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Proven Tips for Fishing Floating Trout Baits

Floating baits are highly effective for trout, but many anglers leave out a key ingredient. Here's why you should add drift bobbers to your summertime trout arsenal.

Proven Tips for Fishing Floating Trout Baits

A Lil’ Corky added to a floating bait rig fished off the bottom is a great way to catch trout. The increased lift allows larger baits to be used, whereby increasing visibility and scent dispersal. (Photo by Scott Haugen)

As temperatures rise, trout living in lakes and ponds seek cooler water, often among tall grass and weed beds. A bait floating above such habitat can be extremely enticing, whether cast from the bank or a boat.

While many anglers fish floating baits, cheese and even worms injected with air for trout, relatively few add drift bobbers to their presentations. However, they give anglers some substantial advantages.

What Drift Bobbers Do for You

Pairing a Lil' Corky drift bobber with PowerBait, for example, offers four specific benefits. First, it increases the visibility of the presentation, making it easier for fish to find it from a distance, or in murky conditions. Second, it adds buoyancy, which decreases the bait's chances of getting tangled in grass and weeds. Third, because a drift bobber adds buoyancy, larger baits can be used. Finally, scent can be added to both the bobber and the bait. Trout have a powerful sense of smell, so increasing the amount of scent you use will allow fish to more easily locate your offering.

West June Fishing
Adding scent, then rolling it into your Power Bait, is a great way to target a trout's sense of smell. Because a Lil' Corky increases the bait's ability to float, greater scent dispersal occurs throughout the water column. (Photo by Scott Haugen)

When it comes to matching a drift bobber to a treble hook holding floating bait, my best success has come by pairing a size-12 Lil' Corky with a size-12 treble. While this might seem like a bigger-than-normal setup, I've found that trout won't shy away from the larger presentation. In fact, larger bait has helped me catch fish in waters laden with algae and silt, and the success I've had with the big rig has prompted me to fish waters I might not have tried otherwise.


If fishing in clear water where weeds and grass are not a concern, feel free to drop to a smaller size-14 Lil’ Corky. Combined with a size-14 treble hook covered in Power Bait, this setup is a consistent fish-catching combination.


West June Fishing
Fishing floating bait for trout, be it from shore or a boat, is applicable throughout the West. Here, author, Scott Haugen, admires a nice morning's catch of rainbows. (Photo by Scott Haugen)

How to Rig Them

There are two ways I rig my floating-bait trout setups. My preferred rig includes a sliding egg sinker, which ensures that when a trout picks up the bait, the line slides through the sinker and boosts hookup rates due to low or no resistance. If a trout feels line resistance, it often drops the bait.

To rig a sliding-sinker setup, simply thread your egg sinker up the mainline, then tie on a size-10 barrel swivel. A two-foot-long leader can be tied to the other eye of the swivel. Should you find yourself fishing in, say, 6-foot tall grass, simply let out line once the sinker has hit bottom and the buoyancy of the Corky and floating bait will allow it to rise into the desired strike zone.

West June Fishing
Looking to catch more trout with your floating bait setup? Try adding a drift bobber, increasing the amount of bait, and adding scent to both. Here a sliding sinker setup (left) and fixed sinker setup are being baited up. (Photo by Scott Haugen)

The second rigging option is a fixed-sinker setup, where split shot can be attached directly to the mainline. Start by sliding a Lil' Corky drift bobber onto your mainline, then tie the treble hook to the end. Place a split shot or two a few feet from the hook, and you're set. Reusable split shot are easy to reposition on the line, allowing for quick depth regulation should you find yourself in weeds or wanting to change to locations with different depths or bottom structure. Because leader length is easy to adjust with this setup it can be fished many places. Drop it among jumbled logs, downed trees, tall grass, weeds and moss, and you’re fishing a stationary bait in places that are hard to fish any other way.

West June Fishing
The addition of a Lil' Corky created enough buoyancy to get the floating bait riding higher than the bait without a Corky. Both setups here are identical, including leader length, but the one without the Corky didn't have enough lift to get through the grass. (Photo by Scott Haugen)

Expand Your Range

This buoyant floating bait method can also be fished in sloughs found in rivers and small streams. Even if there's a slight current, the bait will stay suspended thanks to the buoyant combination of the floating bait and Lil' Corky. This not only makes it more visible to fish as they swim by, it also helps establish a scent line in the water.


So if you want to catch more trout when fishing floating bait this summer, try adding a drift bobber and increasing the amount of bait being used. As you'll discover, these little drift bobbers aren't just great bait imitations, they're ideal for floating Power Bait precisely where it needs to be for you to catch more trout.

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