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5 Best Baits For Trout (And How To Fish Them!)

best trout fishing bait

The Best Bait For Trout and How To Fish Them

Over the years, I’ve talked to many fellow trout fishermen and have been given many suggestions on the best bait. I’ve also done a lot of experimenting on my own trying numerous different kinds of trout bait.

After all of this experimenting and after years of trial and error, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best bait for trout is not a fancy secret sauce cocktail of shrimp juice, trout hatchery dust and dog food. No. Believe it or not, it is much, much more simple than that.

Here’s what I’ve found time and time again, to be the best bait for trout.  Not just the best bait for rainbow trout, but German brown trout, cutthroat trout and any other kind of trout you can think of.

Related: Ultimate List Of The Best Trout Fishing Lures

5 Best Baits For Trout Fishing

1. Berkley PowerBait Floating Trout Worm 

2. Nightcrawlers

3. Pautzke Bait Balls O’Fire Salmon Eggs

4. PowerBait 

5. Whole Kernel Corn

6. Mini Marshmallows

1. Berkley PowerBait Floating Trout Worm 

Berkley PowerBait Power Floating Trout Worm

Can’t get your hands on real worms? Then these trout worms by Berkley Powerbait not only make a good alternative to the real thing, but they have earned their own spot here as one of the best bait for trout. That’s because they catch fish!

These Power Bait worms look and feel like just like real worms. They’re 3 inches long and can be used just like you would use a real nightcrawler.  

They’re not only one of the best baits for native and stocked rainbow trout, but also other species of fish like bluegill, crappie and bass.

Berkley PowerBait Power Floating Trout Worm

One of the best things about the Power Bait worm is that they WILL stay on your hook. It’s not uncommon to catch 2 or 3 trout before having to replace the bait. 

The best method of fishing Power Bait worms in my experience is to fish them as a whacky rig. A whacky rig is simply when you place the hook through the middle of the plastic worm and allow each of the sides to just dangle.  

Fact is, you can’t go wrong by taking these along with you on your next trout fishing trip.

2. Nightcrawlers

boy putting worm on hook as fishing bait

If you’ve spent anytime fishing, or even just hanging around people who fish, then no doubt you’ve heard of using worms for fishing.  Well, there’s a reason everyone’s heard about using worms as trout bait.  It’s because they work. And that’s why I’ve listed here as the first of the 5 best bait for trout.

I’ve caught many rainbow trout with earthworms, and still find myself grabbing a container of a dozen worms to take with me as rainbow trout bait when I go on a fishing trip.  Even though I tend to use only spinners and flies these days, I almost always end up throwing in a worm on a hook.

If using earthworms as rainbow trout bait, you may find that they work best in deeper water. Put the worm on a single small hook and attach a sliding sinker about 1.5 to 2 feet from the worm. I’ve seen people that fish with this set up inject air into the worm so it floats up off the bottom.

3. Pautzke Bait Balls O’Fire Salmon Eggs

list of bait good for trout fishing

Salmon eggs are another classic time proven trout bait. Just like the earthworm, salmon eggs is a food that a trout might actually eat in their natural environment.

In nature, salmon work their way far up the rivers and streams they were born in. Once they arrive to spawn, thousands of eggs are layed in the spawning beds. Many of these eggs detach from the rest and travel downstream where the trout feed on them.

Pautzke Bait Balls O'Fire Salmon Eggs Green Label 1oz.

So that’s exactly how I like to use salmon eggs to catch trout.  I almost always use salmon eggs as trout bait in rivers and streams.  I’ve had some success with using salmon eggs in lakes, but not as good as in rivers and streams.

Place a single egg on an egg hook below a bobber, or bounce it gently on the bottom of the stream below a lead weight.

4. PowerBait Floating Trout Bait

Berkley Power Bait - Fl. Orange 1.75 Ounce

What best trout bait list would be complete if I didn’t mention Powerbait?  Love it or hate it, it works.  That’s why it deserves a spot on this best trout bait list.

Powerbait is simply a playdough like substance that you can form into a ball over your treble hook.  And it floats.  So it behaves a lot like the marshmallows I mentioned earlier.

Over the years, Berkley has come out with about a million different varieties and colors of Powerbait.  If you can imagine it, they probably make it.

If you want to catch trout and don’t necessarily care about getting chartreuse playdoh on your boat and your pants, then use it!  I’ve caught A LOT of trout with Power Bait.

of rainbow trout using Powerbait. And am comfortable even saying it might just be the best rainbow trout bait out there.

5. Whole Kernel Corn

corn on fishing hook for fishing bait

This is one of the best trout bait options that you might have not heard of before. One of the reasons is because it’s not permitted in all states. For example, trout fishing in the state of Oregon where I live, it’s illegal to use corn as bait.

But as a kid growing up in a different state that permitted corn to be used as trout bait, it quickly became my go to bait. Generally, on a fishing trip to our favorite rainbow trout hole, we would pick up a can of corn the same time we picked up a container of earthworms.

Take a kernel of corn and put it on a single egg hook about 1.5 feet below a light weight sinker.  Float it under a bobber or fish it on the bottom.

6. Mini Marshmallows

roasting marshmallows over campfire

Mini marshmallow might catch you by surprise to be on the list of the best bait for trout.  But long ago, before Powerbait was on the scene, it was not uncommon to see a trout fisherman with a bag of mini marshmallows open and stuffed under his chair. Don’t believe me? Give it a shot!  They float and are the perfect size for your small treble hook.

Place a mini marshmallow on a treble hook about 1.5 to 2 feet below a small sinker.  Take it to the bottom and let the marshmallow float up off the surface.  Another trick is to put a marshmallow on a baitholder hook, but bring the point of the hook out just far enough to put on a single salmon egg with it.  The contrast of the red against the white will knock them dead.

What The Pros Say About The Best Trout Bait

Here’s a few comments from some of the pros and what their take is on some of the trout bait I listed here in this post.


According to Dan Smith from, nightcrawlers is the must have go to trout bait.

“I usually go with the old classic, the worm.  I like to fish either a whole red worm or half of a large nightcrawler on a small single baitholder hook.  Instead of suspending it below a bobber, I usually attach a sliding sinker and have the worm 12-24″ from it.”

It’s good to hear that I’m not alone in using nightcrawlers as trout bait.


While Mike Bleech from states that while there are some non-standard bait he likes to use for trout, such as grubs and maggots, there’s one in particular that has worked well.

“After a couple hours of fishing with salmon eggs and spinners with absolutely no success, my fishing companion pulled out a jar of corn and impaled a kernel on a hook. In short order he had our first hard-bodied rainbow trout. When he offered to share the corn I accepted, starting a very fun afternoon of trout fishing.

Even large rainbow trout will take a kernel of corn, just as they will a salmon egg. Rig corn on a small, fine wire hook. From there rig it the same as other baits.”

Glad to hear that corn worked well for Mike as well.


And finally, Dan Johnson from says that trout guru Buzz Ramsey has no issues with turning to Powerbait to turn around a slow day of trout fishing.

“A pinch of dough suspended in the strike zone can transform a slow trip into a banner day at the lake,” he promises. Indeed, Ramsey recalls salvaging more than one excruciating trolling excursion by beaching his boat and lobbing dough baits from the bank.

Ramsey favors a light spinning combo strung with 4- to 6-pound Berkley Trilene XL monofilament mainline. “Slide a 3/8- to ½-ounce, oval sliding slip-sinker onto the line, then tie on a small swivel and add a short fluorocarbon leader of similar pound test.”

My Personal Experience In Finding The Best Bait For Trout Fishing

The very first trout I remember ever catching was when I was probably 6 years old.  My entire family was on our annual trip to White Horse Lake in arizona. A relatively small lake in North Central arizona.  At least in those days, the lake was known to be a good destination for trout fishing. And trout fishing is what we did!

Early one morning, tackle box in hand and fishing rod in the other, my 8 year old brother and I settled on a muddy bank that was not far from our campground, where the rest of my family still slept. We were going to catch some fish!

Learning Early On What The Best Trout Bait Is

Still too young to fully understand what we were doing, and to even know there was a “correct” way to fish for rainbow trout, we baited our hooks with great hopes of landing a monster. What’s the best bait for rainbow trout to a couple 6 and 8 year old boys? Well canned corn of course!

I remember throwing a kernel of yellow corn onto each of the 3 points of our small treble hooks which dangled about a foot and a half down from a small swivel on 2 lb fishing leader. This all hung about 2 feet below a plastic bobber.

I vividly remember watching that bobber twitch, and then twitch again.  Then the entire globe disappeared under the surface, and the fight was on.

We landed that rainbow trout and I can only imagine how many people we woke up around that lake that morning with our yelling.  We were both hooked.  It was at that moment we became real life trout fishermen.

Experimenting To Find The Best Secret Bait For Trout

Fast forward many years, and I’ve not only caught my own fair share of trout, but have also had the privilege of teaching many others, including my wife and two kids, how to catch trout by using many different kinds of trout bait.

Of course one of the most common questions asked while talking to new trout fisherman is, what is the best bait you can use to catch more trout? The funny thing is, every trout fisherman has their own secret trout bait that they swear is the best. Each one of them swears up and down that theirs is the best trout bait.

Final Thoughts

If you’re new to trout fishing, you’ll soon find out that by using these trout baits, you’re going to find out that all different kinds of trout are going to bite. If you need help learning how to identify different trout species, take a look at my post, How To Identify Different Trout Species.

So do you agree? Are these the best bait for trout?  Have you had success with any or all of these?  I would like to get your feedback and see what you recommend as being your best trout bait.  Leave a comment below and let me know!

best bait for trout of all time

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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