August 27

How To Hook A Minnow

For most people, live bait fishing is there first foray into this wonderful world. When you simply use the natural forage that your fish of choice consumes you are more likely to catch that fish.

However, not everybody knows How to hook a minnow properly. These baitfish are fragile and certain care needs to be taken when you use them as bait.

There are certain things that you need to do to make sure that your minnow fishing goes off without a hitch. you don't need the fancy minnow boxes or aeration machines but you two need to know how to handle a fish.

In the video below you will see exactly how that is accomplished and even learn about why each one has its own use. 


In the sections below you will see a step by step process on how to hook a minnow. You will also see 7 different ways to accomplish this. Not every way is for live bait fishing.

Some of it is for dead bait fishing. others will be for both but will have certain criteria necessary for it serious. I'm sure that one of these ways I hope you go fishing more often with minnows and catch more fish.

Emerald Shiners

Go try out Emerald Shiners!

Hook #1 - In The Tail

The first way to hook a minnow is to a tail. This is a simple procedure where you take 8th in the hook and threaded it right in the middle of the meat in front of the tail.

You don't want to go too far ahead of the tail but that's fair enough that your hook has enough stuff to stay tight.

hook minnow in the tail

You want to make sure you go through the lateral line on the side of the fish and not the underside of the tail. If you go through the underside of the tail or the top and come through the other way then you will hinder the movement of their tail.

Hindering the movement of the fish is the one thing we don't want to do when we're live bait fishing. This particular way to hook a minnow is to make sure that they keep moving underwater.

Always try to keep the live bait moving naturally otherwise the fish that your going after we'll figure something out.

Visit My YouTube Channel

Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel. You can hit the subscribe button and be updated when I make videos which I'll be trying to do almost daily on great fishing topics.


Hook #2 - In The Back

The second way to hook a minnow is in its back. This is primarily done right under the dorsal fin. If you remember the movie "Jaws" and his big dorsal fin popping out of the water that is what I'm talking about.

The key thing here is to not go too far below the dorsal fin. If you go too far below you will get near the lateral line and break the backbone of the minnow. this is obviously what you don't want to do.

hook the minnow in the back

This is also a live bait type of hook technique that you can use on a live minnow. It will allow the minnow to move around freely and a fish is more likely to get hooked faster because it's closer to its head.

Hook #3 - In The Lips

The third way to hook minnow is through the lips. this means to take the hook from underneath the mouth and make it go through both lips and out the top.

This will allow the fish to move naturally as a variant and as always be very frantic. This is great for presentation but also for getting hook sets. The reason for this is that a fish will eat the bait head first.

Therefore when you get a bite you will want to set the hook immediately. If you do get a bite the hook through the tail or the back you will want to wait a few seconds before you set the hook.

hook a minnow through the lips

The downturn of this particular hook technique is the fact that the lips are closed. When the lips of the fish are closed are not able to breathe.

They need to open their mouth to let the water run so it goes over their gills. We can expect your fish to not last as long if you use this technique.

However, if you fish with a live minnow in the right spot at the right time you will catch fish most of the time.

Hook #4 - The Eyeball

The rest of my hook techniques will be outside of the normal realm that you’ve probably heard of. They each have their function and I will talk about that but you have to know how to use them.

This particular technique requires that you hook a minnow through the eyeball socket. You'll take the hook and put it just under the eye through the socket and bring it out the mouth.

The reason you do this is that the eyeball side it is very sturdy. however, this can't be done with live bait. This is a dead bait hooking technique.

hook a minnow through the eyeball socket

The reason you want to do this because it's strong and a dead bait lose its some of its strength in the skin and the bones and the meat.

This also allows you to put the hook up front where is the fish will eat it first. You can also do this if you only plan to use half of a minnow.

Hook #5 - The Gills

Hooking a fish to a gill is similar to hooking to the eyeball socket. You simply want to put the hook through the mouth let me know and then come out the gills.

Does it matter which side you come out of but you must do it without actually damaging the gills. With this hooking technique, you are able to use it for live and dead baitfish.

hook a minnow through the gills

This is very simple and very easy to do and doesn't require any real skill, just about anybody can do it if they take your time.

You will need that very thin out and you'll need a little bit of patience but it can be done. This will allow you to capture fish as soon as they bite on your  

This will allow you to capture fish as soon as they bite on your try to bite on your minnow and bite it in half.

Hook #6 - One Lip

Hooking a minnow through the lip is self explanatory. You simply hook the fish through one of it's lips. I would suggest that you do the bottom lip.

I say this because if you do the top link you will hurt the nose of the fish. This is a great option for live bait and it has several benefits. The baitfish will move naturally and the hook will be at the head. This will allow you to have easy hooksets. 

hook a minnow through one lip

The bad part about this is the fact that the lips of a minnow are very weak. I don't recommend this for fishing with a dead minnow.

It will have deteriorated too much to be strong enough to withstand a cast. If you want a dead minnow to hold on longer then you can hook it through the top lip.

Hook #7 - The Triple Hook

The triple hookset system is a blend of previous minnow hook versions. You will start by going putting the hook through the mouth of the minnow and then out the gill. Then you hook it through the back and then through the tail. Strangely enough you can do this with a live minnow if you have a very thin hook with a small eyelet. 

triple hook

I would recommend this type if you plan to use a dead minnow. Doing this to a live minnow will probably stop it from acting naturally and won't help you .

With a dead minnow it will help your bait stay on a lot better. I believe it is unnecessary, but some people need assurances. Since I casted with a couple of the other techniques and lost my minnow in the air. 

Minnow Hooking Q&A

In this section, I will go over all the questions that generally come up with hooking a minnow. You have probably wondered about this questions before and came to this blog post looking for answers.

I hope that you receive the exact information you need to get out on the water and go minnow fishing. 

I also want to state that minnows are not the only forage you will find out there. In freshwater you have worms, frogs, grubs, grasshoppers, crickets and a ton of flies that will help you catch more fish than you can imagine.

Saltwater has squid, clam, shrimp, bunker, mullet, menhaden, sea worms, etc... that worm in the exact same way. I like to always try live bait in a new location first to see what out there. Then I come back and try to trick them with an artificial lure.

Visit My YouTube Channel

Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel. You can hit the subscribe button and be updated when I make videos which I'll be trying to do almost daily on great fishing topics.


What Hooks To Use With Minnows?

You should be using thin wire live bait hook. These hooks are super thin and you can bend them easily by hand. The point is not to hurt the baitfish. Because of this you will be finesse fishing. You don't want a wild hookset or try to rip the lips off a fish because it seems like good fun. The hook can only take so much and will bend it's way out of the mouth of the fish. Take it easy when you reel it in and you should be in for a surprise for what size fish it can handle. 

Mr. Crappie Cam-Action Hooks

How Do You Hook A Minnow Without Killing It?

3 hooking methods are available that will allow you to hook a minnow without killing it. These methods are #1 - #3 in this guide. Through the tail, in the back and through the lips.

Pretty much anything else will put the minnows life in danger or prevent it from moving correctly in the water so it can breathe. Please watch the video at the top of the blog post to see these steps in action. 

Frabill Magnum Bait Station

Do You Use A Bobber With Minnows?

Bobber fishing with minnows can be great. This is widely done on the open ocean, but also in places like lake okeechobee in Florida.

Guides will get up early in the morning and catch huge shiner minnows and attribute that 50% will get you a huge bass on the line. It is a must when you go there fishing and they use bobbers or balloons to see where the minnow naturally swims. 

Balsa Wood Floats

Go try out a Balsa Wood Floats!

Basically you through it near cover where a bass will be lurking. The minnow will know its out in the open and go to escape to the cover and then BOOM you have a huge bass on the line.

I wish my local fishing waters had large bass like that, but they are few and far in between. I highly promote bobbers with minnows because it allows you to see exactly where they are. It allows you to put them at a certain depth. These things will lead to more fish being caught. 

How To Hook A Minnow On A Jig

You can really only hook a minnow on a jig one way. That way is through the lips. Some people do this will live fish and others do it with dead fish.

It really depends on what season you are fishing and what you are fishing for. During the winter it will be near impossible to get live bait in some parts of the world and you will have to use dead minnows.

These will work just fine. Just hook them through the lips or the eyeball. The fish believe that the jig is the head of the baitfish. If you put the fish on any other way then you will cause them to think about whether to eat it or not.

Lunkerhunt Live Bait Jig

How To Hook A Minnow For Trout

You can hook your minnow in several ways if you are fishing for trout. The fact remains that you are in fast moving water most of the time.

Hooking it haphazardly will not work well. So in an effort to get the hook on the line you will have to use one of my techniques. 

Hooking the minnow through the gill will be your best bet. It will allow the fish to move, keep it alive, it's hooked in the head and its a sturdy part of the body.

If you are dealing with a dead minnow you can do a double or triple hook to make sure it stays on better in the current. Check out my Triple Hook method above!

How To Hook A Minnow For Crappie

You can hook a live minnow any of the top 3 ways for within this guide (tail, back, and lips), but the rig you want to use will be different from normal.

You want to use a bobber with a small weight above the hook. This will allow you to put the minnow at the depth of the crappie. You will use a thin wire hook that is bigger so it can easily go through a minnow without hurting it.

This is all things that are general across the board with live minnow fishing

Eagle Claw Crappie Rig

You can also do the same thing with a small jig under a bobber. This is a popular method with crappie. Sometimes this is done with articificual lures, but it works even better with live minnows.

Many people will put out 5-10 rods to catch a whole slab for dinner. If you want to do that awesome. There aren't many crappie where i live so opportunities for that don't come too often.

How To Hook A Minnow For Flounder

Once again you will find that a bobber works best when fishing for flounder in the flats. The plan is to keep the minnow just a few inches above the bottom.

This will plant it squarely right in the view of the flounder who is looking for a meal. You will want to use a big float and a pretty heavy split shot weight to make sure the bottom stays upright.

This will help you not make the mistake between nibbles and a fish on the line!

Sea Strike Flounder Rig

How To Hook A Minnow As Bait

Hooking bait is different than hooking a minnow to attract fish to a hurt minnow. We are simply just doing what most people do for catfish.

They will eat a lot of things in any condition so presentation is not really required if they are hungry enough.

You want to use the Triple Hook method that I showed above in Step 7 or you can but the minnow in piece and hook it through the skin to make sure you have something solid to hold on the hook. 

Live Bait Rig

Go try out a Live Bait Rig!

How To Hook A Minnow For Perch

I have yellow and white perch in my area and they are fun to catch. However, if you are fishing with live bait they are very good at getting it off your hook.

One of the best ways to fish for perch with a minnow is the Drop Shot Rig. You will want to use a #4 snell hook and go through the gills and then the body. 

Northland Tackle Baitfish Spinner Harness Rig

I will want to say that for perch using a live minnow is not necessary. You can use  a dead minnow like I did in my video above.

You can then hook it straight through the eyeball socket and then through the body. You can use the Triple Hook method or you can chop it into pieces and hook them like bait. 

Visit My YouTube Channel

Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel. You can hit the subscribe button and be updated when I make videos which I'll be trying to do almost daily on great fishing topics.


How To Hook A Minnow For Walleye

When you are fishing with Walleye with a minnow, you will most likely being using a jig. This leaves you with two options for how to hook a minnow.

One will be for live bait and the other will be with dead bait. With a live minnow you can hook the minnow through the nostril by going from inside the mouth. It will look like your just going the lips.

This is a partially sturdy area enough for light casting and trolling or jigging. We are reliant on the fish engulfing the whole minnow with this technique.

Berkley Walleye Rig

Go try out a Berkley Walleye Rig!

If you are fishing with a dead minnow you will want to go through the mouth and up through the brain. You will hear a crack when you do this with a jig.

This means you have gone through the skull and this is the hardest part of the minnow. The minnow is less likely to come off and you will be able to jig it with your own technique.

This will have the minnow in the right position to mimic a live minnow as well.

Dwight Norris


This blog post is the ultimate guide to salmon trolling. You will learn everything you need to know about how to troll for salmon, what

Read More

Dwight Norris


Are you ready to catch the most revered sport fish in the world? Tarpon fly fishing is a challenge that many anglers dream about, but

Read More

Dwight Norris


Jug fishing is one of the most popular methods for catching catfish. It's also a method that isn't used as often by anglers, so it

Read More

Dwight Norris


Snook fishing is a popular sport in Florida, especially because of the large variety of fish that can be caught. There are many different techniques

Read More

Dwight Norris


Anise oil is a secret ingredient for big fish, and it's not just an old wives' tale. This blog post will teach you how to

Read More

Dwight Norris


Chatterbaits are a relatively new type of lure in the bass fishing industry. I just jumped on the gravy train in 2019 hoping that it

Read More

You may also like

Midge Fly Patterns

Midge Fly Patterns

Fly Fishing Iceland

Fly Fishing Iceland

Best Cleaner For Boat Seats

Best Cleaner For Boat Seats
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Here's a chance to be the one with all of the fishing secrets! Get exclusive articles, insider tips and tricks delivered straight to your inbox by subscribing today.

>