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What Are the Best Rods for Lake Trout? (Jigging and Trolling)

What Are the Best Rods for Lake Trout? (Jigging and Trolling)

Many trout anglers consider fishing for lake trout on big lakes the absolute highlight of their season, as this species spells plenty of action and some serious fights on the rod. 

But no matter if you’re into jigging or trolling, to be able to fight and land those trophy lakers, you’ll need the right type of rod.

When jigging for lake trout, you should use a 6 or 7′ medium-heavy rod with a strong backbone and fast action. A 7 to 9′ medium trolling rod with moderate action is your best pick when trolling for lakers. Both rod types should also have increased sensitivity.

This article will discuss the key aspects of choosing the perfect lake trout rod and include some helpful gear recommendations for buying.  

Let’s get started!

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They’re decently priced, highly durable, and get the job done every time!

What Fishing Rod Should You Use for Jigging Lake Trout?

a happy angler on a big lake holding a huge lake trout caught on a jig
Courtesy of Andre Charron (Insta: @realtimefishing)

Jigging for lake trout has become really popular in recent years and replaced trolling and other, more old-school ways of targeting lakers. And while this technique demands some skill, it can undoubtedly land you a ton of fish! If you’re using the right gear, that is. 

It’s an enjoyable and highly effective way of fishing that lets you have great control over your lure, provides excellent action, and ensures a swift and secure hookset. 

To get the most out of your gear, you should focus on the following three aspects when choosing your jigging rod:

  • length
  • strength
  • action


For lake trout, the optimal length for a jigging rod is somewhere between 6 and 7′. 

As you’re fishing vertically and don’t use your rod for casting out your lure, you can stick to shorter rod lengths of up to 7′. A somewhat shorter jigging rod will also result in a more pronounced hookset. 

Additionally, you avoid overworking your jig down there in the water column, which easily happens with a jigging rod that’s a little too long. 

At the same time, you still need some length for leverage because those bigger lakers will most certainly give you a good fight! So anything shorter than 6′ could become a little problematic in that regard.


Many anglers who are new to jigging for lakers make the mistake and get themselves a light or medium rod, which is far from optimal for lake trout jigging because light, and even medium rods, have too much bend in them.

Instead, a medium-heavy jigging rod is what you should be looking for! Such a rod strength will give you enough force to set those hooks and get those lakers all the way up to the surface, especially when fishing at greater depths.

A rod like that will make you unstoppable on the water, especially if combined with the right action, which brings us to the third and last attribute.  


Lake trout jigging is most effective with a medium-heavy rod with fast action. 

Fast action rods have a flexible rod tip and great sensitivity, which are two essential features when jigging for lakers.

The flexible rod tip means perfect fish-fighting capabilities. 

The rod’s increased sensitivity ensures that you can fish out those more subtle bites and have excellent control over your lure’s movements underwater. 

What Is the Best Rod for Jigging Lake Trout?

The Ugly Stick Elite is an excellent jigging rod for lake trout. This is a medium-heavy rod with great action and incredible sensitivity. 

You can choose between the following two lengths:

  • 6’6”
  • 7′

You can choose between a somewhat shorter and longer jigging rod; it all depends on your personal preferences and style of fishing.

But no matter which length you end up picking, this rod will land you plenty of trophy lakers! 

Check out the Elite Ugly Stick’s current price and features on Amazon here

Best Reel for Jigging Lake Trout

Spinning reels are a great choice when jigging for lake trout and they’re generally somewhat cheaper and easier to fish with than baitcasters, which is why I generally prefer them.

I also appreciate them for being so light and compact, which is important, as you’ll be fishing actively and holding your rod for many hours.

Quality spinning reels also have a highly responsive drag system, which is a crucial feature for a jigging reel, as it allows for swift adjustments during a fight.

The ever-popular Pflueger President (size 25 or 30) is the perfect pick for lake trout jigging. It’s an amazing and high-quality reel that’s extremely decently priced. 

You can head over to Amazon and check out the Pflueger President 30 on Amazon here

What Fishing Rod Should You Use for Trolling Lake Trout?

a female angler on a boat holding a reconrd-breaking lake trout caught trolling with downriggers
Courtesy of Andre Charron

Trolling with downriggers is yet another popular and very effective way of targeting lake trout. While the same three essential features( length, action, and strength) apply to this rod type, they somewhat differ from those of the jigging rod.

Trolling for lakers makes a lot of sense if you want to cover a lot of water and is a commonly applied method on bigger lakes.

So, what rod features are important for this fishing technique?


A somewhat longer rod of 7 to 9′ is your best pick when trolling with downriggers. 

For one thing, a longer rod will give you more control over the fight, especially when you’ve hooked up to a really big laker. 

Secondly, longer rods better absorb the often violent strikes you can get on downrigger setups. 

Lastly, a longer rod allows you to use longer leaders, which is often advantageous when fishing for shy lakers in clear water conditions.  


You should go with a medium rod for this type of trolling, as you don’t want to let the lake trout feel too much resistance when picking up your lure. 

At the same time, a medium trolling rod has enough backbone to ensure a strong hookset. 

It also won’t compromise your downriggers’ presentation and action, which is crucial for lake trout fishing!  


The action you’ll want your trolling rod to have should be moderate. 

You definitely want your rod to have some bend and sensitivity, as it will help you detect those subtle bites when trolling. 

But you don’t want to overdo it with either, as a fast action rod just doesn’t cut it for downriggers and faster trolling speeds. So you also need some rod stiffness! 

What Is the Best Rod for Trolling Lake Trout?

Plenty of rods can be used for trolling lakers, but Great Lakes Trolling rods definitely stick out, especially for downriggers.

They’ve got the perfect length, strength, and sensitivity for big lakers and won’t let you down if a big salmon decides to pick up your lure.

The Okuma Classic Pro rods are a popular choice among trout anglers, and those sensitive heavy-duty rods will get the job done nicely, no matter if you’re on the Great Lakes or any other water body.

Their medium-range downrigger rods come in the following trolling-suitable lengths:

  • 8′
  • 8’6”

These beauties match the quality and value of much more expensive rods, but the Okuma Classic Pros won’t break the bank, unlike many other brands out there!

Check out the Okuma Classic Pro GLT Rods’ features and current price on Amazon here

Best Reel for Trolling Lake Trout

Okuma’s got you covered when it comes to trolling reels as well! Their Okuma Convector is a solid pick for trolling lake trout with downriggers.

This compact, low-profile baitcaster has a powerful gear and drag system that will give you absolute control during the fight.

Additionally, it comes with a mechanical line counter, which is a crucial feature for trolling reels.

Line counters let you monitor how much line you have out and allow you to replicate your trolling patterns on a lake.

It’s a super-smart feature that will help make your fishing more precise and land you more lakers.

The Convector is also pretty lightweight, which you’ll appreciate when holding your rod for a longer time while trolling.

All in all, one of the best trolling reels you can get for the money!

Take a closer look at the Okuma Convector on Amazon here

And now that you know what gear to use for jigging and trolling lake trout, all that’s left to say is tight lines!

PRO TIP: Get the visual summary of this article in the related web story on the best rods for lakers here!

Featured image courtesy of Andre Charron