Bait for Saltwater Fishing

Bait for Saltwater Fishing
There is nothing like sitting in the cockpit watching a skipping ballyhoo get smashed by the bill of a sailfish, although the tug on a pole by a 1 lb. white perch is just as exciting to many. Writing about every bait used for saltwater fish would take up a whole book, but here are some of the most popular.


Difficulty: Moderate

Rigging for Blues and Striped Bass

Things You’ll Need:
  • Eels Grass shrimp Crab Ballyhoo
  • Eels
  • Grass shrimp
  • Crab
  • Ballyhoo
Step 1
Use an eel for catching bluefish and striped bass in near-shore bays. Hook the eel from under its chin with a #2 hook.
Step 2
Tie the hook onto a short section of 50 lb. test leader for stripers, or for bluefish use a section of 50 lb. test wire to prevent bite-offs since blues have very sharp teeth.
Step 3
Slide a barrel sinker on the fishing line with size depending on current speed and depth of water. Crimp a split shot below the barrel sinker to prevent it from sliding down to the leader. This way, when a fish picks up the bait and runs, he won't feel the weight of the sinker.

Rigging Bait for White Perch and Spot

Step 1
Start fishing in early spring for white perch along the East Coast, followed by spot. They both can be found in shallow areas in bays and sloughs.
Step 2
Set up a double hook outfit sometimes referred to as a bottom rig. There will be two dropper loops coming off a main line with #4 hooks hanging off each of them and a snap swivel below the hooks for a bottom weight of choice.
Step 3
Grab the grass shrimp in your left hand and thread the hook from just behind the throat all the way around, keeping the shrimp turned like the hook. Keep the hook embedded in the shrimp.

Setting Up for Bonefish and Permit

Step 1
Fish for permit and bonefish in a jumping-type action on the bottom. Small crabs are their main food source.
Step 2
Tie a hook in the #1 or #2 size range directly on your line. Pick up a crab about as big as a quarter or fifty cent piece and hook him just inside his shell from the back (crabs swim backwards in nature).
Step 3
You will be fishing in calm backwater conditions for these fish, and they spook easily, so do not use any additional weight. When you spot the fish, toss the bait very gently in front of him and let the fish swim to the bait.

Offshore Fishing Baits

Step 1
Slide a small skirt on your leader, then tie on an appropriate size hook for the bait you will be using; a 7/0 is about right for medium ballyhoo. Wrap an 8-inch piece of copper rigging wire onto the eye of the hook and let it swing free.
Step 2
Thaw ballyhoo, since they come frozen in packs of six or 12. Soaking overnight in a brine of saltwater makes them tough so they stay on the hook longer.
Step 3
Grab the bally by the head and gently squeeze back the length of the fish to move his insides out of his vent area. Break off the beak about half as long as normal.
Step 4
Come up from under the bait with the hook entering the gills. Insert the whole hook, kind of bending the bally and bringing the hook point out just in front of the vent. This should put the shank of the hook lying under the gills with the eye in line with the beak right in front of the mouth. Wrap the rigging copper around the beak, going all the way to the front.
Step 5
Slide the skirt down over the beak so the skirt hangs half-way down the length of the bait. This bait is to be trolled skipping on the surface for pelagic fish such as marlin and sailfish.

Tips & Warnings

Pick eels up with rag, because of their slippery skin. Keep hooks sharp between strikes with a bastard file.
Pick eels up with rag, because of their slippery skin.
Keep hooks sharp between strikes with a bastard file.
Break off crab pinchers so they will be safer to handle.

Article Written By Dennis Seabright

Denny Seabright has been writing for since Nov. of 2008 with most articles being in the "How to" category. Graduating from James Wood High school in 1976 and going straight into the work force left little room for formal education but writing has always been dear to his heart.

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