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The Best Bait for Trout Fishing

If you are looking for the best trout bait, look no further.  Whether you are trout fishing on lakes, streams or rivers, you will need the best baits to catch more trout this season.  There are numerous baits both natural and some you can buy on the market, so we will help you narrow down to the top producing trout baits for your next fishing trip.

Top Trout Fishing Baits for This Season

The best trout fishing baits imitate both natural bait and for the stocked fish, anything edible in the water that a hungry trout might want to eat.  You should also check out our post about the best lures for trout fishing.

You have two options for trout baits:


These are the Best Live Baits for Trout:

By natural, we mean critters you can find living in the natural habitat around the waters you are fishing in.

  1. Worms
  2. Leeches
  3. Minnows
  4. Insects
  5. Crayfish
  6. Salmon Eggs


No doubt worms are one of the oldest and most popular fishing baits in the world.  What fish, especially trout, doesn’t love a tasty worm for lunch?  Not all worms are the same though.  If you want the best worms for bait, I suggest turning over rocks, logs a leaves next to the water where you are fishing.  These are the most natural bait for the trout in your stream.  If you buy worms in the bait shop, they might be one of the following varieties.  Make sure you use the right hook for trout fishing with live bait.



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Nightcrawlers are one of the most popular fishing worms.  They are bigger and easier to bait a hook.  Sometimes though, nightcrawlers might be too big.  Trout are accustom to eating small critters, so if you plan to use nightcrawlers, you might want to cut them into small pieces if whole isn’t working.  Fish them on the bottom with sinkers, float with bobbers or free line in the current.  If you are trolling for trout, use them as a trailer behind a trolling spoon or flasher.


Red Wigglers


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My garden is loaded with these worms.  Smaller than nightcrawlers but similar dirt dwellers with the same body type.  Sometimes you might need to load a few of these red wiggler worms on your hook rather than just one at a time.  Trout love to eat red wigglers, so be sure to stock up on a bunch of these for your next trout fishing trip.  I bought some online and added to my garden.  Now it is loaded with worms.




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Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle. Like all holometabolic insects, they go through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  Although most fishermen will buy these in the local bait shops, you can try find them in nature, but don’t waste your time.  Use a tiny hook for these small critters.  They only grow an inch or so long.



waxworms for trout fishing

This is one of the best trout baits in my opinion.  Waxworms are actually not really worms, the caterpillar larvae of wax moths.  Be that as it may, I like to consider these critters trout candy.  They grow from eggs moths lays in beehives, feeding onwax in the hives.  They are soft and creamy fat bodied treats for any hungry fish in the stream or lakes.  Use small hooks and light test line so the trout do not see the tackle and eat the worms.



leech in pond water

When I hear leeches the first thing I think of is the movie Stand by Me with a bunch of kids freaking out after wading through the pond and covered in black leeches sucking their blood.  After that trip down memory lane, I immediately think of leeches as an amazing bait for trout and other fish species like bass.  These are swimming, sucking, tasty under water worms.  lakes, rivers and ponds are loaded with them and you guessed it, trout love to eat leeches.  So get a dozens and bait your hook, then hold on, you are all but guaranteed to catch fish with leeches.


Minnows and Bait Fish

minnows in a creek

Minnows and other small natural baitfish are a primary food source for trout in their natural habitat.  Depending on where you are fishing, you might use fatheads, shiners, chubs or other common types of minnows to catch trout.  I like to free line my minnows into a stream from rapids to the pool and entice trout to bite once the minnow hits the deeper pool water.  you can also use a bobber or sinker methods to bait minnows.  You can buy minnows in the bait shop or trap your own in the local creeks.  Minnows are one of the best live bait for trout.



It is no surprise bugs play a big roll in the trout fishing experience.  There is an entire niche of fly fishing dedicated to matching the hatch and finding the right fly patterns to catch all types of trout.  What if you are not skilled in fly fishing, but want to use bugs and insects as trout bait?  There are a few bug types big and heavy enough to cast with a traditional trout fishing rod.

The best bugs for trout bait are:

  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Beetles
  • Hellgrammites – underwater bugs

grasshopper for trout bait



crayfish bait

Most anglers think about crayfish for bass fishing baits, but they can be a powerful bait for trout as well.  Search the creek and stream by overturning rocks in the shallow waters to find this freshwater critters.  For trout bait, I prefer smaller crayfish and if you can find some molting with soft shells it is like striking gold.  Hook the crayfish through the top of the tail and retrieve back to you with a popping or jerk motion to entice a strike.  These work particularly  well with large brown trout in rivers and streams throughout the world.


Salmon Eggs

salmon eggs for trout bait

If you want to catch giant steelhead trout, try putting a glob of cured salmon eggs on a hook and sinker, then cast it into the stream when the salmon are running each year.  These monster trout follow the salmon up stream and snack on their eggs as the salmon spawn.  It’s like you or I getting a big chocolate covered ice cream sundae plopped in front of us.

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These are the Best Artificial Trout Bait:

If you don’t want to hunt for live bait or have time to hit the bait shop, artificial baits are a good option.  Personally I find the artificial will work on trout which are raised in hatcheries, fed food pellets and stocked into the local waters.  Native and wild trout tend to prefer live natural baits.

Berkley PowerBait Eggs Clusters

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Berkley PowerBait Trout Nuggets

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Pautzke’s Fire Balls

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Berkley Gulp! Hellgramite Green Pumpkin

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Trout can be picky eaters so make sure you try different baits and presentations to entice a bite.

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