Bass Fishing vs. Trout Fishing | Key Differences & Tips For Each Fishing Style
By: Dylan Hayward
I spent most of my life in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, so fishing for bass was always something I enjoyed. Whether it be smallmouth or largemouth, the fish in the midwest can grow very large depending on the area, and they’re known to put up a hell of a fight. As I got older, I started to gain real interest in fly fishing, which led to a desire to fish for trout. So much so, this desire led me to traveling all the way across the country to fly fish for browns in the Ruby River near Bozeman Montana. But is one more enjoyable than the other? While everyone will surely have their own definitive opinion on which fish they prefer to catch, there’s no doubt that both are extremely enjoyable to fish for. But there are significant differences between the two fish, and how you’ll set up to catch them.
There are several differences that set bass apart from all other fish, and specifically trout. Overall, bass are much less picky than trout when it comes to what they will eat. I was fly fishing with an old friend last year and he was educating me that trout know which flies are in season as well as in the area, and if a fisherman is using an uncommon or out of season fly, the trout will know not to bite. While bass are less picky than trout, there are a few tried and true lures that I love using when I am bass fishing. No matter where I am fishing, I always cast out a super fluke, spinners, and some square bill crankbait.
Bass fishing is also a lot more productive in certain temperatures and seasons that might not work well for trout. I have found that bass fishing is best when the water temperature is between 50 and 70 degrees, which is generally the spring and fall here in the midwest. Overall, bass are much larger than trout, with the world record largemouth being over 20lbs. Because of their significant size differences, it’s advised to use a larger size hook for bass. I prefer to use a 4/0 or 5/0 size hook when I fish for bass.
Trout fishing is one of my favorite hobbies and with the right set up can be one of the most exciting fish to catch, especially on a fly rod. Trout are much smaller than bass, typically only weighing a couple of pounds or less. Because of this, I always recommend using a lighter rod, as well as the appropriate leaders, lines, tippets, etc. Toadfish makes a really great aluminum fly rod that is extremely light. There are also several great companies that make fly rod outfits with everything you need already set up. As I mentioned earlier, trout can be much more selective when it comes to what they eat, so bringing a fly box with several different flies is highly encouraged.
Trout fishing tends to be most successful in slightly colder months, with water temperatures being between 35 and 60 degrees. It’s also important to note that while bass have much larger mouths, trout’s are much smaller, so a hook size between 8 and 12 is usually standard. Here in the midwest, it is sometimes hard to find a really productive trout stream. I highly recommend heading to the Brookville Tailwater in Indiana, which usually produces large brown trout.
Both bass and trout are amazing fish to go after. While trout seems to involve much more practice and preparation, with some trial and error, it will be an incredible spring activity for you to take part in. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference for which fish you enjoy catching most. Just remember to have your proper set ups for both bass and trout when the opportunity presents itself.