Here are MY 7 Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout [Check!]

Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout

Catching trout is not easy. These cautious fish live in crystal clear waters and have strong senses. Your baits and techniques have to be excellent.

One of the first things you have to consider is the bait. Trout won’t eat anything, and certain baits may work only in specific conditions.

Among the best secret baits for rainbow trout are corn, maggots, salmon eggs, powerbait, baitfish, and shrimp. But, you have to know how and when to use them. Presented bait has to follow their natural feeding patterns and activity periods.

Of course, even some artificial baits work excellent, and you don’t have to rely on natural ones only. In addition to that, you can even prepare some baits at home!

Here I will tell you more about the best baits and share some tips that proved to be good in various conditions.

The only way to figure out what works in your local waters is to get out to the water and try out some of the baits and tips mentioned below.



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First Thing First: What Do Rainbow Trout Eat in the Wild?

Choosing your bait is highly influenced by trout natural feeding patterns. So, to understand the philosophy behind the best baits, you have to know what wild fish eat depending on their size and seasons.

Rainbow trout eat a variety of live organisms, including fish, insects, and larvae. They often spend time in one place and wait for the pray to be “delivered” by the stream. It is a way of conserving energy.

Crayfish, crustacean, and fish eggs are also on their menu.

Aquatic insects are one of their favorite foods, for both younger and older trout. And of course, they will feed on insects that are naturally present in a given time of the year. You may have heard fly anglers saying “match the hatch” when they are choosing their flies.

When it comes to their maturity stage, smaller and younger trout will eat smaller prey, while large specimens can eat almost anything, including smaller fish.

When their favorite food (mostly aquatic insects) is unavailable or available in limited quantities, hungry trout will turn to other food sources. Think about this when choosing your bait.

What Color Attracts Rainbow Trout the Most?

The best baits for rainbow trout are based on colors that attract this specific fish. Of course, you will not consider color when using live bait that attracts fish with movement and scent, but if using other baits, color is one of the key factors.

If you thought that you can choose trout bait color in the same way as you would choose for other fish, you are wrong. The best colors for trout baits depends on visibility conditions and bait itself.

Unnatural colors, especially bright ones, can scare trout. They have excellent eyesight, but they perceive colors in a different way. It means that you should skip fluorescent ones, except for green.

Natural red and orange are good when surface fishing for very active trout. These colors give excellent contrast and trout can easily see them.

Dark colors like brown, and even the black one, is great for deeper water or low light. This may seem crazy, and you may be wondering why you wouldn’t use bright colors during dark conditions, so here is the explanation.

Trout can perceive different wavelengths of light and colors than human, so they can see some colors better in some conditions. However, with depth, red ones are the first to disappear, and they will seem darker than they are. This is true for both humans and trout. All longer wavelengths, like red, have similar characteristics. Orange is another example. So, colors that work on surface won’t be visible in deeper waters. Blue and green will be visible deeper in the water, but green can sometimes be the same color as the water, so you may use dark colors that provide more contrast.

In murkier waters, if you find trout there, you can use fluorescent green. Fluorescent colors reflect UV light and make the lure visible on greater distance.

Among other colors that are attractive to trout are yellow and gold, white, all shades of brown, natural green, and silver (for light reflection).

Green, white, and yellow are great for murky waters. Gold and silver are great when there is a lot of light that can be reflected. Brown is great for low light and deeper water.

Also, don’t confuse murky water for low light. It is true that murkier waters block more light than clear waters, but low light conditions apply to both murky and clear waters. One of the best examples is early morning or around sunset.

Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout - in the Wild

Here are MY 7 Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout

Now when I explained some basics about how to choose the best lures in accordance with trout natural food, and what colors are the best, it is time to list my favorite baits.

So, there are the best secret baits for rainbow trout:

#1: Corn

Corn is one of those baits that are frequently neglected and used mostly by carp anglers. However, corn works excellent for trout too. Yellow is one of the colors that is very attractive, especially in a bit murkier water.

It is a great bait to present off the bottom. It can easily be used by beginners because it is simple to use. You can get sweet corn in a can, or feed corn which you can soak and spice up.

Hook it in a way that you pull a hook through the middle of the kernel and then double it back. Use one or two kernel per hook. Use split shot sinkers and hook size #8 or #10.

Corn works great with stocked trout that has been fed with pellets containing it. They are used to this scent. Unfortunately, it may not work that well with wild trout.

Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout - Corn

#2: Worms / Maggots

Worms and maggots are one of the best baits you can use for many fish species. They are cheap, easy to use, and you can even dig them up or farm them yourself.

They wiggle in irresistible motion, and if you cut them, they release scent to attract fish from a distance. Hungry rainbows will eat maggots if they accidentally end up in the water, so you can consider them to be their natural food.

Maggots are white and work great in murkier waters. Some bait stores sell them in different colors. Those were fed with specific foods to change their natural appearance. Popped up ledger rig will work the best.

When it comes to worms, and specie will do, but better choose those that can withstand colder water like night crawlers or red wigglers. Hook them in a way that a hook is not visible and cut their tail off to release scent. Don’t use very big ones as trout will avoid them. This bait works great in deeper and colder waters, early in the season.

Worms work everywhere, from wild rivers to small ponds. Use hooks #8 to #12 together with a mono line.

#3: Crickets and Grasshoppers

Crickets and grasshoppers are naturally present around waters, and can fall in. Injured ones are excellent prey for hungry fish. They are among the best baits for rainbow trout.

When using crickets or grasshoppers present them on a surface. Let them move with the water current or with wind on steady waters. Moving them is not advised as that will seem unnatural. Injured grasshopper or cricket will move itself, together with the water.

Hook them through the back behind a head. Beginners may struggle a bit because live crickets and grasshoppers tend to run away from your hands. Also, hooking them too deep will kill them, while shallow hooking will not be firm enough. Also, they won`t last long on a hook, and tend to die quickly.

Both of these are excellent for late summer and autumn, when insects stop hatching, and their numbers start to decrease. At that time, trout will turn to other sources of food. Of course, exact time of year when this starts to happen depends on the area you live in.

Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout - Grasshopper

#4: Fish / Salmon Eggs

Fish eggs are natural food eaten by trout. These eggs are actually among their favorite food. Use it in waters where salmon breed and where trout naturally feed on salmon eggs.

Water carries these eggs downstream, and their color and scent are very attractive, especially for larger trout.

This bait works best in rivers and streams, not in steady lakes or ponds. Cast these eggs towards the end of fast flowing water, just before it starts to slow down. Water will carry it downstream. I already told you that trout often sit in one place and wait for food to be delivered. By presenting salmon eggs like this, you are doing this delivery, and there is a high chance that a hungry trout bites your bait.

Thread the egg directly onto the hook. You can use splitshots and bobbers for the easiest setup. Salmon eggs have the ability to float, so you don’t have to try hard to imitate natural presentation.

#5: Powerbait

Powerbait is one of the most effective artificial baits for trout. You can buy it in almost any bait and tackle store. It comes in a variety of colors, and the scent is created in a way so that it is irresistible to trout.

It can be shaped with hands, so you can create balls or oval shapes with your fingers. This feature makes it easy to use and attach on a hook. When you make a ball, make sure that it is firm and there are no cracks. Cracks enable water to enter and that will make it fall off a hook.

Make sure that the ball you created covers the whole hook. Trout can be very suspicious towards baits, so you want to hide your equipment well. Depending on a size of the trout and their activity, you can create balls of different sizes.

Powerbeit works excellent in steady waters, like lakes.

#6: Minnows And Baitfish

Injured fish is the best bait for any predator. It is natural, and no matter how good your fishing technique is, you will never create such motion with artificial lures. In addition to motion, there is a scent too. Also, trout won`t be suspicious if it sees its natural prey.

Choose baitfish that lives in waters where you are fishing. Live fish bait is effective for large trout. Minnows are very resilient and can live long on a hook if hooked right. This bait will work in both steady and moving waters.

Live fish is the best bait for parts of the year when no other live creatures like grasshoppers and insects are available. Many anglers like to use them for ice fishing for rainbow trout. Use sinkers to present the minnow off the bottom. You can hook it in a few different ways, but dorsal or lip hook are the best for rainbows.

#7: Shrimp

And the last one among the best secret baits for rainbow trout is shrimp. This option is great for stocked trout, although there is a chance that you can get a wild one with it.

To hook a shrimp, you need a suitable hook for trout, in a standard size range for this fish, and a float and a sinker.

Live shrimp works excellent for larger trout. Young ones won`t eat such a big prey. Of course, use freshwater shrimps for trout. It would be excellent if you can catch it yourself in a water you are fishing in. This bait is great for murky waters too, in warmer parts of the year. The reason for that is that they naturally live in such waters. Presenting a shrimp in a crystal clear and cold water will seem out of place to trout.

When choosing a spot to present them off the bottom, choose open areas. Live and injured (hooked) shrimp will try to hide, and if it succeeds, it won’t be effective.

Hook it through the tail. It is the best method for casting, as well as the scent release. I always remove the tail tip for scent release.

This is MY TOP Secret Artificial Fly for Rainbow Trout Fishing [Gammarus]

Fly anglers are basically scientist in the world of fishing. They know all reproduction cycles of local insects, know how to find, and identify them, and their fishing technique and bat selection are based on that. So, learning from them may be beneficial.

In the world of artificial flies, there is on that stands out. It is definitely the Gammarus, and that is the one that helped me land many rainbows.

Despite the fact it is classified as a fly, Gammarus is actually a tiny crustacean. You can buy them in tackle stores that sell fly fishing equipment and lures. Even dry ones are available, not just the artificial ones.

They are so effective because naturally they live in most rivers where trout are present, especially in Europe. Unlike many other flies that have to be chosen in accordance with real flies in the area, they can be used almost anytime. Some of them are designed specially for certain conditions and seasons. You can find different ones for autumn and summer for example.

And the best of all is that you can use them with ultra-light spinning gear too, with a bit of practice. You don’t have to be a fly angler to use these excellent lures.

I discovered this a few years ago while fishing with my ultra-light setup surrounded by fly-anglers. They landed fish after fish while I was standing there wondering am I doing something wrong. We started talking and eventually they decided to help me by giving me a Gammarus. That completely change the day for me!

BONUS: MY Secret Homemade Rainbow Trout Bait Recipe

If you really want to get the best from your bait, and use a bait that is tailored to suit your specific conditions, you can make your best trout dough bait.

This can be done at home with basic kitchen supplies and cheap ingredients. You can experiment a bit, change ingredients, and make it work excellent for your specific fishing conditions.

My secret trout bait recipe is simple, so you can use it as a base for something that works for you. You will need ingredients like flour, cornmeal, food coloring, garlic, cheese, fish flakes, eggs, water, and sugar.

Mix one cup of flour, one cup of sugar, one cup of oatmeal, a bit of garlic, ½ cup of cream cheese, and a bit of fish flakes. Add one egg. Start adding water slowly and knead it like bread dough.

Form balls and boil them for 2 minutes! And that’s it! Of course, you can create meatier flavor by adding dog food, or mix various cheeses for stringer scent. Use food coloring to create the perfect color for your water clarity and light conditions.

This bait works well for stocked trout that is used to man-made foods.

Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout - Recipe


Catching rainbow trout is very rewarding, but also very demanding. To increase your chances, choose the bait carefully.

Consider time of the year, light conditions, and water clarity. Of course, check the local rules and regulations to see if your chosen bait is allowed and don't forget to buy a fishing license.

The best secret baits for rainbow trout from this list are the ones that land you many fish, so I would advise you to try them all and see which one works for you!

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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