Gone Outdoors

How to Use Power Bait

by Jeff Studebaker

PowerBait® is a mainstay for fishermen who want to catch trout. It comes in small jars, pre-shaped like fish eggs, or as a moldable putty. It is scented to mimic both natural prey, and the pellet food that is fed to hatchery-raised fish. Often, just-released hatchery fish with no wild experience will bite on little else. A product of the Berkley fishing supply company, PowerBait now comes in myriad shapes and sizes. However, most fishermen, when referring to PowerBait, are talking about the colorful putty and eggs originally marketed under the name PowerBait.

Rigging With PowerBait

Before you start, find out the size of the fish that you are likely to catch, then choose your hook and line accordingly. Trout are sensitive and skittish, so try to use the lightest gear possible. For the typical one-pound hatchery fish, you will only need a size 12 hook, two-pound leader and four-pound line.

If you have not already set up your rod and reel, run line off your reel and thread it through the guides on your rod.

Thread your line through the hole in the egg weight. The egg weight gives you casting distance, so choose a heavier one if you want to cast further, or a lighter one if you want more sensitivity. It should slide freely on your line.

Tie the end of your line to one ring on your barrel swivel. The improved clinch knot or the palomar knot is good for this (see resource section below for how to tie these knots). Use a swivel large enough that it will rotate freely when the sliding egg weight is resting against it.

Cut a one- to four-foot length of leader. PowerBait floats, so think about how high off the bottom you want your bait to float. If the bottom is covered in three feet of weeds, you will want a four-foot leader between your weight and your hook. If the fish are hugging a bare mud bottom, you will want only a foot. Tie one end of your leader to the unused loop on your swivel, using an improved clinch knot or a surgeon's loop

Tie your hook to the end of your leader, using your favorite knot. Palomar knots are easiest to tie, but snell knots are more reliable.

Mold enough PowerBait (egg or putty) onto the hook to cover it. Make sure the point is almost totally covered so that it won't snag, but with a tiny amount exposed so that it will catch in the fish's mouth.

Cast your line into your favorite fishing hole, reel in any slack in the line, prop your rod on something solid and wait.

When you see a twitch at the end of your pole, pick it up gently but quickly, reel in any slack and give a good yank to set the hook. Reel in your fish!

Items you will need
  • Hooks, size 8 to 12
  • Barrel swivels, size 10 or 12
  • Egg weights, 1/8 to 1/4 ounce
  • Lines, 3- to 12-pound
  • Leaders, 2- to 8-pound


  • While you're waiting for a bite, you can prepare more leaders with hooks. Store them by spooling them around small pieces of cardboard or a store-bought leader keeper.
  • If you are not catching any fish, try changing the length of your leader, or downsizing your presentation with a smaller hook and line.


  • Make sure the drag on your reel is not set too tight, or the fish may break your line. Set it so that a strong fish can run your line out a little.

About the Author

Jeff Studebaker is a travel writer and recreational fisherman who started writing professionally in 2003 as a Bangkok-based reporter. Covering Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, he has published more than 1,000 articles in magazines including "Travel Trade Gazette," "MICE Magazine," and "Business Travel News." A psychology B.A. from Western Washington University, he is now based in Bellingham, Wash.