Leeches as Fish Bait

Humans don’t feel positively about leeches, but for fish, they are meaty little morsels. This means that leeches make excellent live bait for freshwater fish like northern pike and walleye. Leeches have suckers at their head and tail, but the disc on the head is smaller than the one on the tail. When you’re using leeches as bait, remember to fish them slowly, matching their natural swimming pace as closely as you can. This is what will draw the fish.

Tips and Tricks for Leeches

Leeches are tough little guys, and you can purchase them ahead of time and see them in the fridge for several days. When you’re ready to put them in your live well, give them an hour or more to get used to the temperature of the water. Once they do, they will uncurl from a resting state and be able to swim normally.

How to Hook a Leech

To make your leeches most effective, you need to learn how to bait them correctly:

  1. Find the leech’s tail end, which is the one with the larger sucker disk. Don’t touch the disk itself, or the leech will latch on to you.
  2. Take your hook and put it through the tail sucker. Be patient, as the leech is not going to make this easy for you.
  3. With the hook in the tail, turn the leech so that you can put the point through the tail. This enables the leech to move around and swim as normally as possible.
  4. To make escape less likely, put the hook through the middle of the leech’s body as well.
  5. If your cast is too aggressive it will kill the leech, so cast low and as gently as possible. A live leech on the end of your line will instinctively begin swimming, and that motion will attract predator fish like walleye and pike, among others.