Lake trout fly fishing is not a common practice, but it can be a lot of fun. They may not dance like a rainbow, but they will give your rod arm a good workout.

Shop Our Essential Fly Boxes

When and Where to Go

Lake trout live mostly in the large and deep northern lakes of North America. They are also called Mackinaw or lake char and can grow to be very large. Lake trout between 15 to 40 pounds are not uncommon and the largest lake trout ever caught was 72 pounds. (I’ll bet it wasn’t caught on a fly rod!)

The lake trout feed on all kinds of flesh like smelt, eels and minnows.

To find out where to fly fish for lake trout in your area, go to your state department of fish and games website and do a search. In Oregon, Odell and Crescent lakes are good choices.

Once you have identified a potential lake your next step is to fish the shoreline.

Since these trout prefer cold and oxygen-rich waters and live at depths of 60 to 200 feet in the summer, you will need to do your lake trout fly fishing in the spring or fall.

Once the water temperature starts to drop (below 52 degrees), lake trout start moving out of the deep water toward sunken reefs, narrows and rocky points to feed. At this time you may find them in water from 5 to 25 feet deep.

Lake Trout Fly Fishing Equipment

• You will need a good 8 or 9 weight graphite fly rod.

• A good-quality large arbor fly reel with a good drag and lots of backing

• Heavy sink-tip fly line

• This is not the right time to go light with your leader. Use a 0x tippet attached to a braided leader.

• Thermometer to test the water temperature

• And you have a boat, right? If you are going to try this from a float tube can I come watch?

Tips and Techniques

• Lake trout fly fishing can be effective when a large streamer is swung with a sink-tip fly line. These are used to imitate baitfish.

• Use weighted strip leeches (3 ½ to 5 inches long) with some tinsel or any pattern with a rabbit strip wing. The undulating of the rabbit fur makes the streamer come alive.

• Once you hook a lake trout it will head for the deep water and make you work for every crank of your reel.

• Try trolling a fly behind the boat. I know it just sounds wrong but give it a try.

Get Ready to Enjoy the Water

Continue exploring the facets of fly fishing that make it so enthralling. Be sure to check out our preselected fly boxes to optimize your fly selection.