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How to Rig and Fish a Rooster Tail: Everything You Need to Know

I must admit to a life-long love affair with the rooster tail, and when I’m fishing a new lake, pond, or river, you can bet that the first thing I’ll tie on is one of these bad boys.

New anglers may be confused by the appeal of the humble rooster tail, and among lures, it doesn’t get near the kind of attention that crankbaits, spinners, jerkbaits, and swimbaits garner.

But from crappie to pike, a rooster tail will crush them all, earning strikes when nothing else can.

If you’re new to fishing and want to learn more about this fantastic lure, keep reading!


What is a Rooster Tail?

rooster tail

The rooster tail is an in-line spinner, meaning that the shape of the lure is roughly linear. They get their name from the distinctive, feathery skirt they wear just in front of the treble hook.

In addition to color and tail action, rooster tails sport a spinning blade that flashes and thumps, offering even more visual cues and triggering reaction strikes as it runs.

Available in pretty much any color combination you can imagine, these fantastic lures are offered in sizes that range from tiny to pretty big, giving you a good sense of just how effective they are on a wide variety of species.

How to Rig a Rooster Tail

First, take a good look at your rod and check the recommended lure weights. You’ll find that information on the blank, just forward of the handle.

rod lure weight

Choose a rooster tail that’s right for the size fish you’re chasing, and within your rod’s limits, and attach it to your line with a Uni knot.

The Uni is strong, easy to learn, and fast to tie. If you want to know more about it, we’ve got you covered:

One Knot to Rule Them All - How to Tie the Uni Knot

Some anglers like to place a barrel swivel between their line and their rooster tail, which can cut down on twisting. If you go this route, choose a swivel that matches the size of the lure you’re throwing, erring on the small side.

Fishing Barrel Swivel with Nice Snap-100pcs Fishing Connector Snap Swivels Solid Rings Fishing High Strength Fishing Accessories Fishing Tackle(Gold)


Personally, I’ve never found that necessary, but your mileage may vary!

How to Fish a Rooster Tail

Fishing a rooster tail is pretty simple.

Cast it out, and begin reeling steadily. You’re looking for a speed that’s fast enough to get that blade to turn, but slow enough to keep your lure at the depth that’s needed.

You can also affect the depth at which a rooster tail runs by lowering or raising your rod tip. Lowering the tip will cause the lure to descend, and vice versa.

It helps to know the depth of the water, just as it’s great to know where the fish are holding in the water column. But if you’re new to angling, chances are, you’re not running powerful fishing electronics, but don’t worry!

Vary your retrieve, starting off faster and getting slower with each cast.

Eventually, you’ll find the sweet spot, and the bites will come fast and furious!

How to Choose a Rooster Tail

The good news is that you’re spoiled for choices!

Probably the best rooster tail on the market is the Yakima Bait Wordens Original.

Yakima Bait unisex adult Rooster Tail In Line Spinner 2 3 4 1 oz, Fire Tiger, 4-Ounce US


Available in sizes ranging from 1/32-ounce to 1 ounce, and offered in a tremendous variety of colors, there’s almost no reason to look anywhere else.

Among my favorite color options, you’ll find white, black, fire tiger, metallic blue, rainbow, and chartreuse.

I pick colors like white and chartreuse when the water is murky and visibility is low, switching to rainbow, black, firetiger, and metallic blue in clear water.

YAKIMA BAIT Wordens Original Rooster Tail Spinner Lure, Chartreuse, 1-Ounce


Chartreuse is an excellent choice for stained, muddy, or murky water.

Yakima Bait Wordens 212-RBOW Rooster Tail in-Line Spinner, 2 3/4', 1/4 oz


Rainbow mimics fry and small minnows, and it attracts loads of attention in clear water.

Mepps also makes awesome rooster tails, and I’ve used this in both fresh and saltwater, catching everything from musky to bluefish.

Mepp's Aglia Ultra Lite Wooly Worm Single Hook Fishing Lure, 1/18-Ounce, Gold/Green Tail


Mepps’s Aglia Ultra Lite Wooly Worm Single Hook is a devastating choice, offering color, flash, action, and vibration. It's just an incredible trout lure, and I’d have more than one with me when I hit a trout pond.

Mepps also makes a Musky Killer that’s nothing but magic on these big fish. ¾ of an ounce, and available in three colors, running these along weedbeds, over and around rocks, and across points will get the attention you’re looking for!

Mepp's Musky Killer Dressed Fishing Lure, 3/4-Ounce, Hot Chartreuse/Chartreuse Tail, BM HC-CH


Final Thoughts

Rooster tails are an undervalued tool in your fishing toolbox, and whichever species you’re chasing, packing a few different colors and letting them fly is always a good idea.

We hope you’ve learned something about rooster tails today, and as always, we’re here to answer any questions you might have.

Please leave a comment below.

About The Author
Pete Danylewycz
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.