6 Best Soft Plastic Lures and Baits for Trout

sea run brookie bucktail berkley shrimp
A sea run brookie caught on a bucktail and Berkley shrimp combo

It’s well known how effective soft plastic lures are for fishing bass and saltwater species, but trout anglers unfortunately often overlook soft plastic baits. This is a shame, as soft plastics are some of the most effective lures to fish for trout. This is true whether your retrieving them like a swimbait, or if you’re using them as bait with a float or dropshot rig. Listed below are what I have found to be some of the most productive soft plastic lures. There is also information on how to use the plastic baits to fish for trout aswell.

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Berkley Powerbait Ripple Shad

Powerbait berkley ripple shad trout fishing 6 Best Soft Plastic Lures and Baits for TroutThis swim bait is a solid choice for targeting big brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. The the smaller 2″ and 3″ sizes work well in streams and small rivers where small bait fish such as fry, minnows, and sticklebacks are abundant. The larger sizes work well in open bodies of water such as larger rivers, estuaries, and lakes that tend to have larger bait fish available such as mummichogs, silversides, and smelt.

sea run brook trout caught on a berkley ripple shad jighead rig.
Decent sized sea run brook trout I caught and retained a few years ago on a ripple shad jighead rig.

To fish this soft plastic, rig the ripple shad to an appropriate weight jighead for the depth and current speed of the water you are fishing. The appropriate jighead weight varies with different bodies of water, so you may need to do some trial and error to see what works best for you. Pair the soft plastic with a weighted jighead that allows you to retrieve the lure back to you as naturally as possible, while remaining relativity close to the bottom.

The colour selection with these lures are fantastic, choose whichever colour most closely matches the baitfish in your area. My go-to colour is the green back pearl variety.

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Berkley PowerBait Ripple Shad (Amazon Link)Berkley gulp floating trout worm 6 Best Soft Plastic Lures and Baits for Trout Can be bought here.

Berkley Gulp Trout Worm

brook trout rainbow fishing best soft plastic bait for fishing trout 6 Best Soft Plastic Lures and Baits for TroutTrout fishing with plastic worms is just as effective as using real earth worms or night crawlers. The soft plastic does have the advantage of staying on the hook much longer. The gulp trout worm is a fantastic alternative to live bait. These worms convinced me to stop using real bait, and switch to synthetic baits many years ago.

Trout fishing rig using bobber for soft plastic trout worm.
The rig I use when fishing the Gulp trout worm.

Rig it anyway would rig a real worm. The plastic bait works well on a drop shot rig, but I mostly use it suspended under a bobber. I find that if you use the whole plastic worm, the trout will typically nipple the end not attached to the hook and break the worm in two. What I do to prevent this from happening, is to only put one half or a third of the worm onto the hook. I haven’t noticed a reduction in bites after doing this, but I do get many more hookups, and lose much less plastic worms this way.

I like using the natural coloured worms. I also have good results using the red and pink colours targeting trout, especially in murky or discoloured water.

Gulp! Trout Worm (Amazon Link)sand shrimp fishing trout salt water 6 Best Soft Plastic Lures and Baits for Trout Can be bought here.

Berkley Gulp! Shrimp

Gulp berkley soft plastic bait for troutI love this shrimp soft plastic bait for any saltwater fishing application. While I initially bought these lures for flounder, I quickly found that both sea run brook trout, and steelhead love them as well. I used this bait as a salt water sand shrimp (shown below) imitation, but this shrimp could be used to imitate crayfish or even hellgrammites when fishing in fresh water.

Sand shrimps bait for trout salt waterThe bait works best either on a carolina rig, or tipped on a jighead or bucktail jig. When fishing this lure the presentation should be very close to the bottom, even dragged if conditions allow (such as a sandy bottom). An effective retrieve is to steadily bounce the shrimp along the bottom. Pausing once and a while when retrieving can trigger a response either on the pause, or when you start retrieving the shrimp again after the pause.

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You can use the Gulp Alive shrimp if you like, but I found the container to be a bit leaky. I use the plano liquid bait wallet to hold my gulp baits, and haven’t had it leak once in several years of use.

I find new penny, nuclear chicken, and pearl white to be the most productive for me.

Gulp! Shrimp (Amazon Link)Helgrammite berkley gulp alive soft plastic bait lure trout fishing 6 Best Soft Plastic Lures and Baits for Trout Can be bought here.

Trout Magnet

I wrote a product review of the trout magnet once before. It’s an amazingly effective little micro jig than allows a great deal of finesse when presenting the lure to the trout. I quite like using it when sight fishing trout in clear, shallow, slow moving water. You can fish it with a steady retrieve, a jigging retrieve, under a float, or vertically jig it up and down if conditions allow.

Even though this is a good lure for targeting trout, there are a few draw backs. The hook itself is fairly weak. If you plan on targeting larger trout, I would recommend switching out the jig for a similar sized jig with a stronger hook instead. The jighead itself is also fairly light, which is fantastic when casting to spooky trout in shallow water, but if you plan on fishing deeper water, or a faster current, you may need to switch to a heavier jighead.

Trout Magnet Original 152-Piece Kit (Amazon Link) Can be bought here.

Savage Gear 3D PVC Mayfly Nymph

This is an excellent little finesse lure. It’ works well on a dropshot rig, but a jighead is where it really shines. The body is segmented so the lure has a lifelike up and down movement when retrieved. Savage Gear does offer a pre-rigged option with the 3D TPE mayfly nymph, but it is a bit pricey.

See also  7mm-08 Remington for Elk Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Elk Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the 7mm-08 Remington a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for elk hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the 7mm-08 Remington is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the elk, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the elk in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop 7mm-08 Remington Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a elk in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the 7mm-08 Remington within the ideal range of suitable calibers for elk hunting?” our answer is: Yes, the 7mm-08 Remington is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber 7mm-08 Remington Animal Species Elk Muzzle Energy 2450 foot-pounds Animal Weight 720 lbs Shot Distance 200 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a 7mm-08 Remington? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a 7mm-08 Remington round is approximately 2450 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male elk? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male elk is approximately 720 lbs. [Click Here to Shop 7mm-08 Remington Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in elk hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for elk to be approximately 200 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the 7mm-08 Remington. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the elk being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether 7mm-08 Remington is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk - and to this question, the response again is yes, the 7mm-08 Remington is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting. [Click Here to Shop 7mm-08 Remington Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting elk to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. 1 Comments Ted - Aug 28, 2023Shot placement is the key. I find most 140(139) grain bullets serve me well. Hunting should be fair chase. Sniping at 400+ yards is not hunting. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

It’s odd that they call it a mayfly nymph lure, as it’s to big to imitate all but the largest mayfly species. I would say it imitates a damselfly nymph more than anything, the movement of the lure even mimics a damselfly perfectly. Regardless, it works well, and the trout are often very eager to bite it.

Savage Gear LB PVC 3D Mayfly 2″, 1/28 oz, 8 pcs (Amazon Link) Can be bought here. The non-pre-rigged PVC lure in the link is a much better value than the pre-rigged TPE version of the lure.

Berkley Gulp! Hellgrammite

Hellgrammites are some of the larger aquatic insects sharing the river with trout, and a feeding trout is unlikely to pass up an opportunity for such a substantial meal. This plastic bait does a pretty good job of imitation these juicy morsels.

I’ve found that rigging this bait under a bobber, and allowing it float downsteam in a current is the most effective presentation. Cast upstream and let it float down the river, and recast when it floats to far away from you. The plastic hellgrammite should be floating just above the bottom of the river, right in the trout’s feeding lane. This imitates a tumbling insect that got dislodged from it’s rock further upstream. Be sure not to have to much line out, as this will slow you reaction time to a trout strike.

The colour options are limited to either green pumpking or black. I haven’t noticed a difference in performance between the two colours.

Gulp! Hellgramite (Amazon Link) Can be bought here.