April 17, 2024

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The Best Snook Bait : An Angler’s Guide

Reading Time: 7 minutes

There are 12 species of Snook that inhabit the earth’s waters. Wherever you find them, they’re chased after by thousands of anglers in search of an exciting fight – and perhaps dinner too. In this article, I’ll focus on the Common Snook (Centropomus Undecimalis) and share all about their life and how you can succeed at catching one. 

Photo courtesy of Drop Your Fly Fishing – 22′

But most importantly, I’ll let you in on the best bait for Snook fishing. After all, it’s one of the most important components in helping you land that dream fish. Let’s get started!

Snook Characteristics and Habits

Fishermen all over the world love Snook because of their beautiful looks, power, and strength. Depending on where you are, you can catch them from land or out in the deeper waters with a traveling boat.

A man in a baseball cap and sunglasses crouching on a fishing boat and holding a large Snook at dusk on a clear day, with the water visible behind him
Photo courtesy of
Hookin’ Snook Charters

All species of Snook look pretty similar but, as I already said, I’ll focus on the Common Snook for this description. The body of a Snook is long and meaty, reaching up to 48 inches, and is marked by a long black line. They have hints of green, yellow, and even gold, depending on what body of water they reside in. Their rigid fins stretch out to warn off predators and can easily poke you if you’re not careful.

Snook are most commonly found in Southern Florida, but they travel to other areas of the country and inhabit global waters near countries like Brazil and Cuba. They enjoy warm waters and will seek inshore habitats, especially river mouths or bays, during spawning season.

Juvenile Snook begin their lives in the shallow waters of mangrove islands, estuaries, creeks, etc. Larger Snook can be found in these habitats, too, but they tend to move into deeper waters. You can find them traveling along beaches, piers, jetties, docks, seawalls, channels, cuts, wrecks, reefs, and more.

Snook Fishing Rules and Regulations

Anytime you step out with a fishing pole, you need to educate yourself on any regulations for specific species or bodies of water. Common Snook have certain rules to help ensure a thriving population, especially during their spawning season.

An infographic featuring text that says "Snook Fishing Regulations What You Need to Know" against a dark blue background with a vector of a boat and the FishingBooker logo

For starters, when you fish for Snook, you almost always need a fishing license. Wherever you’re fishing, be sure to check with the conservation agencies and check for any planted rules. For example, in Florida, you need a fishing license whether you’re fishing saltwater or freshwater. You even need an additional Snook permit in order to harvest your Snook during the open season. 

Snook harvesting varies depending on the region but, on average, the season is open throughout most of the year with some closures during the winter and summer months. The minimum length required for harvesting is usually around 28 inches with a maximum around 32 or 33 inches. Most areas agree on only allowing one harvest per angler, per day. Once again, check the local rules where you plan to go Snook fishing because the regulations do differ.

A Quick Breakdown of Snook Fishing

Before we dive into the best baits for Snook fishing, I want to give a quick breakdown of the basics of fishing for Snook.

A woman in a blue baseball cap and sunglasses holding a small Snook with the water and mangroves behind her on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Captain Jake Nickol’s Fishing Charters

Snook fishing is best done during dawn and dusk hours as they prefer lowlight conditions. Fishing can also be productive during the night, especially under greenlights around docks and piers.

Outgoing tides provide the best opportunity for Snook fishing for a couple of reasons. One, it brings more schools closer inshore. And two, the increase of available bait further attracts them. The spring and summer months fire up the Snook bite the most.

For Snook fishing, a good setup can consist of a medium-action rod, a 4000 spinning reel, a braid of at least 20 pounds, a fluorocarbon leader of 30 pounds or more, and a circle hook sized 3/0 or higher. You can size up on your leader and hooks when fishing for bigger girls. These tend to run through structures which risks fraying down or cutting through your line, so you’ll want that extra support.

The Best Bait for Snook Fishing

Now that you’re aware of all the basics that go into Snook fishing, it’s time to talk about bait. I’ll break it down into three sections: live, cut, and artificial. Let’s get started!

Live Bait

Live bait is the go-to method for most saltwater anglers. You can plop your bait down in the perfect spot and let them do the work for you, as they actively swim around and attract the Snook as they target a fresh meal. Live bait for Snook is best used by maneuvering a circle hook through your bait and adding a light sinker if needed. Let’s talk about a couple of options…


A closeup of two mullets being held in the palm of a hand in fingerless gloves, with water visible in the background

Mullet are great Snook bait because they’re very lively, swim quickly, and you can find them easily around beaches or shallow regions. These guys range in size but Snook tend to like ones between 3–8 inches. That being said, bigger Snook can take bait as big as 12 inches! 

Pilchards/Threadfin Hering

With a miniature resemblance to Tarpon, these guys are another great option for Snook bait. These minnows make great movement which captures the attention of hungry Snook. They can be found inshore near islands or bait piles, or offshore near wrecks. Look for ones around the 2–3-inch mark for the best success.


This bait is not too costly to purchase and they stay alive for a while. Most bait shops have a large supply of shrimp for your Snook fishing needs. I’ve found that fishing with larger shrimp at jetties, docks, and piers produces good results. Whenever I drop down my shrimp, I have a Snook on the line within seconds!


A crab being suspended mid-air from a fishing line, as it's being used as bait in an inshore fishing area

Crabs may not be the most popular bait for Snook fishing, but they are useful. Anglers can catch some on their own around shallow regions with rocks, or can purchase them at bait shops. The best size to use is around 2 inches. Hook through the side of their shell to keep them alive and thriving. They actively stroll through the water, where nearby Snook will be lurking.


Another common option for Snook bait is larger pinfish. You can capture these guys yourself or get some from a bait shop. If catching them on your own, the best method is to chum up a grassy or sandy bottom and cast net the whole area. It can take a bit of time to get a good amount as they’re usually spread out a bit.


Needlefish aren’t really the go-to bait for Snook but a lot of anglers swear by them. You probably see these guys anytime you go out in the ocean, as they seem to travel through any habitat. You can easily scoop them up with a cast net but be careful as they tend to get stuck!

Cut Bait

Cut bait – also known as dead bait – is used for Snook fishing as well. It pretty much consists of any live bait that you would use for Snook fishing, just cut! Some anglers use squid and ladyfish for cut bait although they wouldn’t use them for live bait. You can catch the bait and then cut it up yourself, or purchase packs from local stores.

Smaller baits are hooked through the mouth or near the back fin, and you should also slice the stomach or tail to produce a more profound odor. For larger ones, cut them up completely into a few parts. You should have a chunk of the head, the tail, and at least one body chunk. You rig these up with sinkers to allow them to sit near the bottom.

Artificial Bait

Artificial bait is used on a daily basis for Snook fishing, and it does not disappoint. At times, artificial lures may actually produce better results than fishing with live bait! There are quite a few different types of artificial baits used in Snook fishing, which I’ll break down for you.


A red and green topwater lure being dragged across the water in an attempt to attract a fish on a bright day

This is the perfect lure for morning and evening bites. It sets an example of the joy of fishing. Picture this: you’re surrounded by a colorful sky, you see a series of action all around you, and you hear that clicking sound of your bait as it zig-zags across the water’s surface. Then, all of a sudden, a big wake closes in on your bait, and there’s a big blow-up with water splashing all around. Your line takes off and your drag screams. That’s the excitement of topwater fishing for Snook. 


These lures often resemble realistic baits and have multiple hooks. They make quick movements and sounds under the water. A couple of examples include Live Target’s Scaled Sardine and Rapala’s X-Rap. Snook will come chasing after these guys. Once you feel their bite, get a strong hookset in to secure the hook.

Soft Plastics and Jig Heads

Popular options for artificial baits include soft plastics and jig heads. If you’re fishing shallow regions, a ¼ oz jig head is good, and a 1 oz is good for deeper ranges. D.O.A and Gulp! are among the most well-known companies that supply tons of these baits.  


Anglers bounce jigs along the bottom near Snook in deeper waters. To them, it looks like a snack waiting to be eaten. Bucktail jigs are very popular for Snook fishing, so fill up on them, and away you go. 

Snook Baits: Your Key to Success

A man wading in shallow, inshore waters, crouching as he releases a Snook back into the water on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Snook One Charters

By now, you should have an understanding of the characteristics and habits of Snook, as well as the basics of fishing for them. You also have a great list of options of bait for Snook fishing. There’s quite a large variety of bait that Snook enjoy eating, which means you have plenty of chances to get them to bite.

Snook fishing is a great experience for anglers of all ages. No matter their size, they promise to put up a tough fight. Adding structure to the equation makes the experience even more challenging. But once you finally bring in your fish, the obstacles are worth the reward. Now that you know the best bait for Snook fishing, get out there and find your next trophy fish!

Are you an avid Snook angler? What baits do you swear by? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

The post The Best Snook Bait: An Angler’s Guide  appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Caitlyn Gatrell
Title: The Best Snook Bait: An Angler’s Guide 
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/snook-bait/
Published Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2023 10:40:35 +0000

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