One type of bait that often gets overlooked when you talk about rainbow trout fishing (except of course when it come to ice fishing) are meal worms. These weird looking “worms”, that look like a cross between a grub and a small alien, are often used for as bait for rainbow trout under the ice, but once the ice melts are quickly forgotten as anglers opt for more “traditional” types of trout bait.
This is a big mistake as meal worms can be an excellent bait when they are “drift fished” in rivers that contain hungry rainbow trout. One of the best times to use this particular trout bait is during the spring, when river flows are generally high and muddy. This seems to be because when rivers flows are high a lot of interesting food sources get “washed” into the water that wouldn’t otherwise be present. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that drift fishing meal worms is an extremely effective trout fishing technique.
So how does one go about drift fishing with these little creatures to catch rainbow trout? The first thing that is needed is a seven to seven and a half foot ultralight rod with matching reel that is spooled with either two or four pound test fishing line. The long rod will give you plenty of “feel” as your meal worm (s) drift through the current and the light line will be invisible to the trout that you are attempting to catch, which means that you will receive more bites.
You want to rig a single #8 or #10 single fishing hook or a set of double fishing hooks such as gang hooks that are of equal size onto a 12-18 inch leader that is attached to the end of your fishing line using a small swivel. A meal worm is now “threaded” on to the hook (or one ‘mealie’ on each hook in the case of gang hooks) by starting just below the meal worms head and coming out 1/4 of the way before the end of the meal worms body. Much like you do when you thread a plastic grub onto a jig head, but in this case the live meal worm is the “body”. Weight is now added to your line above the barrel swivel to keep your meal worm (s) as close to the bottom as possible as the drift is taking place. When rainbow trout fishing with meal worms you want the bait to be as close to the bottom as possible because this is often where the trout are feeding.
In order to drift fish for rainbow trout successfully, you want to be standing in the river that you are fishing and cast parallel to a little upstream of where you are standing, close the bail of your reel, and hold your rod tip in the air. You want to follow your bait with your rod tip as it drifts until the bait is directly downstream of where you are standing. At this point, reel in and repeat the process.
You should feel your weights “ticking” along the bottom of the river as your meal worm drifts. When a hungry rainbow trout takes the bait, you will know it because a bite feels distinctly different than the bottom. In fact many time hungry rainbow trout will simply engulf your meal worm with a steady tug. In any case, any time that anything “out of the ordinary” happens with your drift, set the hook and it should be “fish on”!
When it comes to rainbow trout fishing, drift fishing with this live bait is a technique that should be a part of every serious spin fisherman’s arsenal, there’s no doubt about it.