Brined salted bait fish is used by itself as bait on a hook, or setup to be trolled, or added to a lure for extra fish attractant. Putting frozen bait fish on a hook without being salted will make it fall off, so you normally would have to use some sort of thread to make it stay on. Even using thread the bait will still come out because the flesh will simply fall off the hook. If you brine or salt the bait fish, it will be much tougher and it will stay on the hook much better. You can still use some thread to ensure it stays on longer, but you won’t need as much as you would if it was not salted. Brining or salting bait fish will also make any colors or added scents stay within the bait longer as well.
Brined Bait Fish Options
This technique can be done with any type of bait fish. Threadfin shad, minnows, small plug cut herring, and anchovies will all work well. When bait fish are pulled through the water, a properly rigged bait will give off a lot of flash, and your bait will have a benefit that other baits do not have, it will smell like the real thing, because it is!
Brine With Good Bait Fish
This technique is only as good as the bait fish you use. When you buy frozen bait, be sure to get the tray style baits, which is the kind that the bait fish are frozen side by side in a vacuum sealed tray. The loose bagged baits are not as good of quality because they are usually mushy and are beat up a bit and missing some scales. They will work in a pinch, but the tray style bait fish are the best quality to use. Small plug cut herring and anchovies will work well for trout and landlocked king salmon. After you buy good bait, you need to salt or brine it up so that it will stay bright and firm. You can use homemade brines that include salt, anise oil, and dye. You can also buy commercial bait cure and simply marinate your baits in it. The cure tightens the scales, firms up the flesh or meat of the fish, and adds a nice shine. It’s also filled with amino acids, so the baits give off a big scent trail.
Add Dye to the Brined Bait Fish
I like to add dye to my brine baits. Sometimes I just use salt and some dye, but I have really grown to like the ease of using commercial brines that have the dye built into the brine. Pro Cure makes a great brine, and it comes in the perfect colors, each of the best colors are shown below. Sometimes fish want natural colored baits, but they also seem to have a preference for color on other days, so I will usually make up a small batch of each color in preparation for my fishing day. I typically use chartreuse green, bright red or pink, and sometimes I will use blue. My two top colors are the chartreuse and pink. When you go out fishing, be sure to keep your baits cold so they will stay firm and not get mushy. Store them in a plastic tub or ziplock and keep the baits on ice all day for best results. I usually mix up my bait and brine on the evening before my fishing trip, and let it soak all night to get good and colorful and firm.
Rigging Up Your Brined Bait Fish
The next thing you need to do is learn the sliding snell knot, and I have included a video of the sliding snell knot below. You can use two of any style hooks work best for you for this setup. Some like to use a single hook above a treble hook. The top hook is tied so that it can slide up and down the line with a little bit of pressure. You can run one point of the treble into the meat of the fish’s tail, and then the point of the single hook goes up and through the bait’s nose with the hook pointing up. Then you can put a slight bend in the bait by holding the single hook and gently pulling the leader. Slip the bait in the water and watch it’s action to make sure it’s doing what you want. What your looking for here is a nice tight spin.
Sliding Snell Knot for Brined Bait Fish
The bait will be spinning, so you want to make sure you have a good quality bead chain swivel about twelve to eighteen inches above the bait to keep your line twist to a minimum. You can troll these just like you would with spoons or spinners. Sometimes I will put a dodger up above the bait as well for some extra noise and fish attractant. The fish you catch with cured baitfish will typically be bigger fish, and this technique will work when other techniques are not working. You can also use the fish meat in chunks on other lures you are trolling with to give it the real bait scent to catch more fish in your regular trolling and other fishing methods.
Pro Cure Brine N Bite Complete for Bait Fish
The Pro-Cure Brine N Bite Complete is the same great formula as their legendary Brine ‘n Bite Powder, without all the hassles of measuring powder, water, dyes, UV and brighteners to mix together. Brine ‘n Bite Complete has it all in one convenient bottle of liquid! The Chartreuse Glow, and Brilliant Blue have the perfect amounts of dyes to give you bright, and brilliant, fluorescent colored baits, with UV added for additional attractant and brighness of the baits you mix it with. And all the liquids contain their proprietary blend of amino acids to trigger aggressive strikes. So if you’re just doing a few trays of bait, save all the hassles and grab a bottle or two of Brine ‘n Bite Complete to brine your bait fish.About The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best Brined Bait Fish Recipe Experience Awaits!