Best Bait For Rainbow Trout In Summer: 5 Most Effective

The 5 Best Bait For Rainbow Trout In The Summer

Hot weather trout fishing can sometimes be challenging so having the right bait for rainbow trout is important. These are the 5 most effective baits that I use as a guide to keep my clients catching rainbow trout in the heat of the summer.

The best baits for rainbow trout in the summer are artificial flies, real and plastic worms, loose eggs and egg sacks, and grubs. There are some other good summertime rainbow trout baits as well.

Using the right bait combined with the most effective method and the right setup is the key to catching more rainbow trout which is what I will discuss in this article.

Putting a great bait on a bad setup will mean no or few trout.

Bait For Rainbow Trout In Summer

Summer can be an excellent time for targeting rainbow trout since their metabolism is in full swing and they will often feed heavily during the cooler periods of the day.

Having the best bait for rainbow trout in the summer helps a lot because by the end of the spring season, many rainbow trout will become somewhat educated, and they won’t chase after the same patterns anymore.

This means you may have to be creative when choosing your rainbow trout baits!

Artificial Flies Are Often The Best Bait For Rainbow Trout In The Summer

Artificial flies are the best bait for rainbow trout in the summer
Artificial flies are the best bait for rainbow trout in the summer simply because flies are a readily available source of food and this is often what they are feeding on the most.

Many river guides like myself will catch rainbow trout all summer long and most of the time we use artificial flies. You can fish flies under a float, or using the bottom bouncing method, are fly fishing.

During the summer there are plenty of insects in the river and on the banks and these bugs end up becoming food.

One of my custom tied dry flies beside a real Hendrickson Mayfly.
One of my custom tied dry flies beside a real Hendrickson Mayfly. Imitation flies like this will fool even the most cautious rainbow trout.

This is why flies are often the best bait for rainbow trout in the summer. I use flies that imitate the aquatic insects as well as land insects like grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and ants.

Flies, can be great in the river and also good in the lake or pond.

With flies, often the best thing to do is try to imitate the recent bug hatches.

If you are not sure what flies to use, check out 29 Best Trout Flies: Modern Flies Used By River Guides

If you are not a fly angler and still want to use flies, check out How To Fish Flies With Spinning Gear: 2 Best Methods

As with flies and with any bait learning how to effectively fish these baits and how to set them up is what I teach as a river guide. Float fishing is one of the most effective ways to catch rainbow trout, to learn more about this method, check out Float Fishing For Trout.

Worms As Bait For Rainbow Trout In Summer

Live Worms and Plastic Worms are often best during the spring when the ground is wet and the worms are often close to or on the surface. Worms are a good food source in the spring.

The problem in the summer is that the ground is too hot, dry, and hardened for them to come out close to the surface, and therefore they don’t end up in the river as much as they would in the spring. 

Worms are always a good choice for trout fishing and you should still give them a try when fishing rainbow trout in summer because these trout have memory and will smash a well-presented worm.

But, there are two things I do different when fishing worms in the summer:

  • First: I fish them fewer times through a pool
  • Two: I fish smaller worms between 1 and 4 inches.

The reason is that worms in the summer are a very noticeable bait that will not be missed by a rainbow trout when it drifts by. I tell my clients that if you drift a worm down the river, any trout within 3 feet will smash it on the first pass.

If they want it, they will eat it, if not, it won’t matter if you drift that worm over their heads a hundred times, they just don’t want it.

Therefore, If they don’t eat it, move it over 2 or three feet and drift it again, then repeat and if you don’t get a bite, change baits or change spots.

I have had equal success with both live worms and plastic worms, in fact, I prefer fake plastic worms when fishing rivers, and real worms when fishing still water.

I give a slight advantage to the artificial ones since they come in different colors that can spark rainbow trout interest and they stay on the hook better. 

If you opt for live bait, you should know that there are several different types of worms in North America you can use. Anglers most often bring red worms, dew worms, or nightcrawlers.

Dew worms are the largest of them all and are a good choice when targeting a trophy rainbow trout but I find smaller is better in the summer.

I think garden worms are one of the best baits for rainbow trout in the summer. They are just the right size for fishing both small and large fish and are easy to get a hold of since people water their gardens all summer long. 

When it comes to plastic worms, you can try a few colors and see what works best. However, in my experience, a bubble gum pink worm is the best bait for rainbow trout but red and brown can be excellent.

If you fish in shallow, clear water, the best bait for rainbow trout in summer is a Berkley Angleworm. It is small (1 inch long) and looks natural. 

If you choose to fish worms, you should best use a technique called bottom bouncing or float fishing.

These two methods have proven to be most productive for rainbow trout fishing in the summer. They allow the anglers to cover a lot of water and present their baits to more trout. 

For more on how to fish worms better, as well as my favorite ones to use, check out Fishing With Worms For Trout and Steelhead: 10 Guide Tips.

Loose Eggs And Spawn Sacs

Loose eggs are an effective bait for rainbow trout in summer, as long as you choose them wisely. There are numerous brands you can purchase, but not all of them are equally effective. So, be careful and never buy oil-cured roe.

My personal favorite in-store roe is the Pautzke Balls O’ Fire Trout Eggs. These eggs are just the right size, and they look natural and scent the water quite well.

Egg sacs are another good option but keep them small in the summer since the water is low and clear at this time. It’s also important to use the right color for the type of water that you fish. 

If you want fresh roe, you can harvest it from fish. There is no need to cure it, simply pack it in small bags and freeze it until you plan to use it. Loose salmon eggs are one of the best natural rainbow trout bait during the salmon spawn.

Fish eggs are generally highly effective baits for rainbow trout in the summer. You can tie them in the spawn bags if you want to. They are an excellent source of protein and can attract quite a few fish, especially when presented properly. 

Using the right size and color of spawn bags and then putting them on a suitable hook can make all the difference. I discuss how guides do it on my page The Guide Secrets On Fishing Spawn Bags.

Beads Are Bait For Rainbow Trout In Summer

A good bead rig for fishing beads for trout

Used by guides all over, beads imitate fish eggs and they are a very effective bait for rainbow trout in summer.

During the summer I use small soft and hard beads in natural colors.

For more information on bead fishing, how to rig them, and what hooks to use, check out my page Fishing With Beads: 5 Guide Tips For More Fish.

Maggots, Grubs, And Mealworms

Maggots and mealworms are some of the best baits for rainbow trout in summer. You can purchase them in tackle stores or even pet stores as they are often sold as reptile food, too. Hence, you should not have any trouble acquiring them during the summer season. 

If you cannot find live maggots and mealworms, you can use imitation grubs, too. They are equally successful.

Maggots and mealworms are small grub-like worms you can place on your size 10 or 12 egg hook and present to rainbow trout. During summer, maggot fishing can be very effective when other baits just aren’t working

When fishing maggots and mealworms, you should best use the bottom bouncing method or float fishing technique.

Imitation Grubs Are A Great Trout Bait

Power Wigglers

Berkley PowerBait Power Wigglers are a great grub/maggot imitation.

Lil Hellgrammites

Plastic Nymphs like this 2″ Lil Hellgrammites is a good trout bait.

This Plastic Mayfly Nymph is a good trout bait

Savage Nymph

This 2 inch Savage Gear plastic nymph is a great trout bait.

Berkley Trout Bait Nuggets

Berkley Trout Bait Nuggets imitate the food stocked rainbow trout are fed with. They are soft and malleable, and you can thus easily form them around your hook.  As a result, they can be incorporated into a small or large hook and shaped as you like them to be.

These nuggets offer a strong scent and flavor that rainbow trout cannot resist. They come in brown color only, but you can choose between two different flavors: the natural and cheese flavor. 

Berkley Powerbait

Berkley Powerbait is one of the deadliest bait for rainbow trout in summer. Many experienced anglers claim that it has helped them catch more rainbow trout than any other trout bait. 

Powerbait is a unique formula that delivers a strong, fish-attracting scent and amazing floating properties. It comes in various colors, so besides being buoyant, it is highly visible in all fishing conditions, too. 

Bright-colored versions are perfect for fishing in dirty water after summer rains. You can also purchase a glow-in-the-dark version for your summertime night fishing adventures.

The use is simple. You take a little bit of Powerbait putty from the jar and form a small ball. Make sure there are no cracks or your bait can come off the hook before trout can spot it. Once your ball is ready, slide it onto the hook and make sure it covers it well. That’s all – you are ready to catch some summer rainbow trout!

Minnows

Minnows both real and fake can be good bait for rainbow trout in summer. Since bringing live minnows to the lake or river can be difficult, I tend to use fake minnows like the Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnows.

These can be effective at any time of the year.

Bait For Rainbow Trout in Summer Q&A

That wraps up our article on bait for rainbow trout in summer but if you have any questions, comments, or you want to share your favorite summer rainbow trout bait, let us and the readers know in the comments sections below.

Tight Lines,

Graham

Author

  • Graham - River Guide / Instructor

    I am a full-time river fishing guide with over 20 years of guiding experience and I run one of the top river guide services with a team of great river guides. I have guided about 3000 anglers and this website is a compilation of the tips and methods that I teach my clients and other guides. Check the About Us page in the bottom menu for more about me and our river guide contributors.

2 Comments

  1. If you are a guide, or even experienced outdoorsman, you should damn well know that powerbaits and other chemical laden manufactured bait are f-ing garbage. They are toxic waste, and most often times fish swallow the hook which increases mortality rates in those fish. Absolutely nothing sport-like in bait fishing for trout, unless you are on a kiddy pond with hatchery reared animals. Plenty of opportunities to catch fish with other less invasive methods.

    1. Hey Sean,

      3 Things:

      #1 – Powerbaits and Gulp products are not toxic to fish based on my research, and I can’t find any data to back up your claims that they kill fish or are toxic. As far as I can see they are made mostly of natural non-toxic ingredients that are safe to humans and fish. If you have some other real science-based data about them being toxic, I’d be happy to review it.

      #2 – The chances of a fish swallowing a powerbait and hook are no higher than a fish swallowing a live worm, live leech, or a grub on a hook, all of which could kill a fish. And, I have also seen flies, and lures kill fish too, actually, any time a hook goes into a fishes mouth it could be fatal if hooked in the wrong spot, so not sure what these other less-invasive methods you are referring to.

      In fact, I’d bet more fish that were meant to be released die from the air due to guys that don’t know how to handle and release fish properly, than any other causes.

      #3 – There are probably a million anglers and a ton of fishing guides that would disagree with you that bait fishing is not-sport-like when used in rivers or lakes for wild trout, you sound pretty righteous saying so, so I’m sure you’re not going to have many guys on a “Best Baits” page agreeing with you on this one.

      Graham

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