Minnows are versatile baitfish that can be used to catch fish in saltwater or freshwater. They are small and plentiful and usually caught near the edge of a body of water using a bait net. As with any bait fish, placing a minnow on the hook so that it stays alive is crucial to successful fishing, as most game fish will not pay attention to a fish floating lifelessly in the water. There are three methods of hooking a minnow properly, all of which keep the minnow alive to attract fish to your hook.
Hook a live minnow through the top of the tail, if you're using the minnow on a hook only, without floats or weights attached to the line, allowing the minnow to swim unencumbered, except for the hook. Pierce the minnow's skin in front of the tail on one side, Use your hook of choice -- such as a straight hook, jig or spinner -- and hook it through to the same spot on the other side. Avoid nicking the spine by going too low down the minnow's side.
Hook the minnow through the back just before the dorsal fin if you are using a float and sinker setup, such as for boat, pier or surf fishing. Pierce the side of the minnow and run the hook through and out the other side in the same spot. Keep the hook as close to the top as possible to avoid hitting the spine.
Pierce the minnow through the upper, lip, lower lip or nostrils if you are trolling from a moving boat. Open the minnow's mouth and hook it through, having it come out above the upper lip. Reverse the hook setup if hooking through the lower lip; alternatively, hook the minnow through one nostril and have it come out the other. This keeps the minnow alive so it has a natural-looking swim motion while being trolled.
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