Steelhead Magic: the 8 Best Steelhead Baits in 2023

Pautzke Balls O' Fire Salmon Eggs - Best Overall

Experience the best of steelhead fishing with the Pautzke Balls O’Fire Salmon Eggs, crafted with the highest quality and available in a variety of colors and scents, making it the juiciest and most appealing salmon egg on the market.

Mad River Steelhead Worms - Runner Up

Mad River’s plastic steelhead worms are the perfect option for steelhead fishing, with their radiant pink color and glow-in-the-dark feature making them the go-to choice for any angler looking for an easy-to-use and effective bait.

Berkley Gulp Minnow - Best Value for Money

The Berkley Gulp Minnow is the ultimate steelhead bait that offers both durability and convenience, making it a must-have for every angler’s tackle box

Anglers enjoy fishing for Steelhead Trout as they offer the challenge and excitement that all anglers want.

When targeting this kind of fish, it’s essential to use the right gear, especially the bait. However, there are many popular baits out there, and it can be confusing to choose the right one for steelhead fishing.

So, here are our picks for the best steelhead baits available on the market to help you make the right choice.

The 8 Best Steelhead Baits in 2022

For each bait, we will quickly go over what makes them special, what are the benefits of using it, and when to best use it.

1. Pautzke Balls O’Fire Salmon Eggs Bait – Best Overall

The Pautzke Balls O’Fire Salmon Eggs bait is the best bait for steelhead you can use. These salmon eggs come in many different bright colors, such as green, yellow, red, silver, and more. They are handcrafted with the highest quality with impressive detail.

This formula is unique and is the juiciest, most appealing salmon egg on the market. It is made from a special, trade-secret mixture of salt, sugars, and “spices.” There are 10 different color and scent combinations available to choose from. The eggs are hand-picked and are high-quality.

These eggs are large, which means steelhead anglers will have fewer eggs on their hook. This provides anglers with convenience and ease when steelhead fishing. The Pautzke Balls O’Fire bait is perfect for steelhead trout and will attract the biggest of fish.

 Pros VS Cons:


  • Large
  • Anglers’ favorite bait for steelhead
  • Works great for aggressive bites
  • Affordable


  • Can dry up in hot weather

Bottom Line

This Pautzke bait is great for steelhead fishing. Steelhead fish prefer salmon eggs over any other type of bait. The Pautzke bait is a perfect choice since it is affordable, large, and works great in all water conditions.

2. Mad River Plastic Steelhead Worms – Runner Up

Plastic worms are a great option for steelhead fishing, in particular, Mad River’s plastic steelhead worms. These plastic worms weigh about 0.99 pounds and come in a radiant pink color. They glow in the dark, which is handy for stained water, night fishing, and many other sticky scenarios.

The pink color is the best color to have for plastic worms since steelheads are mostly attracted to this color. Other colors might work just as well, but the pink color works best for all river conditions. Inexperienced anglers will not have a hard time working with this bait for its ease of use.

Pros VS Cons:


  • Easy to use
  • Vibrant color that attracts steelheads
  • Lightweight


  • Artificial

Bottom Line

The Mad River Plastic Steelhead worms are the perfect bait for steelhead. They are easy to use, lightweight, and vibrant enough to attract steelhead fish. It is perfect for all types of river conditions.

3. Berkley Gulp Minnow – Best Value for Money

The Berkley Gulp Minnow is one of the most long-lasting baits for steelhead out there. This will save anglers money thanks to its durability and longevity. It is very life-like and moves just like real bait. Each package contains 18 minnows, and the entire package weighs about 1.6 ounces.

This type of bait will make it easy for anglers as they do not need to carry a minnow bucket with them. This bait is easy to put on your hook because of its perfect size. The Berkley Gulp Minnow also comes in chartreuse shad color, which resembles the color of live bait perfectly.

Pros VS Cons:


  • Great alternative for live bait
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Long-lasting
  • Affordable


  • No smell

Bottom Line

This great Berkley Gulp Minnow bait is a long-lasting type of bait that will easily attract many wild steelheads. This bait is lightweight, easy to use, and the perfect size for many types of hooks. We recommend checking this bait out if you are looking to save money.

4. QualyQualy Fishing Glass Beads – Best for Versatility

The QualyQualy fishing glass beads are one of the most effective baits for steelhead. This trout bead set comes in various different color options, including white, black, blue, red, gold, and much more. These beautiful crystal glass textured beats do not hurt your line.

Not only that, but these quality beads make a buzzing noise when they bump into each other, which helps attract steelheads. They can be put on rigs, lures, hooks, or just above your hooks for extra attraction during the night. It is important to note, though, that they do not glow in the dark.

They can be used on all bodies of water, including pools, rivers, lakes, saltwater, and much more. These beads are great for catching steelhead, but they are also great at attracting crappie, bass, walleye, and panfish.

Pros VS Cons:


  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
  • Affordable
  • High-quality
  • Many color options


  • Small

Bottom Line

If you prefer fishing for steelhead using beads, we recommend the QualyQualy fishing glass beads. They come in many different colors and they are noisy enough to attract steelhead in rivers, lakes, and more.

5. Facikono Plastic Grubs – Best for Reusability 

The Facikono plastic grubs are great for steelheads and many other types of Trout. They come in a variety of colors, such as yellow, silver, gold, pink, white, and more. They are made of quality plastic that is elastic and flexible. Furthermore, they give the natural feel of live swimming fish.

The great thing about these grubs is that they are reusable as well as bite resistant. In addition, their soft tails create vivid movements, which creates more strikes. Steelheads are usually attracted to movement, so these grubs are perfect. These awesome life-like grubs can be used for fresh and saltwater.

Pros VS Cons:


  • Elastic
  • Flexible
  • Reusable
  • Life-like


  • Small

Bottom Line

If you prefer artificial baits for steelhead, the Facikono plastic grubs are a great choice. These plastic grubs are flexible, elastic, reusable, and incredibly life-like, which attract steelhead. You will not regret checking these grubs out.

6. Berkley Gulp! Earthworm Bait – Best for Pungent Scent

The Berkley Gulp! Earthworm bait is another great worm bait. It is the perfect alternative for earthworms and is great for steelhead as well as many other species of Trout. The best thing about this bait, however, is its pungent smell. The smell attracts steelheads perfectly in rivers and lakes.

Likewise, this bait is lightweight, weighing 1.1-ounce and is 4 inches in size. Not only that, but it is also biodegradable and easily decomposes if untouched in the water. It is an environment-friendly type of bait. These worms are a great choice for bait for steelhead.

Pros VS Cons:


  • Environment-friendly
  • Lightweight
  • High-quality
  • Pungent


  • Thin

Bottom Line

The Berkley Gulp! Earthworm Bait is a great alternative to live bait. The greatest thing about this bait is that it is pungent and attracts many steelheads as well as other types of Trout. We recommend this bait for rivers and lakes.

7. Pro-Cure UV Glow Egg Cure – Best for Murky Water Fishing

If you are worried about water clarity in the area you are steelhead fishing in, the Pro-Cure UV Glow Egg Cure has got your back. This bait is great for murky water and night fishing thanks to its UV powder that enhances its visibility and color that cures eggs effectively.

This bait is also great for night fishing in deep pools where steelhead might be harder to see. The Pro-Cure UV Glow Egg cure is one of the greatest baits to use. You might also end up attracting different types of Trout. Another great thing about it is that it is great for all water temperatures and all bodies of water.

Pros VS Cons:


  • Visible
  • Great for all water conditions
  • Great for night fishing
  • Great for all bodies of water


  • Messy to work with

Bottom Line

The Pro-Cure UV Glow Egg is great for curing eggs to use as bait for steelhead. This bait is great for murky water and night fishing because of its highly visible UV glow, which attracts many steelheads and other types of Trout.

How to Pick the Best Steelhead Bait?

a photo of a tackle box to show the best steelhead baits

There are many factors to consider when picking the right bait for steelhead fishing. Steelhead fishing can be unstable depending on the weather, water conditions, and the type of water you are fishing in. For this reason, it is important to consider different factors depending on the circumstance.

Some of these factors include the size of your hook, the smell of your bait, the size of your bait, water conditions, weather conditions, and durability. Let’s break them down in more detail:

Hook Size

Hook size is important when picking bait for steelhead. If your bait is too small for your hook or vice versa, you might have trouble keeping your bait on your hook before any steelheads bite into your bait.

Anglers recommend you use a size 8 or 10 for steelhead fishing in normal water conditions. This is the perfect size for bigger types of steelhead bait. However, if the water is clearer, anglers recommend you use a size 12 or a 14, which allows room for smaller sizes of bait.


It is not always necessary to carry smelly baits around for steelhead fishing; however, it helps. Steelheads are naturally attracted to pungent smells, so picking bait with a strong smell, such as shrimp or decaying fish, is a smart choice to make.

If smelly baits are not an option, anglers usually go for movement. Steelheads sense movement, as well as smell so moving baits such as bait fish or salmon eggs, or any other life-like baits, can be a good alternative for smelly baits.

Bait Size

It is important to consider the size of your bait. You will need a type of bait that fits perfectly for the type of hook you are using. Sometimes, you will not need the biggest bait to catch steelhead. In clearer waters, you are able to use smaller types of bait with the same effect as bigger bait.

Water Conditions

Another important factor to consider is the water condition you are fishing in. Some baits for steelhead work better in rivers such as roe, spawn sacks, egg sacks, and salmon eggs. At the same time, other types of bait work better in saltwater, such as live ghost shrimp and artificial baits.

Another important thing to note is that you can use smaller bait for clearer bodies of water, and steelhead will bite into it just as well. In murky water, on the other hand, you will need to use a type of bait that is more visible, such as UV glowing baits.

Weather Conditions

It is vital to pick steelhead bait based on the weather condition that you are fishing in. For example, if you like to fish for steelhead in the rain, you are better off using more visible bait. However, in clear weather, you are better off using salmon eggs and roe.


Another vital thing to consider when picking the right steelhead bait is durability. You want to make sure that your bait will last a long time in the water while your fish bites onto it. This can be done by checking what material your bait is made of and researching how long it’ll last.

Level Up your Trout Fishing

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Steelhead Bait for Rivers?

The best steelhead river bait is salmon eggs. Steelheads seem to enjoy salmon eggs as bait in generally most bodies of water. Freshwater is no exception, as steelhead are usually attracted to the smell and color of salmon eggs.

Is It Good to Fish for Steelhead in the Rain?

It is not often advised to fish for steelhead in the rain because steelheads usually hide in deeper water, and it does not help that the water levels rise, which makes steelhead even less visible. This does not make it impossible to fish for steelhead in the rain, but it can be challenging.

Helpful Resources

Steelhead Fishing: Simple How-To Techniques and Tips

Check out the best Fishing reels For The Money

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