How to Troll for Trout and Salmon

How to Troll for Trout and Salmon
How to Troll for Trout and Salmon

How to Troll For Trout

The FHS Method is based on three speed ranges and the principle that as a trout angler the goal is always to eliminate non-productive water, while identifying prime locations. This allows the angler to cut even large bodies of water down to size and maximize success. The more time you keep your baits in front of the trout, the more trout you’re going to catch in most cases. The more trout you catch, the more big trout you’ll catch. 

Phase 1: The Scouting Troll

The goal of the Scouting Troll is to cover a lot of water quickly looking for “key targets”.  These targets can be balls of bait, suspended fish, or surface activity.  When you see a target, make note of what kind of structure, if any, it may be on, the depth of the water and targets, and the conditions around the targets (wind, weather, water clarity, temp).  You will probably revisit these spots later.

  • Start by trolling fast (2.7-3.5MPH)
  • Use larger, aggressive gear like Speed Spoons, XL Metal Head Flies, Cripple Minnows, etc.
  • Cover water to determine 4-5 “key target” areas of the lake to concentrate on later.
  • If you catch fish trolling fast, keep it up until that bite stops or you limit out.
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Phase 2: The Tactical Troll

This is the Phase where most trout are caught and where almost anything in the tackle box is an option to tie on.  During the Tactical Troll, concentrate only on the “key targets” you identified in Phase 1. Don’t use this phase to scout new water, this is the time to really dial in on a bite in specific conditions.

  • Troll 2.0-2.6MPH
  • Spoons, flies, plastics, and plugs are all options in the Tactical Troll. Make sure your tackle is complementary to your spread.  Don’t troll a 7” long jointed plug designed to run at 4MPH next to a rolled crawler designed to run at 1.5MPH. 
  • Focus on specific conditions that you noted in the Scouting Troll. If the fish are on points, concentrate on points. 
  • Circle back on target areas multiple times with different presentations until you start to dial in the bite.
  • If you catch fish, keep it up. If the bite dies or never really starts, go back to the Fast Troll in search of new water, or move to Phase 3 of the method.
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Phase 3: The Finesse Troll

Although the Finesse Troll is a staple of the FHS Method, we prefer the days when it is not required. Sometimes, the bite is not wide open, and you must grind for fish.  In Phase 3, we are just looking for a reaction bite from lethargic fish not necessarily looking to chase a meal.

  • Troll 1.5-2.0MPH
  • Smaller baits like JR Trigger Spoons, Small flies, Small Plugs, grubs
  • Use Attractors like, Turbo Flashers, Dodgers and scent
  • Natural presentations including rolling Nightcrawlers
  • Fish from Shallow to deep and back to shallow looking for any patterns.
  • If you are catching a fish here and there, keep grinding.
  • Go Back to Phase 1 to scout new water, or if conditions change (clouds blow in or clear, wind picks up or changes direction)


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