What Bait Do You Use For Trout

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. more info

Trout are some splendid fish to angle for. They can get quite large, they can put up a fight, they taste amazing, and they can be found all over the world too.

With that being said, you do need to have the right technique and gear on hand for the job, with the type of bait being one of the most important aspects. So, what bait do you use for trout is what we are here to cover today, let’s get to it.

The short answer is the best baits for trout in our opinion are Night Crawlers, Salmon eggs, minnows, crawfish, powerbait, sweetcorn and mini marshmallows. 


Best Bait For Trout: Top 7

When it comes to live bait, it really cannot be topped for trout fishing. This is actually true when angling for most kind of fish. After all, those lures you might use for fishing, the artificial ones, whether spinner baits, crank baits, or floaters, are all designed to mimic the natural prey and foods which fish like to eat.

So, let’s talk about some of the best baits, both live and dead, to use for trout fishing. Keep in mind that here we are not talking about lures, but about bait specifically. (if you want some good lure suggestions, we have reviewed some here and also here).

1. Night Crawlers (Worms)

In terms of trout fishing, perhaps the best natural bait to use is the good old worm, AKA the night crawler. These things are super easy to find and dig up wherever there is rich earth (you can also make your own farm), or on the other hand, if you go to a tackle shop, they are dirt cheap to buy as well.

There is no doubt that it is one of the most cost effective options around, not to mention highly effective at luring in all kinds of fish, especially trout. One great part about night crawlers is that they tend to stay alive for a long time after being hooked and submerged in the water. The movement of worms on hooks tends to attract a lot of attention from trout.

The downside to night crawlers is that they do not really create much scent or leave a scent trail in the water. It’s all about that wriggling movement here. When putting a night crawler on a hook, use a single hook, but make sure that it does not cover the entire hook, or else catching trout becomes quite hard. Some people even use 2 worms on the same hook.

A good idea is to have half of the worm facing upwards from the hook, and half of it downwards from the hook, as this should attract the most attention. Also, using 2 worms ensures a lot of movement, plus it helps ensure that at least 1 of the 2 worms will stay on the hook.

They are known to fall off hooks as they can be a little tricky to get one there. Some people like to put worms on their spinner baits because worms work so well at luring in trout. Keep in mind that piercing live worms is a bit messy, so it’s not for the squeamish.

2. Salmon Eggs

Another fan favorite bait for trout fisherman is the salmon egg. In the wild, during the spawning season, salmon lay thousands and thousands of eggs. It just so happens that these eggs tend to be brightly colored, they have a strong smell, and they are super tasty, not to mention that they are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and protein too.

Trout absolutely love eating salmon eggs in the wild, making this a fantastic bait for trout. It is recommended that you use red salmon eggs, or at least orange ones. While they do smell quite a bit, the scent only travels so far, so trout do also rely on their sense of sight to find salmon eggs.

Since the red ones are very bright, you will stand the best chance of a trout seeing them. You can buy these things in any tackle shop and online as well. On a side note, if you go salmon fishing during spawning season, you might even find a female that has not deposited here eggs yet. In this case, you can keep the salmon to eat or for sale, while using the eggs for trout bait.

Now, one thing to note with salmon eggs is that they are very hard to get on the hook. They are small, round and slippery, and hard to grip. Getting them on the hook and making sure they stay there is not very easy. You do need to apply a bit of force to get them on the hook right, but make sure that you pierce the center of the eggs.

Also, cover the whole hook except for the very end with the eggs. In this case, more is better. It is not recommended to use salmon eggs as trout bait for long distance casting, as they are likely to come off the hook before it hits the water. However, salmon eggs are a great option if you are fishing close to the shore or right off your boat.

3. Minnows

Yet another great bait to use for trout fishing is the classic minnow. Minnows are very small and easy to manage. You can find them in most ponds and lakes, if you want to catch them yourself to use as bait. Most tackle shops will also sell either dead or live minnows, or maybe both. They are a little more expensive than night crawlers, but not by much, especially if you buy them in bulk.

In the wild, minnows are some poor guys no doubt, as they more or less just serve as a big food source for predatory fish such as trout. However, this is what makes them great to use as fishing bait for trout.

What is interesting to note is that spinners are actually supposed to mimic minnows, but of course, nothing works as well as the real deal. Real minnows will continue to wriggle even after you have hooked them, at least for a good amount of time. As you reel them in, their bodies will flutter around, also attracting attention.

Real minnows also smell like real minnows, an obvious statement, yet important to keep in mind for trout fishing. Also, minnows are quite shiny, which helps to attract attention as light reflects off them quite well. Do keep in mind that using dead minnows probably won’t work too well.  You should have a box of water with live minnows with you if you plan on using them for trout fishing.

Yes, this can be a bit of a pain in the neck, but it is one of the best baits for trout you can use. when it comes to what size hook to use for trout when using minnows, a small one is best, one that can effectively hook a minnow’s mouth, is not too small, but also not so large that you shred the minnow when putting it on the hook.  Hooking the minnow through the mouth from the bottom up is best, as this will allow the minnow some room to move, thus also attracting a trout’s attention.

4. Crawfish

If you are not familiar with crawfish, they are more or less a mixture between shrimp and crabs. They look like really small lobsters. Trout love to eat these guys in the wild, and thus make for great trout bait. Now, this is a bait that only a serious trout fisherman should use.

We say this because crawfish, unless you catch your own to use as bait, are not exactly cheap. Therefore, if you are going to spend some cash on crawfish, you need to have a good knowledge of trout fishing, be in a good spot, and use the right gear.

You don’t want to waste expensive crawfish. With that being said, you can potentially catch your own if you know where to find them. However, for this you will need special crawfish fishing gear and bait to lure them in. You might be better off buying them, as catching them is not the easiest thing in the world, but they sure to work really well as trout bait.

In terms of what size hook to use for trout when using crawfish as bait, a 2, 4, or size 6 hook is best, with number 4 probably being best. The reason you cannot use a small hook for crawfish is because the tail is quite meaty. Well, the tail is the best place to hook a crawfish when using them as bait, so the hook needs to be big enough so the end protrudes out of the crawfish. If the hook is too small, the whole hook will be covered by the crawfish, thus rendering the hook unable to catch a trout.

You might want to use a floater or a bit of powerbait with your crawfish, as crawfish like to dig and hide in the sand. In other words, you need to keep the crawfish floating a bit, or at least off the bottom so that it cannot hide in the sand. It does not look very natural, but the smell of the crawfish combined with its movement is more than enough to lure in trout from far and wide.

If you want some tips on how to get rid of the fishy smell from your hands then checkout this article.

5. Powerbait

Yes, we talked about powerbait up above, which is another great type of bait to use for trout, so let us explain what it is. Powerbait is actually a product produced by a certain fishing tackle brand, but although it is not live food or live bait, it tends to work incredibly well for trout fishing.

Powerbait is more or less just this play dough-like substance. It is very easy to use because it is fairly buoyant, so it does not need anything to help it float around in the water. Trout are not bottom feeders, which is important to keep in mind when choosing any bait.

At any rate, this stuff can be molded into any shape you want. It is pretty much just putty that you can mold into a ball and place onto your fishing hook. A fairly large hook is best for this, as this stuff is pretty heavy, so you need to make sure that it is quite secure.

There are tons of different color and flavor options to go with too. Powerbait comes in flavors which attract trout, not to mention the colors too. Using super bright powerbait, such as a red one, combined with a good scent, will definitely help attract trout to your hook.

Related: our favorite 5 powerbaits for stocked trout.

6. Sweet Corn

Yes, this might seem a little out there, but boy does it ever work well. Using kernels of sweet corn might seem odd, but who cares if it is weird as long as it works. We honestly are not too sure exactly what about corn trout love so much, but they tend to be quite attracted to it.

Some people theorize that trout love the smell and taste of corn, which is reasonable enough, because after all, we humans eat it too. Another reason why it works well for trout fishing is due to the vibrant yellow coloration that corn features.
When the water is clear, a few bright yellow corn kernels are pretty hard to miss, and this usually attracts the attention of trout quite well.

In terms of what size hook to use for trout fishing when using corn as bait, a smaller hook will have to do. Corn kernels are small, so if your hook is too large, you will just destroy the kernels and they will never stay on the hook.

A good piece of advice here is to use a bobber and a lightweight sinker combination to suspend the corn a couple feet under the water’s surface.

7. Mini Marshmallows

Ok yes, this is a bit out there as well, but just like corn kernels, small marshmallows tend to work very well for trout fishing. For one, they are a bright white in color, which really helps them to stick out visually.

Also, while they don’t leave slime in the water, they are very sweet, something which trout can smell from pretty far away. Just like with corn, use a small hook in combination with a sinker and bobber combo for the best results.

If you really want to attract the attention of trout, using a white marshmallow and placing it right beside a red salmon egg works wonders due to the color contrast and big smell this combo will put out.

If you did not know, back before powerbait became so popular, it was pretty common to see trout fisherman with a bag of mini marshmallows in their boats.

How To Catch Trout That Won’t Bite – Some Trout Fishing Tips

Catching trout is not always super easy, which can be the case even if you do have the right bait on hand. Well, just in case they are not biting, but you know that they are around, let’s go over a few useful trout fishing tips for those times when they refuse to bite.

Switch It Up

While live bait does usually work best, this does not mean that artificial lures are out of the question. If your bait is not working well, try switching to an artificial lure. Really anything that creates a lot of movement and light reflection is ideal.

Spoons, spinners, cranks, and other such baits work great. If you really want to attract trout, try using a lure and bait combination such as a spinner with a live minnow.Give the trout some variety.

Just like people, sometimes trout might just not be interested in a certain type of food on any given day. If one bait does not work well, just try switching to another to see if it works better.

The Strike Zone

Remember that trout usually do not feed right off of the water’s surface, nor are they bottom feeders. If the trout are not biting, it might be because the bait you are using is not at the proper strike level.

Try to keep your bait at around 1.5 to 3 feet under the surface of the water, as this is where trout tend to strike the most. So, if you are using a bait that floats, make it sink down a bit, but if the bait is heavy, try using a bobber to keep it suspended.

Cast For Structures

Trout do like to hang out around structures and vegetation. In other words, fishing for trout in open water may not yield the best results.

Try to cast in areas where there are downed trees, rocks, vegetation, and other structures where trout might like to hang out.

The Right Water Temperature

Trout tend to like cooler water the most. So, in the colder months, fishing closer to the surface of the water is best. However, if it is summer and both the air and water are warm, moving to an area that is a little deeper will work best.

Trout will move to deeper and cooler waters during the summer, in part to stay away from overhead predators, but also to find food.



The bottom line is that there are actually many different baits which work well for trout fishing. Give it your best shot, don’t forget to provide the trout with some variety, and don’t forget to remember where trout are at any given time of year.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.