How To Cut, Clean, and Prepare Squid Bait For Fishing

Updated on July 22, 2016

Introduction To Cutting and Cleaning Squid

Cutting and preparing squid for use as fishing bait is pretty easy to do.  If you typically buy whole squid, chop it up, and throw it on your hook, you are probably missing a few important steps that might keep you from catching fish.

I'll take you step-by- step and show you how to clean and prepare squid for bait fishing.

If you know of another technique, feel free to comment or let me know where your blog on the topic is. I love learning the nuances of fishing.

OK! Let's work on some squid and get fishing!

Step One

Once you get the squid home from the bait-shop, put it on a cutting board. Squid can be a little messy, there is some small amounts of black ink involved as well as the usual slim and guts so think ahead about where you do this. I often put the cutting board right in the sink.

The first thing you want to do is remove the head from the squid. If the squid is frozen, run it under water a bit and then pull off the head.

Personally, I save the head. Some don't but I'll use it for fishing later or I also throw it in a minnow trap (please see my minnow trap article if you get a chance. I'll link it somewhere in this article).

Step Two

Find a sharp knife, preferably a fillet type knife or even a pairing knife will work (that's what I used for this article).  Slice down one side of the squid long-ways.

Step Three

Once you've cut the squid, then open it up so the rest of the guts are exposed. Go ahead and clean the guts out.  Also look for a long plastic-like membrane inside the squid. Seriously, it looks like an old drinking straw. Take that out too.

I can feel the big fish biting already :-)

Step Four

Here's a part that a lot of bait fishermen ignor when cutting and preparing squid for bait.  Remove the skin from the squid and toss it out or in the water. You won't need the skin. I've definitely caught fish with squid-skin on but the consensus seems to be that you want as much of the squid meat exposed in the water. Removing the skin exposes more of the meat.

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Step Five

Cut the squid into strips. I like to keep the strips as long as possible. You can always trim them down when you are actually at your fishing site.

Pack the squid in plastic Tupperware and keep it cool or even frozen until use. I sometimes will buy the pro-cut scented pre-cut squid. When I use that up I'll save the container and the scented juice that remains in the bottom. I'll pack any squid I cut myself into the the old container with the juice in it. I'm not sure if that helps, but I figure it can't hurt. Plus, reusing the container is simply better than tossing it into a landfill.

How to Put Squid On The Hook

I received an excellent question from a great commenter below asking how to out the squid on the hook. Honestly, this topic is large enough that it could warrant a completely separate article, which I might do someday.

The easiest answer is simply take a piece of squid that is a couple to a few inches long, a hook with a robust barb on the end and hook the squid strip once one end (the narrow end) of the squid. Don't hook it multiple times. Squid is tough and will stay on a hook a long time. Just hooking it once will allow a lot of action (flopping, wiggling) off the end of the hook when in the water.

That is the most basic, novice answer. Combining squid (hooking the same way) with bucktails is even more effective. I won't drag out the topic any more than this but that is the basics for hooking squid to your hook.


Thanks for reading! I hope that helps you to catch a lot of big fish.  Good luck!

Questions & Answers


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      • TurtleDog profile image

        TurtleDog 5 years ago

        Hi James! Thanks for the comment and compliment! Good point, after you've cut the squid up properly for use as bait, you need to set the hook into the squid, I added a paragraph above in the post to give you some real basic guidance on this. Check it out.

        Thanks again!

      • profile image

        James 5 years ago

        Thanks, great article.

        but how do you set the hook into the squid?