Best Secret Baits For Rainbow Trout: Strategies To Try!

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Fishing baits on an aged fence.

After listening to countless stories in a fly shop, I learned one thing: There is more than one way to skin a cat and more than one way to catch a trout.

Trout baits go beyond spinners, flies, and worms. Finicky fish have some odd preferences. Secret baits include marshmallows, corn, salmon eggs, PowerBait, and crankbaits.

So, when Mr. Trout doesn’t take your fly, worm, or spinner, don’t be afraid to try something new! 

Best Secret Baits

Flies, spinners, and worms rule the trout fishing market because they are so effective. But, sometimes, trout can be picky, stubborn, and a pain in the you-know-what. Some lures are worth considering if you want to try a secret bait for some entertainment or to retain your sanity.


Corn for rainbow trout has become a science for some anglers – and for a good reason. It works.

Corn is a cheap option that resembles pellets for hatchery-raised rainbows. For the pickier rainbow trout, people will make their corn recipe with flavor and scent for additional attraction.

Though it sounds absurd, an entire industry of corn is devoted to rainbow trout. Look for artificial corn next time you’re in a tackle shop. 


If trout are willing to eat corn, it’s natural to wonder if they eat marshmallows. The answer is yes, but only under certain conditions. 

Like corn, marshmallows are light, prevent spooking fish, and resemble pellets or eggs. Their color and scent can attract nearby rainbow trout. You can find scented – yes, scented – marshmallows online or in tackle shops.

My advice is to use these only when fishing stocked ponds. These fish are used to routine pellet-feedings, which a marshmallow resembles. 

When fishing for rainbow trout with marshmallows, rig them like a kernel of corn by hooking a piece through the middle and sliding up the hook shank. Be sure to have a small enough piece to swallow but big enough to cover the hook shank. 


Many anglers cite PowerBait as a viable option for rainbow trout. PowerBait is famous for its scent, attraction, and malleability. 

Like corn and marshmallows, PowerBait relies on a subtle approach as the ball floats or drifts through the water.

However, I would save money and only use PowerBait for stocked trout in lakes or ponds. This would be great for first-timers who want to watch a bobber detect a rainbow’s bite. 

Salmon Eggs 

When it comes to secret baits, salmon eggs are the most revered and even used for steelhead. Since eggs are a natural food for rainbow trout, it makes sense that they are also an effective bait. 

Pink salmon eggs in Adams River show the return of sockeye salmon during the Salmon Run.

Artificial salmon egg colors vary, but natural eggs are pink, red, or orange. Most people prefer natural colors for salmon eggs, but some believe trout look for distinct food. I would use the most affordable option to have a small range of egg colors, if it were me. 


People often forget to use crankbaits for rainbow trout despite their effectiveness. A crankbait’s vibration is very appealing. Natural or vibrant colored crankbaits do help but are not necessarily as effective.

Crankbaits are best for still or deep water situations where you will not get snagged with each cast. However, don’t be afraid to try them in a river. Out of desperation, one of my best friends tied on an eight-inch crankbait and caught a 26-inch inland brown trout. These lures can catch monsters.

Caution: If you’re using crankbaits for rainbow trout, plan to keep your catch. A crankbait’s treble hooks can tear a trout’s fragile mouth. 

Tim with a monster brown trout on a mild winter day in Western Wisconsin.
Tim with a monster brown trout on a mild winter day in Western Wisconsin

Related Questions 

What Color Are Trout Attracted To? 

Attractive colors for a trout depend on the conditions. With clear water and blue skies, stick to natural colors such as silver, gold, and bronze. But if your water is dirty or murky, something bright, such as chartreuse, pink, or orange, can be helpful. 

What Size Hook For Rainbow Trout? 

Small hooks are best for trout. Size 10-12 hooks are popular, but not the rule. Some flies require size 20 or 22 hooks. Bring your glasses to tie these on.

What Time Do Trout Bite The Most? 

Trout are least picky during low light conditions – dawn, dusk, and nighttime. Luckily, when it comes to rainbow trout, you can find them feeding throughout the day too. 

What Colors To Wear When Trout Fishing? 

Trout can spot movement and bright colors, so the challenge is to remain undetected. I recommend wearing drab colors like gray, beige, brown, or anything camouflage.

How Do You Catch Trout That Don’t Bite? 

Two quick tips for picky trout: depth and size. If fishing with a fly rod, raise your indicator so your nymph can dive deeper.

Second, size down your bait or lure. Whether you’re using spinners, worms, flies, or marshmallows, a smaller presentation can entice wary trout. 

Final Thoughts 

Trout can be picky and drive a fisherman mad. When this happens, don’t be afraid to try something new. Whether for subsistence or laughs, you might enjoy fishing with corn, marshmallows, PowerBait, salmon eggs, or crankbaits.

David Linsmeyer Avatar


1 thought on “Best Secret Baits For Rainbow Trout: Strategies To Try!”

  1. You mentioned saving PowerBait for lakes and ponds and thought I share my experience with it. I started fishing around 5 and hold a lifetime lic. in PA presently at age 72. Never used PowerBait until 4 years ago. I was fishing the Yellow Breeches which is a well know fly fishing stream, not only in PA, but in most of the US. For the last several decades I stopped fishing the first week or so of trout season because I don’t care for the crowds and manners. Anyway, I was pulling out every bait/lure I had with me and getting no hits at all and the fishermen along a mile stretch were not doing well either. Being frustrated, I pulled out the only thing I had left which was a jar of PowerBait. I didn’t even remember buying it or how long I had it. It was never opened so I thought ‘why not’? First cast I got my first trout. Gave some to my wife, first cast, her first trout. I got my 5 trout limit within the hour. I caught trout throughout the summer. The Breeches is spring feed, sandstone and stays cool, constantly below 70 degrees so there are natives and hold overs always there.

    That season I fished the Breeches 8 times and caught my limit every time. Sometimes it took a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon, but I caught trout up to 22 inches including an albino (my first one). I also used them in a small creek that runs through my home town and caught trout each time I went out. Not as many but it is a small creek and not stocked as heavy and there are no hold overs. I caught 52 trout that season fishing from April until Septemberish. My best season. I have been using PowerBait ever since outside of my flies. PowerBait is clean and easy to keep. The glitter you have to live with but I’ll survive.


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