How to hook live bait to catch more fish

Did you know that the manner in which you pin live bait can influence how it behaves when you set it in the water? Properly hooking live bait is more important than you think because it can keep your bait secured on your hook and ensure that it stays alive longer. Check out the following hooking tips that can help boost your striking success.


Hooking a live bait crosswise through the nose is the most common way of pinning one and causes the least harm to the bait. Since this method doesn’t restrict the normal action of the fish that much, it is able to swim naturally on the retrieve which leads to a higher hookup percentage.

This kind of placement keeps the bait near the surface which minimizes the risk of drowning. Nostril hooking applies well if you’re trolling, light tackle angling for tuna, and drifting over wrecks for amberjack and grouper.


Pinning the live bait on its back/dorsal drives it in a frenzy and all that energy in the water is a good way to attract predatory fish. There is a tendency for the bait to swim downwards just like a lipped plug and it is ideal for trolling and drifting offshore. Be careful not to put the hook too deep to keep the fish alive longer.


It is also possible to hook live bait through the collar which gives it the freedom to swim naturally and move away from the boat. Since the hook is hidden from the opposite side, picky predators won’t be easily deterred and still go in for the strike.


Placing the hook into the bait’s stomach will help you bring it down into the water column near bottom structure. This method is applicable when you are in an anchored boat or stationary position.  


Placing the hook near the tail makes it easier to manipulate the bait into specific areas. It’s a good choice when fishing from a stationary position or anchored fishing vessel. This hook placement drives the fish to swim away from where you are and as you reel it back, it goes on a panic mode and swims aggressively down.

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If you want the live bait to swim its way down and away from the boat, the best approach is to hook it by the butt. Keep in mind though that pinning it this way requires careful reeling because it could tear off easily from the hook. This placement causes more injury on the fish so expect lifespan to be shorter compared with other techniques. The injury is likely to drive it to behave sporadically which easily attracts predatory species. This method is fitting on a stationary boat position or when anchored offshore.

Your choice of hook placement can boost your fishing success with live bait. By knowing how fish behaves depending on where you place the hook can lead to more strikes.

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