Home Fishing Tips & Advice How to Fish with Shiners as Bait

How to Fish with Shiners as Bait

Shiners are one of the classics of bait fishing. Many anglers will turn to the basics and simplicity of shiner fishing when given the chance. Set up is easy, fishing is fun, and the reward is great. Though shiner fishing is the classic, it might have been a while since your last shiner bait experience. Here are a few basics you’ll want to keep in mind when shiner fishing!

The shiner is a favorite of mine and many anglers alike as it’s truly one of the most common baits people use when heading out on the water for a day of fun fishing. Like the worm is to the backyard pond, the shiner is to the rivers. Though they might not be one of the most flamboyant and intricate baits available, they will get the job done and draw in quite a bit of attention. They may even net you quite the load after a day of using shiners.

Before you hop out onto the water, it’s important to come prepared with a few tools and tips on how to best utilize your shiner. Shiners are decently simple to use and rig up so you won’t have to prepare much before you hit the water.

You’ll need to know what shiners are, where they’re best suited for, and how to set up your line with a shiner as bait. Employing the best techniques for shiner fishing will also go far towards catching the fish.

What is a Shiner?

In the simplest terms, a shiner is a small bait fish that has a shiny exterior. This is likely due to the scales being of a reflective material and color. Typically, shiners are a silver color though golden shiners work well to bring in the fish. As they are bait fish, the shiner is usually a smaller species of fish that is native to the area you’re fishing. Each species of fish that is classified as a shiner is typically of a smaller nature and any other bait fish you might wish to use should be decently small.

There are quite a few different species of shiner fish that you can choose from. Most of them come from the cyprinid family though others, like the shiner perch, are of different classifications. Shiners are common in North America but can be used almost anywhere in the world. One of the most common shiners is the Eastern Shiner. These can be found quite easily while fishing in North America and provide quite the snack for different species of Bass.

Another common type of shiner is the golden shiner. These small bait fish fit the description of a shiner species almost perfectly. They are a small silver fish with reflective scales that can easily draw the attention of any bass in the area. Other species of shiner fish include the flagfin shiner and the shiner perch. Once you have your collection of shiner for bait, it’s time to know how exactly to rig your line to best suit shiner fishing.

How to Rig Your Shiner as Bait

There are many different setups to use when shiner fishing. The most important factor will likely be what fish you’re going after and the depths at which you’ll be fishing. If you’re wading through shallow waters that are less than 10-feet deep, you’re looking at a pretty simple rig. All you need is the shiner and a hook and you’re good to go! No need to drag the shiner down to the bottom as there isn’t much depth here to take advantage of.

Once the water gets deeper, the bass do as well and you may need to adjust accordingly. As the depth increases, so too should the weight you attach to your line. You don’t want your shiner to sink to the bottom and drag along the rocks – you should strive for a little bit above the bottom so the shiner can swim and attract the attention of the larger bass in the area. A removable slip knot addition should be enough to drag your shiner down.

The type of hook you use will play a major factor in your success with a shiner. For smaller shiners and smaller targets, using a bait holder hook will work just fine. If you’re targeting larger fish and using bigger shiners, you might want to consider a circle hook. These hooks will hold the shiner and snag the prey much easier.

Where is Shiner Fishing Most Successful?

Wherever you want to fish, that’s where a shiner fish will shine. The shiner fish works wonders on bass of all types so wherever there’s a bass habitat, that’s where we recommend using your shiner as bait. Bass – largemouth and smallmouth – can be found in waters of many different depths. Some larger species of bass will be found in the depths of some of the largest rivers while smaller species will be located around docks and coast lines.

The shiner is a freshwater bait fish so if you’re going to get the most out of your bait, it’s useful to stick to rivers with it. We also recommend locating schools of bait fish as the fish local to the region will be aware that this is a good spot to find food. It’s also useful to make note of where game fish are plenty as you don’t want to find yourself fishing waters where there are no bass. That’s just a waste of your day and a good shiner.

Best Techniques to Use When Shiner Fishing

Trolling is a fantastic way to draw the attention of any bass in the region with a shiner. The best part of live bait is that you don’t have to do much work to make it look appealing for local game fish. Simply hook it, drop it in, and let it go. The bass will see the shiner and the activity and be drawn in for a delicious snack. Fishing with a shiner is simple and fun, just like fishing should be.

Also, read our article about: How to Fish with Bunker as Bait

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.