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Best Ways to Hook a Live Shiner in Every Situation

What hook you choose, and where you place it, can make a big difference.

Best Ways to Hook a Live Shiner in Every Situation

Upper-lip hook is common method for drifting baits.

There are many ways to hook a live shiner, and a multitude of hook styles to choose from. The best choice depends on several factors, including size of the bait and the water conditions.

Famed Florida bass angler Roland Martin customizes his shiner hooks by rigging a light bendable, single strand wire from the eye of the shiner hook to the barb. This way Roland can choose his own style of bass hook when rigging it weedless. Only a few styles of hooks are sold with weedguards.

During a trip to Florida's Rodman Reservoir, Roland barbed his custom weedless hook into a large wild shiner and cast it close to an old cypress stump. A monster of a bass took the shiner deep into the roots and eventually broke Roland’s fishing line. The next day a close friend of Roland called him and reported catching a 15.3-pound bass that had Roland's custom weedless shiner hook and broken line in its mouth. “It was the largest bass that I never caught!” Roland said.

Upper-lip hook is common method for drifting baits.


One of the most popular ways in hooking a wild shiner is barbing the shiner right through the top of the mouth. Avoid hooking the shiner from the bottom lip through the top of the mouth, which limits the bait’s ability to draw water and oxygen across the gills. The lip-hooked shiner is either allowed to swim free, or a small float is attached a few feet above the hook keeping the shiner close to cover and the surface. Here, best hook has been a kahle hook, which is actually a semi circle hook. The size of the kahle hook can range from a size 2/0 to a size 4/0, which is determined by the size of the shiner. In many cases, a 2/0 kahle style hook works best for a variety of wild shiner sizes.


When bass fishing in heavy cover, a weedless kahle hook often works best. Here, a light wire is rigged from the eye of the hook to the barb of the hook keeping the shiner and hook from tangling vegetation and similar watery obstructions.

Roland Martin with a good fish on Northeast Florida's Rodman Reservoir.

A tried-and-true wild shiner bass fishing tactic is to cast close to cover and actually allow the shiner to swim into or under the heavy cover where bass are holding. Here the weedless hook is barbed under the shiner and just behind the anal fin. The shiner is cast close to the cover and allowed to swim far back under the cover. With the weedless hook barbed under the shiner, the weedless shiner hook is less apt to become entangled in the thick cover, allowing the shiner to swim free.

A weedless hook may be used to steer fish into heavy cover.




Using a 2/0 to 5/0 circle hook which is also barbed under the shiner and just ahead of the anal fin allows shiners to swim free with limited tangles in the vegetation. The smaller gap in the circle hook is less likely to tangle as well, but also affords for a good hookset.

When bass fishing in heavy cover, a weedless kahle hook often works best.

Another popular bass fishing tactic includes trolling live shiners in open water. During a recent trip on Lake Santa Fe, Jacksonville's Danny Patrick and I enjoyed excellent results while slow trolling live shiners in the open waters of the popular bass lake.


“I prefer a light wire, kahle style shiner hook when slow trolling wild shiners," Patrick said. "The light wire hook when hooked through the top lip allows the shiner to swim freely attracting more strikes and staying pretty frisky for a longer period of time.”

Minutes later, Danny had a giant lake Santa Fe bass take his wild shiner. The bass weighed just over 10 pounds.

Having a variety of shiner hooks on hand and hooking your shiner properly is key.

Gamakatsu's straight eye kahle hook is the perfect light wire bass hook when slow trolling wild shiners in open water.

Eagle Claw's kahle hook comes in the color red and is the shiner hook color of choice when bass are actively feeding.

TroKar's kahle hook is a super strong hook when shiner fishing in close to and in heavy cover.

Having a variety of shiner hooks on hand and hooking your shiner properly is key when targeting Florida’s trophy-class largemouth bass. FS

Published Florida Sportsman Magazine December/January 2021

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