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What is The Best Bait for Predator Fishing?

Predator fishing is an exhilarating angling pursuit that involves targeting fierce and voracious fish species that primarily feed on other fish. In the serene waters of the United Kingdom, this thrilling form of fishing allows anglers to connect with nature while pursuing some of the largest and most formidable predators found in freshwater and coastal environments.

Understanding Predator Fishing

Predator fishing is a specialised discipline within angling that revolves around capturing predatory fish species known for their aggressive hunting behaviour. In the UK, some of the most sought-after predators include pike, perch, zander, and catfish. These species are apex predators in their respective ecosystems and are known for their strength, cunning, and insatiable appetites.

Choosing the Perfect Bait

One of the key aspects of successful predator fishing is selecting the right bait. The choice of bait can make all the difference in enticing these apex predators to strike. Here are some popular bait options for predator fishing in the UK:

Live Baitfish

Live baitfish, such as roach, perch, or minnows, are the crown jewels of predator fishing baits. They offer an unmatched level of realism in terms of movement and scent, making them incredibly tempting to predators. When rigged properly, live baitfish can mimic the natural behaviour of prey, triggering a predator’s hunting instincts. It’s essential to use suitable tackle, like wire leaders, to prevent bite-offs from toothy predators when using live baitfish.

Effective for: Pike, catfish, zander, and other large predators.

Dead Baitfish

Dead baitfish, whether whole or cut into sections, can be an excellent alternative when live bait isn’t readily available. They maintain the natural scent of prey and offer a visual lure to predators. Species like roach, mackerel, or herring are commonly used. When presenting dead bait, consider techniques such as ledgering (allowing the bait to sit on the bottom) or float fishing (suspending the bait at a desired depth) to attract predators.

Effective for: Pike, catfish, and other predators.


Artificial lures are versatile and dynamic tools in the predator angler’s arsenal. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colours, imitating the appearance and movement of prey fish. Soft plastic lures, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and spinners can all be highly effective when retrieved with the right technique. Lures allow for an interactive and engaging fishing experience, as they require the angler to impart action to the bait to trigger strikes.

Effective for: Pike, perch, zander, and a variety of predators.


Large earthworms or nightcrawlers are versatile bait options that can attract a range of predators. They emit a scent that predators find irresistible, and their natural wriggling motion in the water can mimic struggling prey. Worms are particularly effective when presented on a hook with minimal weight, allowing them to move freely in the current and entice predators.

Effective for: Perch, eels, and other smaller predators.

Smaller Fish Species

Species like gudgeon, bleak, or rudd can be rigged whole or in sections to lure larger predators. When using smaller fish as bait, it’s important to match the size of the bait to the size of the predator you’re targeting. Predators are more likely to strike when the bait closely resembles their natural prey.

Effective for: Pike, zander, and other predators.


Description: Lamprey eels are a natural prey for some large predators, especially in certain river systems. They offer a unique scent profile that can be highly attractive to specific species. When using lamprey as bait, consider rigging them whole or in sections to maximise their appeal.

Effective for: Predators in certain river systems.

Dead Baits with Added Attractants

Enhance the appeal of dead baits by adding scent attractants or oils. These added scents can create a potent combination, enticing predators with both the visual and olfactory aspects of prey. Experiment with different attractants to discover what works best for your target species.

Effective for: Pike, catfish, and others.

Artificial Soft Baits

Soft plastic baits come in various shapes and sizes, closely resembling prey fish or other aquatic creatures. They are typically rigged on a jighead or a hook with a leader. Soft baits can be highly effective when retrieved with lifelike movements, making them a versatile option for targeting predators.

Effective for: A variety of predators.

Predator fishing is not just about catching fish; it’s about the thrill of the chase, the challenge of outsmarting these cunning predators, and the connection with the natural world. It requires an understanding of the predator’s behaviour, preferred habitats, and the ability to choose the right bait to entice a strike.

So, whether you’re casting your line into a tranquil river, a pristine lake, or the waters of the UK’s beautiful coastline, choosing the perfect bait is a crucial step in your quest for predatory fish. Embrace the excitement, hone your skills, and get ready for an angling adventure like no other. Happy predator fishing!