Hesitating after landing a cast in the perfect spot can be a tough task. You’re eager to work the lure. For winter trout, though, you’ll find far more action overall if you choose a sinking lure and incorporate the patience required to use that sinking tendency to your advantage.

Trout typically spend the most time feeding near the bottom because that’s where aquatic insect nymphs and larvae, crawfish and some forage fish spend the most time. That becomes accentuated during winter, when few insects hatch, terrestrial insects aren’t active on the banks, and baitfish are move around less. Trout stay low in the water column, often tucked behind rocks or ledges, and feed on stuff that passes barely overhead.

Rebel Tracdown lures, including Tracdown Minnows, Tracdown Ghost Minnows and Tracdown Micro Craws and Micro Minnows, are all slow sinkers. They sink when not in motion or when worked very slowly and wiggle along at whatever level they have sunk to when worked at a moderate pace. Rebel Hellgrammites, though lacking Tracdown in the name, work the same way.

All of these lures can be swam shallow when needed by keeping them moving and holding the rod tip high. Through winter, though, “slow and low” is generally the way to go.


For moderate runs, you can simply cast upstream of the target zone and work the lure extra slowly at first to get it down to the strike zone. Extra deep pools call for an even more deliberate approach: Casting, waiting several seconds for the lure to sink, and then working it along close to the bottom.

In steady current, it becomes extra important to aim casts upstream and work the lure back downstream, with the current, because working any of these lures against the current will cause them to ride higher in the water column.

Once these these lures near bottom, you can work them various ways, and the best presentation can vary from day to day. Sometimes it’s tough to top a slow, steady cranking motion that simply keeps the lure wobbling. Other days, occasional twitches or pauses or even a steady diet of harder jerks will prompt more strikes. Mix it up and pay attention to what produces the most action. And if the lure seems to be rising, just pause for a couple seconds and let it sink again.

Sinking Lures

In terms of the best sinking lure to throw, that depends on the size of the stream and fish, river conditions, natural forage, and, again, the daily preferences of the trout. The TD50 Tracdown Minnow and TD47 Tracdown Ghost Minnow, both 2 ½ inches long, are probably the most popular for trout, with the Ghost version being slenderer. The Tracdown Minnow also comes in a smaller size (1 5/8 inches) and a larger size (3 ½ inches). The Tracdown Ghost Minnow comes in a 4 1/4-inch model.

The Tracdown Micro Craw and Micro Minnow are 1 ½ and 1 5/8 inches long, respectively, and provide excellent options when the fish are a little fussy. Either comes equipped with a single barbless hook. The Hellgrammite has the most subtle action of the sinkers and matches important natural forage in many streams.