How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp? Hook Live Bait Like a Pro!

How to Fish With Live Shrimp

Fishing with live bait has numerous benefits!

Fish will see their natural prey and won’t be suspicious towards your bait. Natural movement and scent that attracts fish are often better than any other option.

You can catch shrimp by yourself and save money on bait. But, how to do this?

To fish with live shrimp, you will have to learn how to catch it, hook and rig a shrimp, and keep it alive. If you are a beginner, you will need a bit of practice, but soon you will fish like a pro.

To learn more about how to fish with live shrimp, read the following chapters ...



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Is Live Shrimp Good for Fishing?

The answer to this question is definitely YES! Shrimp are native to many parts of a world and make a natural food source for a variety of fish species. If you store and hook it right, they can survive for a long time on a hook, and during that time they will be very active and move around and be a perfect live bait!

Fish like to prey on injured creatures, and a shrimp on a hook will behave in a way that is irresistible to them.

Besides, their scent will attract fish from far away!

Shrimps can be used throughout the year and they can withstand various temperatures. Many anglers like to use them during colder months, when the fish are slow. Fast moving baitfish can present too much of a challenge for your targeted fish species, so slow moving shrimp will be your advantage.

Shrimps can be used in both saltwater and freshwater, and even dead ones can do the job.

When it comes to salt water, use live shrimp for inshore fishing. Additionally, live shrimp can be used with floats too, so they are perfect for beginners who want to learn how to fish and how to use live baits.

How to Fish With Live Shrimp - Bait

How to Rig a Live Shrimp? Hook it Like a Pro!

Hooking live shrimp takes a bit of practice, but it is not too hard.

First of all, you must avoid eyes, stomach and dark spot on the upper body behind the head, where the tail starts.

How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp - Target Area

Rigging #1: Hook Shrimp Through The Tail

If you want your shrimp bait to fly far in the water and catch those sneaky fish, here's a best way to rig a shrimp! 

Hook the shrimp right through its tail, where the little fan is. This way, the shrimp's head leads the way, and it won't rip off when you cast it. Plus, if you take off the tail fan, it'll spread a yummy smell for the fish.

Use a special hook called a bait-holder to keep your shrimp buddy on tight. Slide the hook point through the tail, wiggle it up, and poke it out near its belly or back. Hide the hook's eye if you want to be extra sneaky.

How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp - Through The Tail

Rigging #2: Hook Shrimp Through The Carapace

Alright, here is another (the easiest) way! When you're out fishing and want to make your live shrimp look irresistible, hang it under a popping cork.

Imagine your shrimp swimming around naturally - it's like a dinner bell for fish!

Here's the trick: carefully hook the shrimp right through its hard top shell (center of the carapace), but don't hit those dark spots (vital organs) - that's where its important parts are! If you do it just right, the shrimp stays alive and kicks, making a perfect snack for a hungry fish.

Try to hook a shrimp sideways through the top or the tail end, and you'll have a lively bait for longer!

How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp - Through-The-Carapace-Back

How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp - Through-The-Carapace-Front

Rigging #3: Hook Shrimp Through the Head / Under the Chin

Another way, that increases casting distance but kills the shrimp faster is under the chin. This is hard to do because you have to avoid organs.

What you do is gently guide the hook right under the shrimp's little chin and bring it out on top, just behind its pointy horn. Be careful though, because this method doesn't keep the shrimp buddy swimming for as long.

This is a bit like threading a needle, so you have to be precise.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so let's get those shrimp ready for an awesome day of fishing!

How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp - Through-The-Head

Rigging #4: Hook a Live Shrimp "Weed-less"

So, let's make our shrimp bait sneaky so it can swim through grassy spots without getting stuck!

First, run the hook right through the very tip of the shrimp's tail. Next, carefully pull the hook back a bit and flip it upside down. Now, the sharp part should be pointing down. Tuck the hook into the bottom part of the shrimp so it's hiding.

Don't forget, if you take off the tail's fan, it'll spread a smell in the water that fish love.

How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp - WeedLess

Rigging #5: Hook Shrimp on a Jighead

Here is another cool way to fish using a live shrimp and a jighead!

Imagine you're trying to catch a smart fish. You want your shrimp to look like it's just chilling on the ocean floor. That's where the jig head comes in handy! 

You hook the shrimp right under its little chin and out the top, being super careful not to hurt it.

Then, you gently bounce the jighead on the seabed. It's like making the shrimp dance, and that dance is what gets those fish biting! Keep it nice and easy, and you'll be a pro at this in no time!

Bonus Tip: That kind of rigging is also good for bottom fishing ...

How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp - Jig-Head

What Kind of Fish Can You Catch with Shrimp?

The possibilities are almost endless, and that is one of the reasons why is live shrimp such a good bait.

Every angler will sooner or later be in a situation where live shrimp will be the best bait choice.

Saltwater species

I will list the most common saltwater fish species first. Most of them frequently feed on the bottom, so shrimp is their natural prey.

Some of this species are native to European seas while others can be found around the world.

  • European seabass

European seabass is one of the most popular fish species among European anglers.

They are not easy to catch and when they finally bite, they will fight hard. Presenting them a live shrimp increases your chances.

They come to shallow waters in warmer months so you can fish from the shore.

  • Common pandora

Coastal areas, especially with partially sandy bottoms, are natural habitat for common pandora. Drifting and bottom fishing are two techniques commonly used to catch them, and live shrimp should be among the first baits you choose.

  • Sea bream

Sea bream can be caught on shrimp, but many anglers will tell you this is not their first choice.

However, if you notice that sea bream is not interested in baitfish and similar baits, switch to live shrimp and it could work in your favor. Sea bream, similar to seabass, comes near the shores in relatively shallow water during warmer months.

  • Redfish

These fierce fighters react well on live bite, but it should be chosen in accordance with area where you are fishing. Live shrimp will work best in shallow, coastline waters.

  • Cobia

Cobia can grow very large and it makes a great trophy catch. These crab-eaters have excellent sight and can’t resist an injured aquatic animal like shrimp. They spend time close to shore so you don’t need a boat.

  • Speckled seatrout

Seatrout likes moving waters and strong currents. Low light conditions and deep, dark, holes are their favorite habitat. Same as many other fish from this list, they won’t be able to resist when they see live shrimp.

  • Snook

Snook will often ignore various baits but shrimp is not one of them. Try using this bait during winter months and you will be amazed.

  • Flounder

You can catch flounder both near the shore and out in the opened. They can be caught when the tides move throughout the year. Live shrimp is one of the best baits for them.

  • Wahoo

These opportunistic feeders prefer clear waters with a lot of shelter and hiding places. Present a live shrimp near underwater structures and wahoo will definitely bite.

How to Fish With Live Shrimp - Wahoo

Except for saltwater species, you can catch some freshwater fish too.

Most of them prefer live freshwater shrimp, however, some will occasionally bite on a dead saltwater shrimp too. Those are mostly catfish and bullheads.

  • Catfish

Catfish is an opportunistic eater which will eat anything that smells delicious. You can even use dead shrimp to catch them. Position them near the bottom and catfish won’t be able to resist.

  • Bass

Bass likes live bait and if you present it right, it will attract it. Bass likes to lurk from hiding places and weed beds so position it there and let it move.

  • Walleye

Anglers mostly use minnows and nightcrawlers, but if there is no action, try to change baits and use live shrimp. Fishing for walleye in spring with live bait can be very productive.

  • Crappie

To catch crappies, shrimps can be used on a float setup. Younger specimens prefer shrimp, while older ones will often choose baitfish first.

  • Yellow Perch

Yellow perch loves live bait and shrimps can be used year-round, even in colder months. The key is to choose smaller shrimp. You can even use dead or cut ones.

  • Bluegill

Same as for yellow perch, use small shrimps, or cut them in pieces if you have to. This method will work year-round.

How to Fish With Live Shrimp - Bluegill

Where Can You Fish With Live Shrimp? Inshore ...

When learning how to fish with live shrimp, you will have to find suitable locations.

Live shrimp are most commonly used in freshwater and inshore saltwater fishing. You can use them anywhere where shrimp are natural food source for fish species.

Shrimp are suitable for all water conditions; however, they will work best in a bit murkier water. If you catch them yourself, use them in a location where you caught them and you will be sure that the location is suitable.

When it comes to clear freshwater, bluegills like live shrimp in summer months when the water is clear.

Otherwise, position the bait in a muddy area, near the covers but not close enough for the live shrimp to hide and you will get the best results.

When fishing with dead shrimp, clarity of the water is not important.

In saltwater, fish from the shore in any water conditions, just make sure that you position live shrimp in a place where it can’t hide.

How to Fish With Live Shrimp - Hooked

What Size of Hooks to Use for Fishing With Shrimp?

Hook size depends a lot on a shrimp size. Large hooks will weight them down and impair their movement which is crucial to attract fish.

For a 2-inch (5 cm) shrimp, use #1 hook. For larger shrimps you can use 1/0. If the shrimp is even smaller, use #2. Trust your judgement and if the hook seems to big, it probably is. Additionally, if the hook is too small, the hooksets won’t be successful, or the shrimp could fall off.

When it comes to shape, use circle ones because those are suitable for live bait. Larger hooks will easily kill the bait too, so when using live bait, choose smaller hooks than you would for dead bait.

What's the Best Way to Catch Shrimps?

To successfully learn how to fish with live shrimp, you will have to catch them first.

The easiest way to catch a shrimp is with a plastic bottle.

Firstly, rinse the bottle with water, especially if it was a juice bottle. Cut the upper third off.

Remove the cork, or if the bottle has a large cork, puncture a hole large enough for the shrimp to get through.

Take the upper bottle part, turn it upside down and put it in the bottom part. Fix the 2 pieces together.

Throw in some shrimp bait like fishmeal or similar. Adjust the bait according to a location and water. Some of the possibilities are corn meal, flour and similar. This method can work in both saltwater and freshwater.

When you add bait, take the bottle and submerge it in a place where shrimp live. Leave it a few hours, or overnight of you can. Fix it with a fishing line because there is a chance it will drift away.

This shrimp trap works in a simple way. Shrimp will sense the smell of food, go inside of the bottle but they won’t be able to get out.

How to Fish With Live Shrimp? Live Bait on Boat!

How do You Keep Shrimp Alive?

Keeping shrimp alive is important, especially on longer fishing trips.

Oxygen is very important, so you will have to use aerators, or change the water frequently. Aerators are always better. You will not have to worry about water changes and you will not shock the shrimp with frequent temperature and water quality changes.

Water has to be cold, protected from direct sunlight and stored in shade. Keep it cold by adding bottles with frozen water into the bucket.

Water has to be clean, and you should at least partially change it whenever you see that shrimp are slowing down. Always remove dead shrimps as soon as possible.

And lastly, get a small net or a similar device to remove shrimp from a bucket. Sticking your hands in can bring harmful chemicals in the water and cause shrimp to die.

How to Fish and Rig Live Shrimp - Alive

Is Frozen Shrimp Good Bait?

Buying frozen shrimp for bait is the easiest way to get them.

You can buy them in almost any supermarket, they are nicely packed and you can carry them around in a portable refrigerator. Besides, they are cheaper than live ones (if you buy them).

Live bait is mostly better than dead one, but frozen and defrosted shrimp makes a good bait. You can easily hook it, it has strong smell, and some fish species (mentioned in the previous chapters) like cut and dead bait.

The only thing this bait lacks is the movement, and you will have to adjust your fishing technique to attract fish.

Unfortunately, frozen shrimp will attract smaller fish which will nibble on it and it can come off the hook easily.

Make sure that frozen bait is from a reputable manufacturer and bought in a fishing store/supermarket that sells quality product. If the shrimp was defrosted multiple times during transport or improper storage, its quality will significantly drop, as well as the ability to attract fish.

How to Fish With Live Shrimp - Frozen


Learning how to fish with live shrimp is very useful.

These versatile baits are suitable for almost any location and time of year. Various fish species will be attracted to them, and it can often happen that you catch a fish you didn’t expect.

Put some effort into catching them and save money. If you are a beginner, keep in mind that fishing with live shrimp is an excellent way to learn about live baits, before proceeding to more complicated ones.

And remember, especially if you are fishing on freshwater, to check the local rules and regulations about live bait usage.

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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