Shiners are excellent bait and almost every predatory fish eats shiner as a large part of their diet so using a live shiner for fishing just makes sense. But how to hook shiners become more important to keep the live bait alive long enough to catch fish. This guide will explain the basics of hooking shiners, what size hooks to use, and what positions to hook the shiner in depending on the conditions you are fishing.
So, how do you hook shiners? You can hook shiners in front of the dorsal fin, in the mouth, or above the anal fin for the best results. Using these methods you can easily fish a shiner with or without weight or bobbers. Conditions and fishing methods will determine what style of hooking should be used on shiners.
How to hook shiners when fishing
If you have purchased or caught wild golden shiners you will need to know how to hook them. You can hook shiners and other baitfish in a few different places. The below will outline the most common ways to hook a shiner when you want to fish them as live bait.
Hook shiner in upper back
Hooking a shiner in the upper back is a very common way to fish a shiner, especially when using a bobber. This keeps the shiner balanced horizontally when it seems under the float. Float fishing in certain areas is very common when the water is shallow or when weeds are thick at a certain level and you want to fish the bait just above the weeds. Thick weeds can result in some very large largemouth bass.
Reasons you would hook a shiner in the back in front of the dorsal fin:
- Fishing under a bobber to keep the shiner at a certain depth
- Free line the bait with no boober when there is no current
Hook shiner in mouth
Hooking a shiner in the mouth is another excellent way to fish live bait. This method is used a lot when a bobber is not in use and you want to fish live bait with just our line and hook. This method makes the bait look and swims naturally.
There is nothing to keep the bait from going to whatever depth it wants so if there are heavy weeds at a certain depth under the water column you could use a fishing float This method also allows for easier fishing when current is involved as you can retrieve the bait back without hurting the shiner.
Reasons to hook a shiner in the mouth:
- When you want to freeline the bait with no weight or bobber
- When fishing in current and need to retrieve the bait back to continuously make a cast to a spot
- When fishing a weight up pinned up your line
Hook a shiner above anal fin
hooking a shiner above the anal fin when using a weight or a knocker rig style weight allows the fish to constantly try to swim up causing fish to strike. This method is used when you want to fish a bit deeper.
You can also freeline the bait with this method because you can cast a bait further especially when you are dealing with a lot of wind. When you cast a bait that is anal fin hooked will cause the bait to cut throw the wind and cast farther.
Reason to hook a shiner above the anal fin:
- When you want to use a knocker rig style weight system
- If its very windy and you need to make a cast far
How to hook a shiner without killing it
Back of bait
When hooking a shiner throw the back in front of the dorsal fin you want to make sure you do not penetrate too deep into the shiner where it will kill the bait. If you go down too deep into the body it will puncture and kill the bait. You want to just go down enough with the hook that when you cast it will not rip the hook out, but not too deep that you kill the bait.
When hooking the shiner in the mouth be sure you do not go too deep into the shiner’s brain. If you do the bait will die instantly. You want to go through just the top of the mouth where you feel the top of the hard piece at the back of the top of the mouth, but not through the brain.
You want to put the hook only through the top of the mouth so the fish can still take in water and get oxygen. If you pin both lower and upper with the hook it pins the mouth shut and the bait will die much quicker.
Anal fin hooked
When hooking the shiner above the anal fin you want to go up just far enough where you do not cast off the bait but not too deep where you kill the shiner.
What kind of hooks should you use when fishing live shiner?
Just like other live bait fishing you need to match the size of the bait with your hooks. If you are fishing very small live bait for perch you need to scale the hooks way down. For medium and larger shiners the Gamakatsu Shiner Hooks are excellent hooks for the shiner. For big shiners that are 8 to 10 inches, you should look for hook sizes that range from size 2/0 to 6/0 hooks.
Kahle hooks are a great choice and a 2/0 hook works great for a wide range of shine baits. For larger shiner baits you may want to look for hooks sizes that range from 5/0 with a weed guard if you are fishing in heavy cover.
Shiner is excellent bait when used live and is responsible for catching through largemouth bass and other species across the United States. Hooking shiner can be done in many ways and depending on your conditions, the size of the shiner will determine how you hook the bait.
Hooking shiner properly will result in more bites and better fishing because the bait will be lively and attract more fish.