How to bait a hook with sardines

Written by ann johnson
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How to bait a hook with sardines
Sardines are used as live or dead bait. (sardines texture image by João Freitas from

If you have oversensitive olfactory nerves, sardines may not be your ideal choice of bait. Wear gloves when baiting your hook, as the scent can stay on your hands for days. Some anglers use sardine fillets as bait, while other prefer to hook live bait. Because the sardine fillets are soft, they easily fall off the hook if not securely attached.

Things you need

  • Fishing line
  • Fishing rod
  • Fishing reel
  • Fishing knife
  • Thread

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    Live bait

  1. 1

    Match the appropriate hook size and line weight to the size of the sardine you are hooking. Chuck Garrison at the Live Bait Larry website recommends pairing a small sardine with hook sizes 2, 4 or 6, with a 4.5 to 9 kg (10 to 20 lb) test line. For a large sardine, he recommends a hook size of 2, 1/0, 3/0, 4/0 or 5/0, with a 6.8 to 18 kg (15 to 40 lb) test line.

  2. 2

    Insert the point of the hook beneath the ridge of skin behind the sardine's gill collar and bring it through the other side. This method is more appropriate when fishing the surface of the water.

  3. 3

    Insert the point of the hook into the sardine's anal opening, turning the hook to expose its point. This method will cause the sardine to swim downward, rather than staying on the surface.


  1. 1

    Cut a 10 cm (4 inch) section of fillet. Instead of a piece of fillet, use the fish's head or the head, skeleton and tail of a filleted sardine.

  2. 2

    Weave the hook through the bait.

  3. 3

    Wrap the elastic thread (available at bait shops) around the sardine to prevent it from falling apart when on the hook.

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