5 Favorite Baits to Catch Trout in California

Trout fishing is one of the most popular hobbies in California, the whole of the United States, and even the rest of the world. Trout fishing can be done on rivers, lakes, dams, or ponds.

Seeing that it is such a popular hobby, there is an array of choices when it comes to bait selection. The selection includes live bait as well as artificial bait. With such a huge choice of lures, I know you might be wondering what are the top most ways to bait trout in your next fishing expedition in California lakes and rivers.

In this post, I am going to discuss our five favorite baits to catch trout in any water body. Starting from the most natural and least aggressive to more advanced and more aggressive lures, these 5 favorite lures include:

  1. Flies
  2. Nightcrawlers
  3. Power baits and power eggs
  4. Spinners
  5. Spoons

Let’s explore why these baiting methods are favorites and how they work.

1. Flies

Fly fishing is the most natural, most delicate, and the easiest way to fish trout in California.

It is an effective way of fishing, especially during springtime.

There are various types of flies such as dry flies, attractors, “match-the-hatch”, terrestrial bugs, wet flies, nymphs, and streamers.

Depending on the type of presentation you are trying to create, you can work with different types of flies. For example, dry flies are good for a more natural look. 

  • Rod selection

A 2-6-pound ultralight rod is the best type of rod to use for fly fishing.

  • Reel-selection

The best type of reel is the 3000 series reel. It is also important to pick reels that come with spare spools. This is an economical option that can support lines of various tapers, weights, and sink rates. You can pre-wound and interchange these various lines for use to fish other types of fish or to use in other fly rods.

  • Bobber selection

They come in different colors such as green, yellow, or even clear ones. Colored ones are however more visible inside the lake.

Tie your preferred fly on the line using a fisherman’s knot. A 6-foot leader is good so that the fly can sink six feet below.

  • How to cast

Make sure to get a 4-6 feet fluorocarbon leader. Get a good rod tip and keep it high above the ground and do a little slow to fast cast. Do not whip it or make it too violent as it will cause a boomerang effect. Besides, this might result in tangling when reeling. Casting violently might also break up your fly.

We advise that you cast clockwise and anticlockwise depending on your preference.

  • How to reel

Let the fly fall l for 3-5 seconds, then do a slow reel to create a natural presentation of swimming larvae and. Try to create a rhythm similar to what insects and bugs make when in water. This kind of presentation is great even in windy conditions.

2. Night Crawlers

Nightcrawlers, garden hackles, maggots, red wriggler, or any other worms are always favorites for trout fishing. These bait methods are excellent as they float worms off the bottom of the lake.

  • Rod selection

A 4-6-pound ultralight rod is an excellent tool. You can get a heavier or lighter rod but you want to have a rod that you can see the rod tip when you cast the bait into the bottom

  • Reel selection

The RTX3000 size model reel is perfect to use with nightcrawlers as it can handle even big fish.

  • What line to use

Use a 10 pound braided line and 8-10-foot fluorocarbon as the leader line as fish cannot see it.

  • The Setup

To prevent the weight from sliding up, use a 4 ml or 6 ml bead of any type to separate the leader and braided line. Go ahead and clasp it with pencil lead and add another bead to separate the leader line and the weight system. You can use a swivel of any size or color to0

 If the lake or river has a lot of vegetation at the bottom, it is important to get a longer leader line.

Attach the leader to a number 4 hook and put the nightcrawler on its head on the hook. Use a worm blower to prick the nightcrawler with bubble air so that it stays afloat throughout.

This is the point where we should warn you that if you don’t like touching squirmy things, you should probably give up fishing! No, we are kidding. There are artificial rubber worms that give you the natural presentation of nightcrawler you without you touching something messy and live.

  • Casting and Reeling

The floating worm method will work well if you are in a deep setting. Let the worm float around in the water and the fish will bait into it.

3. Power Baits Power Eggs

Power Eggs and Power baits are types of artificial baits that are especially good for bottom fishing. Powerbait and power eggs come in a variety of colors to suit varying water conditions.

  • What fishing rod to use

A spinning or baitcasting rod with an ultra-light action is the best type of rod for these types of lures. If you are catching smaller touts, this is very important.

  • Line selection

It doesn’t matter what line you use with the powerbait, but ensure it is strong enough and it corresponds to the size of fish you are luring. A braided line is a good choice as it is strong and can be cast far way without stretching in case of a snag. Pair it with fluorocarbon as the leader as it is invisible to the fish.

  • The setup

You need to attach your hook to the leader line and use some weight. Avoid using bigger hooks as they will catch less fish. You can opt to use a bobber or not. We prefer not to use one as we have caught a lot of fish without it. We recommend yellow bopper if you decide to use them

  • Casting and reeling

We have discovered the best thing about using power bait and powereggs is that you do not have to do a lot of reeling once the lure is in the water.

If you are fishing in still water, all you have to do is cast the Poweregg at 45 or 90 degrees, let it sink, and drag it horizontally. Reel it back in when it comes near you.

If you are fishing in moving water like in a river, cast it upstream and let the current carry it downstream. Allow it to sit there for a short while and then reel it back. In not-so-strong currents, you can let your egg float for a while. Just make sure it doesn’t get far from you to prevent snagging. 

4. Spinners

Spinners are one of the easiest and best methods to catch aggressive fish in lakes, ponds, rivers, and dams. Depending on whether you are fishing in a lake, pond, river, or dam, there are different types of spinners to choose from. They include in-line spinners, tail spinners- very light, beetle spins, live bait spinners, and overhead arm spinners.

It is important to get multiple colors of any type of spinners, especially gold and silver colors How far you want to cast should help you pick the right types of spinners too. Smaller sizes number 2s and threes can’t be cast very far. If you are fishing in waters with fast currents, heavier and bigger spinners might come in handy.

  • What rod to use

You have to select a rod with good sensitivity all through, as this is very important. The Okuma Guide 2-6-pound rating is excellent for sensitivity. It has ultralight action and it can catch both small and big fish. This makes it such a fun device. 

  • What reel to use

The RTX 3000 Series reel will give you enough line to cast as far as possible, especially when you are using a cast master

  • What line to use

We recommend a 10-pound braided line that has great casting ability, no stretch, and very good sensitivity. Heavier lines cause bind-up problems.

  • The Setup

Tie a bumper to the 10-pound braided line. You should use swivels to create fewer line mishaps and help the spinner blade spin without twisting your line. Size 16 gold or black swivels are perfect. You can tie them using a simple clinch knot put it in the eye of the line (not the swivel). Remember not to leave anything tagging so that it doesn’t get stuck.

  • How to cast and where to cast

When spinner luring in lakes and ponds, look for the freshwater inlet and freshwater outlet. That’s a fantastic place to fish in spring when trout are spawning. Also, look for areas that have been stocked as the fish will stay stagnant there before looking for new habitats.

For those fishing places with no inlets and outlets, look for places where fish often feed. Cast every angle from where you stand. – far-right, center, and left. It is also a good practice to move around and along the bank.

Cast as far as possible in any direction so that you get enough fishing room as the spinner comes back.

  • How to reel

When the spinner hits the bottom you will know as the line will slack and you will stop seeing it going deeper and deeper. After that happens, close the bell and start reeling with a 45-degree angle over the water. Doing this gives flexibility for when the fish bites the spinner. The direction of the rod tip dictates if the spinner will stay deep underwater or come back up nearer the surface.

The speed of the spinner blade- if you feel like it’s going too fast then probably you are rotating too fast. 3-5 repetitions per second is probably the correct speed for the spinner blade. (nice-slow rate)

5. Spoons

Trout fishing with spoons is incredibly effective.  It is a great tool as you can present it a bit slower than any other tool when you are casting. Spoons come in variations of colors and weights, mostly in packs. If you can’t get a pack, make sure you get various individual colors, especially silver and gold. A cast master is one of the most popular types of spoons as it casts far and covers a lot more water.

  • Rod selection

If you are going to fish trout in California creeks and streams, get a 2-6-pound rod. These types of rods irrespective of brand are ultralight and very versatile. This rod will also work for ponds and lakes.

  • Reel size

We recommend the RTX 3S made by Okuma. This 3000 size reel has a lot of versatility and can even accommodate steelheads. You will also need a lot of line in case you are catching big fish

  • Line selection

The 10-pound braided line has a good casting ability and it also works nicely with both light and aggressive lures.

  • The Setup

When using spoons, you might want to use some kind of swivel or snap ring on your line to attach your spoons. Tying your line without a swivel doesn’t give the same presentation in a current. Keep your swivel small and probably match it to the color of your spoon. Use a fisherman’s knot to tie it., as well as a fluorocarbon bumper so that the fish can’t see the braided line

  • Casting and reeling

Spoon luring is not the most versatile style of fishing, but it is very aggressive and intrusive. Chances are that you will catch your biggest fish ever when using a spoon. Be sure to try different styles, different colors in different types of water to see how the results compare.

Look for the still and foaming parts of the river where fish come to feed. Always start your cast at 45 or 90 degrees to allow the heavy spoon to swing and from getting snagged at the bottom. Once it is current, it will create a presentation and you can stop reeling.

You can cast downriver and reel your line upstream and wait for the fish to chase it.  If you can see your rod tip, use it to create a presentation.

In a lake or pond, cast in different directions as fish move around in circles looking for food.

Spoons are especially effective for fishing in moving water because it is difficult to get that moving action in still water. You also need to get the right amount of reeling speed so that the spoon doesn’t sit still in the water as there is no current.

  • Why is a cast master different than other spoons?

The main difference is weight and shape. You can cast further on using a cast master, especially in a place you can’t move around a lot, hence helping with clockwise and anticlockwise motion.

Twitching and jigging is another way of and creating a presentation which the fish will love. You do not need to reel where there is enough current.


You should not stick to the same mundane trout baiting methods you are used to. Try out the baiting methods we have recommended above on your next fishing trip and let us know how it goes. Keep in mind that given the right circumstances. these trout luring techniques work just as well as the other.

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