When it comes to trout fishing, there are a plethora of baits to choose from. Being a beginner angler walking into a tackle shop, you might need help with where to start and be intimidated with choosing the right bait.
This article will cover 22 top trout baits, from live bait like nightcrawlers and red wigglers to artificial lures like spinners and jigs. Consider water clarity, time, and trout species for the best choice, and experiment with scents, colors, and glitter to attract fish.
Below are plenty of different bait options, all proven trout catchers! Read a description of the bait and how to use it to find the right ones for you!
Bait can refer to live bait, edible bait, inedible bait, or lures made from plastic or metal.
Live bait is the best at catching trout since it most closely mimics a trout’s natural diet, while other baits will rely on different tricks to tempt the fish.
Lures and artificial bait might be less effective than live bait, but they last much longer, can be left in a tackle box for long periods, and always be ready to take fishing.
Lures especially require a more active casting style and can result in a more accomplished feeling when you land a fish.
Nightcrawlers are among the most effective bait for trout fishing, especially in moving water. They are easy to find and use, making them popular with many anglers.
When fishing with nightcrawlers, it’s important to thread them onto the hook properly and to use just enough weight to keep them on the bottom.
Nightcrawlers can also be fished underneath a float or bobber, in shallow water, or when the trout are active near the water’s surface.
Thanks to their large size, they attract trout from a further distance than smaller worms, and their natural scent help attract fish.
Red wigglers are another effective bait for trout fishing. They are smaller than nightcrawlers and work well in still waters like ponds or lakes. They are also popular for fly fishing.
When using red wigglers, thread them onto the hook so they don’t fall off. They can be fished alone or with other baits, such as salmon eggs or a piece of Powerbait.
Being patient when using red wigglers is vital, as the trout may take some time to find and take the bait.
Mealworms are another popular bait for trout fishing. They are small, soft-bodied worms that are easy to use and can be found at most fishing bait shops.
Much like red wigglers, mealworms are small and delicate, so you must be careful when hooking them to ensure they are well attached to the hook.
Mealworms are easy to find at tackle shops and pet stores if your local shop is out of them.
Mealworms are an excellent backup option if you have difficulty finding other worms to use as live bait while trout fishing.
Wax worms are small, soft-bodied larvae commonly used as bait for panfish and trout. They can be found at most fishing bait shops and sold in containers.
Wax worms are great for trout fishing and even better for a multi-species trip or fishing an unknown body of water where you are unsure what species are lurking below.
Wax worms are also one of the best baits to use while ice fishing for trout.
Crickets are another popular bait for trout fishing. They are easy to find and can be caught using a simple trap or purchased at any bait or pet shop.
The best time to use crickets is when they are naturally out in the wild, typically during spring and summer.
Using them as bait in areas where they are common will “match the hatch” of the food trout are naturally accustomed to, especially when fishing for wild trout.
Grasshoppers are a natural food source for many types of fish, including trout. They can be found in fields and meadows during the summer, caught using a small net, or purchased at a bait shop.
When using grasshoppers, it’s important to carefully thread them onto the hook and use a light line to avoid spooking the trout, especially wild trout.
Grasshoppers work best in still waters and are particularly effective for catching larger trout.
Cicadas are another natural food source for trout and can be found in wooded areas during the summer months.
They can be caught using a small net and come in such abundant numbers that you will have no issue finding plenty of bait to use all day.
Cicadas make a lot of noise and vibrations in the water, helping to attract trout from a greater distance than most other baits. Cicadas are too big for most trout, so they’re suitable for quality over quantity.
Live minnows are one of the most effective baits for trout fishing. They are commonly used in moving water, such as streams and rivers, and can be found at most fishing bait shops.
When using live minnows, it’s important to keep them alive and healthy by changing the water in the bait bucket frequently.
An aerator powered by batteries or rechargeable will keep the minnows extra healthy and will keep the water oxygenated.
However, minnows are among the most commonly restricted or illegal baits, so be sure to check laws in your local area.
Berkley PowerBait is a popular choice for trout fishing as it comes in various colors and scents to attract fish.
It is a dough-like substance that can be molded onto a hook and slowly dissolved in the water, leaving behind a scent trail that attracts fish. It also comes in pre-formed balls that are even easier to use.
It is especially effective for stocked trout, which have been raised on similar food in hatcheries.
Many anglers swear by this bait, one of the most widely sold and used artificial trout bait sold at every major retailer and most local ones.
Fish eggs, also known as roe, can be excellent bait for trout fishing. They are especially effective during spawning when fish naturally feed on eggs.
Fish eggs come in various colors and sizes and can be fished with or without a float. They are often used as an addition to other bait, such as nightcrawlers or power bait, to increase their effectiveness.
Both natural fish eggs and artificial replicas are sold for trout fishing, and both options are excellent at attracting trout.
Eggs can be fished in various ways in any part of the water column from the bottom to the surface.
Trout worms, such as the Berkley Powerbait Power Worm, are another popular choice for trout fishing. These worms are designed to mimic trout’s natural food and are infused with scents that attract fish.
Trout worms are especially effective for rainbow trout, which tend to feed on worms in their natural habitat.
Artificial worms can be fished in any rig designed for baits or combined with other lures and on a small jighead for maximum variety.
Scented grubs are another effective bait for trout fishing. These grubs are infused with natural scents that attract fish and come in various colors and sizes.
Compared to live baits, artificial grubs are great because you can leave them in your tackle box all year and not worry about the baits dying off.
Scented grubs are especially effective for stocked trout, often raised on similar food in hatcheries.
However, thanks to their natural scents, they are also effective on wild trout, even though they are more easily spooked.
Scented marshmallows are unique and effective bait for trout fishing.
These marshmallows are infused with natural scents that attract fish and can be fished on their own or as an extra bit of color and smell with other baits.
Regular marshmallows are also an excellent choice for trout fishing, although, without the additives of trout-fishing-specific marshmallows, they offer a more limited ability to attract the fish.
Corn kernels are a simple and effective bait for trout fishing. Corn Kernels are one of the most easily accessible baits and one of the cheapest.
If you are trout fishing on a budget, these are a great choice to pick up for less than a dollar.
Corn kernels are especially effective for stocked trout, which have been raised on similar food in hatcheries. Yellow corn is often preferred as it is easier for fish to see in the water.
Bread is a simple bait for trout fishing. Tear off small pieces of bread and mold them onto your hook. Trout are attracted to the smell and texture of bread, making it an excellent bait for trout fishing.
Bread can be a surface lure by floating a small piece on the water’s surface.
Popping lures are a popular choice for catching trout. When retrieved, these lures create a popping sound, miming the sound of prey in distress.
The additional noises can attract the attention of nearby trout and entice them to strike.
Popping lures come in various shapes and sizes, so be sure to choose one that matches the size of the trout you are targeting.
Jointed swim baits are another effective lure for trout fishing. When retrieved, these lures have a segmented body that creates a lifelike swimming motion.
This motion can trigger a trout’s predatory instincts, making them more likely to strike. Jointed swim baits come in various colors and sizes, so choose one that matches your fishing conditions.
Paddle tail lures are versatile for casting and trolling. When retrieved, these lures have a paddle-shaped tail, creating a realistic swimming motion.
Paddle tail lures come in various colors and sizes, so be sure to choose one that matches the size and color of the prey in the area you are fishing.
Spoons are a classic lure for trout fishing. These lures have a spoon-shaped body that creates a wobbling motion when retrieved.
This motion can attract the attention of nearby trout and make them more likely to strike. Spoons come in various colors and sizes, so be sure to choose one that matches your fishing conditions.
Spinnerbaits consist of a hook, a metal blade that spins in the water, and a skirt made of feathers or rubber. To fish with a spinnerbait, cast it into the water and retrieve it slowly.
The blade will spin in the water, creating flashes and vibrations that attract trout. It is important to vary your retrieve speed and use different blade colors to see what the fish prefer.
Crankbaits are hard-bodied lures that are designed to mimic small fish. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors and can be fished at different depths depending on the type of crankbait.
To fish with a crankbait, cast it into the water and retrieve it with a steady, jerking motion. This motion will cause the lure to dive and rise in the water, mimicking the movement of a fish.
Experimenting with different depths and retrieving speeds will help to see what the fish respond to.
Jigs are versatile lures that can be used in various fishing situations. They consist of a hook with a weighted head, soft plastic body, or feathered tail.
To fish with a jig, cast it into the water and allow it to sink to the desired depth. Then, retrieve it slowly with short jerks of the rod tip.
Jerking the rod tip will cause the jig to move up and down in the water, imitating the movement of a small baitfish or insect.
Jigs are effective in still and moving water and can be fished near the bottom or suspended in the water column.
In addition to the types of bait you use, there are a few other factors that can affect whether or not a trout will be interested in striking at a bait.
Scent, color, and glitter are all additives that can impact trout fishing, especially with these fish being as picky as they often are.
When choosing the right color for trout fishing, it’s crucial to consider the time of day and water clarity.
For example, brighter colors like chartreuse or fluorescent green may catch trout’s attention more effectively in low-light conditions or murky water.
Natural colors like brown or olive may work better in clear water or bright sunlight.
Scent is also an important factor in trout fishing. Adding scent to your bait can help attract fish and make them more likely to strike. Many scents include fish oil, garlic, anise, and shrimp.
It’s important to note that some scents may work better in certain conditions or for certain types of trout.
For example, some anglers swear by using garlic scent for rainbow trout, while others prefer using anise for brown trout.
Some baits come with scent added, while you can also purchase bottles of scent to apply to your baits for maximum irresistibility.
In addition to scents, adding glitter to your bait can also help attract trout. Glitter can mimic the natural shimmer of fish scales or other aquatic creatures, making it more appealing to trout.
Some baits, like scented marshmallows or Power Bait, come pre-infused with glitter.
In conclusion, no one-size-fits-all bait works for every angler or location when it comes to trout fishing.
Each of the baits discussed in this article has its benefits and drawbacks, and the best bait depends on the angler’s preference, location, and conditions.
It is crucial to have a good understanding of the bait’s characteristics and the fish’s feeding habits to increase the chances of a successful catch.
Whether you use live bait or artificial lures, always check the local regulations and obtain the necessary permits before heading out.