Best Trout Bait – Our Full Guide

What do trout eat?

The key to determining the best trout bait is to understand what they encounter on a daily basis. Its important to understand the types of food that a fish will feed on regularly. How, why and when that food is most available to the fish and when they might focus exclusively on that particular food. The best bait for trout will either be that food or it will imitate their favorite food.

The Best Trout Bait

Nightcrawlers, Powerbait, salmon eggs or minnows it really all depends on the time and place. Natural baits have long been the best bait for trout, however the artificial baits are strongly catching up. The natural baits are already a part of the trouts natural diet and this is clearly a massive advantage to have. But natural bait does have the disadvantage of both obtaining it and storing it to keep it fresh, it will also have a much shorter shelf life than the artificial kind. 

Artificial baits will generally attract a trout due to their smell in the water. A disadvantage is that if trout are preoccupied with a specific insect hatch then the artificial bait may not be effective. However it does bring with it a lot of convenience and if properly used at the right time is just as good if not better than it's natural counterpart.

What's the best bait for trout?
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Powerbait
  • Salmon Eggs
  • Minnows

Top Trout Baits

Nightcrawlers

nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers are far more effective for wild trout than for stocked. The are fairly easy to obtain, either from your on foraging in moist soil, under leaves​ or you can purchase them from any decent fishing tackle shop. They generally leave very little scent in the water, however their movement on a hook as the squirm from side can drive trout wild. They are probably the simplest way to fish for trout and a large proportion of children first learn to fish using nightcrawlers as their bait.

Nightcrawlers are usually fished on a single hook, just make sure not to cover the entire hook when threading them on. The can be rigged to float at some specific depth or can be fished statically on the bottom. One advantage they have is that if either fished on the bottom or on a float their movement will still continue and this can be a great trout attractor.​ Probably the best brown trout or the best brook trout bait. 

PowerBait Dough

Berkley Powerbait has gained huge success in recent years. It could well be the most popular bait for trout and is extremely effective when fishing on artificially stocked rivers and small lakes. Probably the best Rainbow trout bait as they are especially attracted to it. Powerbait is heavily scented with a well researched and tested artificial odor. It also comes in very bright colors that can draw trout towards it in both clear and murky waters. It can also be added to spinners and lures to increase there effectiveness by pinching a small piece onto the treble hook. Powerbait is easily the best rainbow trout bait although usually for stocked fish the wild ones can be a lot pickier.

Salmon Eggs

Salmon eggs are probably the easiest meal a trout will ever have. Packed full of protein they are either picked up off the bottom by trout foraging through sand and gravel or if they are loose they are simply picked out of the water as the flow down stream with the river flow. There are a pretty inexpensive bait to use and are readily available from the majority of tackle shops. The red is by far the most effective and available. Just be aware that under aggressive casting they can come loose from the hook rather easily.
Like Powerbait above salmon eggs can also be added to lures to increase the strike rate due to it's strong smell and high visibility. One of the best trout bait that you can have in your tackle box. Pautzke red salmon eggs are probably the most common ones found in tackle shops and online.

Minnows

The best trout bait will be something that they feed on regularly. Fishing with minnows for trout will be most effective on rivers and lakes where they are naturally occurring. On stocked waters which hold primarily Rainbow trout they may not be as effective as Powerbait. Stocked fish are fed artificial food all of there life so they may not be as excited by natural baits that do not give off a strong smell.

If you intend on using minnows as your bait for trout then you are going to have to try and catch them first this can be a major limiting factor. Personally I stick to the artificial baits or Nightcrawlers.​

Others

What bait to use for trout if none of the above are available ?

  • Corn - Simple and cheap a few kernels of corn from a can have been catching trout for a very long time. Corn can be one of the best bait to catch trout in murky waters
  • Crickets - Like any good bait for trout crickets are naturally occurring and trout are used to feeding on them. Another natural bait that is easy to get in most tackle shops. It can be the best trout bait when trout are naturally feeding on these little insects.
  • Cheese - The best bait to catch trout is not always the most obvious. Believe it or not a small piece of cheese rolled in a ball and threaded onto a hook can actually do quite well.

Tackle

When using a either a natural or artificial bait you must be extremely aware of how the bait is shown to any fish. Trout especially wild ones are notoriously cautious of what they feed on, unless you can force them into striking using some kind of attractor lure. Therefore presentation is key to catching more trout with bait.

When considering what tackle to choose your main guide should be to always go as light as possible:

  • Line -   4lbs test strength
  • Reel -   light weight spinning
  • Rod -    6 or 7 foot with a light fast action rod
  • Hook -  Size 10 or less

What type of trout bait rig you use will depend a lot on both the size of the fish and the river. Simply casting and letting the bait be naturally carried down river is not only effect but extremely effective. Beyond that you can either incorporate some kind of float or weight to fine tune the depth at which you are targeting. It really is best to keep things simple as the more complicated you make it generally the less natural the trout bait will look to the fish.

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