Fishing Bait Basics - Which
Bait Is For Which Fish?

Which bait do you use for which fish? That's a great question. This complete guide outlines which fishing bait you should use for each fish you are going after.

There are hundreds of different types of fishing bait you can use depending on what time of year or season you're fishing in, what environment you are in (streams, rivers, ponds or deep ocean) and many other variables. 

Let's take a look at your choices and which bait to use for each fish you might want to catch...

Imagine heading out for a few relaxing hours of fishing. 

With rod and reel and tackle box in hand, you descend a hill and come to the edge of a swiftly moving stream. The sun reflects off the crystal clear water as you set down your tackle box and rig your bait. You cast into a tranquil pool or eddy and your bobber floats on the water surface. 

Suddenly, it disappears. Your reflexes automatically set the hook. The fish has taken the bait.

Bait is something, either live or artificial that attracts fish. When the fish 'takes the bait', you set the hook and skilfully bring the fish to shore. 

Live Bait

There are many live types of bait that can be used to catch fish. 

These include earthworms, also known as dew worms and night crawlers, and insects including grasshoppers, flies, insect larvae and crickets. 

Other live baits are minnows, chub, shad, crayfish and frogs. 

Live bait can be purchased at fishing bait and tackle stores, at some variety stores in popular fishing areas, on a dewy lawn after dark (use a flashlight to find dew worms), compost piles, around piers and boat launches as well as around campsites.

Prepared Bait

Prepared bait is bait that has been previously prepared. These include kernel corn, bread balls, cheese balls, stink baits, salmon eggs, cereal balls, baked potato pieces, chicken entrails and hotdogs.

Artificial Bait 

Artificial bait is bait that is manmade. These include plastic worms and insects, flies, lures, small jigs, streamer flies, spoons, streamers and spinners. 

Fish and Bait

There are certain types of bait that work better for specific fish species. A few suggestions of bait to use for different fish species are:

Bluegill - maggots, grubs, worms, crickets, grasshoppers, small flies, ice spoons or jigs.

Bowfin - worms, minnows, crayfish, frogs, spinners, spoons and streamers.

Bullhead - leaf worms, night crawlers, insects, insect larvae, crayfish and stink bait.

Carp - dough balls, angle worms, peeled crayfish tails, corn, cheese balls and cereal or baked potato pieces.

Catfish - night crawlers and prepared baits such as bread balls, hotdogs and chicken entrails. 

Crappie - minnows, worms, insect larvae, insects, small flies, small jigs and small spinners. 

Gar - minnows, suckers and frogs.

Perch - minnows, worms, crayfish, insect larvae, insects, small flies, ice spoons and small jigs. 

Pickerel - minnows, chub, crayfish, worms, spinners, spoons and streamer flies.

Rock Bass - minnows, crayfish, insects, insect larvae and worms.

Striped Bass - shad, worms, shad, spinners and streamers.

Sunfish - maggots, grubs, leaf worms, insects, small flies, ice spoons and small jigs.

Trout - salmon eggs and lures.

There are several different types of minnows and some are better than others for specific fish species. 

A few specific fish that can be caught with
different types of minnows are:

Chub - northern pike and bass.

Golden Shiner - northern pike and bass.

Fathead Minnow - bass, crappie, panfish and walleye. 

Bluntnose Minnow - bass, crappie and walleye.

Bait is placed on the end of your fishing line. If you wish to change bait with ease, use a fishing knot to attach a swivel and/or leader, which you should carry in your tackle box. 

A hook or lure is attached to the swivel/leader with a pin-like clip. If you are using lures, you attach the lure, cast and work or troll it. 

If you are using live bait, you attach it to the hook. 

When hooking worms, you can either start the hook near the head and thread it about three quarters of the way through the center of the body and exit near the tail, or hook it twice, about a half inch from the head and again about a half inch from the tail. 

Hook maggots through the blunt end very lightly to ensure they remain lively. If using slugs, use a large hook, about a size 2, and nick it through the body. 

Prepared bait is also used on a hook. 

To bait a hook with cheese, bury the point of the hook inside the cheese. 

Sweet corn is slide through the end of the kernel. Bread can be mixed with a bit of water and made into balls. When using bread balls as bait, bury the point inside the ball. 

What Not to Use as Bait

Salmon and trout should never be used as bait, as these fish can promote the spread of whirling disease, which is a type of parasite. 

If you don't know which bait to use for specific fish, or how the bait should be attached to the hook, ask a family member or a friend who is an experienced angler to help you determine which is best to attract the fish species you are hoping to catch. 

The staff at the local bait and tackle shop will also be happy to suggest certain kinds of bait.

We hope this introduction to fishing bait has helped to to decide which is best for your particular needs...To read more about fishing, click here to return to the Fishing Home Page

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