Top 5 Best Perch Baits

A Great Catch of Yellow Perch
A Great Catch of Yellow Perch | Source

Yellow Perch are one of the most prolific fresh water fishes in North America. Given their abundance, most states have very generous regulations and seasons for perch fishing. In addition, gear requirements are fairly minimal, they are usually willing to bite year round, and make delicious table fare. While yellow perch can be caught on lures, bait is the preferred method of most perch fishermen.

Further down in the article I discuss fishing rigs for using these baits, but first, here's a preview of the top five baits.

The Five Best Perch-Fishing Baits

5. Night Crawlers
4. Berkley Honeyworms
3. Perch Eyes/Jaw Meat
2. Live Minnows
1. Berkley Gulp Minnows

5. Night Crawlers

Night Crawlers are one of the most common yellow perch baits. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to find in stores, and easy to keep alive. As far as live bait goes, night crawlers are about as easy as it gets. Just thread one on to a bait fishing perch rig and you're all set.

The Good:

  • Easy to keep alive
  • Inexpensive
  • Stays on hooks very well
  • Easy to find in stores

The Not-So-Good:

  • Must be refrigerated and kept damp or else they will die
  • Some people might not like threading them on a hook

4. Berkley Honeyworms

Berkley Honeyworms

Berkley EBPHWY PowerBait Power Honey Worm, Yellow, 1-Inch
Berkley EBPHWY PowerBait Power Honey Worm, Yellow, 1-Inch

"This bait is a hidden treasure and perfect for kids. It's a fire and forget, instant gratification, all day action bait. "


Berkley's Honeyworms are definitely a hidden gem when it comes to perch fishing bait. I've caught everything from trout to crappie to bass on these, but perch fishing is where they really shine. They are incredibly easy to rig, cheap, and mess-free. They store forever, never dry out, and most of all, perch can't resist them.

The Good:

  • At around $4 for 50 worms, they are an amazing value
  • They are tough, stay on the hook well even after catching multiple fish
  • No mess
  • Won't dry out
  • Perfect for kids

The Not-So-Good:

  • Since it's an artificial bait, it lacks any kind of movement in the water.
  • Sometimes perch just seem to prefer natural baits.

3. Yellow Perch

Perch make Great Perch Bait!
Perch make Great Perch Bait!

Yup, you read that right, one of the best baits for catching perch is perch! The two most popular parts to use as bait as the eyes and lower jaw meat. After you catch a perch, simply remove an eye or the lower jaw meat using a sharp knife, thread it on to a hook, and drop it back in the water.

The Good:

  • Its Free!
  • So long as you keep catching perch, you never run out of bait

The Not-So-Good:

  • You have to catch one first
  • Can get a little messy
  • Doesn't stay on the hook as well as some other baits
  • Watch out for the dorsal spines when handling and cutting the perch

2. Live Minnows

When it comes to perch fishing, live minnows are arguably the most effective bait there is. Perch can't resist struggling live bait. I've also found that live minnows consistently seem to catch larger perch.

The Good:

  • Likely the most effective perch bait you can use
  • Catches larger perch

The Not-So-Good

  • Hard to find, might have to catch yourself
  • Difficult to keep alive (Dead minnows work all right, but not nearly as well as live)
  • Don't stay on the hook very well
  • Illegal in some places (check local regulations before using live minnows as bait)

1. Berkley Gulp Bait

5 Star Reviews for Gulp Alive! Minnows

Gulp! Alive! Berkley Minnow Fishing Bait
Gulp! Alive! Berkley Minnow Fishing Bait

"This stuff is incredible, all types of pan fish really bite on this bait. It doesn't need action to catch fish."


Berkley Gulp is, hands down, the closest thing you can get to live bait without using live bait. Admittedly, live minnows would probably out fish Gulp Minnows most days, but Gulp baits are just so much simpler to use. No worrying about your bait dying, no worrying about your bait falling off the hook, no need to spend half the day just trying to catch bait. The Gulp Alive! line of baits combines the original Gulp line with added scent, putting even more perch in the boat. This is my favorite perch fishing bait.

The Good:

  • You don't need to keep them alive
  • Will last a long time (just keep the bag zipped shut)
  • Stays on the hook very well
  • Almost as effective as the real thing
  • Great action when jigged

The Not-So-Good:

  • The scent they are packaged in somehow seems to get everywhere
  • Relatively expensive

Perch Fishing Rigs

First, a quick word about how to rig the baits in this list. The three most common perch bait rigs are a jig, a float rig, or a bottom fishing rig.

Jigs are the most simple; just tie a 1/16 or 1/8th oz jig head to your line and thread whichever bait you chose on to the end. Jigs are especially deadly for perch when fished with minnows and Berkley Gulp (number 1 and 2 on this list).

Bottom fishing rigs for perch involve a 1/4 oz weight with one or multiple spreader lines tied to the mainline on short leaders, using either a 3-way swivel or tied directly to the line. If using multiple leaders, keep them short enough and spaced far enough apart to ensure that they cannot wrap around each other and tangle. Bottom rigs and jigs are effective in winter and late summer when perch move to deeper water

A float or bobber rig involves using a single hook suspended under a bobber or jig to fish near the surface. Split shot weights can be added to the line between the hook and float to aid in casting and make sure the bait sinks. Alternatively, instead of a hook and weight, a jig can be fished very effectively under a bobber as well. Float rigs are effective in spring and early summer when perch move to shallow water.

Vote in!

What is your favorite perch fishing bait?

  • Night Crawlers
  • Berkley Honeyworms
  • Perch
  • Live Minnow
  • Berkley Gulp Minnows
  • Other
See results without voting

Watch Perch Strike Bait on an Underwater GoPro

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    HuntnFish has spent many years on the water fishing for and catching nearly every species of fish in Washington State.

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