13 Best Lake Trout Ice Fishing Lures – Top Tips & Advice

Ice fishing for lake trout presents unique challenges and exciting opportunities for anglers during winter. 

To increase your chances of success, choosing the best lake trout ice-fishing lures that cater to various conditions and depths is important. 

Live bait, such as minnows and wax worms, may be effective, but many ice anglers prefer artificial lures due to their versatility and adaptability to changing water conditions.

Lake trout are apex predators that typically reside in deeper water during winter. They target small baitfish, such as yellow perch and rainbow trout, at various depths within the water column. 

Consider using small jigs paired with a jig head or soft plastics to imitate these prey. Soft plastics, like white tubes or hair jigs, are particularly effective in deeper water, often enticing bigger fish to strike. 

For shallower water and brown trout, you might want to explore lipless crankbaits and rattle baits, which excel at attracting attention with their unique action and sound. Hyper-realistic designs and the right colors can make a big difference in enticing these elusive fish to bite.

When targeting big lake trout in the Great Lakes or Lake Superior, you may want to experiment with larger artificial lures, such as Swedish pimples, and tube baits like the Kodiak Custom Tube Jig. 

These lures are known for their flash and ability to imitate small baitfish, making them popular among seasoned anglers. 

A key tip for ice fishing success with these lures is to vary your jigging technique while keeping your rod tip in constant motion, allowing the lure to free-fall and glide through the water column. 

Use a fish finder or be prepared to adjust your approach as water temperatures and conditions change throughout the winter.

Best Lake Trout Ice Fishing Lures

When it comes to ice fishing for lake trout, choosing the best lures is essential to increase your chances of catching these elusive fish. 

This section will discuss top lures for lake trout ice fishing, including the Acme Kastmaster, Strike King Rage Swimmer, and others.

1. Acme Kastmaster

acme Kastmaster Fishing Lure, Gold, 1 oz.

Acme Kastmaster lures are popular among ice anglers for their versatility and effectiveness in various water conditions.

They are especially effective in deeper water, as they can be jigged vertically to attract trout from multiple depths in the water column. With their flashy design, these lures are an ideal addition to your tackle box.

2. Strike King Rage Swimmer

Strike King RGSW234-47 Rage Tail Rage Swimmer, 2-3/4", Green Pumpkin Pearl Belly

The Strike King Rage Swimmer is a soft plastic lure that mimics the movement of small baitfish, making it an attractive option for lake trout seeking a quick meal. 

It is perfect for shallow water and can be used with a jig head or a lipless crankbait. In addition to rainbow trout, this lure may attract brown trout, who prefer shallower water and colder water temperatures.

3. Swedish Pimple

Bay De Noc 7PRL 2-3/4-Inch Swedish Pimple Jig, 3/4-Ounce, Pearl

A classic ice fishing lure, the Swedish Pimple effectively attracts a wide variety of fish species, including lake trout, yellow perch, and northern pike. 

Its versatile design can be used in shallow and deeper water, giving anglers the best chance to catch their target. Jigging the Swedish Pimple, which features a lot of flash, is a great way to entice lake trout to strike.

4. Rapala Snap Rap

Rapala Snap Rap Hard Bait Lure, Freshwater, Size 06, 2 1/2" Length, Variable Depth, Glow Yellow Perch, Per 1, 6 (SNR06GYP)

Explicitly designed for jigging, the Rapala Snap Rap is an excellent choice for ice anglers targeting larger fish such as lake trout. Its unique design allows for a free fall through the water column, triggering predators like trout to respond aggressively. 

When paired with a fish finder, this lure can significantly increase the chances of a successful ice fishing trip.

5. Bay De Noc Laker Taker

Bay de Noc Laker Taker, Fluorescent Green

The Bay De Noc Laker Taker is another effective lure for lake trout ice fishing. Its design, which includes a rattle chamber, attracts fish by mimicking the sounds of their natural prey. 

Because it is most effective in colder conditions and deeper water, this lure is a great addition to any ice-fishing tackle box.

6. Northland Tackle Buckshot Rattle Spoon

Northland Tackle BRS3K-3-99 Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon, Multi, One Size

Ice anglers targeting lake trout should keep the Northland Tackle Buckshot Rattle Spoon in their arsenal. Its rattle baits help attract the trout’s attention, making it more likely for a fish to strike. 

Try using this lure in areas with current flows and deeper water depths for the best results.

7. Rapala Jigging Shad Rap

Rapala Jigging Shad Rap 03 Fishing lure, 1.5-Inch, Glow Clown

Another popular lure for ice fishing lake trout is the Rapala Jigging Shad Rap. With its hyper-realistic . design and excellent action, it can effectively mimic small baitfish, making it a go-to lure for anglers seeking big trout. 

The Rapala Jigging Shad Rap is suitable for shallow and deeper water, providing versatility for various fishing conditions.

8. Kodiak Custom Tube Jig

Kodiak Custom Tube Jig 6" 0.75oz Chartreuse Red

The Kodiak Custom Tube Jig is a premium fishing lure designed to help you catch more fish. Crafted with precision and care, this tube jig is made with high-quality materials built to last. 

The jig head is made of durable lead material painted with a chip-resistant finish, ensuring that it looks great even after multiple uses.

The tube body is made of soft yet durable plastic that mimics the movement of real baitfish, making it irresistible to game fish. The tube is also infused with a scent that attracts fish from far and wide, increasing your chances of a successful catch.

The Kodiak Custom Tube Jig comes in various colors and sizes, allowing you to choose the perfect lure for your fishing needs. 

9. Rapala Rippin Rap

Rippin' Rap 07 Road Trip

The Rapala Rippin Rap is a must-have lure for any angler looking to catch lake trout while ice fishing. This lure is specifically designed to mimic the movements of a baitfish, making it irresistible to hungry lake trout.

The Rippin Rap has a unique lipless design, which allows it to sink quickly to the bottom of the lake and produce a compelling vibration that attracts fish from a distance. The lure also has a loud rattle that adds to its appeal, making it an excellent choice for murky or low-light conditions.

In addition to its impressive fish-catching abilities, the Rippin Rap is also built to withstand the harsh conditions of ice fishing. It is made of durable construction, and high-quality materials ensure it can handle cold temperatures, rough terrain, and hard strikes with ice fishing.

The Rapala Rippin Rap is a versatile and effective lure perfect for targeting lake trout during the winter months. Its realistic movements, loud rattle, and durable construction make it a top choice among ice anglers.

10. Williams Whitefish Spoon

Williams Whitefish Large Fishing Lure - C90 Blue & Yellow Nuwrinkle - C90BYN

The Williams Whitefish Spoon is necessary for any serious ice fisherman targeting lake trout. This spoon is designed with a realistic whitefish profile and a natural finish that mimics a real whitefish’s natural coloration and movement. 

This attention to detail makes the Williams Whitefish Spoon irresistible to lake trout, a voracious predator.

One of the key benefits of the Williams Whitefish Spoon is its versatility. It can be fished in various ways, including jigging, trolling, and casting. This makes it an ideal choice for anglers who like to switch up their tactics depending on the fish’s conditions and behavior.

Another advantage of the Williams Whitefish Spoon is its durability. It is constructed from high-quality materials that are designed to withstand the rigors of ice fishing. 

This means it can handle the harsh conditions of frozen lakes and resist the wear and tear from repeated use.

11. VMC Hair Jig

VMC Moon Tail Jig 3/8 Purple Albino, Multi, One Size (MTJ38-PA)

The VMC Hair Jig is a versatile and effective jigging lure perfect for catching lake trout while ice fishing. This jig is designed with a unique hair body that mimics the appearance and movement of natural baitfish, making it irresistible to hungry lake trout. 

The VMC Hair Jig is also equipped with a premium VMC hook that is incredibly sharp and strong, ensuring that once a fish bites, it won’t be able to escape.

One of the key benefits of the VMC Hair Jig is its versatility. This jig can be fished in various ways, from slow and steady retrieves to aggressive jigging, making it effective in different fishing conditions. 

The VMC Hair Jig is available in a variety of sizes and colors, so anglers can choose the perfect jig for the specific lake trout they are targeting.

Another advantage of the VMC Hair Jig is its durability. This jig is built to withstand the harsh conditions of ice fishing, with tough and durable construction that can handle the cold temperatures, rough ice, and hard-fighting fish common when targeting lake trout.

12. Mepp’s Syclops

Mepp's Syclops-Plain trbl, Rainbow Trout, Multi, one Size (SY3 RBT)

The Mepp’s Syclops is popular among anglers who enjoy ice fishing for lake trout. This lure is designed to mimic a rainbow trout’s natural movement and appearance, a common prey for lake trout. The Syclops-Plain features a treble hook that is sharp and durable, making it effective at hooking and holding onto fish.

This lure is effective in clear or murky water, making it an excellent choice for catching lake trout through the ice.

13. Strike King Red-Eyed Shad

Strike King REYESDTT34-402 Red Eyed Shad Tungsten 2 Tap, Chrome Black

The Strike King Red Eyed Shad is a popular fishing lure designed to mimic a fleeing baitfish’s action. It features a unique design with a red eye and a free-floating rattle that creates a loud, fish-attracting sound.

Many anglers have reported success with the Strike King Red Eyed Shad, citing its ability to attract fish species, including Lake Trout, bass, walleye, and pike. The lure is available in various colors and sizes, allowing anglers to match the hatch and target specific fish species.

Types of Lake Trout Ice Fishing Lures

When ice fishing for lake trout, anglers have many lure options. This section will discuss some of the most effective lures for ice fishing, including spoons, jig heads, soft plastics, swimbaits, and tip-ups.


Fishing Spoons

Spoons are an excellent choice for lake trout ice fishing because they can mimic the erratic movement of small baitfish. The shape and color of spoons create a lot of flash and vibration, which attract lake trout in deeper water. Some popular spoons for ice fishing include the Swedish Pimple, which works well in various water conditions and depths.

Jig Heads

Nine painted jig heads on wooden table

Jig heads are versatile lures paired with soft plastics, hair jigs, or live bait, such as minnows or wax worms. Jigging a jig head with a soft plastic, like a white tube or a minnow head, can be particularly effective in shallower and colder water temperatures.

Adjusting the size and weight of your jig head can help target different fish species, including big lake trout.

Soft Plastics

Soft Fishing Plastics in a plastic case

Soft plastics are a popular addition to an ice angler’s tackle box because they’re versatile and available in many shapes, sizes, and colors. 

Soft plastics can be used with jig heads for added action or for a more subtle approach. White tubes and hyper-realistic minnow designs are particularly effective for lake trout.


Swimbait Fishing Lures in a can

Swimbaits are another great option to target lake trout during the winter months. These lures are designed to mimic the movement of small fish and come in various sizes, colors, and materials. 

Swimbaits can be particularly effective when fished on a jig head or lipless crankbait and retrieved slowly through the water column. Lake trout love the lifelike action of swimbaits and will actively hunt them down in search of a meal.


Angler fishing with a Ice Fishing Tip Up

Tip-ups allow ice anglers to set lines in various water depths and cover more area when targeting lake trout. 

When using a tip-up, live bait like minnows or smelt can attract larger fish near the bottom structure, while dead stick presentations with artificial lures like jigging spoons can be effective for more aggressive fish in the water column. 

Tip-ups are a good addition to any ice angler’s arsenal and can increase your chances of catching lake trout during winter.

Fishing Guide: 11 Best Ice Fishing Tip Ups

Selecting the Right Lake Trout Lure

Choosing the best ice-fishing lures for lake trout is crucial for success during the winter season. Color, size, profiles, and baitfish imitation are vital in lure selection. This section will discuss each aspect to help you select the most effective lures for lake trout.

Color and Flash

The color and flash of a lure can attract lake trout and entice them to strike. The best colors for ice fishing lures often depend on water conditions and forage availability. 

In clearer water, natural colors that mimic the primary forage species are ideal, while in murky water, bright, flashy colors like chartreuse, orange, or yellow are more effective. 

Using lures with a lot of flash, such as jigging spoons or lipless crankbaits, can be particularly advantageous in deeper water, as they grab the attention of these apex predators.

Size and Profiles

Size and profile are essential factors in selecting lake trout lures. Generally, ice fishing for big lake trout requires a larger bait size to target the more aggressive fish. 

However, downsizing to smaller jigs and soft plastics can be advantageous in shallower water or when targeting smaller trout like brook and brown trout. Popular ice-fishing lures that vary in size and profiles include Swedish pimples, jigging spoons, hair jigs, and white tubes. 

It’s a good idea to have a range of different lure sizes and profiles in your tackle box to adapt your approach to different water conditions and the size of fish you’re targeting.

Baitfish Imitation

When selecting effective ice fishing lures, choosing lures that closely mimic the primary baitfish in the lake, such as yellow perch or smaller baitfish species, is essential. 

Paddle tails, soft plastics, and hyper-realistic designs help to give your artificial lures the most lifelike presentation as they move through the water column. 

Some ice anglers tip their lures with live bait, such as wax worms or minnow heads, to add scent and mimic the lake trout’s natural forage. In addition to realistic baitfish imitation, consider the trout’s behavior and depth preferences in cold water conditions. 

For example, lake trout often forage deeper in the water column during winter, so effective lures like lipless crankbaits or jig heads are great choices for attracting big lakers at those depths.

By considering the factors of color, size, profile, and baitfish imitation, you can select the right lures to make your ice fishing trip successful. 

Pack various productive lures in your ice fishing tackle to give yourself the best chance of catching lake trout in various water depths and conditions throughout the season.

Gearing Up for Ice Fishing

Sled full of Ice Fishing Gear on a snow covered lake

Ice fishing for lake trout requires specialized equipment to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience. This section will discuss essential gear for ice anglers, covering rods and reels, line selection, tackle, and terminal gear.

Rods and Reels

Choosing the right rod and reel combination is crucial for ice-fishing lake trout. A medium to heavy action rod, 28-36 inches long, is suitable for targeting larger fish like lake trout. 

Paired with a quality spinning reel, this setup will allow you to comfortably handle these apex predators’ powerful runs and aggressive fights. Having a second rod is always a good idea for more fishing options and the ability to switch between presentations quickly.

Line Selection

Line selection plays a significant role in ice fishing success. Braided line, with its minimal stretch and excellent sensitivity, is a popular choice for the main course. 

Pairing it with a fluorocarbon leader, typically 6-12 feet in length, will provide stealth and abrasion resistance in clear water conditions. Popular line strengths are 10-20 lb braided line and 6-12 lb fluorocarbon for the leader.

Tackle and Terminal Gear

Your tackle box should be filled with various artificial lures, live bait options, and terminal gear to adapt to different situations and water conditions. The best ice-fishing lures for lake trout include:

  • Small jigs: Use jig heads paired with soft plastics or tipped with live bait like minnows or wax worms for shallow water and smaller baitfish imitations.
  • Lipless crankbaits: Effective in deeper water, these lures create a lot of flash and vibrations to attract big fish.
  • Jigging spoons: Ideal for targeting fish in the middle of the water column, these lures come in various sizes and colors to imitate baitfish and trigger aggressive strikes.
  • Tube baits: Simulating small forage like ciscoes and shiners, white tubes or Kodiak Custom Tube Jigs are effective options for big lake trout.

Beyond lures, essential terminal gear includes:

  • Split shot: Ideal for fine-tuning weight distribution to control lure depth and movement.
  • Treble hooks: Useful for securing live bait and replacing worn or damaged hooks on artificial lures.

With the right gear and attention to detail, ice anglers will be well-prepared to target and catch lake trout throughout the winter.

Tips and Techniques For Catching Lake Trout

Lake Trout Caught Ice Fishing

Ice fishing for lake trout is a thrilling experience that requires the proper techniques and the best ice fishing lures. This section will guide you through using live bait, jigging strategies, and setting up tip-ups to give you the best chance of catching big lake trout.

Using Live Bait

Live bait such as shiners, minnows, and wax worms are effective options for ice anglers targeting lake trout. These cold-water fish are partial to small baitfish and insects, making live bait an optimal choice.

Place your bait in deeper water when using live bait, as lake trout prefer colder temperatures and deeper water to shallower areas. To increase your chances of success, ensure your bait size matches the type of prey in the specific body of water.

Jigging Strategies

Jigging is a popular technique used for ice fishing for trout. Use small jigs, like white bucktail jigs, lipless crankbaits, or Swedish pimples to lure lake trout, as these artificial lures imitate small baitfish, arousing the interest and appetite of the fish.

Experiment with various jigging techniques, such as aggressive upward snaps of the rod followed by a controlled free fall, varying the speed and depth of your jig until you find the sweet spot in the water column where trout are actively feeding. 

Utilize fish finders to locate the fish and adjust accordingly. Implementing these jigging strategies can lead to success in catching big lake trout during winter months.

Setting Up Tip-Ups

Tip-ups are a great way to ice fish for lake trout, increasing your chances of catching fish with minimal effort. Set up multiple tip-ups with different bait and at various depths. Cover more water for a wider range of trout and use a second rod to work on jigging.

Preference should be given to shallower water for species like brook trout, while deeper water can be reserved for bigger lake trout or northern pike. Check your lines frequently and use a portable fish finder to try new locations if necessary.

Ice fishing for lake trout can be a gratifying experience with the right tips and techniques. 

Capitalizing on the best ice fishing lures and tools and the proper strategies will make it easier to turn the odds in your favor during winter. Enjoy the thrill of the catch, and good luck on your next ice fishing trip!

Lake Trout Habitat and Behavior

Lake trout, a popular game fish, can be found in Canada’s cold water lakes and reservoirs, the Great Lakes area, and other northern regions. 

Lake trout’s specific habitats and seasonal movements are critical for understanding how to properly target these fish with the best ice fishing lures, such as live bait, jig heads, and lipless crankbaits, during winter.

Seasonal Movements

In winter, lake trout follow cisco and other small baitfish into shallower water. As these prey species move, lake trout can be found anywhere from shallow water to deeper water, depending on the location of the baitfish. 

The presence of rainbow trout or yellow perch can also affect lake trout movements.

During the winter months, larger fish, like northern pike and apex predators, can cause lake trout to move to the safety of deeper water. 

Ice anglers should be prepared to adjust their tactics and ice fishing tackle based on the seasonal movements of lake trout and other fish species present in the lakes.

Water Temperature and Depth

Lake trout are cold-water fish, preferring temperatures from 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They sometimes venture into shallower water, but their primary habitat is typically between 50 to 100 feet of water. Brown trout, another trout species, can also be found in similar water conditions.

Understanding water temperatures and depths helps ice anglers determine the best chance to catch big lakers with effective ice fishing lures like soft plastics, hair jigs, live minnows, or artificial lures. 

Utilizing a fish finder is a great way to ensure targeting the correct water column during an ice fishing trip.

Conclusion – Best Lake Trout Ice Fishing Lures

Knowing lake trout habitats and behavior, such as seasonal movements and preferred water temperatures, is crucial for selecting the best ice fishing lures and baits. 

By understanding the factors that affect lake trout movements, ice anglers can significantly increase their success on the water during winter, catching big fish and making the most out of their ice fishing excursions.

Cory is a content writer-editor and founder of Tackle Box Talk. Favorite Quote: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

10 thoughts on “13 Best Lake Trout Ice Fishing Lures – Top Tips & Advice”

  1. I used to fish as a kid all the time. There was always the choice of which bait to use.

    Trout fish were always one of my favorites to fish for. And I’m sure the fishing lures are made a lot better these days.

    I’m learning a lot from your article that I did not know before.It’s been so many years since I used night crawlers!

    I’m coming to the conclusion that these fish are pretty smart and hard to catch? So it’s basically a lure technique to see what attracts their attention most.Is there a best time of the day to fish for trout?

    • That all depends on a whole lot of factors. Try both day and night and see what works best for you.

  2. Hi! I have been learning about artificial baits. And I appreciate what you have summed up here.

    I have read recommendations concerning spoons and the techniques available.  But I have also been reading about Crank baits. I know each one is different. But which one of these two would you recommend?

    • I would recommend the crank baits for the simple fact that you get two different effects out of them. The sound of the bait and the visual aspect of it. If your interested here is a link to a collection of different artificial trout baits that you can experiment with. https://amzn.to/2Lcu0pN

  3. I had no idea that fishing lures were so varied and complex. It makes sense though when you explain it, especially when a certain style of lure would work best in a specific situation. If I return to fishing, I will have to browse your site more extensively to get some more knowledge!

  4. Thanks for the information about what lures to use when you go ice fishing. I do not fish myself, but my best friend has been doing lots of fishing with her boyfriend. They are talking about doing some ice fishing once the lakes start to freeze where we live here in PA. I was thinking about putting together a tackle-box as a birthday gift. 

  5. Great article about lake trout and ice fishing!  I live on the Gulf Coast so ice fishing is one of those things that is on my bucket list. If I have the chance, is there one place (lake) or area that you’d recommend? I’ve bookmarked this for future reference (hopefully). 

    • Some of the best ice fishing lakes are out here in Wisconsin or Minnesota. If it’s Lake Trout you’re after you should try Devils Lake in Sauk County Wisconsin. Not only good ice fishing but beautiful country as well.

  6. Is it wrong of me to be salivating while reading your article?  I love fish but I’m afraid as an eater, not a fisher.  So I’m always keen when friends say they’re going fishing.  I will always support their venture because I love the fresh fish they bring back.  Is that wrong?

    I do not understand fishermen who fish, just to throw a catch back in (though I can understand if the catch is too small).  There is always room in my fridge for a fresh catch!

    Sorry, didn’t mean to go off topic but I could not resist delving into your world.  Which fisherman type are you?  The kind that eat your catch?  If you’re not, I’d be keen to know your rationale for ‘catch and release’.  No judgement.  Just want to understand.

    • I will do both catch and release and eat my catch. It all depends on what I’m fishing for and if it is a more rare species I tend to release the fish so that it can spawn to broaden the species horizons.


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