How To Hook A Minnow (Step-by-Step Guide)

Fishing is not all about using high-end gears to enhance your catching activities. It’s more on applying the skills and techniques you have to be efficient in targeting a fish. 

One of the valuable skills that every angler should have is using baits, lures, or tackles properly. If you’re using live bait, hooking it in the fishing line is easy. However, making sure that it’s alive throughout your adventure is where the challenge comes in. 

One of the favorite baits used by anglers is the minnows. This is effective in luring your targeted fish. If you’re a beginner, you can be frustrated to hook a minnow correctly, but you don’t have to worry because you’re on the right page! 

We’ll teach you the step-by-step guide on how to catch a minnow. 

Fishing with Minnows: Pros & Cons

Minnows may be a go-to bait for anglers, but it’s good to note its advantages and disadvantages before using it. 


  • Different varieties to choose from

Minnows come in different kinds, sizes, and varieties,y making it a versatile bait you can use no matter what type of fish you’re getting. The most common minnow used is the fat heat, gold shiners, and the mosquitofish.

  • Availability

Minnows are always available in your local pet shop. If you’re used to utilizing it as bait, you don’t have to worry that you’ll run out of stocks. Breeding is also easy, so you can take care of it just like an ordinary tank fish to save money.

  • Versatile

One of the reasons why anglers love using minnows as bait is because they are versatile. If you don’t have a targeted fish, this is a worthwhile bait to throw in the waters because it can attract almost all kinds of fish, whether it’s a small or big species.


  • Illegal to use in some states

Before using a minnow, check the fishing guidelines of the place where you’re in because not all allow the use of minnows as bait. 

  • Making it alive is  a challenge

Minnows are not a complex type of bait. A part of hooking it properly is to make it alive until your target fish bites on it. You must follow a set of guidelines to extend its life while on the hook. 

how to hook a minnow
Source: Canva Pro

How to Hook a Minnow in Different Ways

The steps in hooking minnows vary depending on whether you’re using a live or dead minnow. No matter what you use, here’s the step-by-step guide on how to connect them:

Live Minnows

Hooking a live minnow is a challenge because you have to be extra careful handling them to make sure they don’t die quickly. 

  • Lip Hooking

Your goal is to let the minnow swim naturally if you throw it in the waters. To do this, hook it through the lips. Thread the hook on its lower lips first, going through its upper lips. 

By hooking it on its lips, the minnow can still swim upright. It will also prevent water from entering its mouth and leaving through its gills that may cause their early death.

  • Back Hooking

Another way by which you can hook a minnow for it to swim in the water naturally is by connecting it through the back. Back hooking tends to extend the lifespan of minnows compared to lip hooking. For it to go down farther, make use of a sinker 

Dead Minnows

For dead bait fishing, it’s ideal to use at least 8-12 inches minnow. Using a smaller dead minnow will attract your non-targeted fish.

To keep them in firm condition, freeze them completely, but thaw them halfway so you can still quickly hook them. If you have a new minnow on your trip, you can bring it back to the freezer until your next fishing trip.

A dead minnow will look like a severely injured fish that is still attractive. You may need to use a sinker so it won’t flow while descending.

Best Minnow Rigs to Use

The fishing rigs have a versatile use because they can be used in different water settings. It comes with a sinker inserted onto the mainline just above the swivel. Here are the fishes where minnows rigs as best used:


If you’re fishing for panfish, the float or bobber rig and the jig head are the ideal minnow rigs for this fish. What makes them an advantage is that they feature a slow, natural fall at the surface down to where the line stops.

If there’s a panfish nearby, they can aggressively grab it even though you haven’t settled the line ultimately.

Rainbow Trout

Using bait rigs to catch rainbow trout is effective depending on the water condition. Trout have changed eating patterns when the water temperature changes, so it’s essential to use a rigged bait to set an exact depth with a rigging tactic such as a slip bobber.

When the water starts to warm up, trout go deeper from the shore. With this, use an egg sinker to let your fishing line go deeper. 


In catching walleye, it’s best to use a minnow rig that can be adjusted easily depending on your preferred depth.  The best walleye rigs for live bait include bottom bouncer, slip bobber rig or lindy rig.

Muskie & Northern Pike

Muskie and northern pike stay at the bottom of the lake’s bed, so choose a rig designed for deep fishing like the running ledger rig. 

How to Take Care of Minnows While Fishing

Your goal in hooking a minnow is to let it stay alive and kicking until you throw the line into the water. Minnows can die anytime, but there are tips on how to prolong their life while fishing:

Maintain cool temperature

Minnows thrive best in cool temperatures. It can’t be avoided that your bucket will warm while fishing, so it’s essential to bring ice with you so you can add your bucket if the water warms up. 

Cooling the water also adds in more oxygen than warm water. If the water temperature where you’re fishing is excellent, you may gradually add outside water into it. 

Keep the water of the bucket clean

Even though you’re just spending a few hours of fishing, it’s still essential to clean the bucket once in a while by changing the water to remove ammonia buildup or to filter the dirt, so the minnows won’t be able to eat it.  

Avoid overcrowding the minnows

If you plan to bring a lot of minnows to ensure that you have sufficient bait, place it in multiple buckets. Putting too many minnows in a bucket increases ammonia, and they’ll compete to take in oxygen. 

As a rule of thumb, a one-gallon bucket of about 3 liters may hold five dozen 1-inch minnow like the fathead. If you’re using large minnows, limit its number per bucket or make use of 


There are different kinds of baits and lures that you can use to catch a fish. One of the best kinds is the live baits, where minnows are commonly utilized.

These fish are fragile, so you must know how to hook them to ensure that they’ll attract fish effectively correctly. 

The Anglers Behind This Article:

Johanes Godoy

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