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

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It’s no secret that one of the best ways to catch a fish is by using live bait. But what kind of live bait should you use? In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to hook a minnow so you can get fishing! Keep reading for our step-by-step guide.

Fishing with Minnows: Pros & Cons

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


  • Different varieties to choose from

Minnows come in different kinds, sizes, and varieties,y making them versatile bait you can use no matter what type of fish you’re getting. Fat heat, gold shiners, and mosquitofish are the most common minnow.

  • 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 about running out of stock. 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 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 guidelines to extend its life while on the hook. 

how to hook a minnow
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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 a step-by-step guide on how to connect them:

Live Minnows

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

  • Lip Hooking

Your goal is to let the minnow swim naturally if you throw it in the water. 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, which may cause early death.

  • Back Hooking

Another way you can hook a minnow 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 of 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 are versatile 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 minnow 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 a panfish is nearby, it can aggressively grab it even though you haven’t settled the line.

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 in 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 minnow 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 minnows like the fathead. If you’re using large minnows, limit their number per bucket.


There are different kinds of bait 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 they’ll attract fish effectively. 

Ensuring a minnow is set up correctly helps keep them on the fishing hook and presents them to your target fish in a way that will entice a strike.

It is essential to remember to check your rules and regulations when live baiting with minnows. In some bodies of water, live baiting is prohibited. This is to prevent cross-contamination of diseases and other harmful bacteria.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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