How Trout Fishing Lures and Baits Work

By: Rosalind Jackson
A rainbow trout fishing rod and selection of flies used for flyfishing. Mpumalanga, South Africa
Max Paddler/Gallo Images/Getty Images

At your wedding, your fathe­r-in-law pulled you aside and asked you to arrange a trout fishing trip for the two of you. The problem is that the last time you went fishing, you were eleven years old and attempting to catch tadpoles in the nearby creek. Needless to say, you're going to need to learn a lot of information to reel in an impressive catch. The type of lure or bait you use will be an important factor in determining how many bites you get. Don't worry ­-- by the end of this article, you'll sound less like a novice and more like a true angler. You'll be able to use the lingo that goes along with lures and live bait.

So you don't even know the difference between a lure and live bait? A lure is an artificial imitation of a fish's prey, often made of metal hooks or plastic. Live bait is the fish's natural prey attached to a hook on the end of the fishing line. Common live baits include worms, insects, small fish and fish eggs.


­Before you pick out the kind of lure and/or live bait that makes sense for your trip, you need to get started with a fishing rod and spinning reel. While you're at the sporting goods store, be sure to inquire about state rules, regulations and licenses to avoid catching fines instead of fish.

Depending on where you're fishing, your lures and bait will catch different kinds of trout, including rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout and lake trout.

Read on to discover more about how lures work to attract trout.


Trout Fishing with Lures

So now that you have an idea of ­where you'll be fishing and what type of fish will most likely be at the end of your line, let's delve in to the world of lures. Remember to keep in mind your location, since lures are meant to imitate the bait fish in that specific area. Lures come in various shapes, sizes and colors in order to deceive the trout into thinking it's captured one of its prey.

Though you might find yourself as mesmerized by the vast array of lures as the trout you're fishing for, picking the right lure is integral to your fishing experience. For example, if the trout in the lake where you are fishing typically eat silver fish, you'll want to consider a silver blade lure. Likewise, if the prey, such as a chub, is more gold in color, you'll want to purchase a gold blade lure. Be sure to check under rocks or submerged logs to see what kind of critters are down there, and then try to select a lure that will blend in well. [Source: Hoffman]


You should be prepared with multiple lures, though. Don't think that just one or two different styles will suffice. During a single fishing trip, you might find yourself trying several lures to find the lucky lure of the moment. The success of lures can depend on water temperature, clarity, plant life and sunlight, which are all factors that may vary throughout any given day.

For trout, some common lures you'll find are called spinners, spoons and jigs. Spinners are a popular choice if you're aiming to catch rainbow trout in the spring, because their movement in the water resembles that of the chub. Spoons are a great place to start for amateurs employing a cast-and-reel technique, while jigs and their complicated patterns are for more experience fishers. [Source: Steelheader]

Ready to get your hands really dirty? Read on to learn how the different types of live bait work.


Trout Fishing with Live Bait

Lures serve the purpose of imitating the trout's prey, but why imitate­ the prey when you can use the real thing? Live bait is a good alternative to lures if you want to use a more natural method, but it is possible to use both live bait and a lure at the same time. Regardless, beware the creepy crawly factor when fishing with live bait. It's not for the faint of heart.

If you are fishing for smaller trout, it makes sense to use smaller bait. Red wigglers, or composting worms, can be bought at a local bait and tackle shop. Since they are small, three or four dozen red wigglers may fit in one container. Another popular trout worm is the night crawler, which is larger than the red wiggler and is typically sold by the dozen. Night crawlers are longer in length, so you may want to cut them and use the smaller portions to cover the hook.


Another technique for using live bait is called chumming. Chumming is when you throw additional bait into the water, unattached to your hook and wait for the scent of the bait to attract the trout toward your line. However, chumming may not be legal in your state, so be sure to check the regulations before you become too chummy with chumming. [Source: Keyes]

Worms are not the only type of live bait used for fishing. Insects, minnows and fish eggs are popular live bait. Fish eggs can be used singularly, in tandem with a worm or grouped together as egg sacks. Read on to find how to use egg sacks while fishing for trout.


Trout Fishing with Egg Sacks

Fish eggs is another kind of bait used to entice fish to bite. As m­entioned on the previous page, fish eggs can be used singularly, but these single eggs are mature and larger. Fish eggs used in egg sacks are often smaller and grouped in bundles of 10 to 15 eggs.

Egg sacks are one of the most effective for catching trout, especially during spawning season when fish will often ignore all other baits and lures. With that in mind, be sure to check the spawning season for the species of trout you're looking to catch. Watch out though, as other types of fish, such as salmon, may also bite at egg sacks. [Source: Lake Michigan Angler]


Egg sacks contain cured salmon or trout eggs, which are then bundled in spawn netting and attached to the hook. When attaching the egg sack to the hook, be careful not to pop any of the eggs, as this will lessen their effectiveness. Cast the egg sack into the water and let it drift to the bottom without reeling, as to imitate a natural grouping of eggs. [Source: Hoffman]

Many bait and tackle shops sell pre-made egg sacks or containers of cured trout eggs. However, if you really want to get your hands dirty, you can collect own eggs, concoct your own egg cure and make your own egg sacks. [Source: Lake Michigan Angler]


Lots More Information

Relat­ed ­HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

  • Draper, Cris. "Lake Trout - Utah's Largest Fish." (Accessed 11/8/08)
  • Hoffman, Justin. "Spring Steelhead Primer." (Accessed 11/8/08)
  • Keyes, Mike. "The Art of Chumming." (Accessed 11/8/08)
  • Kugler, Kevin. "Fishing with Live Bait." (Accessed 11/8/08)
  • Lake Michigan Angler. "Salmon and Trout Eggs Sacks for Bait." (Accessed 11/8/08)
  • "Spoons/Spinners." (Accessed 11/8/08)
  • "Lake Trout." (Accessed 11/8/08)