How to Hook a Squid for Bait

How to Hook a Squid for Bait

Squid is one of the more traditional and popular frozen baits sold to fishermen. Squid can also be used as live bait, although they are more difficult to find and more challenging to catch alive. Either way, it is a highly effective bait that can be used in many ways. 

When 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 inches), while the largest fish may only want to consume an entire squid (live or frozen). Given these scenarios, there can be various ways to hook the bait successfully.

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, I recommend using thick pieces of squid.

Also, be sure to wait until the bait has started thawing out and is no longer completely frozen. Both of these principles can make hooking a squid a whole lot easier.

Can Squid Be Used as Bait?

Squid is a popular and effective bait for saltwater and freshwater fishing. Its strong scent, natural movement, and durability make it enticing to many predatory fish.

When using squid as bait, there are a few ways to prepare and present it.

You can use a whole squid by threading it onto a hook or attaching it with a bait holder rig. This method works well for larger fish species that are capable of swallowing the whole bait.

You can use squid strips. You can also use squid tentacles by threading them onto a hook or use them to enhance other bait presentations.

Some anglers use squid skirts. Squid skirts are the soft, elongated portions of the squid that resemble a skirt. These can be attached to a lure or used in combination with other bait to add scent and attract fish.

Squid tentacles used as bait
Squid tentacles used as bait

What Fish Does Squid Bait Attract?

Squid bait can attract a wide range of saltwater and freshwater fish species:

  1. Saltwater Species:
  1. Freshwater Species:
  • Catfish (e.g., channel catfish, flathead catfish)
  • Striped bass (in certain freshwater lakes or reservoirs)
  • Largemouth bass
  • Walleye
  • Pike
  • Muskellunge (muskie)

Should You Salt Squid for Bait?

Salting squid for bait is a common practice and can offer some benefits. Salting squid helps preserve it, toughens the flesh, and enhances its scent, making it more appealing to fish.

Follow these steps to salt bait:

  1. Rinse the squid thoroughly.
  2. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the squid, covering all surfaces.
  3. Place the salted squid in a container or bag and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight. The salt will draw out moisture and help preserve the bait.

It’s important to note that salting squid can also make it tougher to handle and may require a stronger hook or fishing rig to secure it properly.

What Is the Best Hook for Squid Bait?

Circle hooks are a popular choice. They have a slightly curved shape that helps in hooking the fish in the corner of the mouth, reducing the chances of deep hooking and increasing the likelihood of a successful catch and release. Circle hooks also tend to minimize the risk of the bait being swallowed, allowing for easier hook removal.

Octopus hooks are versatile and effective for squid bait. They have a short shank and a wide gap, providing a good hook-setting capability. Octopus hooks work well for both larger and smaller squid.

J-hooks can be suitable for squid bait as well. They come in different sizes, so choose a size that matches the size of the squid and the target species.

Baitholder hooks can work well with squid bait, ensuring the bait remains intact and attractive to the target fish.

It’s important to consider the size of the squid, the fishing location, and the target species when selecting the hook size.

How to Hook Squid Strips and Frozen Squid

Squid strips have really gained in popularity over the last 15 years. Squid strips may come in a few different packaging, like a small plastic container or on a styrofoam tray stored in a vacuum-sealed bag. Either way, wait for the strips to thaw out completely.

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. 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, wrap the hooked piece around the 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 dangle below the hook. For best results, add small cuts or slices towards the bottom of the strip to resemble the squid’s tentacles.

Accompanying the piece of squid with a shiner or minnow also yields pretty good results.

Check the video below on how to hook squid strips.

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 saltwater fish.

The best setup would be a snood rig with two large hooks set on top of one another. The goal of this rig is to successfully cover the top and bottom areas 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 or five whole squids. Try only to buy the frozen squid that is packaged for bait. Purchasing whole fresh squid from a fish market can be relatively expensive, especially since you are only using the squid as fish bait.

How to Rig a Live Squid for Bait

Live squid can be messy, especially the larger ones. I strongly recommend using either a glove or a towel to hold the squid as you try to set the hook or rig.

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.

Here’s a video with simple instructions on how to rig a live squid.

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.

Our favorite bait, Fishbites® E-Z Squid, works great for deep-drop jigs or skirted jigs. It also works for trolling as well as creating a chum line.

Our Pick
Fishbites® E-Z Squid

E-Z Squid can be used on a bare hook or as a trailer on a jig or skirt. The longer lasting formula features a cloth binder in the middle of the bait that keeps it on the hook. While the gel is designed to work in all water temperatures, it’s best to use in water temperatures above 65F.

Their long-lasting formula is one of the best on the market. If you are an offshore angler, adding a package of these Fish Bites to your tackle box is definitely worth adding.

What Kind of Line Should Be Used for Squid Bait?

I recommend using a monofilament or braided fishing line. Both lines have advantages, so the choice depends on personal preference and fishing conditions.

What is the Hard Plastic Thing inside a Squid & Should I Remove It?

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 prepare 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 hook the squid. The cartilage is always removed when squid is prepared for eating.

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