Using trout food pellets as fishing bait

Trout food pellets were originally used to feed farmed fish, i.e. those bred for consumption, and domestic fish kept as pets. Times have changed and these are now used by anglers up and down the country as hook bait used to target large specimen fish, such as carp, bream, barbel, tench and chub. Whilst larger fish are targeted using trout food pellets for bait the smaller fish will also eat them if they have a large enough mouth.

Trout food pellets are made out of low temperature fishmeal, corn product, fish oil, wheat, vitamins, minerals, soya, amino acid compound various minerals. There was a time when the pellets had a high oil content which is actually bad for the fish as oil is difficult to digest. However, the pellets are now made with a lot less oil, making them more fish friendly. In fact, these pellets are now made with such high quality nutritional ingredients they are very good for all species of fish. All the ingredients are mixed together and then pressed in to individual “pellet” shapes which are allowed to turn in to a dry food.

A pile of trout food pellets. Note how shiny the high oil content makes the pellets look. This oil is a great fish attractor though.

A pile of trout food pelletsCredit: yackers1

These pellets have a long shelf life and provided you don’t get them wet, they will last for many months. The best way of keeping the pellets is to store them in an air tight bag or container in a cool and dry place. Trout food pellets will tend to soften and go to mush if they are stored in high temperatures, rendering them useless as hook bait. If your trout food pellets go soft don’t throw them away. Whilst soft pellets cannot be used for hook bait they can be used as loose feed or as ground bait to attract the specimen fish. The long shelf life of the pellets means you can keep a supply at home that can be used for hook bait on those occasions where you make a snap decision to go fishing and the trip is not planned.

Trout food pellets are available in a variety of sizes from tiny ones that are 2mm right up to huge ones that are 24mm. The smaller pellets are no good as hook bait and they are used as a ground bait to attract the fish and get them feeding confidently. The larger pellets are ideal to use as hook bait. When using trout pellets as hook bait you need to match the size of the bait to the target species and the size of the hook. For example, if you are targeting large carp a 24mm trout pellet on a size 6 hook will work well. If, on the other hand you are targeting bream, a 12mm or 14mm trout pellet on a size 10 hook will work well.

Trout food pellets are hard and cannot be put on the hook like other types of bait. Some people attach the trout pellet to the hook’s shank using a small elastic band, known as a ‘bait band’. Attaching the trout food pellets to the hook in this way works, but it can be a bit hit and miss. The best way of getting a trout food pellet on to a hook is to use a hair rig. The hair rig is a fantastic rig and one used by many anglers and it is without a doubt the best way to use trout food pellets. In order to get the trout food pellet on to the hair you need to carefully drill the pellet with a thin bait drill and then thread it on to the hair using a baiting needle. To stop the trout food pellet coming off the hair you need to use a hard hair stop.

Hair rigs were originally designed to catch bottom feeding fish, such as bream, carp and tench, so it is not really suitable when using float fishing techniques. Besides, large trout food pellets are heavy and will require a large float to ensure the weight of the trout food pellet doesn’t pull the tip of the float under the water. Consequently, trout food pellets should be fished on the water’s bottom using bottom fishing techniques such as ledgering. When using a trout food pellet on a hair rig it is best to use a simple running ledger rig to avoid tangles and such.

A trout food pellet cannot be hooked in a conventional way. The best way to use trout food pellets is to mount them on a hair rig.

A hair rigged trout food pelletCredit: yackers1

Trout food pellets are the ideal bait to keep nuisance fish at bay, especially the larger sized trout food pellets. The larger trout food pellets are too big for small fish to consume therefore they will remain intact for when the larger specimen fish come along. Large trout food pellets will also remain intact in the water for several hours, which means you can cast the trout food pellet out and leave it all night safe in the knowledge the hook is still baited.

The exact length of time a trout food pellet will remain intact depends on the size of the trout food pellet and the water temperature. The larger the trout food pellet the longer it will remain intact. The colder the water the longer the trout food pellet will remain intact. So, for the ultimate durability you need to fish the largest trout food pellet in cold water.

The best way of using trout food pellets is to mount it on a hair rig and use a running ledger rig. This is very simple but very effective.

Hair rigged trout pellet on a running ledger rigCredit: yackers1

When using trout food pellets a good method is to use a large trout food pellet on a hair as the hook bait and use smaller trout food pellets as ground bait and loose feed to attract the fish and get them feeding confidently. So, you may decide to use a 20mm trout food pellet on the hook and use handfuls of 6mm trout food pellets as loose feed and ground bait. Small trout food pellets are light and will scatter all over the place when catapulted long distances which can be problematic when fishing at range. A good way of overcoming this is to turn the small 6mm trout food pellets in to a thick paste by adding water and mixing it in thoroughly. The trout food pellet paste can then be squeezed in to golf sized balls and catapulted out where the hook bait is. The pellet paste will break up in the water leaving a carpet of bait that will attract those specimen fish.

So, when using trout pellets

  • Store them in a cool, dry place and don’t let them get wet
  • Always fish them on a hair rig using bottom feeding techniques
  • Match the size of the trout food pellet to the size of the hook and the target species
  • Use larger trout food pellets on the hook and smaller ones as loose feed and ground bait
  • Turn the trout food pellets in to a paste when fishing long range