or shiner or brown trout

c. Husky jerk-baits in size 7 in silver or gold or blue

ALL Rapalas should be fished with varied retrieves. Start and stop sometimes. The stop and twitch

is a effective also.


1. Suspended Crystal Minnow in size 3 5/8s inches in gold/black or blue/silver

Simple retrieve with with a pause now and then.



Inline spinners do not need swivels. Change lures or sharpen hooks often.

Mepps Products:

1. Deep Runner Plain Treble in size 1 in ALL colors.

Heavy lures (use in deep water)

2. XD Plain Treble:

a. size 2s in silver-silver and gold-red-platinum (brown trout)

b. size 1 in gold-hot-orange and silver-hot-pink (brook trout)

3. Mr. Twister (owned by Mepps)

Mr. Minno in the 3 smallest sizes in ALL colors

(place on varied sizes of jig heads and aggressively jigged)


Bitzer Creek

1. Zip Lure in smallest Size in gold or silver.

This lure NEEDS a swivel. It throbs when fished properly. A deep water Big Trout slayer.

Little Cleos

1. smallest size spoon in silver or gold

2. second smallest spoon in sliver or gold or silver-blue

A swivel is a must. You can jig these spoons or retrieve in varied manners.


Panther Martin has a huge selection of spinners on its HSOforum. Many can not be found in typical stores.

Panther Martin

a. Regular silver or gold undressed treble in size 6 (browns and brooks)

b. Deluxe in size 6 or 9 a variety of colors in gold or silver or silver-blue-red (brown trout)

c. PMF gold in gold-orange dressed in size 4 and 2 (brook trout)

d. PMAS in All silver undressed treble in size 4 and 6 (browns and brooks)

e. PMBRT Brown trout undressed treble in size 6 (browns)

f. PMRFL Florescent undressed treble in size 2 or 4 (brook trout)

Both Mepps and Panther Martin have significant price reductions on lures bought in quantity.

All spinners should have their retrieves alternated. A slow twitch and pause works well. Lots of hits are

on the first crank of the handle. Remember in cold weather to slow down that retrieve and target deep wintering holes with little current. Do not give up on casts. Bring to your feet and slow up even more as the lure comes from deep to shallow. ALL lures in this article run slowly in cold water. There are many other lures that I use during regular season when the trout are more aggressive.

Wisconsin season opens the first weekend of March. Make sure your waders have no leaks and you wear long underwear and

wool socks under your waders. A good cap with ear flaps and fingerless gloves are are a MUST this time of year.

A new product I use in ALL the time in climate weather is called Hot Hands. I put a couple in each pants pocket and one in each of my gloves on the back side of the hand. When fishing really cold conditions I put a couple in my cap and one inside of my long underwear on each side at the top of my wading boots Stay warm and dry. Catch lots of trout.

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Hey LHarris,

I read your comment about cutting the tag too close with Fireline -

I started out with fireline and loved it, until I used another brand of superline. Fireline is now my least favorite of those lines. It has poor knot strength and is slippery, and not round.

Try PowerPro, it comes in green and has better knot strength and it is round - much easier on your hands and the guides. You won't be dissapointed!

Great post by the way, thanks for sharing!

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Always. Always. Always. Always. Always. Always. Always. Always use a Palomar Knot when tying a lure or snap to Fireline. Always.

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What? No Mister Twisters?

And where are Luhr Jensen Super Duper Spoons?

Great post LHarris.

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have used twisters and duper before.

Have better luck with whats in my box.

Those zip lures are the sleepers for deep pools.

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Great info as always, thanks!!!

Straight/slow retrieve on the Zip lures? Or jigging? (I've never tried these for stream trout.)

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straight and slow.

If you have them on right your line will vibrate big time.

Check the hooks on these. They are some time substandard and need new ones.

Make sure to use swivel or your line will get cut.

I have caught many BIG trout on these early season.

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saw a guy catch a nice brown on an Ugly Duckling stick bait.

Can't find them anywhere.

Any of you ever use one?

I have an email out to the company.


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Don't forget to replace your trebles with sharp singles. I suggest Gamakatsu or Eagle Claw with the larger eyes. You may have to replace split rings but it is really quick and easy. I noticed, here in MN, the streams that get pounded with trebles hold fish that look like Dennis Rodman. Tight lines.

Also, you need not attach a snap swivel nor a split ring to your stick baits. Instead try the Rapala knot ( The swivel or snap will often snag debris in the water and can overweight the head of some of the smaller raps. For larger raps the impact is not as bad. You'll get a little more line twist with the knot but it's neglible.

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I try to stay away from treble hooks for trout. That jig/plastic is a great way to avoid the Dennis Rodman effect grin

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oh yes, love the small x raps. not a ton of wobble if you need/ want that. seems like everything has its time and place

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I try to stay away from treble hooks for trout. That jig/plastic is a great way to avoid the Dennis Rodman effect grin

i replaced the trebles on a rap for my little girl with a single(barbless) tail hook. it still works just fine.

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Anybody try the Yo-Zuri Snap Beans and if so how did you use em with a bobber? I am itching to try em on trout... they look like the might work well but I am not a trout.

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crankbaits with a bobber? i dunno if you're being sarcastic or not. but that doesn't seem like it would fool too many trout

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