What is Rainbow Trout’s Favorite Food?


Have you ever asked yourself what is rainbow trout’s favorite food? Rainbow trout can consume anything from insects to minnows, fish eggs, and earthworms. Young rainbow trout feed on water fleas and then, as adults, aquatic (water) insects like caddisflies, mayflies, and midges. They gradually incorporate bigger fish into their diet as they get larger. In addition, they also feed on other aquatic life such as snails, leeches, side swimmers, and algae.

Aquatic Insects

Aquatic Insects are the main prey of rainbow trout in freshwater, and they love feasting on them. However, not all bugs are ideal for lures. First, you need to find out which insect trout love. It could be mayfly, midge, or caddisfly, depending on the season and weather conditions. Rainbow trout typically will not go after insects that are too big, so make sure whichever insect you decide on is small enough for a rainbow trout to go after. Big trout love to go after smaller caddisflies (before they become adults).


The Larva is another favorite trout food with several types available, depending on your region and time of the year. Larvae are the young form of several insects that Rainbow Trout love to go after. To get some bang for your buck, and a good shot at hauling in more rainbow trout on your next fishing venture, try these colorful larvae found at Walmart.

Small minnows 

Another food source for rainbow trout is small minnows found in lakes, ponds, rivers, and brackish waters across the US. Larger rainbow trout love to chase down these small fish. They will go after a small wounded minnow because they are easy food in the trout’s eyes. Hooking a small minnow on your next trip can be a great way to snag bigger rainbow trout.


A close up of an earthworm. One of the rainbow trout's favorite foods.

Rainbow trout also love eating worms – a common bait found in most local markets and abundant in their natural habitat. Several types of worms can be used as bait for rainbow trout, but nightcrawlers are one of the most common forms used today. Using nightcrawlers as bait is a sure-fire way to snag a Rainbow Trout on your next fishing trip. You may be able to search for and use the earthworms that you find in your yard for the most cost-effective way to fish with worms. But if you don’t want to spend your day digging around in the dirt, head over to your local fishing store or Walmart and they will be sure to have worms in stock. The final thing to worry about when using worms is making sure that it doesn’t fall off the hook when you cast your line out. For a great tutorial on how to get set up with worms watch this video.

For specifics on catching rainbow trout with bait, check out our article.

Want to learn more about what rainbow trout like to eat? Check out https://www.fws.gov for more information. And as always, good luck on the water!