Spinning for Trout

Trout Caught on a Spinner

The Wait Is over

Me and my son Jordan had waited for 9 months to get back down to Hanningfield reservoir to do some spinning for trout.

Not only couldn’t we fish the whole of winter, we also had to wait for COVID lock down to end.  It did finally come to an end for fisherman in May.  The government allowed both fishing and golf to open with restrictions.  There were some social distancing rules for fisheries. Fishing would be allowed from the bank only, no boats and keep your distance from each other.

When Essex and Suffolk Water finally opened Hanningfield for fishing, you could only fish off the dam wall and you had to book and pay for your tickets in advance.  You were allowed to fish together if you were from the same household which was a right result for us.

A 2lb 8oz rainbow trout caught spinning
2lb 8oz of hard fighting Rainbow Trout

I booked us a couple of eight fish tickets online for 30th May.  The weather was going to be clear skies and hot. 26 degrees with very little wind.

Now those of you that know me, know that I like to do a lot of research into the venue I would be fishing. Hanningfield was to be no exception.


The reservoir had been opened for a few days and the catch reports were non existent.  The only way to get any up to date information was to go to the venue.  I drove the forty minute journey from my house, and got to the water around three o’clock.

I parked up at the “Inlet” car park. Luckily for me the rangers had packed up and gone, so I could wander onto the bank without problem. A bit cheeky but “Who Dares Wins” as they say.

The designated area for fishing were the eighty or so pegs that run along the whole of the dam wall.  There is another car park at the other end, so your furthest walk was going to be around forty swims.

Spinning for trout off the dam wall
Hanningfield Reservoir Map

The water was heaving with anglers and decided I would walk up around 15 swims and park myself there.  This gave me a good idea what was happening in fifteen pegs either side.  After around half an hour I noticed a guy six swims to my right who was catching and it looked as if he was spinning.  I wandered up to him and his mate and sat quietly behind him.  He looked like he knew what he was doing.  He had well balanced tackle, a great cast and looked like he’d landed a few in his time.

Always ask for advice

After half hour he caught his limit and came up the bank to pack up.  We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him his advice as I was coming here tomorrow.  Like most decent anglers he was more than willing to share his knowledge.  He whispered to me that I needed to fish with this type of spinner.  He showed me a Mepps Aglia Comet spinner.  “you need a white blade with red spots” he said enthusiastically. “I always use this colour lure at Hanningfield when spinning for trout”. After a few more minutes chatting I thanked him for his time and help and made my way back to the car park.

I found some old trout spinners
I found some spinners that I could doctor

16 hours Until The Spinning Stars

I now had 16 hours to get some spinners that looked like that.  No shops were open due to lock down.  Online orders were taking two to three days and I didn’t know anyone I could call to borrow a few.   Oh well I will have to improvise.

Time to create some trout spinners

I finally got home around 7pm and dug out my spinner box. I found three No2 (4.5gram) spinners that I had been given by a lure company at a fishing show twenty years ago and took the down the shed for a makeover.

Because the blades were a polished finish I sanded the blades down so the white paint would adhere to them.  Then, using masking tape covered the lure apart from the blade.  I sprayed them with two coats of quick drying white car paint primer.  Once they were dry, the next job was to change over the treble hooks to a size 12.  When fly fishing on reservoirs I never user a hook bigger than a 12.  It made sense to stay to that size.  They are mainly stock trout around the 2lb mark, so they haven’t got the mouth of a pike or perch.

To finish the off I found red Sharpie permanent marker and drew some red spots on the front of the blades. 

First fish of the day
The Home Painted Spinner Was Deadly


We arrived 10 minutes before the gates opened and was shocked to be parked in a queue 20 cars long.  In all fairness it only took ten minutes to clear once the gates were open.

We decided to fish in the area where the guy I talked to fished the day before, around twenty swims to the right.

Jordan set up a Drennan 8ft Spincast rod with a reel with 15lb braid. He added a 6ft of 12lb Fluorocarbon leader and attached one of our home tweaked special spinners.

Our Trout Spinning Gear

  • Rod: Drennan Spincast 8ft
  • Reel: Dawia Ninja 2000A
  • Main Line: Savage Gear 20lb Silencer Braid
Home painted spinner
A Beautiful Rainbow Trout

I was just finishing setting up my rod when I heard Jordan say, “I’m in”.  Wow! that was quick.  If you have not had the pleasure of catching stockies from a reservoir, then I thoroughly recommend giving it a go.  They fight like demons.  When spinning for trout on the reservoir you must use a minimum 8lb leader, or they will just snap you off. They jump all over the place and taste okay too.

After a five minute fight and beautiful 2lb 6oz rainbow graced the landing net and was quickly dispatched and put in our ice bucket.

Over the next three hours we landed another eight and lost four.  We were casting as far as we could. Around 30 yards and just steadily retrieved the spinners.  We had bites all over the place.  Up in the water as the lure was sinking, within ten feet the bank but most were around mid water halfway in.

Trout on the move

Because the sun was now high up over our heads, the bites were slowing down.  From experience I said to Jordan that I believe the fish have gone out a little into the deeper less bright water. I know this from past experience when spinning for trout.  Our spinners were a little to light to reach the fish.  More improvisation was required.  I delved into my bag and bought out some tungsten putty I used for carp fishing.  I moulded it around both our spinners around the brass body.  When we cast out, found we gained another 10 yards.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Weighing a trout
The marks on the back of this trout were caused by a cormorant.

Our gamble paid off as we started to get takes virtually straight away.

We decided to call it a day on 12 fish.  We could have easily caught our eight fish limit each, but I would have no use for the extra fish we would have had to take.  Biggest fish went to Jordan at just over 3lb and most fish also went to him.

All in all, the total weight of our catch as documented by Jordan was just under 30lb.  More than enough trout to cold smoke but that is another blog.


You can find a huge range of spinners on their website https://www.mepps.com/

If you fancy fly fishing at Hanningfield you can check out a Trout & Salmon article here.


You might find the following on Perch fishing interesting 4/https://www.fishingmaverick.com/catch-lots-of-perch-for-under-4/