Panther Martin vs. Rooster Tail: Which Catches More Trout?

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A spoon lure, resembling a rooster tail, set on a white backdrop

Panther Martins and Rooster Tails are both spinners but have slightly different makeups that anglers prefer depending on conditions and the fish’s attitude. Panther Martins have bigger blades and are heavier than Rooster Tails but can struggle in smaller water. Both rely on movement to be their best.

No trout angler disputes the effectiveness of spinners. Growing up, I learned how to read water and land trout using only spinners. Even as I’ve transitioned into fly fishing, I carry a spinning rod and spinners for the days when the flies aren’t working. The spinners never fail me, but the debate between Panther Martins and Rooster Tails is one that I’ve yet to settle. 

Rooster Tail for Trout

Rooster Tails have a slender blade, a colorful wire shaft, and a hackle near the hooks. Depending on your preferred style, this lure can represent everything from minnows to leeches to crayfish. They’re an inch or two long, depending on your chosen size. Rooster Tails can catch trout in all types of situations. 

Positives and Negatives of Rooster Tails 

Rooster Tails receive love because of their slender blade, feathers, and ability to stay out of snags. Trout live in cover and structure, so anglers lose a lot of lures targeting them. 

Their long blade deflects the lure off logs, rocks, and other snags they may find. They aren’t perfect, but they keep you out of many challenging spots. 

They also sink fairly fast compared to other trout lures. You don’t have to wait long to begin the retrieve when they hit the water. If you’re fishing lakes and ponds, you can cover some serious water because of how deep they get. 

If you’re fishing smaller streams and rivers, the initial sink frustrates people, mainly if the fish feed on the surface. 

Finally, you’ll notice that Rooster Tails don’t move as much water as Panther Martins. The longer, skinnier blade isn’t meant to shock all the fish and turn on their aggressive tendencies. They sneak through the water like a fleeing minnow or smaller fish. Once trout spot them, it’s go time. 

The primary frustration with Rooster Tails is that they require a fast retrieve to be effective. Their blades don’t spin unless you’re reeling at a rapid clip. Trout don’t always want a lure with a fast retrieve. They’ll chase down anything if they’re in the feeding mood, but those sluggish fish need more convincing. 

However, if you’re fishing the lure in a river or stream with a decent current, the blades spin without much speed needed. Overall, they’re easy to cast and work well in areas of heavy cover and structure. As long as the blades spin, the lure gives you perfect opportunities to land even the spookiest trout. 

Best Color Rooster Tail for Trout

The color Rooster Tail you choose should depend on a few factors: water temperature, water clarity, and food availability. Trout want different food in different situations, so you can’t expect the same rooster tail to work every single time. 

Black Rooster Tails with a silver or gold blade is one of the best options. However, a brown with a silver blade is another option that seems to work well. If the water is clearer, I’ll fish a green Rooster Tail with a brass blade to take advantage of the conditions. I’ll also use white rooster tails on clear days. 

You also can’t go wrong with chartreuse, red, yellow, and blue Rooster Tails. The flashiest lures aren’t always the best, so don’t feel the need to choose something that looks completely unnatural. Natural colors with a flashy blade are all you need.  

Best Size Rooster Tail for Trout

Trout don’t need massive lures. Usually, a Rooster Tail that’s 1/6th, 1/8th, and 1/16th ounce is all you need. Some anglers go 1/4 ounce for big fish or 1/24 ounce for the days when the fish can’t decide. 

The 1/6th, 1/8th, and 1/16th ounce Rooster Tails cover all your bases. 

Trout Lake in Wyoming
Trout Lake in Wyoming

How Do You Use Rooster Tails for Trout 

Rooster tails work well in situations where the trout might spook. Also, they’re among your best options if the water has snags and challenging angles. 

Moving Water 

You don’t have to do anything special when fishing Rooster Tails in streams and rivers. As long as you understand how trout operate, you can land them. 

Look for pools, seams, riffles, runs, pockets, and eddies. All of these hold food and give trout a break from the current. Trout want easy meals and don’t want to fight the current if they can avoid it. 

If you’re fishing pools, pockets, and eddies, you want your rooster tail to drift into them before you start retrieving. Cast upriver of the strike zone, let the lure drift, and then begin the retrieve. Remember, you need a fast retrieve to get the blades spinning, so be prepared to reel quickly. 

You can retrieve the Rooster Tail through seams, riffles, and runs. Rooster Tails fall quickly in the water column, so don’t fight it. Give it a few seconds to drop, then retrieve it through the seams, runs, and riffles. 

Trout sit at the bottom of these water sections to get easy access to food and avoid the strongest current. 

Give the trout a chance to strike your Rooster Tail and try to pull them away from their hiding places. 

Still Water

When fishing lakes and ponds, look for drop-offs, rock piles, logs, weed lines, and structure near shore. In still water, trout cruise near cover and structure to find easy access to food like minnows, insects, crayfish, and leeches. 

Fast retrieves out of deep water or past rock piles often lead to follows. Again, don’t try anything new or fancy when fishing with them. Fishing during prime feeding hours, casting near their holding areas, and using the flash of the blade to pull them away is precisely what you want.  

Take advantage of Rooster Tail’s thin blade that prevents the lure from getting snagged. 

Historical lures for trout
Panther Martin

Panther Martin for Trout 

Panther Martins are in-line spinners that move water and attract any trout nearby. They help when the fish are in a feeding mood but act as a turn-off if you run into heavily pressured and wary trout. 

Positives and Negatives of Panther Martins

Trout anglers appreciate how loud and flashy Panther Martins are and their weight. They make those windy days less intimidating because you can cast them in any conditions. 

Plus, Panther Martins work extremely well if you want to cover water and get some distance behind your cast. 

Finally, like Rooster Tails, Panther Martins sink quickly. When fishing those deep sections of a river or a drop-off in a lake, you don’t have to worry about them getting to the proper depth. 

They’ll fall as far as you need. On the days when the fish aren’t anywhere near the surface, a Panther Martin can be your first choice. 

Where Panther Martins struggle is in small water. They’re loud and aggressive, so they don’t always fit well in shallow water with tight conditions. 

Panther Martins don’t usually act as a finesse lure. Rooster Tails do a little better than Panther Martins, but neither should be your top choice if fishing small, clear water. 

They’re ideal for lakes, ponds, and bigger rivers with major depth changes. To get the blade spinning, they don’t need as fast a retrieve as Rooster Tails. The current moves the blade, and so does a slow retrieve. 

Best Color Panther Martin for Trout

Black bodies with tiny bits of flash in the blade are one of the top options for trout anglers. Otherwise, another favorite is a yellow body with black or red dots and a silver blade. 

Panther Martin also created a Nature Series combining natural colors from some of the world’s more famous trout streams and rivers. 

Stick to earth tones paired with flash. Brass and silver blades are the primary options, and the body color is entirely up to you. When choosing the primary colors on my Panther Martin, I stick with black, white, red, chartreuse, green, yellow, and blue. 

Best Size Panther Martin for Trout

If you’re in small water, sizes 1 through 3, Panther Martins are light enough not to drop in the water column and snag themselves on everything. Plus, the blades are smaller and don’t move as much water as the larger sizes. 

Sizes 3-9 work for the deeper waters and longer casts. If you’re fishing a lake, below a dam, in a pond, or in a deep river, start with the bigger Panther Martins. You can always decrease the size if the fish aren’t biting. 

How Do You Use a Panther Martin for Trout? 

There are numerous ways to use Panther Martins for trout. They’re effective in many scenarios, depending on the water you’re fishing. 

They’re heavier than Rooster Tails, so be aware of how much water you move with them. Have various sizes and colors to give you the best chance at landing fish. 

Trout River in Canada
Trout River in Canada

Moving Water

In rivers and streams, cast them above river bends or pools, let them drift into them, and begin a retrieve. The lure looks like a minnow trying to escape. In heavier currents, you can swing Panther Martins. 

Cast up and across the stream, let it drift downstream, and begin to retrieve as it starts moving across the current. 

You can also fish Panther Martins through pockets in heavier currents. Cast above the rock or log, creating the pocket, let it drift behind it, and begin the retrieve. You’ll pull trout out from behind the rocks. 

The goal is to identify areas that hold fish, cast above them, let the Panther Martin drift into them, and begin your retrieve. You can vary the retrieval speed depending on what the trout want. 

Still Water 

Panther Martins cover water well. Look for traditional holding areas like rock piles, log piles, drop-offs, weed lines, and near shore. Once you find the holding areas, start casting near them. Let the lure sit and begin the retrieve. Again, you can vary the retrieval speed depending on what the fish want. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Rooster Tail a Good Lure? 

Yes, the Rooster Tail is a good lure. It attracts wary fish, moves water, and covers all levels of the water column. Plus, they’re fairly inexpensive and allow you to land fish in all different types of water. 

What are Panther Martins Good For? 

Panther Martins are great for targeting aggressive fish. They also do well in convincing wary trout to strike. A slow retrieve through a pool or under a cut bank convinces them to start striking. 


Panther Martins and Rooster Tails are some of the best spinners on the market. Besides Mepps, you won’t find spinners that land more trout. Rooster Tails require faster retrieves, but they work well in areas with snag potential and spooky fish. Their thinner blades don’t scare wary trout as much as Panther Martins might. Panther Martins move water, sink fast, and attract attention from all trout in the area. They’re not as effective as a finesse lure, but they perform well in almost every other situation. 

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1 thought on “Panther Martin vs. Rooster Tail: Which Catches More Trout?”

  1. Panther Martin or Rooster Tail opens with a picture of Mepps?Your picture of a Panther Martin is something but it ain’t no Panther Martin. The blade is on a clevis and is NOT an inline spinner.


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