December 19, 2016

Use These Fishing Techniques When Speckled Trout Won’t Bite


Eventually you will have a day when speckled trout won't bite and, when it happens, these techniques will help you manage a decent box anyway.


We’ve all heard of that legendary speckled trout bite. 

You know the kind: when the action is so fast and furious they are hitting anything unlucky enough to be in the water and you are catching two at a time, like in this YouTube video.

speckled trout caught two at a time

Catching two speckled trout at a time, one cast after the other, is one heck of an experience!

It's the stuff of epic fishing trips, making memories that last a lifetime.

However, not every day of fishing is that easy.

In fact, I'd say there are more tough days than easy and – if you fish long enough – you will arrive to a point in time when speckled trout won't bite.

It's really frustrating but doesn't have to be. There are things that you, as an inshore angler, can do to adapt.

Keep reading and learn these fishing techniques the easy way!

What To Do When Speckled Trout Won't Bite

Adapting to a tough bite is where many anglers fail.

They go back to where the trout were biting and use the same tackle and techniques used previously, only to discover a meager reward or nothing at all.

What separates the bonafide anglers from those who merely fish spots is the ability to recognize the conditions, see how fish are behaving then react accordingly by changing their tackle and tecnique.

Fishing with the lures and techniques suggested below will put trout in the boat when everyone else is coming up empty-handed.

Throw A Drop Shot When Speckled Trout Won't Bite

Having a drop shot rigged up and ready to rock 'n' roll is key to battling finicky fish.

The presentation is so good because it is a genuine finesse approach developed by Japanese anglers fishing highly pressured areas.

For now I'll tell you simply to employ one, but if you want instructions on how to tie it (and tie it correctly) then you really ought to bookmark this link.

barely legal speckled trout

It's been my experience that a drop shot is better at catching smaller fish not so easily caught on a jig. The strategy here is to weed through the throwbacks to find your keepers.

Hook Your Bait Through The Nose

Hooking soft plastics through the nose comes standard when fishing a drop shot, but may not be so obvious to those new to fishing them. 

Hooking through the nose creates more enticing action when speckled trout won't bite.

tiny zoom fluke aurora black

Zoom's Tiny Fluke is a great lure choice when speckled trout won't bite. The color you see here is called "Aurora Black".

Reduce Jighead Weight

Many advantages come with reducing the weight of your jighead, such as a slower fall and less leverage for fish to throw the hook.

During the winter time – when speckled trout won't bite as easily – I often downsize to an 1/8oz jighead to create a slow fall they find hard to resist.

lighter jighead

Fishing something so light can take patience because it is harder to throw with casting tackle and falls so slowly to the bottom, especially in water that is six to eight feet deep.

But the payoff can be huge! In fact, it is how I limited out on speckled trout in the closing hours of many a fishing trip.

Throw A Double Rig

Throwing a lighter jighead on casting tackle can be tough, so throwing a Double Rig is a good idea because it...well...literally doubles your casting weight!

Plus, it is, in theory, a larger lure profile without actually increasing the size of the lure.

With that said, it is recommended you work on your casting skills instead (if that's needed).

It's what I did and doing so has paid off in huge dividends.

Reduce Bait Size When Speckled Trout Won't Bite

Going to a smaller sized bait can make the difference, too.

Within the realm of inshore fishing, we typically throw 3" soft plastics on a jighead, so going to a 2.5" or even 2" bait can make a big difference.

tiny bait for when speckled trout won't bite

Downsizing your bait can turn the tide when speckled trout won't bite.

Just keep in mind that throwing a smaller bait usually requires a smaller hook.

For example, a  good three-inch soft plastic to fish with is the time-tested Matrix Shad, which is normally fished on a jighead with a 3/0 hook.

But a two-inch long soft plastic may be too short for a 3/0 hook, so a smaller-sized hook – like a 2/0 – is the better choice. 

Not familiar with hook sizes?

This blog post goes in depth so you know exactly what you're talking about.

How small is too small?

Seeing that we catch speckled trout at night on tiny crappie baits, I don't think you can go "too small".

Just keep it practical and easy to cast. You can't catch fish if your bait isn't in the water!

Spray Scent On Your Lure

Sometimes you will see speckled trout behavior referred to as "a following fish".

It's another symptom of when speckled trout won't bite, and – if it isn't obvious – something you should be looking for when retrieving your bait back to the boat.

Simply put, if you see a speckled trout following your bait, especially if her nose is right on it, and she's not biting, then you have a "following fish"!

bang anise scent for speckled trout

If you watched Episode 2 of LAFB TV, then you know how well anise works on speckled trout.

Why are speckled trout "following" the bait?

It means that they are interested, but not fully committed.

It's kind of like when you add lures to the shopping cart at your favorite online tackle store, but never actually buy them.

Well, a little bit of scent can sweeten the deal in such a manner that the following fish will commit to the lure, resulting in a solid hook set, kind of like how the right discount can get you to buy all those lures.

Still not sure? This video shows it working on the water.

Use Thinner Fishing Line

Downsizing fishing line is a common adaptation used by inshore anglers when speckled trout won't bite.

The benefits of doing so include:

  • harder for fish to see
  • gives lure more action
  • cuts through water easier

How thin should you go?

That's a good question, and the answer is "more than you'd think".

Before you continue, trust me when I say that using such thin line really does help when speckled trout won't bite.

Knowing that inshore anglers have a preference for strong braided line like 20lb PowerPro, I will use 10lb monofilament or fluorocarbon for a jig and 6-8lb braided fishing line (I prefer Daiwa J-Braid) for a dropshot, with an 8-12lb fluorocarbon leader line, depending on the situation at hand.

What do you use when speckled trout won't bite?

Have you seen the techniques and tackle mentioned above? What did you like in this blog post? 

What do you do when the speckled trout bite gets tough? Comment below! 

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

  • Absolutely! You are thinking on the right track.

    Recall that these techniques are just things I do and, while they do work for me, it’s good to be open minded and try new things.

    Tight lines, Gerald!

  • Re: Jamie Mumphrey—VERY glad to see the ONE/ONLY REAL DROP SHOT RIG ILLUSTRATED! There is a local charter captain giving the impression of a “loop” knot hook and sinker setup as a “drop shot rig”….NOT! AND as possibly being the ‘?inventor?’ of the “drop-shot rig”!!! This loop knot rig has been in use for at least 65 years and never called a drop shot rig!

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