Fishing bait

Fishing bait is any substance used to attract and catch fish, e.g. on the end of a fishing hook, or inside a fish trap. Traditionally, nightcrawlers, insects, and smaller bait fish have been used for this purpose. Fishermen have also begun using plastic bait and more recently, electronic lures, to attract fish.

Studies show that natural baits like croaker and shrimp are more recognized by the fish and are more readily accepted.[1] Which of the various techniques a fisher may choose is dictated mainly by the target species and by its habitat. Bait can be separated into two main categories: artificial baits and natural baits.

Artificial baits

Green Highlander salmon fly
Green Highlander, an artificial fly used for salmon fishing.

Using lures is a popular method for catching predatory fish. Lures are artificial baits designed to resemble the appearance and movement of prey, usually small fish. The lure may require a specialised presentation to impart an enticing action as, for example, in fly fishing. A common way to fish a soft plastic worm is the Texas rig.

Natural baits

Eristalis tenax larva close
The rat-tailed maggot is a popular fish bait.
Achroia grisella caterpillars kleine wasmot rupsen (1)
Lesser wax moth caterpillars are used as bait for trout fishing.
Corn borer
Corn borer caterpillars are also excellent bait when trout fishing.

The natural bait angler, with few exceptions, will use a common prey species of the fish as an attractant. The natural bait used may be alive or dead. Common natural baits include worms, leeches (notably bait-leech Nephelopsis obscura), minnows, frogs, salamanders, and insects. Natural baits are effective due to the lifelike texture, odour and colour of the bait presented. Cheese has been known to be a very successful bait due to its strong smell and light colours.


The common earthworm is a universal bait for fresh water angling. Grubs and maggots are also excellent bait when trout fishing. Grasshoppers, bees and even ants are also used as bait for trout in their season, although many anglers believe that trout or salmon and many other fresh water fish roe is superior to any other bait. In lakes in southern climates such as Florida, United States, fish such as bream will take bread bait. Bread bait is a small amount of bread, often moistened by saliva, balled up to a small size that is bite size to a small fish.

Most common earthworm species, such as Lumbricus terrestris, which can often be dug up in the garden, are eminently suitable for freshwater fishing. However, on a commercial scale they are not really candidates for worm farming for providing fishing bait. The greyish brown common earthworms are deep burrowing (anecic) and do not readily breed in the shallow worm farm bins. The red compost worms, such as the well known red wiggler or the European nightcrawler, are better candidates, as they are epigeic, or surface dwellers. This is the reason that red worms are more usually available commercially for bait worms. Their natural home is just below the surface in rotting leaves, dung heaps and other plant litter. They are called detritivourous because they eat detritus (waste material).

The larger species, the European nightcrawler is much sought after for fishing bait as it tolerates near freezing water and is one of the few earthworms suitable for salt-water fishing. These worms can grow up to 7 inches (18 cm) in length, but usually are between 3 and 4 inches (7–10 cm) long. Worm farmers also offer other worm species for bait, depending on availability, which usually depends on the prevalent climatic conditions.[2]

Spreading disease

The capture, transportation and culture of bait fish can spread damaging organisms between ecosystems, endangering them. In 2007, several American states enacted regulations designed to slow the spread of fish diseases, including viral hemorrhagic septicemia, by bait fish.[3] Because of the risk of transmitting Myxobolus cerebralis (whirling disease), trout and salmon should not be used as bait.

Anglers may increase the possibility of contamination by emptying bait buckets into fishing venues and collecting or using bait improperly. The transportation of fish from one location to another can break the law and cause the introduction of fish alien to the ecosystem.


Misgurnus fossilis 2009 G1

A bait fish (weather loach)

Procambarus clarkii top

Crayfish are commonly sold and used as bait, either live or with only the tail meat, and are good at attracting channel catfish, largemouth bass, pike and muskellunge.

See also


  1. ^ Gunnar Miesen; Steve Hague; Steve Hauge (2004). Live Bait Fishing: Including Doughbait & Scent. Creative Publishing. ISBN 1-58923-146-5.
  2. ^ Working-Worms: About the Worms
  3. ^ DNR Fishing Regulation Changes Reflect Disease Management Concerns with VHS

External links

Bank fishing

Bank fishing is fishing from places where the land meets the water's edge. Fishing from rocks is usually called rock fishing. Like rock fishing, bank fishing is typically done by casting fishing bait or lures into the water in an attempt to catch fish. Bank fishing is usually performed with a rod and reel but nets, traps, and spears, and fishing lines used without rods can also be used. People who fish from a boat can sometimes access more areas in prime locations with greater ease than bank fishermen. However, many people who don’t use boats find fishing from a bank has its own advantages. Many factors contribute to success in bank fishing, such as local knowledge, water depth, bank structure, location, time of day, and the types of bait and lures.


The Chilean moth (Chilecomadia moorei) is a moth of the family Cossidae. The butterworm is the larval form and is commonly used as fishing bait in South America.Butterworms, like mealworms, are used as food for insectivore pets, such as geckos and other reptiles, as their scent and bright color help attract the more stubborn eaters. They are also called tebo worms or trevo worms, and are high in fat and calcium. They are difficult to breed in captivity, and most are imported directly from Chile. They are usually irradiated to kill bacteria and prevent pupation as the moth is an invasive species.


The Cossidae, the cossid millers or carpenter millers, make up a family of mostly large miller moths. This family contains over 110 genera with almost 700 known species, and many more species await description. Carpenter millers are nocturnal Lepidoptera found worldwide, except the Southeast Asian subfamily Ratardinae, which is mostly active during the day.

This family includes many species with large caterpillars and moths with a wingspan from 9–24 cm (3 1⁄2–9 1⁄2 in). These moths are mostly grey; some have long, narrow wings and resemble hawkmoths (Sphingidae) which are more advanced macrolepidoptera, however. Many are twig, bark, or leaf mimics, and Cossidae often have some sort of large marking at the tip of the forewing uppersides, conspicuous in flight, but resembling a broken-off twig when the animals are resting.

Caterpillars are smooth with a few hairs. Most cossid caterpillars are tree borers, in some species taking up to three years to mature. The caterpillars pupate within their tunnels; they often have an unpleasant smell, hence another colloquial name is goat moths.

The family includes the carpenterworm (Prionoxystus robiniae) and the goat moth (Cossus cossus) which have gained notoriety as pests. However, the large caterpillars of species that do not smell badly are often edible. Witchetty grubs – among the Outback's most famous bush tucker – are most commonly the caterpillars of Endoxyla leucomochla, one of the more than 80 cossid species in Australia. In Chile, the sweet-smelling caterpillars of the Chilean moth (Chilecomadia moorei) are harvested in quantity and internationally traded as butterworms, for use as pet food and fishing bait.


The Cossinae are the nominate subfamily of the Cossidae (carpenter or goat moths). The caterpillars of several Cossinae species, such as the carpenterworm (Prionoxystus robiniae) and the goat moth (Cossus cossus), are significant pests. On the other hand, in Chile the caterpillars of the Chilean moth (Chilecomadia moorei) are collected on a commercial scale for sale as fishing bait and terrarium pet food; they are usually called "butterworms" in international trade.

The Cossulinae have been separated from the Cossinae in recent decades, but this was not universally accepted at first. Some misplaced genera have been moved between the subfamilies, and as it seems the Cossulinae at least now represent a monophyletic group.

Finny snake eel

The finny snake eel (Caecula pterygera) is an eel in the family Ophichthidae (worm/snake eels). It was described by Martin Vahl in 1794. It is a marine, tropical eel which is known from the Indian Ocean, including southern India. It is known to inhabit inshore areas of turbid waters and estuaries, though not specifically for breeding purposes. Males can reach a maximum total length of 30 centimetres, but more commonly reach a TL of 20 cm.The finny snake eel is marketed fresh, and used primarily for fishing bait.

Fishing lure

A fishing lure is a type of artificial fishing bait which is designed to attract a fish's attention. The lure uses movement, vibration, flash and color to bait fish. Many lures are equipped with one or more hooks that are used to catch fish when they strike the lure. Some lures are placed to attract fish so a spear can be impaled into the fish or so the fish can be captured by hand. Most lures are attached to the end of a fishing line and have various styles of hooks attached to the body and are designed to elicit a strike resulting in a hookset. Many lures are commercially made but some are hand made such as fishing flies. Hand tying fly lures to match the hatch is considered a challenge by many amateur entomologists.

Modern commercial lures usually are often used with a fishing rod and fishing reel but there are some who use a technique where they hold the line in their hands. Handlining is a technique in which the line is held directly in the hands versus being fed through the guides of a fishing rod. Longlining also can employ lures to catch fish. When a lure is used for casting, it is continually cast out and retrieved, the retrieve making the lure swim or produce a popping action. A skilled angler can explore many possible hiding places for fish through lure casting such as under logs and on flats.

Fishing tackle

Fishing tackle is the equipment used by anglers when fishing. Almost any equipment or gear used for fishing can be called fishing tackle. Some examples are hooks, lines, sinkers, floats, rods, reels, baits, lures, spears, nets, gaffs, traps, waders and tackle boxes.

Gear that is attached to the end of a fishing line is called terminal tackle. This includes hooks, leaders, swivels, sinkers, floats, split rings and wire, snaps, beads, spoons, blades, spinners and clevises to attach spinner blades to fishing lures. Sometimes the term fishing rig is used for a completed assembly of tackle ready for fishing.

Fishing tackle can be contrasted with fishing techniques. Fishing tackle refers to the physical equipment that is used when fishing, whereas fishing techniques refers to the manner in which the tackle is used when fishing.

The term tackle, with the meaning "apparatus for fishing", has been in use from 1398 AD. Fishing tackle is also called fishing gear. However the term fishing gear is more usually used in the context of commercial fishing, whereas fishing tackle is more often used in the context of recreational fishing. This article covers equipment used by recreational anglers.


The Galleriinae are a subfamily of snout moths (family Pyralidae) and occur essentially worldwide, in some cases aided by involuntary introduction by humans. This subfamily includes the wax moths, whose caterpillars (waxworms) are bred on a commercial scale as food for pets and as fishing bait; in the wild, these and other species of Galleriinae may also be harmful to humans as pests.

At the species level, they are the least diverse snout moth subfamily according to current knowledge, with about 300 described species altogether. However, as regards major lineages, the Galleriinae are quite diverse, with five tribes being recognized – more than in the Phycitinae, the most species-rich snout moth subfamily. One of these tribes, the Joelminetiini, has been described only in 2007, and presently contains a single and highly aberrant genus.


Groundbait is fishing bait that is either cast or 'balled' into the water in order to attract fish to the fishing area. It is often used in coarse fishing. Ground-bait can be made by the angler or pre-bought by ground-bait manufactures. There are lot's of different types of ground-bait which can be used to target specific species of fish. Ground-bait can differ by the sizes of the crumbs, type of seed, colour and smell. The angler can also mix additives to the ground-bait to alter its firmness in order to control the release or breakdown of the bait once in the water.

Handline fishing

Handline fishing, or handlining, is a fishing technique where a single fishing line is held in the hands. It is not to be confused with handfishing. One or more fishing lures or baited hooks are attached to the line. A hook, fishing lure, or a fishing jig and many times a weight and/or a fishing float can be attached to the line. Handlining is among the oldest forms of fishing and is commonly practiced throughout the world today.

The fishing bait can be still fished, trolled or jigged up and down in a series of short movements. Often handling is done close to the bottom of the body of water but can also be done near or on the surface.

Horseshoe crab

Horseshoe crabs are marine and brackish water arthropods of the family Limulidae, suborder Xiphosurida, and order Xiphosura. Their popular name is actually a misnomer, for they are not true crabs.

Horseshoe crabs live primarily in and around shallow coastal waters on soft sandy or muddy bottoms. They tend to spawn in the intertidal zone at spring high tides. They are commonly eaten in Asia, and used as fishing bait, in fertilizer and in science (especially Limulus amebocyte lysate). In recent years, population declines have occurred as a consequence of coastal habitat destruction and overharvesting. Tetrodotoxin may be present in Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda.Because of their origin 450 million years ago, horseshoe crabs are considered living fossils. A 2019 molecular analysis places them as the sister group of Ricinulei within Arachnida.


The Leuciscinae, commonly known as true minnows, are a large subfamily of the freshwater fish family Cyprinidae.Smaller fish in the Leuciscinae are known as minnows. However, the term minnow is also used as an unspecific term for tiny freshwater and saltwater fish, especially those used as fishing bait.


The lugworm or sandworm (Arenicola marina) is a large marine worm of the phylum Annelida. Its coiled castings are a familiar sight on a beach at low tide but the animal itself is rarely seen except by those who, from curiosity or to use as fishing bait, dig the worm out of the sand.

In the UK the lugworm species Arenicola marina is commonly called blow lugworm, and rarely exceeds 130mm (roughly 5 inches). There is a second species of UK lugworm Arenicola defodiens commonly called black lugworm. As well as growing larger than blow lugworm (in line with descriptions for Europe and North America lugworm below) they are generally much darker, often totally black.

When fully grown, the lugworm of the coasts of Europe is up to 9 in (23 cm) long and 0.375 in (1 cm) in diameter. Other species on the North American coast range from 3 to 12 in (7.6 to 30.5 cm). The body is like that of any typical annelid: ringed or segmented. Its head end, which is blackish-red and bears no tentacles or bristles, passes into a fatter middle part which is red. This in turn passes into a thinner yellowish-red tail end. The middle part has bristles along its sides and also pairs of feathery gills. There is a well-developed system of blood vessels with red blood rich in the oxygen-carrying pigment, haemoglobin.

New Zealand blueback sprat

The New Zealand blueback sprat (Sprattus antipodum) is a herring-like, forage fish of the family Clupeidae found in the waters around New Zealand, between latitudes 37° S and 48° S, and longitude 166° E and 180° E, to depths of up to 50 m. It belongs to a genus Sprattus of small oily fish, usually known by their common name, sprats. Its length is up to 12 cm.

The species schools in coastal waters primarily on the bottom or midwater, with shoals of fish seen on the surface usually only in summer. It is fished mainly in subsistence fisheries and occasionally used as fishing bait.

Noke (worms)

Noke is a culinary term used by the Māori of New Zealand to refer to earthworms, some types of native worms (called noke whiti and noke kurekure in Māori) are historically local delicacies reserved for chiefs because of their sweet flavour which was said to "remain in the mouth for two days". Another notable kind of worm, the noke waiū (possibly Otochaetus multiporus) was prized as eel fishing bait due to its large size and bioluminescence. Noke has more recently become a popular trend at certain New Zealand wild food festivals, where it is often served in modern fusion dishes such as worm sushi and chocolate truffles with crystallized worm.

According to Māori mythology, the trickster Māui once transformed himself into a noke worm in order to crawl into the womb of the underworld goddess Hine-nui-te-pō and gain everlasting life. Due to its having characteristics of both males and females, it was considered divine.

Silver-stripe round herring

The silver-stripe round herring, slender sprat, or Kibinago minnow (Spratelloides gracilis) is a small, herring-like forage fish. They are small fish used as fishing bait, especially in skipjack tuna-fishing. It is valued as food in Japan, where it is known as kibinago. These can be eaten raw, as sashimi, or cooked, as whitebait.


Spratelloides is a genus of fish in the family Clupeidae. They are small fish used as fishing bait, especially in skipjack tuna-fishing. Some species are also valued as food in certain countries, like Spratelloides gracilis, known as kibinago in Japan.


Trout is the common name for a number of species of freshwater fish belonging to the genera Oncorhynchus, Salmo and Salvelinus, all of the subfamily Salmoninae of the family Salmonidae. The word trout is also used as part of the name of some non-salmonid fish such as Cynoscion nebulosus, the spotted seatrout or speckled trout.

Trout are closely related to salmon and char (or charr): species termed salmon and char occur in the same genera as do fish called trout (Oncorhynchus – Pacific salmon and trout, Salmo – Atlantic salmon and various trout, Salvelinus – char and trout).

Lake trout and most other trout live in freshwater lakes and rivers exclusively, while there are others, such as the steelhead, which can spend two or three years at sea before returning to fresh water to spawn (a habit more typical of salmon). Steelhead that live out their lives in fresh water are called rainbow trout. Arctic char and brook trout are part of the char family. Trout are an important food source for humans and wildlife, including brown bears, birds of prey such as eagles, and other animals. They are classified as oily fish.

Vitex megapotamica

Vitex megapotamica is a hardwood fruit tree found in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. In Brazil it is commonly called tarumã.

The tarumã grows to be up to ten metres tall. Its bark is coloured dark grey; its compound leaves have a long petiole and five elliptic leaflets. The small, abundant flowers developed into fleshy stone fruit. The fruits are eaten by a number of species, and serve also as fishing bait.Tarumã grows from the Southeast Region of Brazil to the South Region, and on through Uruguay and Paraguay to Argentina.In Brazil, its common names include azeitona do mato (forest olive), azeitona brava, cinco folhas (five leaves), copiúba, sombra de touro (bull's shadow), and tarumã romã (tarumã pomegranate).

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