Live bait for perch
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Have you ever wondered what’s the best live bait rig for perch? Yeah, me too! Even though live bait fishing isn’t really my thing, I do love testing new methods, and have friends who swear live baits are one of the best ways to catch huge perch. This sparked my imaginations and got my perch fishing juices flowing and had to dig a little deeper. So, with my research hat on I began compiling the best information about perch live bait rigs I could find online, and have extracted the “must know” tit bits for your reading pleasure.

For many anglers, live worms or maggots were their first choice of bait when they were children. As fishing evolved over the years, a variety of new baits were introduced, including pellets, boilies, and groundbaits. However, an increasing number of anglers are returning to the time-honored method of fishing with maggots and worms. Fishing for freshwater species takes place in streams, lakes, ponds, and rivers. Identifying your target species will assist you in selecting the appropriate freshwater fishing bait. Because many anglers do not have a specific fish in mind, natural  baits such as worms, leeches, insects, and minnows are great bait for perch.

Types of live bait for perch


The Dendrobaena worm is the most frequently used fishing worm, followed by the Lob worm, depending on the type of fish you’re attempting to attract.


Dendrobaenas are used to attract Tench, Chub, Perch, Roach, and Carp in both natural and commercial settings. Dendrobaenas are typically hooked directly on the hook by the majority of anglers. The PR412 from Preston is an excellent hook to use. Some chop them up and combine them with groundbait to make a chopped mix. This will then be balled up or incorporated into method feeders. Willy Worms carries a large selection of method feeders from leading manufacturers such as Preston, Guru, Korum, and Sensas.


Casters are formed when naturally occurring white maggots are allowed to pupate (basically the cocoon before it turns into a fly). Willy Worms leave their caster maggots on the feed beds for an extended period of time, almost to the point of turning, in order to produce the best casters. This ensures that the maggots are plump, resulting in nice fat casters. All of our casters are turned daily on-site. This ensures that our customers always receive the freshest casters.


Casters are an excellent winter bait on natural venues such as rivers and canals. However, casters shine in the spring and summer, when they make an excellent bait for Carp and Chub in commercial fisheries.

Casters, like maggots, can be used directly on the hook or hair rigged, which is frequently done with a bait band. Casters work well in spod mixes and are frequently used in feeder fishing.


Pinkies are small green bottle fly pupae. Pinkies, like maggots, are available in a variety of colours. There are four types of pinkies: red pinkies, white pinkies, fluorescent pinkies, and mixed pinkies. Because pinkies are smaller than maggots, they are used to attract smaller fish. Pinkies are likely to be used during the winter months when fish are dormant. Pinkies are likely to be found on rivers and canals. Fluro pinkies make excellent brackish and darker water baits. Make use of a fine wired hook, such as a size 20 to 24.


Squats are small house fly larvae. Squats are almost exclusively used in groundbait. They work well as a holding bait for Bream and other species of fish. All fish enjoy squats, and unlike maggots, they do not crawl away or bury themselves in mud or sand. Although the squat is not frequently used as a hookbait, some match anglers have saved the day by using it as a hookbait during difficult winter months when bites are scarce. If used as a hookbait, very fine fishing tackle with a size 22 or smaller hook is required.

Lob worms

Additionally referred to as Canadian Night Crawlers, these are another excellent live bait for fishing. These are more prevalent at natural fishing locations and are excellent for attracting large Perch, Chub, Bream, Eels, Tench, Pike, and even Catfish! However, they are most frequently used for sea trout and salmon fishing.


Traditionally, only natural white maggots were used for fishing; however, maggots now come in a variety of colours. Red Maggots, White Maggots, Fluro Maggots, Disco Maggots, Bronze Maggots, and Mixed Maggots are the most common colours. Each coloured maggot is said to be more effective in specific venues and with specific fish, depending on the season and temperature.

So, what’s the best rig

Live bait fishing for perch is one of the most effective methods of catching this predator. Perch are attracted to a variety of smaller live baits, and there are a few truly excellent rigs that can help you catch more and larger perch.

The best live bait rigs for perch include the float rig for fishing in the upper and middle water levels, as well as the paternoster, running, and maggot feeder rigs for fishing in the lower and middle water levels and directly on the bottom. These rigs can be used to present baitfish, worms, or maggots.

Maggot Feeder Rig

Finally, my secret winter perch live bait rig; the maggot feeder rig. Maggots can be extremely effective when the water is extremely cold during the winter and the fish are not particularly interested in feeding.

Live baitfish simply will not suffice in such conditions, as their size is simply too large and they move around far too much. Both of these factors increase the amount of energy required by the perch to grab those baits.

Maggots are now a much more accessible prey item! They are small, incapable of swimming away from the perch, and high in protein. All of this combines to make them the ideal cold water perch bait (or any other coarse species, really).

What you’ll need to set up the maggot feeder rig is as follows:

  •  2 float stops (to trap your hook link with)
  • #10 barrel swivel
  • Anti-tangle sleeve
  • Shorter fluorocarbon hook link of about 3-4 inches
  • 1oz maggot feeder

Running rig

This is another fantastic live bait rig for perch, but with increased sensitivity. As shown in the illustration, the ledger or sinker link is attached to a swivel that allows it to move freely up and down your mainline.

This creates no resistance for the perch when it picks up your bait, which can be a significant advantage when fishing in locations where perch are generally cautious biters or in cold water conditions, when perch are slower and feed less frequently.

My go-to tactic is to start with the paternoster rig and then switch to a running rig if the perch are being difficult to catch. Usually, one or the other suffices!

The following is the end tackle required for the running rig:

  • #8 – #10 barrel swivels
  • Stop bead
  • 12-15lb fluorocarbon hook length/leader
  • a short length of monofilament line for your ledger/sinker link (make it thinner than your mainline and hook length, so that you’ll only use your weight if you should get snagged)
  • #2 – #6 wide gape hook

Paternoster rig

We’re now going to discuss the best bottom rigs for perch. The paternoster rig is my absolute favourite. Again, this is a very simple setup that is extremely effective and has landed me a number of very large perch over the years.

It’s entirely up to you how you set it up; you can attach the hook to the end of your mainline and the weight to the shorter paternoster arm, or vice versa!

I much prefer to use a mainline weight and a hook with a slightly shorter hooklength. This way, when I tighten down my mainline, I can lift the baitfish slightly off the bottom.

I always have the impression that the baitfish is much more active when it is on the short end of the rig and able to rest on the bottom. Usually, the additional movement results in a bite!

The following is the final tackle required for the paternoster rig:

  • Pear weight/sinker of around 1oz
  • 12 – 15lb fluorocarbon hook length/leader (tie it to your mainline with a blood or Albright knot)
  • #2-#6 wide gape hook

Float rig

When fishing for perch close to the surface or in midwater, a simple float or bobber rig is your best bet.

Apart from being extremely enjoyable, the float rig allows you to cover a lot of water because it allows the baitfish to swim freely, giving it a very natural appearance.

Additionally, you can pitch your bait into difficult, snaggy areas or directly beneath overhanging trees and bushes, which are frequently perch hotspots.

Nothing compares to the sensation you get when you see a slowly moving float being violently dragged under!

It couldn’t be easier to set up a float rig for perch; all you need is the following tackle:

  • Float or bobber stop
  • Float or bobber of 4-8g
  • Ball weight or egg sinker of 2-5g
  • Sstop bead
  • #8 – #10 swivel
  • Fluorocarbon trace or leader of 12-15lb
  • #2 – #6 wide gape hook (depending on the size of your baitfish)

Perch prefer a variety of smaller live baits, and there are plenty to choose from. And while they all have the potential to land you a good number of large perch, some work better than others depending on the day, the weather, and the natural food available to the perch in the water where you are fishing.

That is why, when the fishing is slow or the bites abruptly stop, experimenting with different baits is critical to success. All of the live baits listed below will work well on the float, paternoster, and running rigs (the maggots are best fished in combination with the maggot feeder rig, of course).

When it comes to baitfish size, I’ve discovered that fish between three and five inches work well for perch of all sizes. Regardless of whether they are naturally occurring in the water you are targeting, all types of baitfish are always the preferred bait for perch, particularly the larger variety.

Having said that, in extremely cold water, smaller live baits such as worms or maggots tend to produce more bites. This is probably because they will move much less than nervous baitfish when a perch approaches, requiring the perch to expend significantly less energy to catch the bait.

However, as mentioned previously, experimenting with various baits is always the best and most certain way to hook a perch. Perch are fickle creatures, and what works one day may be completely useless the next time you fish the same swim!

About Post Author

Danny Shaw

Hi, I'm Danny. I have been a fisherman for about 10 years and I can't imagine life without this wonderful hobby! To me, fishing is a passion and a lifestyle. The joy of the catch, the bait, the tackle and the outdoors and that's what Trout Fishery is about.
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