How to Hook a Minnow: 3 Best Methods

Written by Dale Shetler
Updated October 3, 2022

Today we explain how to hook a minnow properly using three simple and effective methods.

Bala Shark or Silver Shark (Balantiocheilus melanopterus)

If you’re reading this blog post, I’m guessing that you already know that fishing is more of an art than anything else. 

In fact, fishing is rarely about the gear you use or the waters that you choose to fish in; it’s about your own skills and know-how, the techniques that you’ve mastered in order to become the best possible angler you can be.

One invaluable skill that every angler needs is a solid understanding of the different types of baits, tackles and techniques you can use in order to target certain species of fish. 

So with that said, in the following article, I’m going to go over a few of the different ways you can hook a minnow. I know that hooking a minnow might sound simple, but if you’re not doing it properly, you risk losing your minnow and possibly ruining your chances of nabbing the best catch of your life.

By the end of this article, you’ll know the best ways to hook a minnow for every type of fishing. 

The Pros and Cons of Fishing With Minnows

So you’re thinking of trying your hand at fishing with live minnows? That’s great to hear!

Fishing with live minnows is a relatively easy skill to master and the best part is, that by swimming around on your line, the minnow will do most of the work of tempting the fish into biting your lure. 

When using live minnows, it’s best to target deeper areas of still water. Slow-streaming pools around fallen trees or other natural structures are also ideal because they’ll allow your minnow to swim around naturally, instead of being swept adrift by the current. 

Another good tip is to try attaching a small split shot or weight to your line, which will help pull your minnow down into deeper waters where some of the best fishing can be found. 

Using minnows isn’t always going to appeal to every angler, but there’s no arguing the fact that live bait is one of the best ways to target and catch fish. 

On the other hand, using live minnows as bait isn’t always going to be the most practical solution either. For example, transporting minnows can be a bit burdensome, as you’ll need to keep your minnow in freshwater or risk having them die before you can even get them on your hook. 

So if you don’t have a live-well or you’re not fishing from a boat, you might want to choose other types of bait, such as worms or plastic nightcrawlers, which are much easier to transport. 

Hooking Your Minnow

When fishing with live minnows, it’s important to remember that you want the minnow to survive for as long as possible. Fish typically target other living fish. So the longer your minnow stays alive, the higher your chance of catching a fish will be.

With that said, you’re going to want to learn the best ways to hook your minnow, which will optimize your chances of catching fish.

So now, let’s dive into a few of the most common techniques for hooking live minnows.

How to hook a minnow infographic

Through-The-Lip Hook

While there are many ways you can hook your minnows, one of the simplest is to hook the minnow through its lower and upper lips. 

This method allows the minnow to swim and move around relatively freely. 

However, hooking your minnow through its lip will prevent it from being able to draw water into its gills. Therefore, this isn’t the best method if you’re hoping to keep your minnow alive for as long as possible. 

Dorsal Hook

Another common technique for hooking a minnow is to pierce your hook through its back, just slightly in front of the dorsal fin. 

This method helps keep the minnow alive significantly longer than hooking it through its lip. And at the same time, the minnow will be completely free to swim around naturally. Just make sure to take care and not to pierce the minnow’s spine while hooking it. 

Trick Hook

This next method might be a bit trickier to do and won’t keep your minnow alive very long, but it will ensure a better placement of your hook, as well as ensuring that your minnow won’t fall off when casting repetitively or fishing in moving waters.

I know I’ve mentioned keeping your minnow alive for as long as possible, but when you’re fishing in fast-moving waters, a dead minnow will often perform just as well as a live one. 

So for this technique, you’ll need to thread your line through the minnow’s mouth and out near its stomach. You’ll then tie your hook on the line and pull it back through until just the hook’s bend is exposed below the minnow’s belly. 

Although this method almost means instant death for your minnow, it’s an ideal setup if you’re planning on fishing in rough or fast-moving water. These conditions can easily tear your minnow from your hook if hooked through its lip or dorsal fin. 

Bonus Tip

One of the best parts of using live minnows is that you can save money on bait if you have easy access to freshwater. And instead of purchasing your minnows from a local bait shop, you can simply catch your own!  

To catch your own minnows, all you’ll need is a basic minnow trap, which can either be purchased or built by yourself if you choose to do so.

Throw some stale breadcrumbs or a slice of bread into your trap, and toss it into a fairly shallow area of water. For the best results, leave your trap in the water overnight, but in some cases, you might be able to fill your trap in just a few hours. 

Also read: Top 12 Best Baitcasting Rods Picked By Pro Anglers

Wrapping Up: How To Hook A Minnow

Bass eating a minnow

Now that you understand a few of the most common techniques for hooking a minnow, you’re already well on your way to becoming a better angler.

It’s the small techniques like this that go a long way towards improving your skills as an angler, as well as your chances of catching The Big Blues!

Written by Dale Shetler
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Updated October 3, 2022
Dale Shetler is a vetted fishing expert who has been fishing for over 20 years. Apart from working as a sonar technician and commercial fisherman, Shetler has a degree in marine biology from Samford University.
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