We all know that boaters can be—ahem—rather unconventional people at times (if you don’t believe it, just read 7 Wacky Ways to Have Fun on a Boat – Don’t Tell Mom), and truth be told, this is even more true of fishermen. We love to try new techniques, gear, and baits that no one’s ever heard of or even thought about before, to help us in our piscatorial pursuit. You don’t believe it? Just check out these 10 weirdest fishing baits, which for some strange reason some strange angler decided to put on a hook.

catfish bait

Hey there Bubba, do you like chicken liver? Yeah, we thought so.

1. Chicken Liver – Yech, someone must have been really desperate to try casting with chicken liver on a hook. But lo and behold, it turns out to be one of the best catfish baits around. Wait a sec—I know what you’re thinking. Catfish will eat anything that stinks, right? Maybe so, but while trying to wrangle those cats, fishermen discovered that hybrid and freshwater striped bass also love slurping down those fowl innards.

2. Chicken Breast Strips – These will take a little preparation, but do your job right, and you’ll discover that chicken strips are excellent bait for yellowfin sea trout (weakfish). First you’ll need to cut the chicken meat into strips about three inches long, and a half-inch wide. Then drop them into a cup of lime-green food dye, and let them percolate a bit. Yummy.

3. Corn – Much of humanity lives off of corn, so why shouldn't the fish? Canned corn is best, and if you thread a few kernels onto your hook you can tempt trout, carp, perch, and bluegill into biting. Note: fish that were raised in hatcheries, especially rainbow trout, love this stuff.

rainbow trout

Do rainbow trout really like non-traditional baits? There's a kernel of truth to that assertion.

4. Dog Food – Why feed Fido, when his meal works so well for catching fish? Many anglers use canned dog (or cat) food to chum baitfish up to the boat, but it’s also an effective bait. Yes, you guessed it—catfish is the target species. Just gloop a glob of dog food into some cheese-cloth, thread it on your hook, and let it sit on bottom until a whiskered critter finds its dinner.

5. Eyeballs – This one’s for you (doubly-insane) ice fishermen. If you pop the eyeball out of just about any finned critter—a minnow, a bluegill, or some other fish you've caught—and thread it onto the hook of your jig, it’ll work wonders. Note: when I go ice fishing I buy the biggest minnow possible, purely for the eyeballs. Seriously.

6. Hot Dogs – Just look at the shape of a hot dog, then look at the shape of a surface plug. They aren't much different, are they? Rig up that doggie exactly the same way, retrieve it walk-the-dog style, and you’ll get surface explosions from any predator that would hit a plug.

7. Ivory Soap – All species of catfish love it, for some strange reason. There’s no logical explanation for this one, but it’s well-known—and it works.

8. Mini-marshmallows – These work surprisingly well when you’re trying to catch bluegill and other species of sunfish. So the next time your family picnic starts to get a bit boring, grab those marshmallows away from the kids and head for the pond.

9. Mulberries – These are tough to keep on the hook, but carp love ‘em. You’ll find them particularly effective if you can find an area where a mulberry tree over-hangs the water—fish will often be milling around beneath the branches, just waiting for breakfast to fall from the sky.

10. Radio Antennas – Here’s the drill: break a three or four inch long segment off the antenna. Slide a piece of leader through it, and tie a hook to the end. Then, slide a small egg sinker down the line on the other end, so it sits at the top of the antenna piece. Add a crimp or tie a knot to hold the lure together, and you have a jig that will catch everything from bluefish to bonito.


fish bomb

WARNING: Do not set off Fish Bomb in the cabin!

Bonus Weirdness: It may not be a bait, but we're in love with Fish Bomb. This stuff is compressed fish oil in a can. Press the button, and WHOOSH! a cloud of bunker oil is released into the atmosphere. Use it to thicken up chum slicks, give bait some added scent, or brush back the guy who's crowding your casting space.

You think your favorite bait belongs in the Top 10 list? Let us know what weird items you've used to catch those finned critters, in the Comments box below.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld, boats.com, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.