The constant fisherman knows that both live and artificial lures are a requirement when fishing for trout, especially the purer species of trout, like the speckled, or brook trout and the Arctic Char. Taking into account the time of the year, the water temperature and clarity, as well as the speed of the water if stream fishing, or water currents if lake fishing, knowing which yields better results for trout; lures or bait, and when to use each will improve your catch yields significantly.
Knowing whether to use lures or live bait when trout fishing can also depend upon the sub-species of trout that you are fishing for. The larger, trophy sized lake trout will more often attack lures over bait, and the smaller trout, like the brook trout, will feed more primarily upon live bait, like worms, grubs and crayfish. Fishing in streams merits more live bait fishing than lure fishing, and fishing in clear lakes merits more lure fishing over live baits. The reasoning for this is that in streams, the fish will feed off of what is known to live in the ecosystem, and fish in lakes will feed off of what appears to be injured bait fish for easy meals.
However, overall, fishing for trout is almost always more of a productive endeavour when fishing with live bait. Trout are a very skittish fish, and will be spooked when confronted with a lure that does not seem to be realistic. When the lure gets mixed up with the line, either during the cast, while in the water or during retrieval, the trout will sense that it is a danger and will avoid it, and any others that appear similar for quite some time. And, when one trout becomes spooked, all trout within a certain area will become spooked as well, and will not bite foreign objects.
In darker or faster waters, lures may work somewhat better than live bait, especially when the trout are feeding. Using split-shad lures (minnows with connectors that make the lure seem to be a fish broken into 2 pieces), fishermen will find that trout will strike more frequently with colourful lures that have shiny surfaces, noise making bearings and large, deep-diving bills. Artificial odours can be added to the lures in brown water, where the muck on the bottom of the water is mixed in with the water to such a degree that the water is brown.
However, no matter where the constant fisherman does fish for trout, a big old, wiggly night crawler worm will always warrant at least a few nibbles from the ever hungry trout. Hooked to a spinning lure, like a Bob-It or a pickerel harness, a live worm is the overall best bait for fishing trout of any sub-species. There are many lures that will catch trout, ranging from dry and wet flies to artificial grubs, worms, crayfish and even mice, for the larger, more predatory trout.