How to Hook Bluegill for Bass Fishing

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Amongst the thousands of various fishing lures you can try, nothing matches the natural appeal you get from using live bait. One of the best live baits options available to anglers for catching bass is the bluegill. However, the bluegill is only effective when you hook them well. So, here is how to hook bluegill for bass fishing.

How to Hook Bluegill for Bass Fishing

The bass is one of the most popular gamefish in North America. This trophy fish could weigh up to 7 to 12 pounds, with monster sizes weighing as much as over 15 pounds. However, despite its widespread appeal as one of the most sought-after gamefish, the bass can be very picky when it comes to their diet.

An image of a man holding bluegill fish

Several anglers have successfully used the bluegill as bait for bass fishing. It is however important to note that getting quality results when fishing bass with bluegill is not as simple as it seems. You cannot just hook the bluegill and cast it out. There are a few factors you have to consider to maximize your chances of success.

The first factor to consider is that:

  • You want your bluegill to remain alive for as long as possible. As such, you want to hook the bluegill in a way that allows it to stay alive while you draw in bass
  • Speaking of drawing in bass, the second factor is hooking the bluegill in a way that does not affect its natural swimming motion.

Methods for Hooking Bluegill for Bass Fishing

There are different ways to hook bluegill when fishing for bass. Each of these methods has its pros and cons. It is best to understand how each of these methods works and possibly try them out to determine which is most suitable for you. Here are 3 methods for hooking bluegill:

Head Hooking

For head hooking, the best way to hook your bluegill is by hooking it through the lips. To do this, pass the hook through the lips starting with the bottom lip and coming out through the upper lip. This will help keep the lips of the fish shut and ensure that it stays alive for an extended period of time.

This method also offers the best hook-up ratio. This is because bass tend to swallow their prey head first most times. Since the hook is also swallowed, it ensures that the bass is hooked properly and quickly.

However, this method of hooking bluegill dampens the body motion of the baitfish and results in the lowest baitfish activity of all three options. The bluegill also tends to point towards the surface of the water. This can be an advantage when fishing for bass close to the surface of the water.

Back Hooking

The back hooking method requires you to hook the bluegill just behind the dorsal fin. This method is quite effective as it strikes a balance between:

  • Baitfish activity
  • Swimming motion, and
  • Longevity.

Consider tugging the line after hooking the bluegill and casting it. This will cause a sideways swimming motion in the bluegill that draws in predators.

An image of bluegill fish

Tail Hooking

When it comes to tail hooking, the best way to hook the bluegill is to hook it at the back side of its body right before the tail. This allows for maximal baitfish activity. This combined with the downward swimming motion of the fish helps to draw in hungry bass in the area.

The downside to this method, however, is that the hyperactivity of the bluegill can shorten their lifespan. It has a high chance of cast-offs and a poor hook-up ratio that results in a bass escaping.

Why Are Bluegills Good Baitfish for Bass Fishing?

For fish as selective as the bass, bluegills make really very good baitfish. There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, they are natural prey for bass, and they are very sturdy, making them withstand various water conditions.

Natural Prey

Panfish, like bluegills, are an essential part of the diet of bass. Bass has always thrived in ponds and lakes with a large population of bluegills. Of all the prey that bass feed on, bluegills are the favorite choice of bass. This is because of their high protein content.

This makes it an optimal option when it comes to selecting a baitfish that bass cannot resist. With a proper right hooking method and the right fishing technique, you will be sure to lure in hungry bass.

Bluegill is also readily available across freshwaters, giving you an almost endless supply of baitfish where you can legally use them.


Bluegills are small species of fish in terms of size. This makes them perfect for bass who are looking to crush their prey once with their strong jaws. Bass can comfortably swallow the average-sized bluegill. This makes bluegill an ideal choice for live bait when fishing for bass.


Another reason why bluegills make good baitfish for bass fishing is because of their sturdiness. Compared to several other baitfish, bluegill can withstand a lot of water conditions that are less than ideal. They can withstand oxygen levels that most other baitfish cannot and promise better longevity after casting.

Where to Get Bluegill for Bass Fishing

Sourcing bluegill for fishing is another straightforward, yet important aspect you should consider. If you are looking to use cut bait, your answer could be quite simple. You can easily walk into any bait shop and purchase them.

If you want to get live bluegills to use as baitfish, then you would have to try a more tiring, and fun, option –catching it yourself. This option is what most anglers go for as it guarantees them active live bait that they can readily use to catch bass. All you have to do is:

  • Locate an excellent spot where you have enough bluegill
  • Cast a net
  • Then drag in the haul.
A close-up image of bluegill fish

You can even choose to fish for bluegill using a rod and reel with nightcrawlers on a small hook. Either of these methods should not take you too long.

Related Questions

What Is the Best Size of Live Bluegill for Bass Fishing?

Live bluegill are very effective for catching bass. While bass will bite on any size of bluegill, it is, however, best to use the right size of bluegill to achieve optimal results. The optimal size of bluegill to use is within the range of 3 and 5 inches.

This size of bluegill is small enough to appeal to a wide range of bass and large enough to draw in even monster-sized bass looking to crush their prey in one large bite. If you use bluegill that is larger than 5 inches, you may still catch very large bass, however, it might just take you a lot of time.

Is Live Bluegill Legal to Use as Bait?

Bluegill is a highly effective bait for bass fishing. However, it is important that you check if it is legal to use live bluegill as bait in your state. This is because the use of live bait is banned in some states.

As such, you want to check in with your local DNR office or website for the regulations on using baitfish and specific regulations on using bluegills as baitfish. If you find any of the regulations confusing, it is best to contact your game warden for the necessary clarification.


Bluegill is a very popular sport fish in the United States that can be highly effective when used as bait for catching bass. So far as using live bluegill is legal in your state, you can enjoy catching bass with this bait. If it is not permitted in your state, you can consider using artificial bluegill instead.