*Sharper Hooks*
*Tighter Lines*
Bull Trout




Information & facts

Species Name bulltrout
Bull trout
(Salvelinus confluentus)

Size Range
Average 12-20 inches. Bull trout can grow to 20+ inches (and several pounds) in quality populations.

Even though they are called a trout, bull trout are actually a char, closely related to lake trout and brook trout rather than rainbow or cutthroat trout.  Also, like lake trout and brook trout their most obvious distinctive feature is light spots on a dark background, unlike rainbow and cutthroat that have dark spots on a lighter background.  If an angler is fishing in waters containing bull trout, it is his or her responsibility to be able to identify bull trout and release them immediately, unharmed, if one is accidently caught on hook and line.  Their back and sides are olive-green with pale spots about the size of the pupil of their eye. The head and mouth are unusually large and their ventral fins have white leading edges. 

Bull trout have different life histories that can vary by individual population.  Some spend their entire lives in small streams and their size remains small. Some migrate from small streams to larger rivers and back again to the stream to spawn. Those fish are generally larger.  Some migrate into lakes or reservoirs then back to their natal stream or river to spawn.  The varying life histories have an influence on maximum size, from 10 to 12 inches to over 30 inches and many pounds in weight.

How to fish for Bull Trout

The primary food source for Bull Trout are insects, and other fish. Bull Trout are known for their appetite. The cold water in which they live limits food sources so the Bull Trout has been known to eat anything it can get its mouth around, including the odd; mouse, frog, or snake. Bull Trout will rarely pass up an easy meal. They are tremendous fighters that battle from the second that they are hooked until you land them.

The best presentations for Bull Trout are ones that resemble baitfish. Spin casting with jigs, minnow imitating crank baits, spoons, and spinners are all productive methods of fishing for Bull Trout. For fly fishing the most effective flies are big streamers.
Spin casting for Bull Trout can be done with a 7 foot medium action graphite spinning rod with a matching reel spooled with 8 to 12 pound test line. Lures that can entice a strike from Bull Trout are Aglia Streamer Single Hook, Aglia Spin Fly, DeepRunner Plain Single (size 1), Thunder Bug Plain Single, Gibbs Croc (1/16 oz and 3/8 oz in colors to match baitfish or all chrome), Gibbs SIL-VEX in chrome, #2 Rooster tails (black/red), #1, #2 Blue Fox Vibrax (gold/silver), and #2 Panther martins. Bull Trout lures should have a single barbless hook as Bull Trout are catch and release only in most areas.

When it comes to fly fishing for Bull Trout a 9 foot graphite rod that is a 5 to 8 weight with a matching disc drag reel will work for most areas. When fishing for Bull Trout use a short 3 to 4 foot 0X to 2X leader on a sinking tip line. If you're using a floating line try tying on a 12 to 14 foot leader with a weight or a bead head fly. Bull trout hang near the bottom of deep pools, especially if there's a tributary nearby depositing fresh, cold, clean water.
Flies that have produced for Bull Trout are mottled sculpins, Muddler Minnows, woolhead sculpins, Double Bunnies, Bead head Wooly buggers, rubber-leg Woolly Buggers, Zonkers, bull heads, black stone flies, Clouser deep Minnows and any larger streamer type flies that represent minnows. In salmon bearing streams and rivers during spawning season single egg patterns also work well.

Trout Fishing Tips, Tricks and Tactics


Additional Resources for Trout Fishing

Hopefully the information provided on this page will make you more successful at catching bull trout. However, you may still want to expand your research on trout fishing and look into additional resources. That’s why I’ve provided you with additional places below where you can learn more about trout fishing. If you found my trout fishing tips useful then please share my website with your fellow anglers, friends, family and co-workers.