The Best Live Bait for Bass: Alive and Kicking

Best Live Bait For Bass – Never underestimate using live bait for bass.

Although you won’t see any live crawfish on the tournament circuit, it’s not because they aren’t effective. Live bait is illegal in almost every tournament.

Live bait is a better option than any lure to catch largemouth bass.

It’s not hard to see how lures can look, feel, and move just like the real thing. A minnow or crawdad is a different animal.IsWhat a lure is! This, along with the relative price of artificial lures may cause you to reconsider your options.

Keep reading if you are interested in live bait!

Best Live Bait for Largemouth Bass

Anglers can easily understand the difference between slender-wire hooks and live bait. The hook’s diameter will determine how much damage your bait is likely to sustain. This means that your bait will be more resilient, and you’ll get more kicks.

Whatever live bait choice you make, choose slender wire hookeds.

Choose the best bass hooks


Pre-spawn bass are attracted to the warm waters of spring by an insatiable appetite. They’re searching for fat and protein to gain weight before their spawn-induced orexia sets them on a crash diet.

Your meal of choice


Bass swallow crawfish behind to avoid them both!

Crawfish emerge from winter shelter when the water reaches 50 degrees. Crawfish is a delicious, healthy meal that’s packed full of calories. They also have more micro-nutrients in minerals than any other food, which helps her produce healthier eggs.

Pre-spawn bass have a hardwired ability to chase crawdads and to throw these little devils at them is like ringing the dinner bell.

You can catch them yourself or purchase them from a bait shop. The key to keeping them alive is to make sure they stay on your hook for as long as you can. Although dead crawdads can work, using baits that are lifeless on their bottoms is not the best way to get strikes.

You want a live, functioning crawfish. Tail-rigging is the best option.

Just slip a hook under the tail, through the back and turn the hook so the shank and point run forward.

Richard Gene, who is perhaps best known for his crappie knowledge, has a unique approach to how to rig your crawdad using rubber bands. It’s something I want to do!

Once your rigged, gently pull your crawdad to draw attention to it.

This bait works!


Minnows can be very difficult to beat after spawn.

It doesn’t matter if you use the correct bait, color and presentation. If the minnows aren’t biting, it’s most likely that they aren’t.

This is a fact that I have found to be true. Minnows can draw out big bass.

We are not new to the minnow-rigging game. Take a look at this article for more information.

Two options are usually available in bait shops: the fathead or the golden shiner. While a minnow might be just that, you should become a master of live baits!

Take a look at our top picks for minnow buckets

Shiners are not as strong as fatheads and won’t keep the hook alive for long. This is a bad thing. If you have the choice, go for the fathead.

The universal golden shiner.

Fatheads are often attracted to fat bass!

Healthy minnows should be kept in tight clusters at the bait shop and should have bright scales as well as intact fins.

Experiential anglers know their preferences in rigging, so you can experiment to see what works best for you. These are the most common techniques:

  • Tail hooking –You can allow minnows to swim and kick by running your hook through their tails about 1/4 inch from the fins. This is a great way to keep them happy and healthy. It’s important to pause to allow the process to work. Ivo Coia explains this in the video.
  • Dorsal hookingYou can also run your hook through the back of the minnow, just below its dorsal fin. This will allow it to twitch its head and tail by not reaching its vital organs.
  • Lip hooking –This technique involves running the hook under the minnow’s neck, and through the lips. This will cause the minnow to kick furiously but it kills them faster than other methods.
  • Hooking the snout –This is a modified lip hook. In this instance, the hook is run down the front of the minnow’s head and out its mouth. This allows the minnow to move freely like lip hooking but doesn’t kill them as fast.

These 4 techniques can be demonstrated

Keith “Catfish” Sutton explained that explosive strikes are very rare. Instead, the bass will give you gentle tugs while it inhales the minnow. Then, it will turn its tail to swallow it. You should wait until you feel a pull on the line. Then, set the hook and reel them in!


Large reservoirs and lakes are often home to large numbers of shad, so for big bass, it is almost a daily routine to chase schools of them.

This large shad will attract a huge bass!

As you might expect, shad spawn in spring and mature in summer. And when it’s hot, they’re even more active! While other anglers might struggle to find the right lure for summer bass fishing, you won’t have this problem if your shad is being thrown.

When they cluster in shallow water, I use a cast net to collect shad. These delicate fish can’t take any beatings and they don’t like cold water.

An aerated bucket works just fine over night, according to me.

Remember to never fish for shad that you have caught in another lake than the one where they were caught.

I am looking for shad larger than minnows. I want big, hungry bass to come to my place. A flathead would be a great option if I needed a smaller specimen. I am looking for shad that are at least 4 inches long, or as long as my hand.

I use one of the above methods to rig my shad for minnows.

A plump shad is used for shallow presentations. It’s under a slip-float. For deeper water, I will crimp weight a foot or so above the hook. This keeps the shad exactly where I want it, but gives it enough action to attract strikes.

The size of the shad determines how much it weighs.

Like minnows patience is the key. You won’t feel a hard strike but a gentle suck. Let the bass get its teeth around the shad and then let it set the hook!


It is ironic that artificial nightcrawlers seem to be so popular with bass anglers while live nightcrawlers are almost ignored.

This is absurd for anyone, except the soft plastics companies!

I hunt for the largest, most fattest crawlers, regardless of whether I buy them or dig up them myself.

Even though they are not natural prey items, big bass will take almost any other item if presented with a live nightcrawler. Chris Wolfgram believes that this is reasonable because worms are rich in protein, easy to swallow, have no sharp spines or bones, and can be caught quickly. Nightcrawlers are a popular bait choice for trophy-bass fishermen and serious anglers.

Here’s a tip that will help you get the best out of your nightcrawlers

Line and light rods will let the worm do its job and allow you to feel the soft gulp of a bass taking its prize.

I prefer light power and fast action rods. A braid can also be a great choice but you will need a mono- or fluoro leader in any water other than opaque.

It is very easy to rig live worms and fish them. My favorite method is to hook them once or twice through their heads and then crimp a little split shot about a foot up the line.

My method is almost identical to that of a plastic worm. I cast, then let the worm settle and wait. Every 10 seconds, I will pop the worm from the bottom and let it settle back down.

You can continue as many times as you like, but it won’t take too long if you have any bass!

Last Thoughts

Live bait for bass can also be used by frogs, salamanders and baby catfish. It’s clear that they work.

These are not only ethically questionable but also practical. The logistics of obtaining a supply of live frogs is more difficult than fishing. This is the same for shad-sized catfish. In both cases, they are not better than nightcrawlers or crawfish, nor minnows, nor shad.

My money is on a topwater lure for frogs and I would skip the live ones.

Salamanders are one of many endangered species. If you don’t know what you are looking for you could be contributing to the problem. To avoid them being used as bait, I would suggest using soft plastics that are similar to them.

This article will cover a variety of effective and serious live bait options that can be used to catch big bass.

Let us know if you’ve caught one of ours!

We would love to hear from your.


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