We occasionally field some pretty weird questions here at USAngler, and we’ve got one for you today.
Can you use hotdogs as bait?
That may sound crazy, but the qualified answer is yes.
Catfish and pike are known to take hotdogs, and plenty of experienced catfishermen swear by hotdogs that have been marinated in secret sauces to enhance their smell and color.
So without further ado, let’s dive deep into the idea of using hotdogs as bait.
Table of Contents (clickable)
Hotdogs as Catfish Bait
While blue and flathead catfish prefer a diet of fish and actively hunt for their prey, channel cats are drawn to stinky baits of all kinds.
Marinated hotdogs are popular catfish bait!
We’ve discussed these dietary and behavioral differences before, so if you want the full run-down, check out this article:
In short, if you’re after monster cats, skip the hotdogs, but if you want a cooler full of keepers for a fish fry, wieners are a solid choice.
Catfish are absolutely coerced in scent organs, and their skin functions like a giant nose, allowing them to smell even the most minute scents in the water. They’ve evolved this way to help them hunt in muddy, turbid water where visibility is next to nothing.
Channel cats are bottom feeders, scouring the water just inches off the mud for anything they can eat. They don’t discriminate, and they’re not particularly active hunters like blues and flatheads. Instead, they’re looking for an easy, slow-moving, often dead meal.
That’s why stinky chicken livers, punch baits, and other common catfish “stink baits” are so effective at attracting channel cats. Catfish Charlie’s Blood Dip Bait and Secret-7 are good examples; these vomit-inducing concoctions leave a scent trail that channel cats can’t resist!
But commercial punch and dip baits are the only way to go, and plenty of experienced catmen love hotdogs.
If you want to give them a try, grab the cheapest pack you can find, and follow this recipe:
Hotdog Chunk Bait
- A dozen hotdogs
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 tbsp. garlic salt
- the oil from one can of sardines
- Optional: strawberry Kool-Aid powder
- Slice the hotdogs into one-inch pieces, and add all the ingredients to a sealed jar. If you’re adding the red drink mix, include enough water to get it liquidy. Color, rather than flavor, is the goal with the Kool-Aid, and you want a vibrant red.
- Shake, and store in a cool, dark place for a day or two.
This one’s not so bad on the nose, but the garlic and oil definitely create a scent trail in moving water.
Catfish connoisseurs swear by the addition of the Kool-Aid powder, so I recommend adding it to the mix.
When you’re ready to go, just cut a small piece of hotdog, maybe an inch long, and run your hook through it. You’re ready to go - and you'll be surprised at just how effective hotdogs can be.
Hotdogs as Pike Bait
Northern pike are mean and voracious, apparently always hungry and ready to bite.
Explosive ambush predators, they prefer fish of all kinds - including smaller members of their own species - but they’ve been known to take everything from ducks, bats, mice, snakes, and anything else that dares enter the water they hunt.
Ice anglers occasionally use hotdogs on their tip-ups.
A meaty hotdog isn’t going to give them a second’s pause, but I wouldn’t recommend just throwing a bit of hotdog on a hook, though people have been known to catch pike this way.
Instead, I’d use one of three techniques to catch pike with hotdogs.
The Slip-Float Rig
A slip-float rig is just a well-designed bobber suspending a hook at a known depth. Easy to rig and even easier to fish, it’s one great way to catch pike with hotdogs.
Here’s how it works.
Choose a slip float like the excellent Thill Gold Medal Big Fish Slider. It’s designed for big fish and big baits, and an inch or so of hotdog isn’t going to pull it under.
You really want to use a slip float rather than a standard bobber. The slip float, as its name suggests, slips along your line, stopping at a point you determine with a knot or silicone stop. This allows you to reel the float right up to your rod tip, enabling long, accurate casts.
You’ll also want a sharp, strong 1/0 circle hook like Mustad’s UltraPoint Demon Wide Gap. Circle hooks are great for holding live bait - including hotdogs - and since they self-set when the fish takes them, all you need to do is start reeling.
But since pike have such vicious teeth, a strong leader is essential.
I prefer options like American Fishing Wire Surflon Nylon Coated 1x7 Stainless Steel Leader Wire or American Fishing Wire Tooth Proof Stainless Steel Single Strand Leader Wire.
To assemble a Slip Float Rig for pike, follow these steps:
- Attach a silicon float or knot stop to your line.
- Slide your slip float onto your line.
- Attach your hook to your leader with a crimp.
- Create a loop in the other end of your leader with a second crimp, and tie your main line directly to that.
- Adjust the depth of your terminal tackle by sliding the float stop.
- Adjust the weight of your terminal tackle by adding split shot, if necessary, but don’t over-weight your float.
Throw this rig into likely spots for pike, adjusting the depth to just hit the tops of submerged vegetation or to float freely alongside great ambush spots.
Pike are going to hit that hotdog like a freight train, no doubt about it!
Using hotdogs to sweeten lures
Another great way to catch pike is to take a tiny piece of hotdog - a little goes a long way - and sweeten a great lure.
For instance, just a bit of hotdog on the treble of a Storm WildEye Live Pike Fishing Lure is going to add scent and flavor that will keep that pike on your lure just an instant longer.
That same technique works wonders with lures like the BigTooth Tackle Straight-Wire Spinnerbaits. Just don’t use too much, and the lure will run well and hook more pike than it does naked.
Using hotdogs on tip-ups
We’ve had a lot to say about tip-ups, and if you want to know more about which models we’ve tested and now recommend, check out this article:
Best Ice Fishing Tip-Ups Reviewed: The Low-Down on Tip-Ups
On the hard water, tip-ups are all but essential when you want to fish multiple holes and really increase your odds of a catch, and strangely enough, arming a treble hook with a chunk of hotdog really seems to do the trick with pike.
Just set everything up as you normally would, adding a one- to two-inch chunk of hotdog to your treble.
Weirdly enough, hotdogs will work effectively for at least two species, and I’m sure there are others that may take a wiener every now and then.
We hope that we’ve answered any questions you might have had about using hotdogs as bait, but if there are issues we haven’t addressed, we’d love to hear from you.
Please leave a comment below.