How to Make Dough Balls for Trout? 2023 Simple & 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 baits.

One of the best homemade trout baits is dough bait balls. Many trout anglers prefer it 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 must prepare the dough mix using water, flour, and eggs. Before shaping the dough into a ball shape, you need to add some common ingredients for scent and flavor, such as garlic powder or cheese. 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 for trout fishing and how to rig dough balls to catch more trout.

What Makes Dough Bait Effective for Trout Fishing?

image of dough balls for trout

There are various reasons why dough bait is an effective bait 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 Power bait online or at most bait shops. You can also make your own dough bait at home
  • It’s a durable bait. 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 has an elastic structure 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 a simple recipe that’s quite easy to prepare, as you only need a few basic ingredients to make the actual dough. You’ll also need some optional 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:


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


  • Put the dry ingredients like half a cup of flour, half a cup of oatmeal or cornmeal, and two tablespoons of cheese or garlic powder into a bowl, then stir to mix them well.
  • Add and one tablespoon of butter, one egg, and a cup of water to the mixture and keep stirring until you reach a dough consistency similar to that of bread dough.
  • Add more water if the mix is too dry, and more flour if it’s too thin
  • Add some drops of food coloring and/or glitter to the dough, then stir until all the mix of ingredients is 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 remaining dough into balls, then add them to boiling water for 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, please 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 home-made dough baits 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 detect scents in the water quickly. If trout detect a scent they like, they will be more likely to bite on your bait and hold on to it a bit longer.

Garlic and coffee grounds are the best ingredients you can mix with your dough bait to enhance its scent. That is because both produce powerful scents that disperse quickly through the water, making it easier for trout to detect.

Other ingredients you can use are some kinds of cheese, like cream cheese or shredded American cheese, and cat food containing fish or meat. These ingredients contain fats, and their strong smell 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 dough 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 and then place it in the fridge. You can also put it in the freezer, but leaving it for too long is not recommended as the condensation from the freezer might soften the dough.

How to Rig Dough Balls for Trout Fishing?

Rigging trout dough balls 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, keep your casts smooth so the bait will remain longer on the hook.

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

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

You can with an ultra-light fishing rod 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. Check out my recommendations for the best monofilament lines here.

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. Due to their dough structure, they have a good weight, and they can float well.

However, using a bobber might help improve your casting accuracy and allow you to maneuver the bait to the best fishing spots easily. 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

Do Trout Eat Fish Pellets?

Trout do eat fish pellets. Many anglers use pellets as bait for stocked trout or other hatchery fish because they’re used to consuming man-made food similar to the ingredients of fish pellets. However, wild trout can still be attracted to pellet bait if it’s rigged properly.

Are Trout Attracted to Sugar Flavor?

Trout are attracted to sugar flavor if it’s unprocessed, as some trout have a sweet tooth. Natural food 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 trout.

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?

The 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 bait fish 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

Outdoorskilled’s Favorite Picks for Trout Fishing

Trout can be tricky, but with the right gear, it can be a lot simpler and a lot easier. After testing dozens of rods, reels, lines, baits, and lures, here are our all-time, tried-and-tested picks for exceptional results with Trout.

The Okuma Celilo rod deserves to sweep my top spot for its 8’6″ model. If you like having extended casting (who doesn’t?), and lightweight rods with high-quality materials, this is the one that will provide your best trout fishing experience ever!

Moreover, it’s also affordable, so even if finances are tight, there’ll be no worries about being able to get yourself some new gear right away – just buy another couple of these babies before they run out!”

As for reels, the Pflueger President spinning reel is a great choice for anyone looking to get the most out of their fishing trip. With an affordable price and impressive features like graphite gears, this reel is the go-to option for all pro Trout Anglers.

As for lines, there’s no better option than the Berkley Vanish for Trout fishing. It’s strong, affordable, and invisible for Trout.

For bait, Scented baits do a much better job of attracting trout, and while you can make your own Scented baits, I believe everyone should at least try Powerbait’s scented baits to see how much of a difference they can make. I recommend testing out the Garlic Power Bait for Trout for yourself first.

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Helpful Resources 

Trout Fishing Basics

What Attracts Fish to Baits

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