Cut Bait Fishing Tips (For Redfish, Black Drum, Snook & More)

By: Tony Acevedo on June 25, 2020
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how to cut up baitfish for cut bait

It’s cut bait time!

Predator fish, such as redfish, black drum, snook, and even tarpon can’t resist a stinky chunk of ladyfish or mullet sitting on the bottom.

The smell attracts them from yards away and the innocent piece of meat looks like an easy meal for these big, lazy fish.

However, there’s a lot more to cutting up bait than you might think.

If you cut it the wrong way, or rig it the wrong way, you might be missing out on a lot of fish.

In this video, I’ve got a few different sized mullet and I’ll demonstrate six different ways to cut and rig them.

Plus, you’ll also learn:

  • A simple trick for hooking cut bait to disperse more scent
  • The biggest mistakes people make when cutting up baitfish
  • How to catch more redfish (and fewer catfish)
  • And much more

Check out the video below.

How To Cut Up Cut Bait [VIDEO]

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There are several ways to cut up baitfish, but how you cut them up depends on how big the fish is.

How to cut up small baitfish

Small fish, like pinfish, or smaller mullet can be fished whole, or cut in half.

If I fish them whole, I’ll sometimes cut a slit in their belly to release more scent, and I’ll rig them through the lips.

This is a great option for if there are a lot of catfish around — they won’t be able to fit the bigger bait in their mouths.

The other option is to cut them in half.

If I do that, I’ll cut the tail off of the back half so that it’s more hydrodynamic and doesn’t spin in the water.

I’ll put the hook through the meat where the tail was and out of the skin.

Putting the hook through the skinny portion where the tail was also helps it to be more hydrodynamic.

When using the front half, I put the hook through the lips.

How to cut up larger baitfish

I usually cut up larger baitfish, like bigger mullet or ladyfish, into thirds.

Making sure the chunk is hydrodynamic is still important here, so I’ll hook the head part through the lips and the back part through the tail (after cutting off the tail).

As far as the middle section goes, if you want to keep the stomach contents in the chunk to release more scent, then put the hook through the side where the stomach is.

If you want to make the middle section more aerodynamic, you can slice off the stomach to create what’s called a plug, which will still catch a ton of fish.

And with all sections of all sizes, make sure the hook point is exposed and there are no scales blocking it, otherwise, you’re more likely to miss a hookset.

Conclusion

fish finder black drum

Cut bait is a great way to catch big fish and if you rig the cut bait right, you’ll increase your chances even more.

Whenever you rig cut bait, make sure that the hook is going through the skinnier side, so it’s more hydrodynamic.

And if you want to catch more big predator fish and fewer catfish, here are two tips:

For one, use a bigger piece of cut bait.

They won’t be able to get their mouths around it.

And two, make sure you’re fishing where big, hungry predator fish are feeding.

It doesn’t matter how stinky or good-looking a cut piece of mullet is, if there are no predator fish in the area, you won’t catch any.

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Rich Goldstein
Rich Goldstein
6 days ago

What size hook were you using in this video?

Malcolm Hayward
6 days ago

Greets, Joe.

Don’t forget the deadly flapper.
Remove backbone and tail to leave the head to hold the hook and two attached uncleaned fillets.
Deadly but only 12 to 15mins before bait change as always.
Eels will mouth the bait, luxuriating in it before turning away.

Frequently, a good idea to retrieve the bait just a foot or so at this stage.
Trying to get it just clear of it’s home so it can’t wrap it’s tail around anything.
When you do hook it, try to get it up 20ft before it realises what is happening.

Skipper should tell you exactly where you’re rig is.

Rgds.

Malcolm Hayward.

Mark Schreur
8 days ago

Tony, just curious about your thoughts on how much of the hook to leave exposed when using circle hooks. In my experience hiding more of the hook with circles results in less hook ups probably due to the fact that the hook is unable to turn in the side of the fishes mouth when there’s too much bait in the bend area

robert peck
8 days ago

HI TONY .,
I LIKE YOUR PRESENTATION . I HAVE ANOTHER TIP ..WHEN YOU ARE USING YOUR MID SECTION WITH THE ENTRAILS STILL INSIDE , WRAP A RUBBER BAND AROUND THE SHANK JUST BELOW THE SHANK EYELET AND WRAP A ”T” AROUND THE BODY VERTICAL AND, BACK AND FORWARD TO RETAIN THE BODY MATERIAL INSIDE THE CHUNK ..IT DOESN’T GO FLYING OFF WHEN YOU CAST AND IT FUNCTIONS AS A CHUM SLICK..

Jim
Jim
8 days ago

Man, that’s a dull knife. Time to sharpen.

Allan Coggin
8 days ago

Tony how can I rig cut bait to reduce the amount of hook ups with sting rays

Andy Benedict
8 days ago

Thanks Tony! Dinner is in the details! Good job👍

Glenn Acomb
8 days ago

Good video. Don’t use cut bait as much (mostly artificials) but will try more often. Thanks.

J.T. Carricato
8 days ago

Hey Tony-

Any advice on avoiding sharks? Here in SC cut bait brings sharks which can be frustrating.

I’ve fished live, frozen, fresh- all the same results. Mainly sharks here in Beaufort.

Robert Muller
8 days ago

Good info…I have never thought to cut off the tail.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 days ago

sharpen your knife first