How to Rig PowerBait Mice Tails and Catch Trout

Disclosure: This article may contain Amazon affiliate links. I receive a commission from products purchased at through my links at no extra cost to you. Reviews on reflect my actual testing and opinion of the products reviewed.

PowerBait’s floating mice tails are a lure that makes it easy to catch stocked trout. The key to fishing with the floating mice tails is to use an appropriate hook in what’s called a slip sinker rig. Once  you get the hang of PowerBait Mice Tails you will never go back to using dough or salmon eggs.

Mice Tails don’t work 100% of the time but it does works as well as or better than spoons for freshly planted trout.

How to Rig PowerBait Mice Tails

Step 1: Do This
Insert the hook into the center of the PowerBait floating trout worm. Inserting it from the center of the worm is the correct method because once it is rigged the worm will float horizontally.

Do Not Do this:
Do not insert the hook from the head of the worm, that’s the wrong way to do it because your worm will float vertically, which is unnatural.

How to rig a PowerBait Mice Tail

Step by step instructions for how to rig a PowerBait Mice Tail

Step 2
Pull the hook through the worm in the direction of the head of the worm then pop the hook out about a half inch behind the head. The fishing line and the hook should exit on the same side of the mice tail. The line and the hook should exit the body of the worm on the same side because this will help the worm float horizontally with the hook and the fishing line popping out from the bottom of the worm. This will allow you to fish the PowerBait mice tail worm with a slip sinker rig so that the worm floats horizontally 8 to 16 inches from the bottom of the lake. It’s practically guaranteed that you will catch trout when you rig your floating mice tail like this.

Rigged PowerBait Mice Tail

Note how the line and the hook pop out on the same side. This assures a proper presentation in the water.

How to Use a PowerBait Mice Tail

The best presentation is to use a slip sinker rig. That’s when you attach a 1/8 ounce to 1/4 ounce bullet weight to your 6# test line, add a plastic bead, then attach a small swivel. To the swivel you add your leader, which is typically a 4# test monofilament line. Don’t use fluorocarbon for your leader because fluorocarbon is heavier than mono and tends to sink, while monofilament fishing line floats.

Length of Leader for Rigging PowerBait Mice Tail

A leader is the last length of line, from your swivel to your hook.  The appropriate length of the leader should be from 8 inches to 18 inches. An 18 inch length of leader is the standard length.

There are times when the fish are close to the bottom. So if your PowerBait rig isn’t catching, try shortening the length of the leader to 8 or 12 inches. A shorter leader has turned the day around for me many times. I like to fish between 8 to 12 inches and no more than 18 inches.

Size of the hook for the Mice Tail Rig

At the end of the leader I add a size 12 to 14 extra fine hook then slide the hook through the exact middle of the worm (1.5 inches from the tail) then pop out the hook about a half inch behind the egg.

The hook bend should be fully exposed. The fishing line should be popping out on the same side as the hook, in the center of the worm bait. This way the lure will tend to float horizontal while allowing the tail freedom of movement to jiggle around.

Make sure there no irregular humps or bumps in the lure caused by the hook because that’ll make the lure look unnatural and make the trout hesitate. I always catch more trout with a smooth non-lumpy presentation.

It’s not necessary to cast your lure too far. Trout often hang close to shore. But the closer you’re fishing the more important it is to make yourself less visible. Trout tend to not eat if they can see you. Cast your lure, place your rod in a rod holder then wait for the rod to start bending or line to start peeling.

DIY Strike Indicator

Your rod won’t bend if a trout takes bait and swims to you. A strike indicator will alert you when that happens.

The best way however is to use a wine cork strike indicator. The reason is because about fifty percent of the takes the fish will pick up your bait and start swimming toward your rod. When that happens you will never know it because the line grows slack and the rod never bends. But if you’re using a wine cork indicator then you’ll see the cork start drop very quickly to the ground. This means a trout has your lure in it’s mouth and is swimming towards you! This is a fishing tip that will help you catch twice as many fish! (Click here to read how to make a strike indicator)

How Mice Tails Catch Trout

The way floating Mice Tails work is that they float from the bottom of the lake or pond where they are being fished. As the waves push through the water the floating mice tail will undulate like something that is alive.

Rainbow trout are curious and will attack the lure because it has a vague resemblance to a variety of natural food.

Distance to the Lake Bottom to Fish the Mice Tails

They can be adjusted to float closer to the bottom or farther from the bottom.

Stocked trout are raised in enclosures that are about two feet deep and swim 18 inches from the bottom of their enclosures.

The recommended distance then is 18 inches of leader so that the mice tail worm floats 18 inches from the bottom of the pond or lake being fished.

If 18 inches doesn’t work you can shorten the leader to 12 inches and as short as 8 inches. There are times when trout are finning themselves close to the bottom of the lake so a leader length of 8 inches can be appropriate.

Here’s a tip: On  your first cast, cast it close to you where you can see it and check if your rig floats!

PowerBait Mice Tails Catch Trout

PowerBait Mice Tails are best for catching rainbow trout. In my experience, floating mice tails catch trout after the trout have been stocked and have had a week or two to acclimate in the lake.

However I have also caught freshly stocked trout with mice tails. What happens is that the trout react aggressively when the mice tail worm lands on the surface of the lake or pond and will lunge at it right there.

I have literally caught my limit of trout within five minutes and have limited out countless times within a half hour. That’s how deadly these lures are!

Screenshot of a Rainbow Trout Caught with PowerBait Mice Tail

Image of a rainbow trout that a child caught with a PowerBait Mice Tail

Child with a 16 inch trout caught on a Berkley PowerBait Floating Mice Tail

Background Information of Floating Mice Tails

This bait is actually two baits in one. Many years ago there used to be a PowerBait floating trout worm lure and a PowerBait floating egg lure.

Anglers found that you can buy both baits in contrasting colors, thread a hook through the egg and poke it out in the worm part, joining the two into a mice tail configuration.

This method of catching trout  was popular California. The Berkley PowerBait company noticed what anglers were doing and created the floating mice tail.

Photograph of Four Packs of Berkley PowerBait Mice Tails

Image of Berkley PowerBait Mice Tails in green, orange, pink and natural colors

Photo of some of my mice tails. Popular colors are chartreuse, fluorescent orange, pink, and brown. Pink and orange are my most productive colors for catching trout.

Best Size Hook for PowerBait Mice Tails

The ideal hook to use is one that is light and thin. Light hooks are best because the key to catching fish with mice tails is that the they must be able to float.

If the hook is too heavy then the lure will sink down and lay lifelessly at the bottom of the lake or pond.

My all time favorite hook to use with this bait is Mustad R30 Signature Dry Fly Hooks. These hooks are 2XF, which means 2 Extra Fine. This means that if you purchase a size 12 hook the wire thinness of the hook would be about equal to a size 16.

There are many brands of hooks that can be used, including Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Needlepoint Hooks  and Owner Mosquito hooks.

I have great results with a size 14 dry fly hook.

Floating Mice Tails versus Floating Worms

There is simply no contest, floating mice tails are better than floating worms. There’s a reason why fishermen combined floating worms with floating eggs, and the reason is because floating worms don’t float well. The egg part of the mice tail bait helps it float and balances out the weight of the hook so that the bait floats more or less horizontal.

Rainbow trout caught with mice tail lure.

Rainbow trout fooled by a PowerBait Mice Tail in November. The bait is poking out of the corner of its mouth. Color of the lure was white with a pink head.

What Color Mice Tails Catch the Most Trout?

Color is important only to the extent that it gets the bait noticed. Thus, the pink, orange and white colors tend to get noticed more often and are great for catching aggressive rainbow trout.

The more natural colored mice tails are fine during bright and sunny days when trout are wary.

I can’t say I have a favorite, although if I had to choose one color then that color would be a pink body with a white head.

That said, if you only want to buy one pack of the lures, then white is an all-around color that is visible regardless if the sky is overcast, dark or sunny.

White is also visible regardless if the water is tannic (stained brown by decaying vegetation), green from algae or if the water is crystal clear. White is the all-around color that can be seen under any condition. So if you have to pick one color then go with a white body mice tail floating worm bait.

As I mentioned above, color is only important as a way to get the bait noticed. But it won’t necessarily make a difference in how many fish you catch. The more important factor is action. In trout fishing there are things called triggers. A trigger is a factor that causes a fish to decide that something is food and that it should eat it.

How to Catch Brown Trout with PowerBait Mice Tails

Action is a major trigger for catching brown trout, as is a resemblance to food. This holds true for wild brown trout, the resemblance to food can be considered an important trigger along with the action.

Brown trout can be picky eaters and prefer to hit something that has action and resembles food.

I have never caught a brown trout by letting it float with a fish finder rig. The way to catch brown trout with a floating mice tail is by swimming the PowerBait lure back to shore.  Brown trout like to hit fleeing bait.

Rainbow trout are more of an opportunity feeder and seem to like gentle action that indicates something’s alive but not moving too fast, which indicates it’s an easy meal. This is why I characterize floating mice tails as a rainbow trout bait, not as a brown trout bait. But you can still catch brown trout with it, but by using it in a different way than how you’d catch rainbow trout.

Jiggle that Mice Tail Because Trout Like the Movement

Action is a key trigger for both rainbow and brown trout. Mice tails work best when they jiggle just a bit. This is why they tend to work best for catching trout when there’s some wave action in the water, like when the wind is blowing across the lake, stirring up the water.

Waves make the lure bounce around and wiggle, giving it action. Wave action usually means it’s a good time to rig up some mice tails!

If the water is still and there isn’t much movement, try giving the lure a little jiggle then let it rest. Curious trout inspecting the mice tail will lunge at the lure when they see it jiggle!

PowerBait Mice Tails are my favorite artificial baits for catching rainbow trout. These lures work so well it’s almost not fair!

Disclosure: This article may contain Amazon affiliate links. I receive a commission from products purchased at through my links at no extra cost to you. Reviews on reflect my actual testing and opinion of the products reviewed.

41 Comments on "How to Rig PowerBait Mice Tails and Catch Trout"

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  1. Sheldon chanes says:

    Well written and with much information..with an absence of nonsense. Much appreciated and that’s why I subscribed.

  2. Jim says:

    I love this article and have already purchased the dry fly hooks. Could you please upload pictures of the mouse tail hooked/threaded properly? That is my only hang up. Thanks so much.

  3. Rich says:

    First time trying mouse tail, was a bit skeptical at first. Today I caught and released over 15 stocked trout, but I was putting the hook on the head. It was a white tail with a pink head. Next time I will try your hooking style.

    • Roger says:

      Wow, Rich! That’s what I’m talking about! The Mice Tails are one of the best baits around for rainbow trout. 🙂
      Sometimes PowerBait mice tails works so well it’s almost not fair. If hooking it through the head works for you then I say don’t fix what isn’t broken. Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

  4. Edward Lobrigo says:

    Im a little confused. Are mouse tails a lure? Do you cast and jig it back in? Is it a a bit that you just cast out like power bait? Or is it both?

    • Roger says:

      Good questions! 🙂
      Mice tails are a lure, as is shown the images above. You rig it and fish it the same way you would do with floating dough bait. Only this stays on the hook and won’t go flying off. You can also use it over and over again. In my experience, it works better than dough bait.

  5. Edward Glenn says:

    Thanks. I had no clue how to rig or fish these.

  6. Camas Logue says:

    How does the strike indicator work? I have looked them up and only found ones for floating on water not hanging on the line like that. I’m really interested in figuring this out. Thx

    • Roger says:

      I’m glad you asked! Soon I’m publishing an article explaining how to make them and use strike indicators. I’ve found that about 50% of the takes are when the trout picks up your lure and swims towards you. But if you’re waiting for the rod to bend you’ll never know it. With the strike indicator you’ll be able to know it and can grab the pole and start reeling. You’re catch rate will go up because those are the fish you’d otherwise likely lose. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get notified. 😉

    • Thomas O'Donoghue says:

      I just use a slip bobber with a cup hook screwed into one end and it works fine.

      • Steve F says:

        I just use an old bobber & a snap swivel. I hook bobber on swivel side, then open the snap up & hang it on line between eyes. Been doing this for years.

        • Roger says:

          That’s fascinating. 🙂
          Always stick with what works!
          There’s a saying that we should let the fish tell us what they want. So if something’s working then that’s what the fish like where you’re fishing at.

  7. Drew H says:

    Are they like regular power bait and cant be used in flies and lures only waters?

    • Roger says:

      These are lures, not bait like dough or salmon eggs. If it’s ok to fish a jig or a lure, then the PowerBait mice tails should be fine. But as always, double check with the local authority in charge of that body of water.

  8. Denny C says:

    I am curious. Is the tip of the hook supposed to face the tail or the head. All of my other plastic worms have the hook facing the head as when I am reeling in the hook is facing me. This has the hook facing away from me when I reel. What is the difference in this and my other plastic worms?

    • Roger says:

      When rigged in this manner, there is no front or back. The line is tethered to the barrel swivel, which is on the bottom of the lake. The worm is floating above it. So there is no front or back relative to you. The worm could be floating sideways to you, depending on any currents in the lake, pond or reservoir you are fishing.

      What’s important is for the hook point to be pointing away from the round worm head. That way you’ll be able to get a good hook set.

      You could rig it so the hook pops out of the rear part of the worm, but it might float oddly that way. The round “head” of the worm supports the weight of the hook and allows it to float horizontal if the hook weighs enough. If you have a lightweight hook, you might be able to have it pop out of the rear, and it *might* balance horizontally. I’ve always fished it with the hook near the head of the worm and it works fine that way. But it might be worth experimenting the other way! 🙂

  9. Patrick Lao says:

    I don’t see anywhere here the length of the leader, i.e., how many inches is this lure floating off the bottom?

    • Roger says:

      Hi Patrick,
      Thanks for the feedback! 🙂
      I just updated the article to add that information. The recommended length is between 8 to 18 inches. I usually start with 12 to 18 inches, depending on where I’m casting and how deep the water is. An alternate approach, which is what I usually do, is fish with two poles. One rigged with an 8 inch leader and the other leader 18 inches.

      Cast out, let it sit, then reel back and cast to another area until you find fish. Fish relatively close to you, then gradually cast further and further. Often the trout are closer than you think! 🙂

  10. Fred Roach says:

    Are mice tails considered artificial baits on the Owens River in California?

    • BaitSoaker says:

      Mice tails are artificial baits. You should check the official fishing regulations for the particular body of water you’re fishing. As certain times of year you might need to use barbless hooks. Barbless hooks can be purchased online or in fly fishing supply shops. Fly fishing hooks, particularly the size 12 and size 14 dry fly hooks are great for mice tails. They are thin and light, which allows the mice tails to float.

      Good luck!


  11. daneille says:

    I am very new to this. Is there a place I can look to seean imageof what the leader hook up might look like? Thank you.

  12. Mike says:

    How would you rig Mice Tails for use in a river?

    • Baitsoaker says:

      This lure was made specifically for still water not moving water.

      That said, it you can bottom bounce it with the current, which is something I’ve done. For a river (depending on current and depth) you can tie a split shot six inches or more above lure and bottom bounce it or just let it drift a few inches from bottom. Depends on the current and how much debris is on the bottom.

      Getting the drift right is super important in moving water.

  13. Eric Boyd says:

    Here in Southern California everybody uses a 2 or 4 lb. fluorocarbon leader due to the lake stocked trout being so sketchy. If I’m using a 6 lb braided main line would this effect the flurocarbon leader adversely in way in terms of presentation?

    • Baitsoaker says:

      Hi Eric,
      If you’re using it with a slip sinker rig (sometimes called a fish finder rig) then it shouldn’t matter. I use mono for the main line and it doesn’t make a difference.

      What’s important is if the fluorocarbon allows the the mice to float and not weigh it down. A 2 to 4 pound leader should be fine.

      The floating worm doesn’t work every time. It seems to work once the stocked trout have had time to acclimate and are hungry and sampling different things.

      But once they’re on it’s almost too easy to catch a limit of trout. I’ve left people around me with open mouths when the floating worm bite is on, as they couldn’t catch a thing for hours and here I showed up, tossed my rig and boom, fish on! So I would have to show them what I was using and give away some of my worms.

      And yet at other times, with freshly stocked trout, I did better casting a spoon. If you see them swimming in schools then they’re freshly stocked. A small spoon, spinner or even small drop shot rig with a fake worm on the hook does super well with freshly stocked trout.

      Good luck!


  14. Robert Denham says:

    Great article- thanks for the help! I’m wondering what the purpose of the bead is, near the weight? I’ve seen them used before, but would like to understand the concept better!

    • Baitsoaker says:

      The bead is protect the line from becoming frayed. Some say it also works as an attractor, to catch the fish’s attention as they’re foraging.

  15. Alan says:

    Do mice tails work with a fly rod setup?

    • Baitsoaker says:

      Yes, you would have to use the right rod that can handle a weight to keep the work about eight to 18 inches from the bottom. And certainly, if the bottom isn’t covered in weeds, it can be slowly crawled back. Definitely worth a try!

  16. Jay Sponagle says:

    Thanks! I had no idea about these things and how to use them. Can’t wait to try them on the next trip.

  17. Phil says:

    Excellent, well written article. My wife and I have been using mice tails for the past 3 weeks on 2 locally stocked lakes. We catch our limit every time out and usually within an hour or two. Almost every time, people come over to ask what we’re using. I’ll show them and how to rig it, even giving them a “free sample”. I hooked up one guy and he caught his 3 limit in 20 minutes…he was so happy and thankful. You are right…it almost isn’t fair how well these things work! But it sure is fun. It catches rainbows when nothing else will.
    In our climate, these stockers won’t survive warm weather so we don’t feel bad about catching our limit each time out. Many times I’ll give my catch to someone who hasn’t had any luck and they are very thankful.

    • Baitsoaker says:

      Thanks for the positive feedback! Yes, they work well on recently stocked rainbow trout and for me, I prefer them over dough bait because they stay on the hook better.

  18. Bill B. says:

    I’ve been using the cork set up for years. If you ask a waitress at your favorite booze serving restaurant, if they aren’t saving them for arts and crafts people (Christmas wreathes mostly) you’ll likely leave with a hundred or so.

    I use two small cup hooks to prevent line twist. Both cup hooks go on the cork’s side at a slight angle overhanging the two ends. Goal is to get as big a separation as possible. I paint the cork. Still working with colors but red is pretty good at 50 feet.

    I use bait runner reels. You want a small freshwater bait runner. There are only a couple brands, unfortunately.

    I use a 1/2 ounce egg weight. My leader is 30-36 inches to be over the weeds. The Northeast’s lakes have huge weed problems.

    I usually catch my limit (3) in a hour to hour and a half. I get about 80 per year and every single one gets eaten.


    • Baitsoaker says:

      My father came to visit me a couple summers ago and he was having trouble casting for distance. So I tied on a 1/2 ounce wooden casting egg made out of wood. His next cast went sailing out of sight. He turned to me with a smile saying, “Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!”

  19. james hunt says:

    great idea. I did something a little bit different. I use one of those small, foam ear plugs, screw in a small screw eye. The small gap in the screw eye will allow your line/leader to pass through and not fall off so easily. You can also screw it into the ear plug to cover up the gap. The ear plugs themselves make great mini lures also, simply thread a small J hook through the plug, adding a small split shot if you like. They also float.

  20. Louie says:

    I’ve been using and hooking the mice tails per this article with good success in the last couple years on lake stocked trout no more than 10-20 feet from the bank. My preferred lake allows 2 rods in the water per person so what I typically do is soak the mice tail and then actively cast a mini jig on the other rod. Given that the mice tail is soaking, I can’t set the hook on feel but rather just notice the rod tip bending/pumping then I begin to reel in and play the fish to the shore with drag (using 2-4lb line). All the trout I’ve caught this way have been gut hooked. This is not an issue because the lake rules are no catch and release on trout. I’m just wondering if anyone catches stocked trout by soaking but gets lip hook-sets or is gut hook typically the most common when soaking (which has been my experience)?

    • Baitsoaker says:

      Hi Louie! Try using a strike indicator on your fishing line. I find that half of the takes are from trout who grab the mice tails and then swim toward me. Your rod won’t bend and you will never know that a fish has taken the lure if you are not using a strike indicator. When using a strike indicator the fishing line will grow slack and the indicator will weight the line down, dropping it to the ground. That’s how you know that a trout grabbed the lure and is swimming towards you. I suspect that the trout you’re gut hooking may be the ones swimming toward you and have the time enough to swallow it. Once swallowed, they turn around and swim away, making the rod bend.

      Another way to minimize gut hooking is to use a hook that’s closer to a circle hook, as opposed to a J-hook or O’Shaunnesy hook. The Owner Mosquito hooks and Eagle short shank round bend hooks work really well for me.

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