How to Hook Shrimp for Fishing (Dead & Alive)

Shrimp for fishing is one of the most used bait for anglers both from land and in boats in saltwater. Dead shrimp can be purchased at almost any bait and tackle shop and it can even be purchased at your local grocery store when you are in a bind. Life shrimp is also available at most tackle shops locally owned. This guide will explain how to hook shrimp for fishing both alive and dead shrimp.

Unlike catching live bait which can be difficult for some anglers especially when you are new to fishing, dead bait like shrimp works great and is easy to get.

How to hook shrimp for fishing? Hooking a shrimp can be done a few different ways. The most popular place is right behind the horn of the shrimps head down slightly so the braid does not get pierced. Other methods are throw the tail and out of the body so the bait stays in place when fishing deeper.

Is Live Shrimp Good for Fishing?

Shrimp are a natural bait for many different types of fish and can be used throughout the year. They make great bait in inshore saltwater fishing.

When fishing with live shrimp, use them with floats to improve your chances of success for certain types of fish like seatrout. But freelining a big shrimp can also produce Snook and giant tarpon in a specific condition.

How to Hook Live Shrimp

Head Part

The Head part of shrimp can be rigged in various ways to attract different types of fish. and is great for beginner fisherman.

There are pros and cons to each method of fishing a shrimp, and it depends on the type of fishing you’re doing.

For big shrimp, use larger hooks or jigs to properly secure the head in place while fishing. The heads work great for fish like sheepshead and other fish that eat hard shelled prey.

Running the hook at the opposite end of the shrimps head and then thread the hook out throw the top of the head will secure the head in place while fishing.

Fishing a float rig

When using a float or a popping cork you will want to hook a live shrimp in the head part. But you do not want to go to deep where you pierce the brain killing the shrimp’s.

You will see a black circle in the shrimps head. You want to stay above this right behind the horn of the shrimp and down slightly.

Middle or Body Part

When rigging shrimp, avoid the dark spots in the digestive system and pancreas. There are two ways to rig dead or frozen crustaceans – tear it apart or hook from the end of the head or tip of the tail.

You can also sweeten the jig using dead shrimp by slicing into shank length before tipping. These tipping baits add extra scent and motion to the jig that typically results in more fish being caught.

Tail Part

Tail parts can be used again for fish like sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and other fish that will eat these types of baits Typically you can rig these on a j-style hook and a sinker vertically down from a pier or bridge.

The tail when fanned out will cause you bait to twist so these pieces are best used in a straight up or down motion or casted out and left there.

Best Size Circle Hook For Live Shrimp

Hooking live shrimp

The Mustad Demon Perfect Circle Hook is the best circle hook for live shrimp.

It is big enough to handle large fish yet still has a small hook sufficient to hold your shrimp as bait. The size of the circle hook will depend on the size of the shrimp.

Larger shrimp will require a larger size hook and smaller shrimp smaller size hook.

  • Small shrimp: 1/0
  • Medium shrimp 2/0 – 3/0
  • Large shrimp: 3/0 up depending on how big

Tail hooking a live shrimp

Tail hooking a live shrimp is a technique where the shrimp’s tail is broken off at the first joint, and the shrimp’s meat is pierced through with the hook.

This method causes the shrimp to bleed casuing fish to get attractited to the scent. 

Tipping a jig with live shrimp

Tipping a jig with live shrimp involves putting a small shrimp onto the tip of a hook.

Tipping the jig causes fish to get attracted to the lure resulting in more strikes and holding on to the bait longer.  It is essential to use a tiny piece of shrimp about the size of a pea. Too large a portion of shrimp will destroy the action of the jig.

This method is excellent especially when fishing becomes tougher and bites either slow down or stop when using a jig. Tipping the jig can get bites when others you wouldn’t.

Live Shrimp Vs. Frozen Shrimp

Live shrimp are better than frozen shrimp for inshore fishing. While booth work and catch fish we prefer a live shrimp when possible. Frozen shrimp will have a tendency to get mushy and not stay on the hook as good as live shrimp.

Live Shrimp

Live shrimp are good for fishing because they provide more action than bait that is not alive. Live shrimp are easy to rig and can be fished with various methods, including freelining, on a sinker, under a float to get results. When fishing lives shrimp, extra care should be taken to avoid hitting vital organs and killing the bait when hooking the shrimp.

Dead/ Frozen Shrimp

Shrimp can be bought in almost any supermarket or at your local tackle store. Fishing with shrimp especially frozen shrimp is a great way for beginners to get out in inshore saltwater conditions to fish. The great part about frozen shrimp is you can get them at almost any grocery store frozen.

Keeping the Shrimp Alive

Use an aerated bait bucket or a cooler filled with a little ice to keep the shrimp cool is a great way to keep your live shrimp alive especially on super hot days.

If you have an aerator and do not overcrowd the bait bucket to much you can keep keep shrimp alive for a long time. Aeration is essential in a bait bucket since shrimp are aquatic animals that draw oxygen from the water.

Keeping Bait Shrimp Alive and Fresh Without A Bait Bucket

To keep bait shrimp alive, pack them into a cold cooler. Keeping temperatures low decreases the overall weight and mess of an aerated bait bucket and preserves shrimp life.

How to Store Dead and Frozen Shrimp

Shrimp may be frozen in the freezer for up to 4 months or longer when vacuumed sealed. They can also be stored in a refrigerator for up to 3 months.

To preserve dead shrimp, you need to get rid of the heads, shells, and tails. You can salt the bottom and top of jars or place slices of shrimp on top.

In Closing

Hooking live and dead shrimp is not difficult at all. In-fact its great for beginner fisherman that want to start using live bait. Shrimp are easy to purchase and keep alive versus other types of live bait and almost every in-shore species of fish eat them.

Remember to keep your live shrimp in a bucket with an aerator system in a cool place and they should survive just fine.

Match the size of the hooks to the size of the shrimp for best results.

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