How to Fish with Frozen Shrimp as Bait

Shrimp is one of the most widely used baits for fishing. Some prefer to use fresh shrimp but others prefer frozen. Which is better will depend on what you are fishing for and the fisherman’s preference. Fishing with frozen shrimp is done almost the same way as if you were using fresh shrimp. You would need to put it on the hook and drop your line in the water, hoping the fish will bite on it. In the water, shrimp is a primary food source for fish but the difference is those shrimp are alive so a fish may not bite on a frozen shrimp as well.

Pros and Cons of Frozen Shrimp

Many bait shops will take any shrimp that dies in their shrimp holding tanks, bag them, and freeze them, selling them at a discounted price. Another way you can get frozen shrimp bait is from a distributor. These bags of frozen shrimp bait range in quality from shrimp that have been frozen and thawed many times, which reduce the quality of the bait, to shrimp that was freshly frozen for bait. 


  • It is generally widely sold in bait shops, some department stores that sell bait, and along the coast, you may find them in a convenience store.
  • Transporting frozen shrimp bait is easy as it can be stored in a cooler, tackle box, or any container. To make it ready to use, you can just thaw it in the water.
  • Frozen shrimp bait is not as expensive as fresh shrimp bait.


  • There is no live action on the end of your line so they will not attract fish that need to see the movement of their prey to attack it.
  • It will attract more bait thieves because a small fish can eat the shrimp off the hook without the fisherman even knowing it.
  • It will come off the hook easier because the freezing and thawing process will soften the meat and shell so being soft, it will allow the bait to come off easier. This means that you could lose more bait than you would with fresh shrimp.

Fishing With Frozen Shrimp

The first thing you need to do when fishing with frozen shrimp is to bait your hook. Rigging frozen shrimp can be tricky at times. The reason is that there is a possibility that the frozen shrimp have been thawed and frozen again, which makes their body and shell turn soft. To keep the shrimp from coming off the hook easily use a jighead to keep it on the hook better. If you do not want to add more weight to the hook, you can just put the shrimp on a plain live bait hook.

The best way to rig the frozen shrimp to the hook is to go through the rear of the shrimp instead of the head. If you go through the head it will not work because the head will easily come off. The first thing to do is remove the tail so you can insert your jighead or hook into the body of the shrimp. Slowly thread the shrimp onto the hook. Remember that it may be soft if the bait has started to thaw out. 

Once you have the hook or jighead threaded deep into the body of the shrimp, push the hook out the bottom side of the frozen shrimp. This is the most durable way to use frozen shrimp for bait.

You can also use the tail or head on a lead jig and cast it out so it goes to the bottom of the water. Frozen shrimp can be used to catch bait like threadfin herring to catch tarpon. Many fish will not be attracted to frozen shrimp bait because it is dead and not moving. The way to remedy this problem is to break off the tail fan, head, and feet before putting it on the hook. The reason is that it will now draw fish to your hook by the way it smells.

The frozen shrimp body is great for adding the test of a real crustacean to the jig. If you are just tipping your jig, you should cut your shrimp into hook-shank-length pieces to make sure that the frozen shrimp is the right length. Also, when you cut it, it will help to keep the body just a little firmer and on the hook longer. For the meatier pieces of the frozen shrimp, you could add a trailer hook to make sure that the fish does not just take the bait and not get hooked.

Things to Consider When Using Frozen Shrimp to Fish

When you go fishing the first time using frozen shrimp you should take along other bait that you know works. The reason is that if using frozen shrimp as bait is not catching the fish you are fishing for you may have to switch to bait that you know works.

Make sure that you keep your frozen fish in a container with some ice and out of the sun so it does not spoil while fishing and does not thaw out too fast. Being slightly frozen will make it easier to put on the hook as once thawed, the body will be soft and a little harder to handle and harder to thread on the hook. If the body is soft, you will need to handle it gently so you do not squish the body.


Sometimes frozen shrimp can catch as many fish as fresh shrimp but it just depends on the fish. If you are targeting sports fish such as a Sea Trout, the live shrimp is better and will catch you more fish. With a species like Whiting, the peeled frozen shrimp is sometimes better. Know before you go fishing just what type of fish your frozen shrimp bait will attract. Fishing with frozen shrimp as bait is pretty much the same as it is with live shrimp except frozen shrimp does not move so you need to make sure you are attracting fish with the frozen shrimp bait.

Check out: How to Fish with Ballyhoo as Bait

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