What type of Live bait should you use for saltwater fishing?

Fishing bait is any type of critter, lure or animal that is used to attract and catch fish. The bait is placed on the end of a fishing hook. In most cases, a fish will think that this bait is alive and is food. Because the bait looks like food for the fish, they will bite the hook.

There are many different kinds of bait. For example, worms such as night crawlers, insects such as crickets, crawdads, and other smaller bait fish are often used in freshwater rivers and lakes. Today we will be discussing bait for saltwater fishing. Saltwater fishing requires an entirely different type of bait. In addition, we will also discuss common types of fishing lures that are used to catch saltwater fish.

Below we have covered the best types of fishing bait to catch saltwater fish.

Studies show that natural baits like squid, shrimp, and cigar minnows are better bait and more effective than lures. Although natural bait is easier to catch fish, sometimes it does not make sense to use artificial bait. A fisherman should consider the type of fishing they will be engaging in before deciding on the type of bait they will need to use. For the purposes of this article, we have split fishing baits into two types.

We will be discussing live bait for saltwater fishing, but it is important to note that there are also plastic fishing lures and metal spoons for saltwater fishing as well. Although plastic lures and metal spoons can be effective for fishing, these are usually used for trolling in the open water.

Fishing with natural live bait is the best way to catch saltwater game fish. Baitfish such as minnows, shrimp, sand fleas, and squid are all the most common baits to use, but this still depends on the fish species that you are trying to catch. When you use the right saltwater bait that is perfect for the fish species you want to target, you greatly improve your chances of success.

Here are the common types of lie bait:

Bait Fish

Saltwater baitfish such as mullet, eels, herring, sardines, ballyhoo and pilchards all work well to catch saltwater game fish. There are a few different ways to rig live baitfish for saltwater fishing. One of the most reliable ways to hook a minnow is to pass the hook through the lips, nose, eye sockets for trolling or through the base of the tail for free lining. Baitfish also work well as cut bait..

Strips and small sections of baitfish are also good for caching game fish such as snapper, grouper, and tuna. Additionally, many fishermen also add pieces of cut bait to artificial lures for an extra level of scent attraction. This type of bait is not only great for bottom fishing and surf fishing, but is also great for deep sea fishing as well.

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Shrimp and Crab

Many saltwater game fish species, such as sheep head and drum, feed almost exclusively on shrimp and crab. Blue crabs, various species of shrimp, sand fleas, lobster and other crustaceans make excellent bait for any type of saltwater fishing. Hook the live crabs through the point in the side of the shell that will keep them alive. Shrimp are often easy to rig live with a hook through the tail, but they come off the hook easily.

Anglers can also fish shrimp and crab when dead, whole or in pieces. In my personal experience, shrimp are the best fishing bait for saltwater fishing. Shrimp are great because they are cheap, abundant, and almost every type of fish will eat them. Another benefit of fishing with shrimp is the possibility of catching shark.

Small sharks love to eat shrimp. Catching a small shark while surf fishing is a blast and offers a fun fight. Another type of fish that often eats shrimp is pompano. Pompano are great fish to catch while surf fishing because they put up a good fight and are great for eating.

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Saltwater Sea Worms

Sea worms can also be used as bait for many different types of game fish species, including striped bass, Pollock, flounder, fluke, halibut and mackerel. Sea worms are harder to find in local bait shops because they are not as abundant and are not farm raised like many types of shrimp and minnow baitfish.

Saltwater Shellfish

Shellfish, such as clams, mussels and conchs also make good natural bait. First remove the meat from shellfish with heavy shells for better bait fishing. Also, for the lighter-shelled species, all you need to do is crush the shell. Then you can chop larger shellfish into smaller bite-sized chunks that saltwater game fish can handle. The next step is to put the meat onto the hook and you are ready to fish.

Squid and Octopus

Squid and octopus are one of the best baits for saltwater surf fishing. Many saltwater species such as sea bass, amberjack, dolphin, bluefish, and shark enjoy this bait. You can easily cut strips of squid or chunks of octopus to put on the hook. It is best to use smaller pieces, so the bait does not get taken. These even works well for trolling, surf fishing, bottom fishing and float fishing.


In conclusion, we suggest using live bait when fishing in the ocean or bay. Whether you are surf fishing, bottom fishing, trolling or deep-sea fishing, and live baitfish are the best bet for catching the fish that you want. Saltwater fish are not easily fooled by lures and are more attracted to live bait. The best baits to use for saltwater fishing are shrimp, squid, sand fleas, crab, and bait fish such as cigar minnows and mullet.

About the Author

I'm Rodney Heaton and I love hunting in the wild. In the past, I was in the military for over 5 years. After that I became a licensed hunter and a mountain guide.