3-Step Method To STOP Missing Sheepshead Bites


Sheepshead are notorious bait stealers.

They’ve left many anglers clueless and frustrated as they drop down a bait and reel up a bare hook a few minutes later.

Has this ever happened to you?

If it has, then you’re going to love this 3-step method to catch more sheepshead and stop them from stealing your bait.

In the video below, I’ll show you what the three steps are, as well as some fun fish-catching footage where I put these steps into action.

3-Steps To Catch More Sheepshead [VIDEO]

Sign up for FREE to receive the latest saltwater fishing videos, tutorials, product reviews, and fishing product discounts!

➡ Click here to join the Insider Club

Step 1: Feel the bite

Most people miss out on sheepshead bites because they’re not paying attention to their line.

The sheepshead nibbles off the bait before they even realize they were there.

To stop this from happening, you have two options:

  1. Keep the line tight so you can feel every little nibble
  2. Let the line lay loosely on the surface, but watch it for subtle movements

I recommend most people do the first option.

The second option won’t work in an area with current because your line will always be moving.

The first option also lets you quickly move onto step #2…

 Step 2: Determine if a sheepshead is on

One big mistake many people do is feel a bite, then immediately set the hook.

The problem with doing this is that when you’re using live bait near structure, there are likely small pinfish and snapper tugging at your bait, making you think you have a fish on.

If you set the hook every time you think you have a fish on, you’ll keep ripping your bait out of the strike zone.

And every time your bait is pulled out of the strike zone, you’re wasting time by not giving yourself an opportunity to catch fish.

Instead, you need to determine if a sheepshead is on by lifting up your rod tip and feeling for a sheepshead.

If you lift your rod and your bait lifts up, too, then you’ve got nothing on and you can set it back down.

But if you lift up your rod and you feel something heavy on the other end, then it’s time to go to step #3…

Step 3: Set the hook

If you feel a sheepshead on, then it’s time to set the hook.

They have small mouths with lots of teeth, so you’ll need a good hookset to stop yourself from becoming just another stolen bait victim.

You don’t need to be Bill Dance’ing these sheepshead, but a sharp tug will do the trick.

Of course, if you’re using circle hooks you don’t need to set the hook, just start reeling once you feel the fish on.

Catching Sheepshead With Artificial Lures

If you’re really sick of sheepshead stealing your bait, there’s another option: use artificial lures to catch them.

Crab lures work great for sheepshead and you don’t need to worry about sheepshead sucking them right off the hook.

Check out this live fishing trip video where Joe and Luke caught several nice sheepshead with crab lures.


sheepshead rig

Here’s how to catch more sheepshead:

  1. Feel the bite
  2. Determine if a sheepshead is on
  3. Set the hook

By doing these three steps, you’ll start catching more sheepshead, and stop them from them stealing your bait.

Have any questions about these tips?

Or do you have any other suggestions for how to stop sheepies from stealing your bait?

Let me know down in the comments.

And if you know someone who’s sick of sheepshead stealing their bait, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

P.S. Want access to our best fishing spots and tips, plus discounts to our online tackle store? Click here to join us in the Insider Club!

Related articles:

Related categories:

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

What size hook do you use? Do you use a circle hook?

Larry Fox
2 years ago

Great tips, Austin. Thanks.
Were you keeping the rig very close to the pylons or were you letting it drift away with the current? You cannot really tell from the video.

Austin Moon
2 years ago
Reply to  Larry Fox

Thank you, Larry!
In this case I was keeping my weight on the bottom and only moving it after a few seconds without a bite then setting it back down on the bottom. The area I was fishing had rocks on the bottom and had pylons. So I was looking for Sheepshead around both of them!

Larry Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  Austin Moon

Thank you, Austin. o, to be clear you were either at the pylons or between them, on rocks, correct?
Also, was it the drop shot rig you had spoke about?

Joe Files
2 years ago

I never see anything about using a cork.

John Krell
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe Files

Thanks for the comment, Joe!! Ive actually never used a float for sheepshead, but I know that it can be done! When the opportunity arises ill have to give it a go!!

Austin Moon
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe Files

Thanks for the comment, Joe! Ive personally never used a cork when sheepshead fishing, but i know that it can be done! When the opportunity arises ill have to give it a go!

Drew Danko
2 years ago

What rod and reel were you using in this video? Drew Danko

Austin Moon
2 years ago
Reply to  Drew Danko

Hey Drew! Thanks for the comment!
I was using a 7′ MH fast action Bull bay Stealth Sniper with a Diawa BG 2500 and 15Lb PowerPro.

Robert Bigelow
2 years ago

💯% bro.. Nice post Austin!

Austin Moon
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Bigelow

Thank you, Robert!! I really appreciate that!!

Buddy Harrison
2 years ago

Thanks Austin … a little coaching before going after these Beasts is helpful. Awesome video! Simplicity works.

Austin Moon
2 years ago
Reply to  Buddy Harrison

Thanks for taking the time to write such a nice comment, Buddy!! Your awesome!

2 years ago

Nice tips

Austin Moon
2 years ago
Reply to  Pablo

Thank you, Pablo!!

Andrew Sandoval
2 years ago

Use 1/0 or 2/0 Stand-out drop shot hooks (I use 2 about 12” apart) and a 1/2 to 3 oz. weight 18 inches below them with Shrimp or fiddler crabs and you will dramatically improve the hook-up rate for Sheepshead.

Just be aware that sometimes they mark #1 hooks as 1/0 and they are too small. My local BPS only carries small (too small) Stand-Out hooks so I special order them.

I have caught 2 16+” Sheepshead at once this way.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Sandoval
Austin Moon
2 years ago

That’s awesome Andrew, thank you for sharing! Ive never caught 2 at a time before thats really cool!

Larry Fox
2 years ago

I may be incorrect but I believe in Florida waters using multiple hooks with live or dead bait for Sheepshead is illegal (as is true for pretty much all of the fish here). Is that incorrect?

2 years ago

Break it down and Keep it simple. 1, 2, 3 … fish on! Thanks Austin!

Austin Moon
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Yes sir!!! Thank you Gary!!!

Dominique Sauvage
2 years ago

That was really helpful, now I need to go and test it out.

Austin Moon
2 years ago

Thank you Dominique, im glad you enjoyed it!! I hope you do great!!


Do what the “SMART ANGLERS” are doing and join the Insider Club.

Here’s what you’ll receive today when you join:

Other Fishing Tips You May Like :

Why This Topwater Lure Is A Must Have In Your Spring Tackle Box

Recently, we upgraded the Salt Strong Moonwalker topwater lure to include every possible feature any inshore angler would want...
See Full post

[Knot Strength Experiment] Seaguar Blue Label vs. Red Label Leader Line

Wondering if the added cost of Seaguar's Blue Label leader line is worth it? Well here's an independent review showing its knot strength test results.
See Full post
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Get Instant Access To “The Inshore Fishing Manifesto” PDF Now

You’ll automatically be emailed a private link to download your PDF, plus you’ll be added to the Salt Strong Newsletter.
(Please double-check your email below to ensure delivery.)