Baits to use when you run out of the real thing

Baits to use when you run out of the real thing

Fish eat a variety of foods…some of them might surprise you.

In the wild they’ll scoff down insects, worms, crabs, shrimp, snails, tadpoles, frogs, other fish – including their own young. Some also graze on algae and other plant matter.

With a mixed diet like this anything that smells even a bit like food can trip their feeding triggers – from natural stuff in the water around them to homemade baits produced from just about everything you can imagine.

This helps the angler because you can always have something ready on those days when the fish just won’t take any standard bait you offer.

And one other thing to remember…fish don’t have fingers!

Why is this important?

Well, the only way a fish can test if something is food or not is to taste it, which means it has to take it up in its mouth. Yes, it might spit it out immediately but if the angler is paying attention…a quick strike might just hook this curious fish.

So what are some easy, but slightly unusual, items to always have in your tackle bag to use in emergencies…

The list is looooong… so I’ll stay with a just a few of my proven baits:

Canned meat or luncheon meat

Turkey, chicken, Spam, and the rest…they all catch fish on their day. Spam is very successful because it has been around the longest. In the UK they even have luncheon meat (aka Spam) meats made specifically for fishing. Catfish, carp, even trout, will take it. A can of spam is a great long life bait to have in your bag…just in case you run out of regular bait.

Dog food

Wet or dry this stuff can work. Mixed with flour to create a doughy consistency this can be made into a paste bait that really catches. The dry food can also be crushed and used to create a berley or chum trail. Wet dog food can be mixed into sinking berley that forms a smelly, irresistable pile of food on the bottom that will attract fish from everywhere.

Chicken meat

I haven’t used this in fresh water but it’s a great salt water bait. I often use it to target bream, mullet, salmon, flathead, and just about anything else that swims. It is a light colour, holds well on the hook and can be flavored to add a bit more attraction. It sometimes out-fishes all other baits.

Hot dogs

I never dismiss any bait as not working until I have tried it and I tried hot dog meat some years ago…with amazing results. The worms I had been keeping died so I cut a thin strip of this stuff and cast in. The interesting thing was that I didn’t get a bite till I moved the bait. I ended up catching a few nice redfin (English Perch) by casting in with a very light sinker and then twitching and slowly winding in the bait. Maybe it was just a lucky day or really dumb fish but it worked that day.


Cheese is an interesting bait. I have caught Murray Cod on this bait…and never understood why they would take it. Then an “old timer” fisheman I met on the bank of the Murray River explained that the shrimp are attracted to the cheese and eat it. The Cod then pounce on the shrimp and suck in the cheese….and the hook at the same time. I’m not sure how he knew this but it sure worked for me.

Corn kernels

Canned corn is a great bait for a load of different types of fish. I’ve caught both fresh water and salt water fish including carp, perch, roach, cod, trout, bream and mullet.  It’s a great backup bait and even when I don’t use it on the hook I sometimes throw some in to attract anything that might like it.


Fresh white bread, rolled into a doughy paste has caught more fish than you can imagine. I’m pretty sure that just about every fish has tasted a piece of bread in its life and it is worth putting a few slices in your tackle bag…just in case nothing else works. Another great thing about bread is it’s neutral taste which means you can also add a bit of flavouring…just to make it a little more attractive.


The great thing about dough is that you can add any flavour you like…and so it will appeal to a whole range of fish. I have used it in salt and fresh water with great results. It can be a fantastic bait after rains when the water carries a lot of silt and visibility is low. At this time the fish will rely on smell rather than sight….and a nice smelly dough bait can really do the trick. I have flavoured dough with tuna oil, garlic, vanilla and other  smells and oils and they have all worked at times. It’s always worth a shot when other baits are working!


Everything Else

Just about any type of food can be used as bait. Experiment with things.

Who knows, you might just stumble on the next great thing in fishing!

It’s always worth bringing more than one bait so you have a few more options before leaving a fishing spot empty handed. After-all, the more you try, the more chances you have!


No Comments

Post A Comment

The Really Simple "SECRETS" To Finding Fish That Will Get You Catching A Bag Full

Enter your email address & you can download the FREE info now.

“You Made It”