Speckled Trout Fly Fishing Tips

Catch more fish with these flies and speckled trout fishing tips

fly-fishing for speckled trout
Speckled trout are game. They are eager fly takers that often save the day when other species just won't cooperate. So why not make them the primary target?Mike Conner

A species that is plentiful and eager to strike flies has to be included in a fly angler’s list of favorites. Case in point, the spotted seatrout, better known as speckled trout throughout the Gulf Coast, is neither the largest fish nor the hardest of fighters, but it often saves the day when more glamorous game manages to evade us. And a day targeting trout specifically is both fun and exciting.

With winter upon us, falling water temperatures perk up the trout. In both Louisiana and Texas, shrimp runs turn on the trout bite in a big way. Along the Atlantic seaboard, baitfish migrations send a plethora of prey — such as mullet and scaled sardines — into coastal bays, and hungry trout wait in ambush around oysters bars, dock pilings and grass flats.

fly-fishing for speckled trout
Conventional methods and traditional fly patterns don’t always produce the best results. For instance, when fishing for trout feeding among hordes of baitfish, if the typical baitfish patterns are not successful, switch to a weighted shrimp pattern or try a dropper rig — a Clouser Minnow or shrimp pattern about a foot under a deer hair or foam popper. This rig also works well when the trout are “flashing” at the fly but not committing. Going to a gaudy color that stands out is another effective option. Seaducers or Bendbacks in hot pink or chartreuse are great choices. On the flip side, a subsurface shrimp pattern is not always the ticket during a major fall or winter shrimp run. Then, a topwater Gurgler is a good alternative. When that fails, switch to a Deceiver or a lead-eye Clouser Minnow. Or tie on a Woolhead Mullet in red-and-white or all black to give those shrimp eaters a real mouthful. As a bonus, that larger offering could be just the fly that produces the biggest speck of the trip.Mike Conner

You choose the scenario: flinging a Clouser Minnow into a channel to bang on schoolies, casting a popper or deer-hair bug at dawn over grass for topwater thrills with trout of all sizes, or wading quietly in shin-deep water for the big “gators.” Chances are trout will come out to play.

catching speckled trout
Seatrout (aka speckled trout) also take advantage of dock lights to ambush shrimp and baitfish.Mike Conner

TACKLE AND LINES

While 5- to 7-weight rods help make the most of fights with trout, remember it’s the bulk and the weight of the flies that best dictate the proper rod and line size. If you are lobbing heavy or air-resistant flies, don’t struggle with light rods. An 8-weight ­effectively handles most streamers and poppers.

Carrying a pair of rigged outfits, one with a floating line and another with an intermediate sinking line, lets you cover enough of the water column. I’ve had great success casting topwater and subsurface flies with clear floating lines, such as Cortland’s PE+ Liquid Crystal. They’re excellent for prospecting in clear water or bright, sunny days. But on days when the trout go deep, you’ll fare better with a line that sinks at 3 to 5 inches per second.

fly-fishing for speckled trout
This unconventional foam popper imitates a fleeing shrimp, and the noise and splash it produces attract and excite fish.Zach Stovall
Clouser Minnow flies
Carry some with lead eyes for deep work and some with bead-chain eyes for shallower areas.Zach Stovall
Bendback flies
This inverted tie is particularly well suited for slow stripping over sea grass and oyster bottoms.Zach Stovall
Seaducer flies
This suspending fly lands softly, and the action of its splayed feathers makes it ideal for short strike zones.Zach Stovall

FLY SELECTION

Small seatrout mostly target shrimp, but they increasingly feed on finfish as they grow. So a good trout fly selection includes patterns that mimic both. Hook sizes run from No. 6 or No. 4 for flies that imitate tiny prey to 2/0 or 3/0 for big mullet patterns to tempt those big gator trout. A 10- to 12-pound fluorocarbon tippet on the end of a 7- to 10-foot tapered leader should suffice. But for sinking fly lines and flies, you can go as short as 4 to 5 feet.