How to Make Dough Balls for Trout? A Simple But Complete Guide

Trout are not necessarily the pickiest eaters. They are known to bite on a wide range of live baits such as small baitfish and worms. They also bite on some homemade fishing baits

One of the best homemade trout baits is dough bait balls. It’s preferred by many trout anglers because it’s the easiest to make and the most effective.

So, how to make dough balls for trout? To make dough balls for trout, you first need to prepare the dough mix using water, flour, and eggs. You need to add some ingredients for scent and flavor such as garlic powder or cheese before shaping the dough into a ball shape. You can also add food coloring to make the dough balls more appealing to trout.

Keep reading to learn more about why anglers prefer dough bait and how to rig dough balls for trout fishing.

What Makes Dough Bait Effective for Trout Fishing?

image of dough balls for trout

There are various reasons why dough bait is effective for trout fishing. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons:

  • It’s cheap and easy to obtain. You can buy Berkley’s Dough Powerbait online or at any tackle store. You can also make your own dough bait at home
  • You can use it for multiple fishing trips as it can last you a good amount of time if it’s properly stored.
  • It doesn’t sink in water because its density is less than that of water. This is highly useful if you’re targeting trout in areas with heavy cover and weeds as you would need the bait to float or it might get snagged.
  • It’s pliable and can be easily shaped into balls which makes it easy to rig on a hook. It doesn’t cause a lot of mess like most kinds of live bait as it won’t stick to your tackle and it’s easy to clean.
  • It’s highly effective in attracting trout as it can be prepared with different kinds of scents and flavors that disperse into the water to grab the trout’s attention and get them to bite.

How to Make Dough Bait at Home?

Although there are many good dough bait brands on the market such as Berkley’s Powerbait, many anglers prefer to make their own dough bait at home.

It’s quite easy to prepare as you only need a few ingredients to make the actual dough. You’ll also need some additional ingredients to add scent, flavor, and color to the dough to make it more appealing to trout.

 So, let’s take a look at the best recipe for making dough bait at home:


  • Flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Water
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Melted or Cream Cheese
  • Garlic Powder
  • Food Coloring and/or Glitter


  • Put half a cup of flour, half a cup of cornmeal, two tablespoons of cheese or garlic powder, and one tablespoon of butter into a bowl then stir to mix them well.
  • Add one egg and some water to the mixture and keep stirring until you reach a dough-like consistency.
  • If the mix is too dry, you can add more water and if it’s too thin, you can add more flour.
  • Add some food coloring and/or glitter to the dough then stir until all the ingredients are all well combined.
  • Take a small amount of the dough, about the size of your thumb joint, and roll it into a ball shape using the palms of your hands.
  • Form the rest of the dough into balls then add them to boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Drain all the water and place the dough balls on a napkin to dry for about 10 minutes.
  • After the dough balls cool down and dry, put them in a plastic bag or container and freeze them overnight. This will help keep the dough balls firm enough to be rigged on a hook

You can increase the number of eggs and butter in the mixture according to your preference as eggs will help make the dough float more while the butter will help increase the water resistance.

You can increase the amount of scent and flavor ingredients, food coloring, or glitter in your dough mixture based on how strong you want the bait to be.

Here is a video that shows you how to make dough bait at home easily:

You can also learn other ways to make garlic baits for trout here.

What Scents Can You Use When Making Dough Bait for Trout?

Trout have a highly developed sense of smell because their nostrils contain millions of sensitive cells that allow them to easily detect scents in the water.

If trout detect a scent that they like, they will be more likely to bite on your bait and hold on to it a bit longer.

The best ingredients you can mix with your dough bait to enhance its scent are garlic and coffee grounds. That is because both of them produce extremely strong scents that disperse quickly through the water which makes it easier for trout to detect.

Other ingredients you can use are some kinds of cheese like cream cheese or shredded American cheese as well as pet foods that contain fish or meat. These ingredients are full of fats and their scent will disperse well through the water.

How to Store Dough Bait?

If you make a large amount of dough that you will not be using soon, it’s very important to store it properly otherwise it will dry out and lose its consistency and scent making it completely ineffective as bait.

In order to properly store your dough bait, you need to place it in a sealed plastic container or Ziploc bag then place it in the fridge. You can also put it in the freezer, but it’s not recommended to leave it for too long as the condensation from the freezer might soften the dough.

How to Rig Dough Balls for Trout Fishing?

Rigging dough balls for trout fishing is very simple, even if you’re a beginner. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Push the dough ball through your mainline right above the hook then slide it down onto the hook.
  • Gently press down on the dough ball using the tips of your fingers to ensure that the hook is completely covered and that any cracks or seams are smoothed over otherwise the dough ball might fall off the hook more frequently.
  • When casting out your dough bait, try to keep your casts smooth so that the bait will remain longer on the hook.

What Gear Set-Up is Best for Trout Fishing Using Dough Balls?

It’s ideal to use lighter gear when fishing for trout using dough balls as bait as this will enhance your casting accuracy and allow you to cast further.

You can with an ultra-light fishing rod that’s about 6-7 feet in length paired with a baitcasting reel. I recommend you choose from these superb ultralight reels.

As for the fishing line, it’s recommended to use a monofilament line with a 4-6 pounds line test.

What Hook Size is Best for Trout Fishing Using Dough Balls?

The size of the hook you’re using generally depends on the type of hook, the size of the bait you’re using and the size of the fish you’re targeting.

When fishing for trout using dough balls as bait with a single hook, it’s recommended to go for hook sizes between 8 and 12. However, if you’re using a treble hook, it’s recommended to go for hook sizes between 10 and 14. I have another guide on choosing hook sizes for trout here that is definitely going to help you choose the right size for your location, target trout size, and the bait of choice.

Do You Need to Use a Bobber When Fishing with Dough Balls?

You do not always need to use a bobber when fishing with dough balls since they have a good weight and they can float well.

However, using a bobber might help improve your casting accuracy and allow you to easily maneuver the bait to the best fishing spots. Bobbers will also help you detect subtle bites which will increase your chances of landing more fish.

If you’re going to use a bobber,  it’s recommended to attach it to your mainline at about 24 to 36 inches from the hook and make sure there’s no slack in the line.

Related Questions

Are Trout Attracted to Sugar Flavor?

Trout are attracted to sugar flavor if it’s unprocessed. Natural sources of sugar include most kinds of fruits and they can be effectively used as bait to attract trout. However, table sugar is a kind of refined sugar so it’s not recommended to use it to attract bait.

Is It Legal to Fish for Trout Using Dough Balls as Bait?

It is usually legal to fish for trout using dough balls as bait if you’re fishing with a hook and line. However, there might be some regulations against chumming with dough bait in some states as it can be dangerous to the ecosystem. So make sure to check the laws and regulations in the area where you’re fishing.

What Scents Do Trout Hate?

Scents that trout hate include bug spray, perfume, sunscreen, nicotine, and any petroleum distillates such as gasoline. Trout have a highly sensitive sense of smell, so it’s recommended to avoid these scents when trying to catch trout as it might drive them away from biting. You can also use scent attractants to mask any unwanted scents.

Are Live Baits More Effective for Trout Fishing?

Live baits might be more effective for trout fishing than other kinds of bait. That is because the trout’s diet normally consists of small baitfish like minnows and shiners as well as insects and invertebrates. Trout are most attracted to the natural scents and action produced by live baits, however, this doesn’t mean trout will only ever bite on live baits.

Level Up your Trout Fishing

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