As a person who has been fishing for and catching rainbow trout for more than twenty five years, I am well aware of the fact that these beautiful fish are a ton of fun to catch, but catching large trout (twenty inches and above) can be a challenge. Not only are large trout more experienced and thus weary than their average sized cousins, they are also a challenge to land when they are hooked because of their size. Below I will draw upon my extensive experience to outline the top 3 baits to use if you want to catch more and bigger rainbow trout this fishing season.
Keep in mind, as a general rule big rainbows prefer big meals so up sizing your the bait that you are using is never a bad idea. For example, rather than using a 2-3 inch crank bait, try up sizing the same crank bait and using a 4-5 inch version. Large trout want to expend as little energy as possible to get a meal, so they often look for something big when they are feeding. The following baits are being listed in no particular order.
Large Streamers – Streamers that are 4 inches long (or even a bit longer) are often used to target large trout by fly fishermen and this is with good reason, because they are effective. The goal is to imitate the main bait fish on the particular body of water that you are fishing, so match your streamer to whatever this bait fish might be for you and the water that you are fishing. Baby rainbow, rabbit strip leaches, and wooly buggers would be examples of a few effective streamers for big rainbow trout on many bodes of water.
Large Worms – When most people use live worms as rainbow trout bait they use red worms, leaf worms, or mini night crawlers. When large rainbow trout are the goal a large worm, such as a whole night crawler, is the way to go. This is true in rivers as well as in lakes, and many veteran rainbow fishermen like to inflate their worm when fishing in a lake so that it floats above the bottom and is easy for large rainbows to locate.
Crayfish – My trout fishing mentor used to say that the best bait for large rainbows was a live crayfish that was 2-3 inches long, and I often used to catch crayfish this size so that he could use them for bait for large rainbows. I have found that this fact is certainly true, but have also found live crayfish difficult to use effectively. So what I do is use crayfish patterned
The bottom line is that when it comes to rainbow trout bait the three aforementioned choices need to be a part of your arsenal if big rainbow trout are your goal. They have all served me well over the years and I know they will do the same for you.