Fishing With Chicken Liver: What Fish Can You Actually Catch?

You’ve probably heard that chicken liver can be used to catch fish. Most people just think it’s used to catch one or two species of fish but that actually might not be true at all. I’ll admit, it’s not the best bait available but you’ll be able to find it in pretty much any grocery store.

What kind of fish can you catch with chicken liver? The two most common fish you’ll catch with chicken liver is catfish and carp. The smell is super strong and that’s what these two fish are attracted to. You’ll still be able to use chicken liver to catch trout, striper, bluegill, and a number of other fish but it’s not the best because it falls off the hook fairly easily.

It’s not something I use very often because it does fall off the hook easily and there aren’t any catfish in my area (to my knowledge). I know it’s the go-to bait in a lot of places and a lot of catfish specific bait in stores are made from chicken liver. I have used it for other fish, and even though it does work, it’s not the best in my opinion.

How To Fish With Chicken Liver

If you’re going to be fishing with chicken liver there are a few things you’ll want to do to make things easier and catch more fish. I’d recommend you use something else just because it’ll be less of a hassle but it’s always a good idea to try things out to see how they perform in your local waters. Here’s a video that will walk you through the process:

The whole process is pretty simple and all you really have to do is cast it out and wait. There’s going to be no swimming action when you’re using liver so you don’t need to twitch the rod or reel in. Most people will just cast it out, set the rod in their holder, and wait for something to bite.

The type of rod you use isn’t all that important but I generally like to use a spinning reel. It’ll cast the furthest and give you the least amount of headaches. If you’re going after catfish you’ll want to make sure your rod is heavy enough to handle them (since they can be pretty big). A medium-heavy should be good enough.

You’ll also want to make sure you have the right fishing line. If the water is super dirty then you can just use straight braid. It’ll be able to cast the furthest and it’ll be a lot tougher than mono or fluoro. You can use anything from 20-60 lbs. If the water is clearer you’ll want to throw on a small fluorocarbon leader so the fish can’t see it.

The final thing is using the right hook. The best hook for keeping liver on is going to be a treble hook (3 hooks). You’ll want to make sure the liver is attached to all 3 hooks and that’ll make it harder to pull off. I generally like to catch and release so most of the time, I’ll use a #1 circle hook (makes it easier to take out of the fishes mouth).

How To Keep Chicken Live On The Hook

The biggest drawback to using chicken liver is keeping them on the hook. They constantly fall off the hook and you’ll most likely spend more time dealing with that than fishing. They’re also super messy and I’m not a fan of that at all. Here are a few quick tips to help you keep them on:

The first thing you can do to toughen up the liver is to cure it in salt. The good thing about this is that you can keep it in your fridge for a long period of time without any rot or smell. The downside is that it’ll have less blood scent in the water. All you have to do is soak both sides in salt and let them air dry for a couple of days. Put them in a ziplock bag with some more salt and keep them in your fridge.

The second thing you can do is use two circle hooks instead of one. It’s the same concept as the treble hook in that there are more hooks in the liver, which will keep it on the hook. You can also grab some surgical gauze and stuff the liver in that. Put one hook through the top and one hook through the bottom.

The third thing you can do is get some elastic bait thread. All you have to do is wrap it around the hook and liver a bunch of times and you’re done. It’s as simple as that. It won’t hold as well as the others but it’s much easier.

The final (and easiest) thing you can do is use an egg loop knot. It’s the easiest of the 4 ways and you don’t need to buy anything else. I don’t have a tutorial on how to tie it yet so just head over to Google and search for it.

Additional Chicken Liver Tips

  • Use fresh livers as much as possible. When you freeze them or dry them out there isn’t going to be as much blood and there won’t be as much scent going through the water. Pretty much all stores have fresh chicken liver but you can also use other types of liver (beef, etc).
  • Keep the liver as cold as possible. When they start to warm up they’ll get a bit softer and fall off the hook. It’s fine if you’re using gauze to hold everything together but it will make a difference if you’re putting it directly on the hook.
  • Add some scent. If you go to any fishing shop you’ll be able to find catfish (or any other type) scent. All you have to do is soak the liver in the scent and cast it out. The more smell you can give it, the better.

Until next time, happy fishing. If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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