Trout Fishing: Float Bait Tips to Catch More 'Bows

With early spring upon us, trout fishing throughout the West has anglers taking to lakes, rivers and ponds in pursuit of rainbow trout.

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While some of us will hit the water with a fly rod in hand, others will cast lures, fish worms, troll hardware and float bait.

For those who are floating bait, here are some tips to consider.


Floating bait while trout fishing has been around for decades. From marshmallows to cheese, dough balls to air-injected worms, floating bait off the bottom is a proven approach.

In an effort to float my PowerBait higher amid grassy, weed-laden waters, I tried using a Lil' Corky. The Lil' Corky has been around for years, but this drift-bobber is primarily associated with being an attractant. I was curious to see if it would help float my bait higher, to get it in the strike zone of trout residing in hard to fish places.


After much experimenting, and fishing multiple situations, not only did I find that the Lil' Corky floated my PowerBait better than expected, it allowed me to fish bigger baits. We all know trout are both scent and sight driven. The more bait you have in the water, the more scent will be dispersed. Also, the bigger the bait, the easier it is for fish to see in murky water, weeds and tall grass.

A size 12 Lil' Corky paired with a size 12 treble hook worked great for trout fishing in many settings. This bigger than normal setup proved trout won't shy away from a larger presentation. In fact, the larger bait not only played a big part in helping catch fish in off-colored water, it also helped provide enough buoyancy to keep it above the grass and weeds. A smaller size 14 Lil' Corky paired well with a size 14 treble hook covered in PowerBait, and also consistently caught fish.

My preferred setup is rigged with a sliding sinker. This ensures when the trout picks up the bait, the line slides through the sinker, boosting hookup rates. Simply slip your sliding egg sinker up the mainline and tie on a size 10 barrel swivel. A leader of 2 feet is good in debris-free water, but make it as long as you need to float above any grass or weeds. The other option is a fixed sinker setup, where split shots can be attached to your mainline. Reusable split shots are easy to reposition on the line, allowing for quick depth regulation.


Because leader length is easy to adjust, and the fact the Lil Corky and PowerBait optimize the ability of the presentation to float, this setup can be fished many places. Drop it amongst jumbled logs, downed trees, tall grass, weeds and moss, and you're fishing a stationary bait in tough places.

This buoyant bait 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 bait and Lil' Corky. This not only makes it more visible for fish to see as they move by, it also helps establish a scent line in these waters. n

EDITOR'S NOTE: For signed copies of Scott Haugen's popular book "Bank Fishing For Steelhead & Salmon," send a check for $17.00 (includes S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This and other how-to books, including cookbooks, are available at

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