10 Weird But Effective Fishing Baits

   01.06.16

What are some odd, but strangely effective fish bait that you use? For the creative angler, the sky’s the limit, and these 10 unorthodox baits have a reputation for effectiveness. Some of these you may have heard of, and others you may already include in your repertoire of tricks. Of course, most of these baits are rarely used because there are always better options, but if you find yourself striking out with what you’re using now, why not give these a glance?

Just make sure to avoid using messier baits that are dangerous to fish or pollute the waters. Also, be aware of your local fishing laws. Some of these baits are so popular that they’ve been outlawed.

We’re looking specifically at you, cat food.

1. Chicken strips, nuggets, and livers

Image from FotoosVanRobin on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from FotoosVanRobin on the Wikimedia Commons.

Didn’t think fish are fans of fried food? We didn’t think so either, but apparently many anglers have had success using fried chicken—both of the strip and nugget variety—as bait. This bait appears to work best on catfish, which already eat just about everything, and strangely enough, sea trout.

If you want a smellier, slimier bait you can’t readily buy from a fast food joint, then chicken livers have also been known to work too. The pungent aroma of these baited organs seem to be highly effective at drawing in bass, but you might not want the smell to linger on your fingers.

2. Marshmallows

Image from John Morgan on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from John Morgan on the Wikimedia Commons.

Light, cheap, and easy to use, marshmallows are a favorite among many anglers targeting sunfish or trout. Use mini marshmallows for smaller fish.

3. Cat food

Image from NekoJaNekoJa on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from NekoJaNekoJa on the Wikimedia Commons.

Seeing how pricey cat food is these days, this may not be the most cost-effective way of fishing, but some anglers swear by using canned cat or dog foot to catch bluegill, catfish, and carp. One method is to add bran to the semi-moist pet food and roll them up into little balls, or you could just wipe some on a cheese-cloth and set it on your hook.

4. Hot dogs

Image from Jersyko on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Jersyko on the Wikimedia Commons.

Cut-up hot dogs may not seem like the most appetizing fare to us, but to snappers, bluegill, and catfish, apparently they’re quite the treat. Like most of the entries on this list, there are far better bait options than putting a hot dog on the end of your line, but if you have some left over from yesterday’s barbecue, this is a good way to dispose of them.

5. Ivory soap

Image from Ed Schipul on the Flickr Creative Commons.
Image from Ed Schipul on the Flickr Creative Commons.

Soap? But that’s not even food! As it turns out ivory soap is an old fisherman’s trick to catch catfish, especially channel cats. Use a warm butterknife to cut up a bar into half-inch cubes and then use them during winter for maximum effectiveness.

There’s a reason that most of the baits on this list are meant for catfish, and that is because they’ll eat anything—whether it’s edible or not. We would of course recommend against these kinds of baits if you’re practicing catch-and-release. Soap is not exactly part of a fish’s healthy diet.

6. Cereal

Image from Seanutbutter on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Seanutbutter on the Wikimedia Commons.

Another cheap and easy to use option, the only bad part about using cereal—such as Frosted Mini-Wheats—is that they can’t exactly stay in the water for long before getting soggy and disintegrating. On the bright side, you’ll probably already have a carp hooked before your bait melts away.

7. Fish eyeballs

Image courtesy the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Image courtesy the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

You might roll your eyes at this, but anglers who use eyeballs on their hooks say the bait works wonders. A classic ice fishing trick is to pop out fish eyes from your dead bait fish and store it in a jar with salt. Not only will you catch a wide variety of bass, perch, and trout, but you’ll get to creep out whoever discovers your jar of eyes, too!

Just try not to take out this horrid-smelling jar in front of your kids, or it might give them nightmares for the rest of their childhood.

8. Candy

Image from Bdevel on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Bdevel on the Wikimedia Commons.

Who knew fish had a sweet tooth? Put a Tootsie Roll or orange slice on your hook and use it on bass. Alternatively, eat large bags of candy on your fishing trips, come back feeling sick, and then revert back to using standard bait after coming down from your sugar high.

9. Spoiled shrimp

Image from Ursula Le Guin on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Ursula Le Guin on the Wikimedia Commons.

Ugh, what’s that smell? Oh right, it’s the container of spoiled shrimp you’re carrying around for catfish bait. Shrimp, either past its prime or still fresh, is a very effective bait for many kinds of fish. Just don’t expect your fishing buddies to invite you back anytime soon.

10. Bacon

Image from Jonathunder on the Wikimedia Commons.
Image from Jonathunder on the Wikimedia Commons.

Really, bacon? Yes, really, bacon. Many anglers would consider bacon too precious to use as bait, but this tasty breakfast staple does have a good track record with freshwater panfish. The key is to select pieces with mostly fat and only a small portion of lean meat, leave them uncooked, and fold it over twice on your hook. According to some, the hickory smoked kind works best.

At this rate, the fish will eat better than we do.

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