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Speckled trout fishermen are a special breed. They’re willing to make a thousand casts with a variety of speckled trout lures in the hope of fooling one of the most finicky saltwater fish. Speckled trout sharpies know their favorite fish requires a silent approach, accurate cast, careful retrieve, and light touch. And of course, they need the right bait. I love chasing gators and after many seasons dialing them in, I learned what makes the best speckled trout lures. Here are my picks:
- Best Overall: Z-Man Trout Trick
- Best Scented: Berkley Gulp! Alive! Paddleshad
- Best Topwater: Heddon Super Spook
- Best for Winter: MirrOlure MirrOdine
- Best Budget: D.O.A. Shrimp
- Best Jerkbait: Rapala X-Rap
How I Picked the Best Speckled Trout Lures
My tackle box is full of trout lures that I’ve only fished a few times. I keep the best speckled trout lures tied on my light-action spinning and casting rods. My confidence lures made my list of the best speckled trout lures. As a long-time speckled trout angler, who has experienced good times and lean times, I’ve had the opportunity to test a wide variety of speckled trout lures. As a long-time outdoor writer, I’ve developed a network of speck heads across the country. From the Gulf to the southeast and mid-Atlantic, these lures produce speckled trout across the country. To compile my list of the best lures for speckled trout, I took the top contenders to the water and put them in front of speckled trout. The winning lures were easiest to fish, most reliable producers, and readily available at your local tackle shop.
Best Specked Trout Lures: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Z-Man Trout Trick
- Length: 5 inches
- Material: ElaZtech
- Weight: 1/8 ounce
- Must-have colors: Fried Chicken, Pumpkin Chartreuse, Bad Shad
- Stretchy, durable soft plastic
- Ribbed tail
- Deep profile
- Not available in scented version
Z-Man’s Trout Trick is responsible for 80 percent of the speckled trout I catch. Apparently, the same is true for many other anglers: the soft-plastic swimbait is one of the most popular speckled trout lures. Speckled trout love the lure’s rapidly vibrating tail and slow side-to-side roll. I love ElaZtech because it’s a nearly indestructible soft plastic capable of standing up against the trout’s sharp teeth. ElaZtec contains no PVC, and it is nontoxic, so lost lures don’t become an environmental hazard. You can rig the Trout Trick weedless with a 4/0 Gamakatsu Superline. Or when you don’t need to rig it weedless, you can thread it on a Z-Man Trout Eye jighead. The best way to work the bait is to give it a few twitches and then pause it to let it dart as it sinks. The bites usually come on the pause, so be ready.
Best Scented: Berkley Gulp! Alive! Paddleshad
- Length: 3 to 5 inches
- Weight: ⅛ ounce
- Must-have colors: Pearl/Chartreuse, New Penny, Black/Gold
- Reinforced nose
- Rechargeable scent
- Not as durable
When speckled trout don’t bite any other lure, they’ll crush a Gulp! Alive! Paddleshad. That’s because it uses a fish attractant with over a decade of proven results and countless Gulp! vs. Bait trials. To search for speckled trout, I use a 3-inch Paddleshad rigged on a 3/8-ounce jig head and work it with a steady retrieve or bounce it off the bottom. If I’m fishing over grass beds, I thread the Paddleshad on a weedless hook. Gulp! Alive! uses a porous soft plastic to disperse a chemical scent. The scientists at Berkley designed the Paddleshad’s scent to imitate a speckled trout’s favorite foods like menhaden and shad. While Gulp! is not as durable as other soft plastics, I find the Paddleshad’s thick body makes it more likely to survive a day of speckled trout fishing. It’s not only one of the best speckled trout lures, but it’s also one of the best redfish lures.
Best Topwater: Heddon Super Spook
- Length: 5 inches
- Weight: ⅞ ounce
- Must-have colors: Bone Silver, red/white, Speckled Trout
- Walk-the-dog action
- Corrosion-resistant hooks
- 18 color choices
- Light-wire hooks need to be replaced regularly
There are a lot of walk-the-dog lures that could have made the best speckled trout lures list, but after decades of proven performance, Heddon’s Super Spook is undeniable the best. It imitates a mullet’s zig-zag path as it swims across the surface. To work the lure, hold the rod tip low and crank the reel at a slow, steady pace while lightly jerking the rod tip. This makes the lure dance from side to side. If you’re missing fish when they strike, you’re likely setting the hook when you see the water explode. Instead, fight the urge to set the hook when the water erupts and keep walking the dog until you feel the fish’s weight. Trout and other game fish typically swipe at a spook a few times before they finally eat it.
The Super Spook is available in a wide variety of colors, which allows me to match the bait to the fishing conditions. Three super-sharp, light-wire treble hooks improve the hook-up ratio but need to be replaced when they bend out of shape. The hooks are attached with split rings, so they are easy to replace. If you want to avoid treble hooks, you can swap them with Owner Single Replacement Hooks.
Best for Winter: MirrOlure MirrOdine
- Length: 3 ⅛ inch
- Weight: 1 ounce
- Must have colors: Chartreuse back/pearl, Pilchard, Shad, Pinfish, Electric Chicken
- Slow sink
- New styles and colors
- Deep body
- Difficult to change hooks
Speckled sea trout have laser-sharp vision and a discerning palate, so it takes an ultra-realistic lure moving like the real thing to fool a gator trout. For years, MirrOlure has answered the call with the MirrOdine twitch bait. The heavy-bodied lure dangles in a trout’s face like an injured baitfish, moving super slow and hanging enticingly in water. In my area, winter is the best time to catch a trophy speck and the MirrOdine 17 MR is perfect for enticing lethargic trout in cold water. The super-slow retrieve means a trout gets a good look at a twitch bait, so the MirrOdine comes in dozens of colors, including new life-like menhaden, shad, and mullet patterns.
Best Budget: D.O.A. Shrimp
- Length: 4 inches
- Weight: ½ ounce
- Must-have colors: Figi Chicken, Holographic, Rootbeer Gold Glitter, Near Clear
- 62 colors
- Real shrimp scent
- Durable soft plastic
- Small hook
Simple, effective, and deadly, the D.O.A. Shrimp is one of the best budget speckled trout lures. It’s also one of the most versatile lures. I bounce the shrimp off the bottom, twitch on the fall, or dangle it under a popping cork. The lure sinks slowly and darts erratically, like a real shrimp. The plastic is impregnated with the scent of farm-raised shrimp, so the D.O.A. Shrimp tastes like the real thing. I like the wide variety of colors to match the wide variety of shrimp I see from season to season and area to area. When the trout are keyed in on shrimp, nothing matches the menu like D.O.A.’s Shrimp.
Best Jerkbait: Rapala X-Rap
- Weight: 1 ¼ ounces
- Length: 5 ¼ inches
- Hooks: 2/0 treble
- Must-have colors: Glass Ghost, Hot Pink, Bunker
- Troll or cast
- 3X strong hooks
- Internal casting weight
- Only 15 colors
Rapala’s X-Rap is one of my more recent additions to my list of the best speckled trout lures. Jerkbaits made their way to saltwater from freshwater bass fishing and immediately picked up speckled trout fans. The long, slender, lipped hard bait works as a jerkbait, swimming plug, or even a trolling lure, making one of Rapala’s best saltwater lures. To make the X-Rap a search bait, cast it out and work it steadily back to the boat. For lethargic or finicky trout, I use the pause-and-jerk cadence. When the trout are really spread out, I slow troll the lure at two miles per hour, holding the rod and giving the lure a hard yank every few seconds. The X-rap’s ability to find fish and provoke a bite makes it the most recent addition to my trout arsenal.
Things to Consider Before Buying Speckled Trout Lures
Speckled trout fishing is all about shallow water, light tackle, and the thump you feel when a gator eats your bait. On a fall morning, you can find me slowly finessing my lure through the grass, tuned in to feel the slightest tap on the line. I turn the reel handle, wait, turn the reel handle, wait. Then, Thump! Just writing about the tell-tale thump of a big trout inhaling my lure lifts the hackles on the back of my neck.
Big specks are notoriously catty: capable of short strikes, missed bites, and pulled hooks. Not only does a trout lure look good, but it must also be deadly. If you manage to dig a hook into the trout’s thin mouth, pray it stays stuck while the big fish shakes its head on the surface.
The best trout lures are carefully designed for realism, action, and durability to match the challenges of speckled trout fishing. Here are a few tips for choosing the best speckled trout lures.
Speckled trout are famous for laser-sharp eyesight. To pull the wool over a speck’s eyes, a lure must look and act like a real fish. Speckled trout lures come in a wide range of colors and patterns to match minor visual cues that can make a big difference to the fish. Consider the color and shape of local baitfish, then compensate with a darker lure under overcast skies, a brighter lure in dirty water, and a more realistic pattern in clear water.
A slight flick of the wrist or a little pause in the retrieve will spark a speckled trout’s appetite. Working the best speckled trout lure takes practice and patience. Speckled trout fanatics spend a lifetime perfecting their technique.
The best speckled trout lures turn the slightest pause, twitch, jerk, or bounce into a fish-attracting dance of seduction. Twitch baits dart, jerkbaits slash, soft plastics ripple in the current, and topwater lures walk the surface like a runway model. The best lures for speckled trout have proven action specks can’t ignore.
Don’t let a specs paper-like mouth fool you, they have two needle-like fangs that will tear up a lure. Those fangs can rip soft plastics, and scratch the finish of hard baits. The best lures for speckled trout can stand up to the abuse with durable materials and tough components. Look for hard baits with replaceable hooks and soft plastics with super-stretchy plastic.
Speckled trout have sharp eyes and a finicky appetite, so lure color is one of the most important keys to catching a gator. In clear water, I go with natural colors including brown, black, and white with patterns including stripes and spots. If the fish are super tight, I choose a lure that is a replica of the local baitfish. For example, one of the most popular speckled trout colors is “baby speckled trout.” Apparently, big trout like to eat smaller trout. When the water is cloudy or dirty, I go the other direction with white, bright pink or chartreuse with added flash and sparkles. I feel like the bright color gets the fish’s attention and stands out against the dirty water. To add a flash of color and slow the sink rate of twitchbaits and jerkbaits, speckled trout sharpies tie red bucktail and feathers to the trailer hook. Low-light conditions call for solid color lures, my favorite choices at night are dark purple or black. The dark color silhouettes against any ambient light making it easier for the fish to see the bait.
The best aspect of speckled trout fishing is fooling one the smartest fish in the sea. The first thing I do to attract speckled trout is add a gel fish attractant to my soft plastics. Not only does the added scent attract trout, but I think it encourages the fish to hold onto the bait longer. This gives me a split second more time to set the hook. I dab onto the lure a booger-sized glob of scent, then use the top of the scent bottle to spread the scent. I try to avoid touching the lure or the gel with my hands. Fish attractant is designed to stick to anything, even when wet, so it’s hard to wash off your hands. Color is another important factor. Don’t be afraid to try a half dozen different colors and patterns on a tough day fishing. I keep several rods rigged with different colors and styles of speckled trout lure so I can quickly change lures or tactics. The final step in attracting speckled trout is paying close attention to the action and cadence of the lure. Speckled trout aficionados pride themselves on their seductive trout moves. Bouncing a jig along the bottom, slashing and pausing a twitch bait or swimming a swimbait is science to the most successful trout pros. Think like the lure, imagining how the slightest change in rod position, timing, speed and action will have on the fish. When I find a pattern that attracts the fish, I stick to it to keep the trout biting.
The lures in this review range from $3.99 to $18.99. Speckled trout gurus pay extra for custom lures with personalized colors, but I find that the old favorites are the best lures at the best price.
The biggest expense is durability. Speckled trout have sharp teeth and a violent strike. Weaker lures will only last one or two fish. The lures in this review have been tested to last all day, even several days. The more often I change lures, the more often I have to visit the tackle shop. Also, remember you’ll need jig heads or weedless hooks to go with the soft plastics. Adding hooks doubles the price of a soft plastic lure. Hard plastic lures are more expensive but they last longer. By changing out the hooks after each season, and cleaning and polishing my lures with car wax, I keep my MirrOlures and X-Raps looking like new. Speckled trout lures aren’t super expensive, but buying a variety of colors and models to appeal to the trout’s fancy tastes will add up.
Final Thoughts on the Best Speckled Trout Lures
The ultimate judge of the best speckled trout lure is a speckled trout. The votes are in, and the fish have chosen Z-Man’s TroutTrick as the best lure for speckled sea trout. Bounce the soft plastic paddletail along the bottom or retrieve with a steady pace, the TroutTrick is one of the most versatile lures in my tackle box. Add a coating of gel fish attractant, and the trout latch on and stay hooked. Rig the soft plastic on a 1/8 to 3/8 ounce TroutEye jighead with a large hook to snare the trout’s thin mouth. Or, rig the TroutTrick on a weedless hook to suspend the lure over thick grass. I use the TroutTrick as a search bait to find feeding fish. The simple lure is responsible for some of my biggest catches.