When people think of live bait to catch fish they often think of worms. But you may be surprised at just how many fish you can catch using insects as bait, especially crickets.
You can catch trout, bluegill, crappie and many other types of fish using crickets. But the fishing rigs, how you hook the crickets, and type of tackle you need is a little unlike what most fishermen are used to. So in this article I will cover everything that you need to know.
How to hook a cricket
The number one factor that is going to keep you from catching fish when using crickets as bait is not knowing how to hook them correctly.
If you hook them through their entire body, they will die almost instantly which isn’t going to be a very appetizing looking meal for a fish. Fish rely on natural movements that only live bait can produce to know what to eat. So keeping your cricket alive on the hook is vital.
But if you overcorrect by hooking only a very small part of the cricket, they will fall easily off the hook when a fish bites or as they struggle in the water. If the bait isn’t on your hook anymore, you sure aren’t going to be catching fish.
So the key is getting a great middle ground of keeping a cricket surely on the hook but keeping it alive long enough you can coerce a bite.
To do this, you want to pierce the hook through the abdomen of the cricket, being sure not to place the hook anywhere near the cricket’s head, feet, or wings. Look at the picture above for the ideal cricket hook placement. You want to place it straight through it’s back which has a very hard exterior sure to keep a hook in place, but miss the head, legs, and wings.
If you are unable to do this because the crickets are moving around too much, a good second option that I often do is placing the hook through the crickets belly. They will not stay alive as long usually with this method, but keeps the wings and feet active and doesn’t instantly kill the cricket like a hook in its head area will.
The real key here is always keeping the legs and wings out of the hook. This is not because they will kill the cricket quickly, but because they are the areas which create the most action in the water. The crickets legs will move all over and wings will try to flutter as it tries to work its way off the hook. That movement is exactly what the fish are looking for.
Fishing rig to use when fishing with crickets
There are many types of rigs you can use when fishing crickets, but I like to focus only on two. A topwater setup and a bobber setup.
A topwater setup is extremely fun if the fish are feeding on bugs on the surface of the water. If so, you can simply tie a hook on to the end of your line and hook the cricket as discussed above. When you throw the lone hook onto the water the cricket will float and kick around like crazy. Fish won’t be able to help themselves from the big tasty meal causing so much commotion.
However there are two problems with this rig. If the fish aren’t eating bugs on top of the water (which sometimes they just aren’t doing) you won’t be catching many fish. And you also can’t throw it very far at all because there is no weight to throw other than the cricket and the hook. So this will require fish be active on the top of the water and relatively close to you.
If they aren’t, you’ll need to go with a bobber setup. Most any normal bobber setup will work but I try to keep mine as light as I can to not create unnecessary weight when a fish bites the cricket.
So you will first want to tie a hook onto the end of your line using whichever knot you prefer. Then, about 6 inches above the hook you will put a split sinker using a pair of pliers. You can use any weight you like, I prefer a ⅛ ounce at the heaviest. Too much weight and your bobber will sink as well.
Now you will place the bobber about 2 to 3 feet above the weight. This will ensure the cricket stays a couple of feet in the water which is usually good for most species of fish that are actively feeding. That’s your whole setup!
You’ll simply throw the line into the water and wait for that bobber to go down. When using live crickets as bait, you likely will see it quickly. If it doesn’t go down within a few minutes you will probably want to see if your cricket is still alive and replace it if not.
The type of rod and reel you want for cricket fishing
You can catch fish with crickets using any type of rod, reel, or line but there are definitely better options than others.
For your fishing rod, you’ll want an ultralight or light setup like this Bass Pro Shops Panfish Elite. You won’t catch monster fish with crickets (usually) so you don’t need to worry about something that will handle huge fish. You want something instead that is easy to cast and lets you enjoy the fish you are catching. A light or ultralight pole will let you do exactly that and is perfect for cricket fishing.
Your reel is not as important, but I recommend going with the smallest size reel you can find. My favorite is the Pflueger President. This is because you will be using light pole and line (getting to that) and it just matches the rest of the setup best. You don’t need a big reel meant for surf fishing if everything else you’re using is light and finesse.
For fishing line – I opt for 4 pound fishing line but you could probably go up to 8 at the most and be okay. Again, you won’t be catching giants and if you get a big fish 4 pound test will still handle it well. I would opt for a cheap monofilament line like Trilene XL (read here why it’s the best) and you’ll be just fine.
Can I use store bought crickets?
Yes, store bought crickets will work just as good as crickets you may find in a field by the water. I have went to the pet store and bought a bunch of crickets meant for feeding lizards and caught hundreds of fish. I’ve also ran out of bait and just searched around and caught them and used them as bait. Either will work just fine. Just try and make sure they are nice and lively no matter what.
What type of hook should I use for crickets?
There are multiple types that can work, but I find you will want to use a single barbed hook in a size 6. Many manufacturers will sell hooks specifically meant for crickets like these that I would recommend if you are able to purchase them. But if not don’t fear, any hook in that size range will work adequately. Where and how you hook the cricket is much more important than what hook you’re using.
Crickets are one of the best insects to use for fishing. You can catch bluegill, perch, crappie, trout and many more species if you decide to fish with them. The most important thing to keep in mind is just how you are going to hook the cricket. Try the two suggestions above and I’m sure you’ll be finding that the cricket stays on the hook and gets a ton of bites. Try the topwater or bobber rig with the setups discussed as well and you’ll be catching fish in no time!
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