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5 Different Ways To Catch Your Live Bait


Author: Bullbuster Team

Best Ways To Catch Live Bait

In this article we cover 5 different ways to catch live bait.  Each method has its pro's and con's as well as varying levels of effectiveness depending on what bait fish you are targeting.  



1) Use A Sabiki Rig 


A sabiki rig is a Japanese rig with small fish skins on multiple hooks in a line. Underwater, the rig looks like a school of tiny baitfish as it is jigged in the water.  Rigs like this are used throughout the world as an effective method to catch baitfish. 

Rigging A Pre Made Sabiki Rig


There is a proper way to rig your sabiki rig to avoid tangles. 

Before Your Open Your Sabiki Rig Follow These Steps

1) Tie your mono or braided line directly to the swivel.

2) Attach weight to snap swivel. 

3)  While holding your rod, pull the weight and the sabiki rig will come out of the packaging and untangle itself. 




Top Brands Of Sabiki Rigs Include: 

1) Hyabusa Sabiki Rigs

2) R&R Tackle Sabiki Rigs

3) Offshore Angler Sabiki Rigs

You Can Make Your Own Sabiki Rig

In the video below posted on Youtube by Luke Simon from the brand "Salt Strong" you can see how to make your own sabiki rig. This is great for larger species of bait that you will be targeting, however for the more finicky species such as cigar minnows and threadfin herring, it is probably better to go with a small store bought sabiki. 




Biggest Pro For Using A Sabiki Rig

One of the greatest advantage of using a sabiki rig is that your bait will be in excellent condition with very little. 

Biggest Con Of Using A Sabiki Rig

Catching baits via sabiki rigs can be very time consuming. 

Sabiki rigs are effective for most baitfish including:

Using Small Sabiki Rigs:

- Herring/Sardines (All species)

- Cigar Minnows

- Pilchards

- Croakers

Using Medium Sabiki Rigs:

- Pinfish

- Speedos

- Blue Runners

- Tinker Mackerel

- Speedos

Using Large Sabiki Rigs:

- Blue Runners

- Goggle Eye

- Tinker Mackerel 

- Speedos

- Small Bonita

- & More. 

(Learn How To Make Your Own Rod For Sabiki Fishing)

How To Remove A Fish From Your Sabiki Rig

When you have a string full of fish on your sabiki rig, you are going to want to swing the rig up and grab the weight.   This will keep your sabiki rig in a straight line.  At this point, either you or someone that is helping at the bait tank should use a dehooker right above the live well to drop the bait right into the water without any of its slime being removed on your hands.  This slime protects your bait against infection while it is in your live well and for later if you put it into a bait pen. 

The video below posted on Youtube by "Reel Reports" shows you how to remove bait from a sabiki rig using a dehooker. 


How To Work Your Sabiki Rig

Remember a sabiki rig is imitating a school of minnows. You want to work your sabiki rig in different ways depending on the type of bait you are targeting

1) Jerk Jerk Reel

The most basic motion for working a sabiki rig is the "jerk jerk reel".

The "jerk jerk reel" motion is like your school of minnows darting forward twice up towards the surface and then getting scared and heading back. This is a realistic motion for a school of small fish as they mimick eacother.

2) Keep It Completely Still & Blended In With The Chum

For certain species such as cigar minnows, less motion is better. If you have a baitfish that is coming right up to your chumbag and eating from it where it is thickest, then the best thing to do with your sabiki rig may be to keep it absoluteley still so that they eat it like the chunks that are floating out of the bag.

3) Drop It To The Depth Where The Bait You Are Targeting Is

Different baitfish swim at different depths relative to your chum. Above we have already talked about bait like cigar minnows coming right up to your chum bag and sticking around. Baits like ballyhoo (which WARNING will tangle your sabiki rig quickly) stay on the surface and away from your chum. Baits like pinfish stay towards the bottom, and baits like herring and sardines stay mid water column. It is best to drop your sabiki to where the bait you wan is. For fish like herrring and sardines, it is best to check with the captain on what he or she is marking on the depth sounder.

2) Use A Cast Net 



A cast net is one of the most effective methods of catching a lot of bait at once.  It takes some practice to get your act together with a cast net, but once you are throwing "pancakes" or full casts, this will be a deadly method for bait retrieval. 

Photo by Bullbsuter.net Magazine author Arvids Gerulis



Choosing The Right Cast Net

Choosing the right cast net depends on a lot of factors. Cast nets differ in diameter, mesh size, and weights.

Diameter- Larger cast nets obviosly have the advantage that they can cover more area for fast moving fish, however they can be hard to throw. Smaller nets are easier and faster to set up to throw and can be more accurate. 

Mesh Size -Your mesh size will determine the sinking rate of your cast net as well as what type of fish will stay in the net. 

Weight Size - The type of weights on your net combined with the mesh size determine how fast your net will sink onto baitfish. 

5 Steps To Throw A Cast Net

Throwing a cast net is an art form and takes some practice, especially for larger nets. Try practicing in your backyard or a large field to get your cast right. You don't want to throw a banana shaped cast in front of a school of prime baits.

Baits That Can Be Caught Using A Cast Net

- Pilchards

- Pinfish

- Ballyhoo

- Threadfin

- Shrimp

- Mullet

- & More

Top Brands Of Cast Nets Include

1) Betts Cast Nets

2) Super Pro Cast Nets

3) Moonlighter Cast Nets

Below is a video by Youtuber "Reel Reports" that shows you how to use a cast net to target mullet:


3) Use A Fish Trap 


A fish trap is a great way to catch bait that hangs out on near the bottom.  This includes fish like croakers and pinfish and shrimp. 

Best Baits For Your Fish Trap

  1. 1) Cat Food Can With Holes Punched In It
  2. 2) Squid
  3. 3) Carcasses Of Fish You Already Caught

Soak Times May Vary In The Areas That Your Are Fishing

Soak times may vary in the area that you are fishing and the type of trap that you are using. You may also want to check your local fishing regulations with regards to this before setting a fish trap out. 

Where & How To Set Up Your Baitfish Trap

The video below posted by “Aaron Osters” on youtube shows you how to set a pinfish trap.  (Be sure to check with the regulations in your area before setting out a pinfish trap.



Below is another video posted on Youtube by "SunnySpeedStudio"of a finer mesh trap that can be used to catch shrimp and crabs for bait. 


4) Trolling For Your Baits

If you want to catch bigger baits you may want to try a little trolling.  

Trolling For Big Baits Inshore

To baits like blue runners, troll a few rods with small bucktails a few hundred yards off the beach, you can load up on blue runners with this method.  

(Learn More About Fishing With Big Baits)

Trolling For Big Baits Offshore

You can also try trolling small skirts offshore near buoys , weed lines, and floatsum, to land large blue runners  and small bonita and tuna for baits. 

Storing Big Troll Caught Live Baits

If you are fishing for big baits, you may want to have a few tuna tubes on your boat. Pelagic fish like tunas and mackerels often need more water flow through their gills than your average live well is going to provide. 

5) Scale Down Your Hooks & Use Cut Bait






Sometimes you don't need a special rig.  Use a small hook and some bait like shrimp or squid to catch all the baitfish you need around channel and range markers. In this case it helps to set up in the right area and have a chum block ready so bait fishing doesn't become a day long ordeal. 

Rigging To Catch Live Baits With Cut Bait

    1) Small J Hook
    2) Light Leader
    3) Small Splitshot



Rigging To Catch Ballyhoo With Cut Baits

    1) Small gold longshark hook
    2) Bobber
    3) Light Leader



 For fish like ballyhoo, try using a longshank golden hook and even smaller pieces of shrimp or squid with a bobber to keep it in their range. 

Learn How To Catch Ballyhoo - The linked article gets into more specifics on how to catch ballyhoo.  

The image below shows you the area's of the reef where ballyhoo can be targeted. 

How To Catch Ballyhoo


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