Spinning gear is the top choice of Iowa trout anglers. Ultra-light equipment is preferred because it can cast very light and small baits and lures. It handles light monofilament line of 6-pound test or less well and allows for maximum excitement when fighting a trout. Make sure your reel is balanced with the rod. Choose a 5 to 7 feet rod with a quick, sensitive action that can cast one-sixteenth ounce lures and baits of that weight or less.
Fly-fishing and trout are synonymous. Use the manufacture’s recommendation listed on the rod to correctly match your reel and line to your rod. A 7 1/2 to 8 foot fly rod with medium to slow action is perfect for Iowa trout fishing. Pick a reel that suits you best. Fly lines come in many weights and styles. Attach a leader, preferably tapered, with a 3-pound test tippet to the heavy line; small barbed eyelets are available to do so.
Natural trout baits include worms, minnows, crayfish, grasshoppers, crickets, waxworms and other insect larvae. Hooks for these baits range from No. 6 to 14; match bait size with hook size. Thread the worm on the hook in at least two places and cover the whole hook. Trout sometimes pick up a worm, crush it, drop it and then pick it up again. This nibbling habit makes a cautious fish hard to catch on an exposed hook point.
Grasshoppers and crickets are most often used in the late summer and early fall. Hook them once through the hard portion of their body, above the front legs, or simply thread them on to the hook. These baits work best when drifted downstream into likely trout cover.
Minnows are sometimes used to catch large brown trout. Hook the minnow lightly through the back or lip and drift it into the deep pools with hiding habitat structure. Minnow pieces can also be used as cut bait. Small, soft-shell crayfish and fish eggs, usually from salmon, work well when drifted in a similar way. Use egg hooks for salmon eggs.
Prepared trout bait ranges from commercial products to homemade creations. Most varieties come in small chunks or balls. Cast them across a pool and let them drift with the current. Other popular baits include whole kernel corn and marshmallows.
Artificial trout lures are about the same as for any other game fish; only the size is usually smaller. Use small spinners, plugs or jigs (one-sixteenth to one-sixty/fourth ounce in weight) fished upstream with a flexible speed retrieve. The lure looks more natural in this position and it is easier for a trout to chase and pick it up. Spinners and jigs can be dressed with a variety of materials or with live bait. Marabou or soft plastic twister tails are the most popular. Vary the speed of your retrieve if you are not catching fish.
Most trout flies imitate some type of natural food, such as a mayfly, caddis fly, sculpin, minnow, stonefly, grasshopper or midge. Trout fishing flies can be found that match almost all of the varying life stages of aquatic and terrestrial insects that are likely to be along any coldwater stream.