How to Hook a Squid for Bait

Squid happens to be one of the more traditional and popular frozen baits that are sold for fishermen. Squid can also be used as live bait, although they are most difficult to find and harder to catch alive. Either way, it is an extremely effective bait and can be used in many different ways. For example, fishermen have adopted squid strips as a simple, less messy way to use as bait. Squid have an appealing taste to many fish and can be prepared in a rather delightful presentation when hooking the squid for use as bait.

When understanding the basics of learning how to hook a squid for bait, it is important to note the different ways to purchase or acquire this versatile bait. Squid can appeal to fish of all different sizes, which is why the bait can be sold in many different ways. For example, the smallest fish may only be able to consume a small piece (0.5 inch), while the largest fish may only want to consume an entire squid (whole or frozen). Given these scenarios, different pieces of squid are needed, which means that there can be various ways to successfully hook the bait.

It is important to remember that the firmer the piece of the squid, the easier it is to hook the bait. When using frozen bait, we recommend using thick pieces of squid. Also, be sure to wait until the bait has started thawed out and is no longer completely frozen. Both of these principles can make hooking a squid a whole lot easier.

How to Hook Squid Strips and Frozen Squid

As previously mentioned, squid strips have really gained in popularity over the last 15 years. Fishermen receive the benefits of having the squid bait appearance without the mess that they cause, such as getting their ink all over the place. Squid strips may come in a few different packagings, like being in a small plastic container or being on a styrofoam tray that is stored in a vacuum sealed bag. Either way, wait for the strips to completely thaw out. Having your bait frozen impacts the smells that the bait can give off to attract fish while it is in the water. If you are unable to find squid strips, cutting up an entire frozen squid into squid strips works just as effectively. When preparing strips from a whole squid, remove the squid’s head. Additionally, it may be easier to cut even strip pieces when the squid is still slightly frozen.

Once thawed, use one squid strip and hook it about 15% of the way down from the top of the piece. Next, take the hooked piece and wrap it around to hook one more time. The double hook shouldn’t drastically impact the appearance compared to the single looping of the hook. If done correctly, roughly 75-85% of the squid piece should be dangling below the hook. For the best results, add small cuts or slices towards the bottom of the strip to resemble the tentacles of the squid. This creates an ideal presentation for luring fish such as flounder, fluke, red drum, trout, blowfish, sea bass or bluefish. Accompanying the piece of squid with a shiner or minnow also yields pretty good results.

How to Hook a Whole Frozen Squid

Even though the whole squid bait is frozen, it can still yield terrific results when trying to catch large salt water fish. The best setup would be a snood rig which contains two large hooks that are set on top of one another. The goal of this rig is to successfully cover the top and bottom area of the frozen squid. Having the full hook coverage helps avoid any large fish from only eating half of the bait without getting successfully hooked.

If you are not purchasing strips, most frozen bait packages include the entire squid. The typical small package usually includes about four and five whole squids. Try to only purchase the frozen squid that is packaged for bait. Otherwise, purchasing fresh whole squid from a fish market can actually be relatively expensive, especially since you are only using the squid as fish bait.

How to Hook a Live Squid

Now, if you are fortunate enough to have live squid at your disposal, you will certainly want to hook them correctly to reap the full benefits of having the squid be alive. Live squid can be messy, especially the bigger that they are. I strongly recommend the use of either a glove or a towel to hold the squid as you try to set the hook.

When setting the hook for live squid, hook the top of the squid (also known as its tail), which is an extension of a squid’s fin. If using a large hook, feel free to hook the tail twice. Setting up the hook in this location of the body provides enough strength to keep the squid on the hook. It also allows the live squid to swim freely and dangle its tentacles which can help attract fish. When your hooked live bait resembles its natural movements in the water, the better the results.

Frozen or Live Squid Alternatives

Sometimes having frozen or live squid available isn’t always possible. Luckily, modern-day advancements have created some really good artificial squid baits. We found that the best squid artificial baits successfully resemble the smell of the squid. Our favorite bait (pictured below), works great for deep drop jigs or jig skirts. Fish Bites Fish’N Chunks Squid Flesh also works for trolling as well as creating a chum line. I think their long-lasting formula is one of the very best on the market. If you are an offshore angler, it is definitely worth adding a package of these Fish Bites to your tackle box.

What is the Hard Plastic Thing inside a Squid?

The hard, plastic like substance inside a squid is known as its cartilage. You will certainly want to remove this clear piece of cartilage as you are preparing your frozen squid for bait on a hook. It should be fairly easy to remove with just your hands. The cartilage provides no benefit at all while fishing and can be annoying when trying to initially hook the squid. When squid is prepared for human consumption in the form of calamari, the cartilage is always removed.


As mentioned, using squid as bait can be presented on a hook (or hooks) in many different ways. Depending on what type of fish that you are fishing for can help determine how the squid should be presented. While a satisfying taste and various methods of appearance, squid really are a fantastic all-around bait. They can be used for various types of fresh water and salt water fishing journeys and can lead to great success! You can never go wrong with having an emergency package of frozen squid in your freezer – it will always go to good use when needed for fishing!

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