Do You Need To Learn How To Rig Live Bait For Bass? Here is Your Guide

Kristian Ole



Bass fishing targets largemouth, smallmouth, or spotted bass. The use of live baits for bass is effective in aiding to catch the target bass. If you would like to get more involved in fishing action or be targeting big fish, in particular, scroll below to comprehend more on live baits for bass and how to rig them.

Bass species lack teeth; hence live baits for bass can feature almost any prey item that fits in the mouth of bass and be swallowed whole. Use of shiners or shad, minnows, hellgrammites, and madtoms are productive and popular methods to catch big bass. The baitfish are terrific baits for largemouth, smallmouth, spotted bass, trout, and catfish. Use of bobber when rigging is best for live baits.

Did you know bass has been proven to fall for live bait offerings? Old, intelligent, and big bass avoid artificial baits; hence, they will strike when a live bait looks and smells right. Below is a roundup of some of the best live baits you can use and tactics for presenting them during fishing.

Best Live Baits for Bass


how to rig minnows live bait for bass

In the aquatic world, big fish eat smaller fish. Minnows are the perfect bait for shoreline-oriented fish. Fish like stripers, white bass, bluegills, trout, walleyes, crappies, catfish, and bikes will prey on live minnows. Minnows can be easily bought from bait stores. Store the minnows in a bait bucket hung in the water or a plastic foam cooler. If you have a semi-pro boat, place them in a livewell.

Alternatively, you can capture a bunch of minnows via seining. Carry out seining in a small creek or a shallow area. Use a 4 by 8 foot fine-mesh seining fishing net with weights below. Sweep slowly through the bottom of the pool and lift the net in shallow water. Sort through the thrashing bits of silver and keep only the best size depending on the target fish.

Moreover, you can catch minnows using umbrella nets and cylindrical traps. When using these traps, minnows are baited with cat food, bread, or oatmeal.

How to hook minnows

Minnows are best hooked through both lips from the bottom up. Also, you can impale through the back. Hooking minnows in such a way that it depicts natural presentation and minimizes the chances of you damaging the bait while hooking. Use hook size 2-6 depending on the size of the baitfish. In case the minnow begins to slow down, replace it with a new one.

Minnows can be fished by floating them beneath a fishing bobber. The fishing tactic is effective in spring as fish such as bass, catfish, and crappies in the shallow waters.

Shiners or Shad

shiner live bait for bass

Shad are great baits for larger fish in open water. The baitfish tempts striped bass, big flathead, walleyes, largemouths, and blue catfish. Shad are easily caught with a cast fishing net. They can be found in coves and near points, dams, or rocks.

More so, you can go out at night in a location with abundance and hang a lantern over the boat gunnel. The light attracts shads; hence they school up near the boat giving an angler a simple time to cast the net and haul them. Keep the shiners in a large round container with aerated water and add a bit of rock salt plus ice to keep them active.

Jumbo shiners tempt big largemouth. To catch jumbo shiners, use umbrella nets and cylindrical traps. Bait the jumbo shiners by attaching a dough ball to a 10-12 hook.

How to rig shad and shiners

Drift fish with a barrel swivel and an egg sinker. Drift the shiners beneath a cork in 4-10 feet of water. Rig the shad on a 0-2 hook attached to an 18-36 inch leader onto your fishing line.

Related article: What do the largemouth bass eat?

Madtoms & Stonecats

They are small catfish that can tempt any good-sized gamefish. Madtoms are effective on smallmouth bass in rivers. The stonecats are much bigger and last longer than shiners and minnows. Madtoms are rarely found in bait shops; hence, anglers have to catch them.

To catch madtoms easily, throw on some fishing boots, get into the rocky rivers/ stream water and turn over the rocks. You can opt to scoop them up with small fishing nets or place a milk carton painted black inside next to the rock for easy luring. Keep the baitfish in a plastic foam cooler or a bait bucket.

How to hook madtoms

Madtoms are not attractive to small fish. They have a mild venom in the spines and on the top and sides; hence you need to take caution when hooking. Hook the baitfish through both lips on a size 1-2 hook.

No weight is needed when rigging. Cast up and across and allow the madtom to dive and drift. Tug the madtom free when it crawls under a rock. If no strike is felt, reel in and repeat. Fish madtoms in undercut banks near shore, deep pools, or in heads of deep runs.

Related article: Using sand fleas as bait


hellgrammites live bait for bass

They feature the larval forms of the Dobsonfly. Hellgrammites are found in rocky rivers and riffly streams. They measure 1-3 inches; thus, perfect for a variety of fish such as trout, catfish, smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass.

You can capture them by lifting rocks and scooping them up using a small dip net. The best way to achieve this is by having at least two people. One person overturns the rocks when the other one spreads a seine. Upon capturing, store them in a container with sticks, leaves, and a small amount of water.

How to hook hellgrammites

Using a size 2 to 6 fine wire hook, hook the point beneath the collar. Hold them with your fingers behind their collar because they have strong jaws that can dig deep into your skin. Add a single or two small split shots for weight. Use a bobber if the current is slow.


crayfish live bait for bass fishing

They are perfect baits for bass of all species. The crustacean has a great taste and scent. They harbor in rocky ponds and streams. To capture them, trap using a minnow trap with bread or meat.

Alternatively, you can use a dipnet. Lift debris in shallow waters until you spot the crustacean. Put the net behind it and place a stick in front of it so it can scurry back into the net.

How to hook crayfish

Pierce the baitfish through the tail using hook sizes 1-4. Drift the baitfish to cover docks, drop-offs, or rock piles. While casting the baitfish in deep water, adding a split shot for weight is imperative.

More bass fishing: How to catch Largemouth Bass everytime


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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