Basic livebaiting – simple steps for rigging your live bait.
  |  First Published: February 2008

Despite the plethora of new lure fishing techniques used on many of our target species today, livebaiting is one of the oldest and most productive techniques for catching many of our highly prized predatory species around the country.

Anglers searching out tuna, marlin, kingfish, mulloway, barramundi, sharks and even snapper are familiar commonly use livebaiting techniques and often find them to be a cut above the rest with their successful captures. The simple livebait rigging steps outlined below have served me well when searching for big predatory fish and sharks.


The most important factor in live baiting is actually getting the right bait to use. In Victoria, mullet, salmon, yakkas, slimy mackerel, barracouta, snook, pike, calamari, arrow squid, and trevally are all excellent baits and readily available for those wanting to begin livebaiting.

Some species available for use have a minimum legal size limit, which of course you will have to comply with even if you are only using the fish for bait. After you have collected your chosen baits, take pride in your catch and look after them. An aerated bait tank is a good start, with recycled water to ensure they stay alive until it’s time to rig them up.


No matter which rigging technique you use, being delicate is essential for keeping the ‘livie’ alive for as long as possible. It is imperative you try at all times to get the maximum life from your livie so it swims and entices your targeted species. Otherwise you’ll soon find yourself replacing your livebaits too often.

For example, be careful handling your livebaits so you don’t knock off too many scales, which can reduce your livies’ lifespan. When it comes to inserting the hook, be careful not to damage the internal organs of the ‘livie.


A two-hook livebait rig is mainly used on large livebaits like arrow squid, barracouta, salmon and snook. This rig can be made from heavy mono trace when fishing for species such as kingies or mulloway. In this case the hooks are joined with a snood, and the hooks are tied the appropriate distance apart for the size of the bait. The two-hook rig can also be used with wire when shark fishing. If you are unfamiliar with crimping up a wire rig, it is probably best to seek advice from your local tackle shop.

When rigging fish baits on a two hook rig, I usually place one hook into the shoulders of the fish, while the second hook is inserted into the back of the fish between the dorsal and tail fins. This way if a shark takes the livie from the either end it will still get hooked.

Another alternative is to place the second hook around the anal fin of the livie, which is just as effective. It is important to work fast so that the livie is not out of the water too long.

When rigging squid, one hook is placed at either end of the hood (see Fact Box).


Single hook rigging is used for smaller baits such as mullet, trevally, yakkas, slimy mackerel, salmon, tailor and even small calamari. (A single most appropriate method for rigging really small baits like poddy mullet when targetting quarry such as large flathead in estuaries). There are three main ways to rig a livie using this technique but are all very simple and get the maximum life from your bait.

Mouth rigging: Take your selected live bait and insert the hook into the underside of the mouth pushing the point and barb of the hook through both jaws so it protrudes out of the top of the nose. That’s all there is to it. Alternatively, put the hook into the mouth, then up through the top jaw only.

The ‘nose ring’: Insert the hook between the eyes of the livie. If you hold your livie to the light you can see a clear membrane in front of the eyes, this is where the hook goes into. Gently place the hook into the clear membrane and rotate around so it protrudes out through the other side.

The shoulder: Simply take your live bait hook and gently insert the hook into the shoulders and out the other side. Be careful not to place the hook into the lateral line otherwise you will reduce the lifespan of the livie.


It’s a good idea to swim your live baits before sending them out, just to see their reaction. If they look active and lively send them out. If they act sick and look unhealthy, rig another and try again. You may have pierced a vital organ or the lateral line.

So there you have it, a few quick and easy rigging techniques to rig a livie and keeping them alive longer.

If you haven’t yet tossed out a livebait then have a go the next time you’re out and about on your fishing adventures. Oh and just remember...hold on...!



Step 1. Take your chosen livie (in this case an arrow squid), and place it onto the bait board. Take your two-hook live bait rig and measure where the hooks should be placed.

Step 2. Holding your chosen live bait firmly but gently in your left hand, insert the first hook approximately 2cm from the end of the hood. Rotate the hook around so it protrudes back through the top of the hood without piercing any of the internal organs.

Step 3. Take the second hook and insert it 1cm from the tail end of the hood. Make sure the point and barb of the hook are exposed.

Step 4. That’s it! Rigged to last longer, and ready to be crunched by a predator.



When livebaiting, it is best to choose hooks that are specifically designed for livebaits. Livebait hooks are generally small but strong, with a short shank and no offset. They are designed to sit neatly and unobtrusively in the livebait, without damaging it or affecting the way it swims. Use size 5/0-9/0 depending on bait size.

Many companies manufacture livebait hooks. Some good ones to try are: Black Magic ‘GZ’, Owner ‘Livebait’, Gamakatsu ‘Livebait’, Mustad ‘Big gun’.

To catch an awesome shark like this, you’ll need to ensure your ‘livie’ is rigged correctly for a solid hook-up.

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