The Best Trout Lures of All Time: Spoons

January 28, 2019

Fishing lure spoons are much different than your dinner utensils. Like spinners and hard baits, they come in a huge variety of styles, colors, and sizes. A spoon is a cut or stamped piece of metal, many having a shape similar to your cereal spoon, but many others having altered designs to achieve different purposes. No matter the design, spoons usually imitate swimming and injured baitfish, which keys into the instincts of predatory fish like trout to make them strike even when they aren’t hungry. These six spoons are all a little different among their characteristics, except the fact that they catch tons of trout.


Acme Kastmaster
Acme Tackle Company has simply dominated the trout spoon game and we’re kicking this list off with three lures from this manufacturer. First up is the Kastmaster. This lure probably doesn’t need much introduction because I know you’ve heard of them before. It has a simple design that imitates a minnow profile. The flat-angled front profile absolutely brings this spoon to life in the water. When retrieved, the Kastmaster has a distinct back-and-forth tight wobble that doesn’t twist your line, throws off tons of flash, and does a phenomenal job representing a swimming baitfish. Even the smallest sizes can be cast a country mile without added weight and they sink fast to reach holding trout in deep water. You will need to retrieve this spoon relatively fast to prevent snagging on the bottom, but that fast retrieve further acts like an injured baitfish running for cover and begs trout to hit. There are so many effective colors and sizes available that it’s hard to narrow it down to the best. When targeting small stocked trout, you will not be disappointed with anything between the 1/32 and 1/8 oz. sizes. I have a preference towards the color variations including chrome, and my favorites are Chrome/Chartreuse, Chrome/Neon Blue Stripe, and the standard Chrome. Throw in Gold and Copper, and you have the bases covered. Scale these sizes up to the 1/2 and 3/4 oz. sizes to cast for salmon and steelhead off shore. I’ll end the Kastmaster segment with this: you’re doing yourself a huge disservice by not trying these.


Acme Little Cleo Spoon
Next up from Acme is the Cleo Spoon. This is another spoon that everyone knows and loves. Featuring a more standard utensil shape, Little Cleo’s wobble erratically in the water when retrieved and flutter nicely down to deeper depths. Available in smooth and hammered (textured) finishes, dozens of effective colors, and a wide size range, these lures will cover pretty much any water condition you’ll be fishing. Cleo’s have really made a name for themselves in the success they bring by casting to big Rainbow Trout and Steelhead. Like the Kastmaster, you need to get yourself a few Cleo’s with a chrome color. Nickle Neon Blue, Nickel Neon Green, Nickel Black Stripe and the standard Nickel colors are necessities when you’re out on the water, right up there among the ranks of bug spray and toilet paper. The glow finishes on some colors make for some great night fishing lures as well, especially when you’re targeting those big mean Brown Trout. I like the 1/8 oz. sizes for smaller trout, but some colors are available in weights all the way up to an impressive 1 ¼ oz. weight that is perfect for casting in large rivers or from shore to big salmon. Again, you’re missing out on huge trout-catching opportunities if you haven’t tried the Little Cleo before. Definitely look into the Acme K.O. Wobbler for a similar spoon in terms of its design, effectiveness, and popularity among trout anglers.


Acme Phoebe
You aren’t going to find many other spoons that better resemble a small baitfish. The Phoebe is our last on this list from Acme and perhaps while not quite as popular as the Kastmaster or Little Cleo among anglers, you should not and cannot overlook this lure as a trout magnet. While still technically a spoon, the Phoebe is much different from the other spoons on this list. The unique curve of the body and protruding fins create a fantastic wobble while reeling in that can’t be replicated be other lures. Add on the hammered texture, and you’ll find yourself in possession of one of the most perfect baitfish imitators available to anglers. This is a lighter-weight lure perfectly suited for smaller water trout fishing, and that curved body produces great action for ice fishing and jigging. Brown Trout are one of the most aggressive trout species and eat a lot of baitfish, often cannibalizing other small trout. Because of this, I fish a lot of Phoebes when targeting Brown Trout, as the Phoebe features everything that a live baitfish offers. I really like using the Metallic Perch, Brown Trout, Copper colors, even in stained water. You’ll find that the Phoebe routinely outfishes other lures in your arsenal and deserves a spot in your box right next to its Kastmaster and Little Cleo sibblings.


Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoon
Let’s beef things up a bit. Simple biology tells us that big predators often eat prey. There’s not many things that will eat a real-life crocodile, but the Krocodile Spoon from Luhr Jensen is a big exception. This elongated spoon is available in lengths exceeding 3 inches, which represents quite a large meal for many trout. The long, skinny profile of the Krocodile also nicely mimics the long and skinny profile of most baitfish, which again, is a huge attractant to predatory fish like trout. That elongated body also creates a slower, almost hypnotic, back-and-forth wobble motion in the water that is more characteristic of larger, rather than smaller, baitfish. All of these features mean than the Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoon routinely catches larger and trophy-sized trout, in addition to a lot of other big sportfish like walleye, bass, pike, and musky. A subtle, but really nice feature of the Krocodile Spoon is the small red paddle where the treble hook attaches to the lure body. The paddle acts like a hot-spot and imitates a bleeding baitfish, which is just another reason why the Krocodile is attractive to trout. Trout due in fact have color vision and can perceive red colors. The paddle moves independently of the lure body, so as you reel it in, it looks like a blood trail is being left behind (talk about keying into a trout’s insticts!). This lure also receives a lot of praise for it’s durability and will hold up nicely to rocks, submerged structure, and lots of fish teeth. Luhr Jensen put together a heck of spoon when they made the Krocodile.


Eppinger Dardevle Spoon
What the Mepps Aglia is to spinners, so is the Eppinger Dardevle to spoons. The Dardevle has been around for over a century, and has been catching fish non-stop since its introduction. You’ll find a lot of old Dardevle’s in tackle boxes at garage sales all over the place because just about everyone has used them for years. There’s a ton of anglers that see this as the quintessential spoon, and for good reason. It’s considered the most popular all-around lure ever made and it’s the spoon by which all other spoons are compared against. Those are MAJOR accomplishments! The Dardevle has the classic spoon shape and comes in a huge variety of colors and sizes. Your vest or tackle box is simply not complete without a few Red/White Stripe models. I really like throwing the larger sizes in bright colors, like Chartreuse/Green Stripe and Chartreuse/Fluorescent Orange Diamonds, when I’m fishing very stained water with low visibility. The Shad (Alewife) and Hammered Nickel/Blue variations are great for casting to offshore salmon and Steelhead, and all the colors from 1/4 to 1 oz. make for great trolling lures. Whether cast or trolled, the Dardevle is going to catch you a lot of trout. You could dedicate all the valuable space in your box to Dardevle’s and you’ll be all the more successful on the water.


Thomas Buoyant Spoon
The last on our list of trout spoons is a perennial powerhouse on trout waters from any region. The Thomas Buoyant Spoon is another lure that’s been catching fish for decades. It’s developed a great following among many trout anglers, especially those who fish smaller water and mountain creeks. The asymmetrical bend in the lure body and the offset cutouts near the rear give the Buoyant Spoon an erratic and highly-effective wobble. This is one of the more uncommon spoons in that it can be retrieved at a relatively slow rate and it still maintains its wobble action without sinking too quickly and hanging up on the bottom. You’ll actually want to reel these in a little slower than other spoons as the Buoyant is prone to “blow out” or twist unnaturally when retrieved too fast. These are fantastic when cast for Rainbow and Brook Trout, and they work quite well when ice fishing and jigging. As much as I appreciate spoons with the natural metal chrome color on the inside face of the lure, I really like the fact that there are many Buoyant Spoon color options where both sides of the lure has a different color finish. There aren’t an overwhelming number of sizes available, but that’s no issue. The 1/6 and 1/4 oz. options cover just about all situations you’ll find yourself in when small trout and small water fishing. The 1/2 and 5/8 oz. sizes are all you need for bigger water fishing and casting from shore. Thomas makes a number of amazing trout lures, but the Buoyant Spoon has staked its claim among trout anglers as one of the best ever made.

There are a lot of great trout spoons available to anglers these days. What makes these spoons stand out among the rest is largely due to the fact that they’ve been around forever. But even more important is that they are still outfishing a lot of newer lures available to anglers. Do yourself a favor and build your trout spoon box around these six. Spoons are much different than spinners and hard baits, but having some of each type is a great way to set yourself up for success in your local trout waters.

Read on for Part 4: Hard Baits

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