How to Use Minnows As Bait

How to Use Minnows As Bait
Various species of minnows exist in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams in the wild. Minnows will attract the attention of multiple game fish species such as pike, bass, crappie, perch and pickerel. Varieties such as the fathead minnow, hornyhead chub and common shiner are available at bait shops for your angling needs. To effectively target fish with minnows, rig them in specific manners.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Suspend a minnow beneath a fishing float in the springtime to catch crappies. Crappies, also called calico bass, will try to eat a minnow any time of the year but are particularly susceptible in the spring as they seek energy for their spawning activities. Rig your line with a bobber and tie an Aberdeen hook about 2 feet under the float. This type of hook has a long shank to make it easier to remove from the crappie's mouth and is thin enough so it will not prevent the minnow from swimming for a long time. Hook the minnow behind the dorsal fin and cast this presentation out.
Step 2
Hook a minnow through the bottom lip and out the top lip of a fishing jighead. Lower this presentation down into the water over weed beds for fish like bass. Minnows hooked through the lips will still swim naturally and attract the attention of predators.
Step 3
Rig a minnow on a tip-up to catch species such as pike and pickerel. Many types of fish will grab a minnow through the ice but these members of the pike family are especially susceptible to this tactic. Hook the minnow through the back in the rear of its dorsal fin and place the tip-up over the hole you drill in the ice. You have the option of keeping the minnow just above the bottom of the lake or river cove or just under the ice.
Step 4
Present a minnow hooked through its tail in running water such as rivers and streams. Place the minnow about 2 feet behind a pair of split shots and cast it downstream. This is an effective presentation when wading in the water, with fish such as smallmouth bass and perch often offering at a minnow fished with this method.
Step 5
Chop up a dead minnow into pieces and use the chunks on a jighead to catch panfish through the ice with a jigging rod. Just use enough of the minnow to cover the tip of the hook and lower it down. Raise your line up about 3 feet and then allow it to flutter down toward the bottom. In most cases, fish like crappie, perch and bluegill will strike this rig on its downward motion.

Tips & Warnings

Keep your minnows cool in the summer in your bait bucket. Add small amounts of ice from your cooler to the bucket on hot days and keep the bucket in the shade.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.