7 Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout are one of the most popular caught trout across North America. 

While there are many baits for catching trout, there are a few secret baits for rainbow trout that give you an edge.

Best Secret Baits For Rainbow Trout

  • Power Bait
  • San Juan Worm
  • Garlic Corn
  • Wax Worms
  • Air Injected Worms
  • Grasshoppers
  • Shrimp

Power Bait 

While Powerbait isn’t so much of a secret for catching rainbow trout, the secret is knowing which power bait to use and how to use it.

Many people sit by the pond day after day with their Powerbait without so much as a bit. The problem is they are either using the wrong power bait or not fishing it correctly.

There are two types of Powerbait that work extremely well for rainbow trout.

Powerbait nuggets

Power bait nuggets are probably the best bait to use on stocked rainbow trout, especially if they are freshly stocked.

Powerbait nuggets work so well for stocked trout because they very closely resemble what the trout eat in the fishery.

I once had the opportunity to fish on some private ponds while we carried out a mini-experiment. I was fly fishing while the owner would feed some trout nuggets.

It turns out that stocked trout are accustomed to not only the food they grew up eating but also feeding times.

I was in the middle of the small lake during feeding time while the owner came to feed, and most of the trout left to the corner to feed on nuggets.

Powerbait dough

The Powerbait dough is a close second to the nuggets. The benefit of the Powerbait dough is that it comes in many variations of color and scent.

This works well for trout who are a little longer in the water. These trout might be looking for something more natural or are growing wary of certain types of Powerbaits, so you can mix it up a little and see which power bait works well for you.

How to fish Powerbait

Powerbait is quite simple to use. For most types of Powerbait, you can use a Carolina rig or a classic bobber. For both the nuggets and the dough, a size 10-12 hook works best.

The nuggets are already shaped and can be put straight on the hook. The dough needs to be made into a ball before putting on the hook. You can try out different size balls with the dough to see which works best for you.

Flies – San Juan Worm

Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout

I’ve caught more rainbow trout on flies than I have any other bait. Flies are a staple of a trout’s diet and are a great bait for native rainbow trout. 

They work equally as well on stocked trout that have been in the wild for a long time or stocked trout in the river.

With most fly fishing, there is a saying to match the hatch. While this holds true for the most part, there is an exception with rainbow trout.

One fly works exceptionally well on rainbow trout regardless of the hatch, and strangely enough, it is one of the easiest flies to tie, the san juan worm.

While not exactly imitating a fly, the san Juan worm is one of trout fishings’ best-kept secrets.

The San Juan worm imitates various aquatic worms and is considered one of the most versatile flies you can have in your arsenal.

How to fish the san juan worm

To fish the san Juan worm, you use it like any other nymph, cast it out, and let it drift off the bottom. San juan worms are best fished in the springtime when rivers are rising.

During this time, the high waters bring a lot of worms down the river, and the trout go on a worm feeding frenzy.

Garlic Corn

Many people know that fish like corn, but one well-kept secret is that fish like garlic.

By mixing these two ingredients together, you are creating a very powerful bait for catching rainbow trout.

Garlic corn is simple to make. You can use garlic granules, powder, or fresh garlic. I like to use Ziploc bags to seal in the scent.

I add in the corn, then toss it with garlic and leave it in the fridge for a day.

The benefits of using garlic corn over regular corn are that it masks the human odor of the corn from handling it

This works well for stocked trout that are apprehensive from fishing pressure. 

How to fish garlic corn for trout

Fishing garlic corn for trout is just like using regular corn. Thread the corn onto a size 8-10 hook, use 2-3 kernels to cover the hook entirely, with just the point sticking out. 

Two of the best methods for fishing corn are using a slip bobber rig or just using a split-shot rig.

If using a split shot, I add a few split shots about six inches from the hook. Depending on the water’s depth and current, you will need to add more or less split shot.

Once the corn is on the hook and the correct amount of split shot is on the line, find a good place to cast for trout.

If you are fishing in a pond, look for logs, overhanging trees, or water inlets.

Cast your corn in and let the hook sink to the bottom. Then wait for the line to go taught; this will be the indication of a bite.

Wax Worms

Worms are a good bait for most fish, rainbow trout included. However, the wax worm is one that you may not have heard of, and this worm is one of our secret baits for rainbow trout.

While you can fish dead wax worms, rainbow trout prefer live ones. 

How to fish wax worms

Wax worms can be fished in a variety of ways, but I find fishing under a bobber gives the best results for trout.

The bobber method works particularly well on a slow stream for native rainbow trout. 

With a standard bobber rig, use a small Aberdeen hook and thread on a wax worm. (you can also use a cork)

Use a few pieces of split shot; use more or less depending on the current.

Cast it upstream and let it slowly drift downstream.

You can also fish this method for rainbow trout in a pond, and the only difference is that it won’t drift.

Air Injected Worms

Injecting worms with air is a well-kept secret by many anglers. The idea behind this is to have the worm floating at a depth of your choosing. 

Trout are used to feeding on worms. However, when feeding on worms, trout are at the bottom. With air injected worms, you can make a better presentation and at various depths.

You will need to bring a syringe or a special worm blower on your fishing trip to use this method. Use the syringe to inject a very small amount of air into the worm’s tail. 

How to fish air injected worms

There are a couple of ways to fish with air injected worms. First, it’s important to know the more air you inject, the more the worm will float, so you may need more or less air depending on where the trout are feeding.

I find what works best is by injecting a small amount of air into either the head or tail of the worm with some weight added six to twelve inches away from the hook.

This will bring your worm down to trout feeding at deeper levels but keep it just off the bottom, making an excellent presentation.

Crickets and Grasshoppers

Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout

Not many people use crickets or grasshoppers to catch trout, which is strange because they make up a huge portion of a trout’s diet.

Trout feed on a wide range of terrestrial insects because they are often blown into the water. However, in the case of crickets and grasshoppers, they accidentally jump into the water.

Many people don’t fish with crickets or grasshoppers because they can be challenging to use if you are new due to their fragile nature.

How to fish with crickets and grasshoppers

Terrestrials are best used in late summer when the aquatic insect activity begins to die down.

Catch or buy some live crickets or grasshoppers; there are plenty around in late summer and easy to catch.

Using a split shot rig with a small hook, hook the bait just behind the head, making sure not to penetrate too deep.

Cast out the cricket and let it slowly drift with the current. The bait should float on the surface or just below it.


Shrimp is often overlooked as bait for trout. However, few anglers know that for rainbow trout, this bait is more deadly than any other.

While shrimp will work on all rainbow trout, they work particularly well on native rainbow trout.

The one thing that gives shrimp anglers the edge is the scent of the shrimp, and rainbow trout go crazy for this.

How to fish shrimp

Fishing with shrimp may take a little getting used to. They can easily fall off the hook if you don’t secure them properly. 

However, once you get the hang of it, shrimp are very easy to use and extremely effective.

Shrimp can be fished cooked or raw; however, I prefer using raw shrimp for all my steelhead, salmon, and trout fishing.

You can fish shrimp just of the bottom with a split shot rig or under a bobber. I prefer using a bobber because of how fragile they are.

A trout could easily strip a shrimp from a hook without giving you an indication. 

However, this depends on the type of shrimp you are using. If you are using cooked shrimp, they stay on the hook a little easier, whereas fresh or live shrimp are a little more difficult to keep on.

Stocked vs Native Rainbow trout

Best Secret Baits for Rainbow Trout

When fishing for rainbow trout, you need to keep in mind on the differences between stocked trout and native trout. The secret baits mentioned above will vary between the two.

The San Juan worm and the wax worm will work well for native trout, whereas the Powerbait and garlic corn will work best for stocked trout.

There are areas where baits will crossover, like when stocked trout are in the water for a long time, and they will become wilder and start feeding on natural food

When you are targeting these trout, you may find power bait is no longer working, and it’s best to switch to one of the other secret baits.


Rainbow trout are fun to catch, and depending on where you catch them, they may be one of the best trout to eat.

The good news is that there are regular stocking programs for rainbow trout and plenty of places to fish them.

With so many people fishing for rainbow trout, they may become wary; this is where the secret rainbow trout bait comes in. 

Not many people use the best secret baits for rainbow trout mentioned above, so if you’re fishing in a heavily pressured area, try some of these baits, and you’re sure to find success.

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