5 Ways to Make Fish Bait Without Worms

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This article was co-authored by Michael Reynolds. Michael Reynolds is a Professional Fishing Instructor and the Owner of Long Beach, California Fishing Lessons by Michael Reynolds. In his over 40 years of fishing experience, Michael has become very knowledgeable about the variety of fishing methods and techniques. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge with beginners to experienced anglers. Michael has been guiding and teaching fishing for over five years and is licensed and bonded with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW).

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When people think of fishing, they often think of worms. Worms make a great bait, but they are gooey and slimy and, some people think, rather disgusting. What a lot of people don’t know is that you don’t need to use worms to fish. There are lots of other bait options to consider, many in your own kitchen.


Knowing Your Fishing Conditions

  1. 1Know what type of fish you are trying to catch. Every type of fish has their own feeding habits and preferred prey. Determining each will help you construct the perfect lure. Worms are usually effective for any type of freshwater fishing so creating a lure that has certain worm characteristics can be very beneficial.[1] X Research source
  2. 2Be sure you are allowed to use your bait in your fishing area. There maybe some fishing restrictions on bait or lures as warmwater lakes can prohibit the use or release of baitfish. It is always best to check local fishing regulations.Advertisement
  3. 3Abide by the season when fishing in freshwater lakes and ponds. During spring until fall, warm water goes from the top of the lake to the bottom. During summer the water is stagnant and from fall to spring, the cycle is reversed. Understanding this process and what temperature your fish prefer can help you choose the perfect bait.[2] X Research source

    • Warm water fish are usually surface feeders in high summer temperatures and bottom feeders in the fall. So choose baits accordingly.

Using What’s In Your Kitchen

  1. 1Attach bits of bread, chicken, fish, corn, cheese, hot dogs, or raw bacon to your hook. For catching catfish, use smelly foods in a cheesecloth or a sealed container with holes in it. (This is for when you are fishing in shallow waters without a fishing rod.) The only kind of food you need to be careful to not fish with is trout and salmon, as they can promote the spread of what’s called “whirling disease,” which is a type of parasite that can kill a lot of fish.[3] X Research source
  2. 2Use cereal flakes. Simply crush them, add water and make into little balls. Then you fit them around the hook. Wheaties work well (called Wheatie balls). You can also use red soda instead of water, as it attracts the fish more.
  3. 3Make a lure using digestive biscuits and a smelly food. The biscuits are usually sold in any shop or supermarket. Also pick up the smelly bait, for example, maggots or chicken liver. Crush the biscuits into crumbles. Put the crumbles in a bucket or bowl. Add the other baits.

    • Next, add a small amount of water to make a slushy kind of ball. Mix them all together. You now have a cheap homemade bait that’s ideal for attracting fish.
  4. 4Use canned corn as bait. Because it works as well as live bait but without the mess, it’s a time-tested favorite among fishermen. Simply thread as many kernels that you get onto the hook. Throw your line out, and prepare to catch a small mouthed fish, like bream, as soon as it hits the water.
  5. 5Fish with turkey livers. Chicken livers are one of the most popular bait choices for new catfish anglers, but they tend to be a little more popular than they should be. They will catch some fish but the hassle of using them is often not worth the return. Turkey livers, on the other hand, catch more fish than chicken livers and are much tougher, so they are a lot less hassle to work with.[4] X Research source

Using Native Prey

  1. 1Attach small grasshoppers or crickets to your hook. Whether you catch them yourself or buy them at the bait shop, these are a safe bet to catch freshwater fish bream. To bait, hook them through the back. Then fish with the bait suspended a couple of feet below a bobber.[5] X Research source
  2. 2Fish with grass shrimp, sand crabs, sardines snails, leeches, and other aquatic invertebrates. These are great bait for walleye, sauger, panfish, sunfish and trout. It’s best to find them from the area where you are fishing because they are more likely to recognize and attack them.
  3. 3Entice catfish using shrimp. Most people buy “bait shrimp” from bait stores. But it’s better to purchase regular, whole shrimp at the grocery store and then cut them into small pieces. You’ll have a higher-quality bait that will catch more catfish, and, if you do the math, it ends up being cheaper.[6] X Research source

    • Use some sewing thread and wrap the shrimp to the hook so it doesn’t fly off the hook when casting.
  4. 4Bait with crawfish. This makes terrific bait for all types of waterways and fish including bass, walleye, catfish and large trout. If they are dead, pinch the head off, and string the body on the hook by inserting it under the tail and impaling as much of it as possible. If they are alive, the crawfish can be hooked through the base of their tail from the bottom up.

Using Artificial Bait

  1. 1Match the hatch. Basically, what this phrase means is that you use bait that either the fish are already feeding on or that mimics what they are eating. Actually, regardless of the species, if you use this concept you will catch more fish. When it comes to catfish, they feed on all kinds of food, not just stinky bait as is commonly thought.[7] X Research source

    • Though it’s especially popular among trout-fishing enthusiasts, “Matching the hatch” is a phrase often used in the fishing world. The expression comes from the attempts from fly-fisherman to imitate the insects in any given area with artificial imitations to try and fool the fish. [8] X Research source
  2. 2Entice fish with artificial lures. Spoons, many jigs, tiny spinners and other small, lifelike, plastic lures will work when fishing for bream or bass. Make sure the artificial lure mimics the movements of the fish’s natural prey. Form the lures around a hook at a size that accommodates their mouth.[9] X Research source

    • The components of a lure will dictate how it will move in the water. For example, a jerk bait has an oval shape and is meant to float and create jerking movements at the top of the water.
  3. 3Try a variety of bait for bream. Bream, also known as sunfish, panfish and brim, are not particular when it comes to feeding. They are also relatively easy to catch, no matter what the bait is. Whatever you choose, though, make sure it’s small enough to fit into the bream’s notoriously tiny mouth.[10] X Research source

    • If the bait is too big, they will just pull it off the hook little by little, until all that’s left is an empty hook.
  4. 4Use sponge bait and dip bait for catching catfish. You can get them online by a variety of colorful names, at a bait shop or sporting goods store, or you can make them. All sponge and dip baits share a common factor and that is they stink. They are usually made with at least two extremely stinky and foul ingredients such as blood and guts of some form, like chicken livers or the innards of another kind of fish.[11] X Research source

    • Both are fished with using either a small dip or sponge tube to hold the bait. The disadvantage of this type of bait is that the tubes and sponges require additional expense as well as tackle.

Catching Carp with Your Own Homemade Bait

  1. 1Appeal to the carps’ sweet tooth. Carp prefer sweeter baits due to the fact that they originated from Asia where they would eat fallen fruit. By tapping into their taste buds with these delicious recipes, you could land yourself some very big carp on the end of your fishing pole.[12] X Research source
  2. 2Make cornbread carp bait. Set aside a box of sweet cornbread mix, a can of cream corn and 2 slices of bread. Break the bread up into little pieces, and put it into a mixing bowl. Add the cornbread mix and the can of corn, and mix by hand until it’s blended well. That’s it; it’s ready.[13] X Research source
  3. 3Whip up a batch of peanut-butter-sandwhich carp-bait. Gather your ingredients: 4 slices of bread, ½ cup of bird seed, ½ cup of peanut butter, and ¼ cup of water. Make 2 peanut butter sandwiches using the peanut butter and bread. Add the bird seed to a mixing bowl. Then tear the sandwiches into small bits, and add to the bowl.[14] X Research source

    • Pour in the water, and then with your hands, mix until it’s all blended.
  4. 4Prepare a batch of Kool-Aid-grits carp bait. Set aside your ingredients: ½ envelope of Kool-Aid, 2 cups uncooked, quick grits, 1 cup uncooked, regular grits, and 1/8 to ¼ cup warm water. Put the grits in a bowl, and mix in the Kool-Aid until it’s distributed throughout. Add the warm water, and stir until you have a Play-Doh-like consistency.[15] X Research source
  5. 5Make a batch of Jell-O-bread carp bait. Gather your ingredients: 4 slices of bread, 1 package of strawberry Jell-O, ½ cup of flour, and ¼ cup of warm water. Add Jell-O mix to the warm water, and then add the flour to a bowl. Tear the bread into small pieces, and add to the bowl. Slowly pour the Jell-O water in and mix together.[16] X Research source

    • Add a little more water into the mix until it’s a Play-Doh-like consistency. All finished; go out and catch some fish.
    • Keep in mind that you can always add Jell-O to other recipes to make it more appealing to carp.

Community Q&A

  • QuestionWhy is it illegal to use corn as bait?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerCorn is not illegal to use as bait in all states, but where it is illegal this is usually to stop people from chumming the water with corn. Often states adopted these laws after having trouble with some individuals dumping barrels full of corn into the water that would create a huge mess. There may also be some concern that eating large amounts of corn could be bad for fish populations, although this is disputed.
  • QuestionWhat fish eat corn as bait?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerCorn, in various forms, is known to be a great bait for trout, carp, bluegill and perch.
  • QuestionCan you catch a fish without bait?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerIt’s possible, but you may not have as much luck, depending on what kind of fish you’re trying to catch. Some fish may even bite at a bare hook, but you would probably have more luck if you were able to at least attach something shiny to the hook, like a bit of plastic or metal, or just dig around near your fishing spot to find some worms or insects you could use as bait.


  • Check your local fishing regulations first. In some areas, using corn, bread, or cheese is not allowed.⧼thumbs_response⧽


  1. ↑ http://takemefishing.org/fishing/freshwater-fishing/bait-and-lures/natural-fishing-bait/
  2. ↑ http://takemefishing.org/fishing/fishopedia/how-to-fish/when-to-fish/
  3. ↑ http://www.hobbyandlifestyle.com/fishing-bait.html
  4. ↑ http://www.catfishedge.com/catfishing-tips/#catfishbait
  5. ↑ https://www.trails.com/list_28658_what-best-fishing-baits-bream.html
  6. ↑ http://www.catfishedge.com/catfishing-tips/#catfishbait
  7. ↑ http://www.catfishedge.com/catfishing-tips/#catfishbait
  8. ↑ http://www.onthewater.com/matching-the-hatch/
  9. ↑ https://bassonline.com/florida-styles-of-fishing/artificial-lure-fishing-trips/
  1. ↑ https://www.trails.com/list_28658_what-best-fishing-baits-bream.html
  2. ↑ https://www.gameandfishmag.com/editorial/12-catfish-baits/245356
  3. ↑ http://www.lakefishingtechniques.com/5-killer-carp-bait-recipes/
  4. ↑ http://www.lakefishingtechniques.com/5-killer-carp-bait-recipes/
  5. ↑ http://www.lakefishingtechniques.com/5-killer-carp-bait-recipes/
  6. ↑ http://www.lakefishingtechniques.com/5-killer-carp-bait-recipes/
  7. ↑ http://www.lakefishingtechniques.com/5-killer-carp-bait-recipes/

About This Article

To make fish bait without worms, try using smelly foods like chicken, cheese, or hot dogs. You can also crush up cereal flakes, mix them with water, and form them into balls to stick on your fishing hooks. If you have some canned corn on hand, try threading as many kernels onto your hook as you can and then use that as bait. Or, you can attach shrimp, crickets, or snails to your hooks. To learn how to make your own artificial fish bait, scroll down!

Reader Success Stories

  • “Catching catfish and bream are the fish I was wanting to catch and I used the turkey livers and they worked great on the catfish. The can corn worked great on the bream. Thanks.”…” more

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