Minnow Baits and Lures

Minnows are small silver fish that are popular as freshwater bait. If local regulations allow minnows can be caught by anglers for use as bait, but they can also be purchased from bait and tackle shops in a range of sizes.

When trolling, drifting, or doing a cast and retrieve, hook your minnow through its tail or through its lips.

When still fishing using a bobber, you’ll want the fish to swim on the end of the line, so place your hook in the back just in front of its dorsal fin. Make sure not to nick the spine of the minnow.

Minnows should be kept in a minnow bucket with the same water that either came with them from the store, or the setting where they were caught. Be careful not to crowd the minnows, as this will put them under stress that shortens their lifespan.

When hooked on the end of a light jig upside-down or by the tail, the minnow will try to get itself right-side-up. This provides a great ongoing action in the water.

Minnow Lures

There is also a type of artificial lure known as a minnow, with a slim, lean, fish-like shape.

Styles of Minnow Bait Lures

The three styles of minnow lures are (1) surface or shallow running, (2) suspending and (3) sinking versions. The most popular and frequently used minnow lures are the surface and suspending.

  • Surface minnow lures are designed to be fished in a way that mimics a minnow’s stop-and-go movements on or just below the surface of the water. The angler uses gentle movements to move the lure on top of the water, or when fished below the surface, they naturally rise back up when the retrieve is paused.
  • Suspending minnow lures are, as the name implies, designed to hover at a pre-set depth in the water, much like a real minnow can with floating up or sinking down. The depth for each of these lures can be found on their boxes.
  • Sinking minnow lures are used as crankbaits, and sink into the water at roughly one foot per second, which helps to target underwater cover. If you know that a weed stand or log rests at 5 or 6 feet deep, you can cast to your targeted area and count down until its close to the cover, then retrieve and hopefully draw out any hidden fish.

What Size of Minnow Lure to Use

Smaller minnows are used with a spinning or spincast reel filled with lines from 6 to 10-lb. test (3 to 5 kg class), with on light or ultralight tackle. Lighter line and small minnows are especially preferable for very clear water. These minnows and rigs are good for landing smaller trout and bass, as well as crappie and bluegill.

Larger minnows are used for targeting bigger species like walleye, pike, and largemouth bass. For these you can employ 10-lb. test (5 kg class) line or higher with a spinning, spincast, or baitcast reel.