Steelhead Fishing With Corn: Guide Tested Results

Steelhead fishing with corn is possible due to the bright color of corn and the steelheads curiosity.
It is possible to catch steelhead on corn due to the bright color of corn and the steelheads curiosity.

I have tested out dozens of baits for steelhead throughout my guide career and over 37 years of steelhead fishing. If you have read my other articles, you know I classify baits into two categories: High-percentage baits, and Low-percentage baits.

I have done steelhead fishing with corn under real fishing conditions for both wild and stocked steelhead.

I intend to discuss my unbiased thoughts on using corn as bait for steelhead and explain my answers to some common questions:

  • Is corn as good of a bait for steelhead as some anglers claim?
  • Can corn help you catch steelhead?
  • Should you use corn for steelhead?
  • Do guides use corn for steelhead?

The answer to all of these questions is NO.

Despite what some anglers, and maybe guides will tell you, corn is what I would consider a low-percentage bait. Corn should be used as bait ONLY after you have tried all other high-percentage baits and have determined that they are not working.

Corn as a Steelhead Bait?

The corn in your pantry can be used as bait for stocked and wild steelhead. Some anglers are using corn when angling for steelhead with debatable success.

What Type Of Corn Is Best For Steelhead?

Some anglers favor fresh corn, others opt for frozen or canned corn, and a few believe in the effectiveness of creamed corn.

From my experience, all corn types are treated the same by steelhead.

Is Corn Effective For Steelhead?

one of my clients fighting one of many large steelhead from this spot.
One of my clients fighting one of seven large steelhead from this spot in about 2 hours. All were caught on good baits, NOT corn.

Corn’s vivid yellow color can draw the attention of curious steelhead who will put it in their mouths to sample and try to determine if it is edible. But this does not make it a good bait!

Steelheads are regarded as smart creatures by some anglers due to the difficulty of catching them.

However, steelhead tend to feed on many items that drift past them in a river including twigs, leaves, weeds, and bark.

I’ve caught steelhead on bubble gum, candy, marshmallows, sponge, bark, leaves, string, tin-foil, paper, rubber bands, and even corn. Yes, I’ve experimented with plenty of crazy things to see what I can get those so called “smart steelhead” to eat. And even though I’ve caught steelhead on all of these, it doesn’t make any of these good baits.

So just because some angler catches a steelhead on corn, doesn’t mean that steelhead would not have eaten a better bait.

How To Catch Steelhead On Corn?

A big rainbow trout held by one of my clients.
This is my young client who has never fished steelhead before. This was one of twenty steelhead he and his dad caught on a guide trip with me. The fishing was so good I’m sure he could have caught one or two steelhead on corn, but not twenty!! Good baits catch twenty, bad baits catch one or two.

I’ve used corn under a float, and I’ve used corn when bottom bouncing, drift fishing, and nymph with a fly rod.

But I can’t bring myself to waste my time explaining how to fish with corn when it’s such a poor bait choice for steelhead.

Despite what other articles may claim, or what other anglers say, my experience with testing corn as a steelhead bait proves that corn is a low percentage bait and should not be used for steelhead.

Why would anyone want to use a very low-percentage bait like corn when there are so many better baits? Even salmon fishing with corn or trout fishing with corn is a waste of time in my opinion; see this underwater video to see how trout ignore or spit the corn out.

Do Steelhead Guides Use Corn To Catch Steelhead?

Author Graham Bristow with a nice silver steelhead
The author with a nice early fall steelhead caught on a high-percentage bait.. Not Corn!

If you are not convinced, ask yourself, do steelhead guides use corn as bait? Good steelhead guides DO NOT use corn as bait, NEVER EVER! Steelhead fishing with corn would limit their client’s ability to catch the maximum amount of steelhead possible, which goes against what top steelhead guides want for their customers.

If a steelhead guide pulls out corn on your steelhead trip, he doesn’t like you!! I’m serious… Or he’s simply a bad guide!! In which case you need to find a better guide.

Like it or not, that’s my honest, no-BS opinion.

Tight Lines,


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