How do I keep chicken liver bait on the hook?

I’ve heard that chicken liver is a great bait for Catfish but I can’t seem to keep it on the hook. Any suggestions?

Some seasoned anglers swear by chicken bait when fishing for catfish, but it does require a slightly more difficult rigging. When using chicken livers, the biggest problem most fishermen face is keeping them on the hook. A couple of suggestions for combating this problem include letting them dry completely in the sun before placing them on the hook, and/or coating the livers with garlic salt and sun drying for up to 4 hours. Since some fishermen believe that drying the livers reduces the scent and run off they produce in the water, you can also wrap a quarter size piece of liver in a piece of pantyhose. Leave a tag end on the hose to thread through your hook. Another method is slightly more complicated but works perfectly. Using a #4 treble hook, run the eye through a pieces of liver. Place the hook into the snap of a snap swivel. Holding the hook by the eye, wrap the liver tightly with about a foot and a half of sewing thread. You’ll want to wrap the thread tight enough that it actually starts to cut into the liver. Although you’ll have to cut the extra thread off the hook after a couple of bait ups, the liver will virtually stay on the hook until either you or a catfish takes it off.

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

22 Responses to “How do I keep chicken liver bait on the hook?”

  1. john lo says:

    Using chicken liver.
    I just use magic thread (elastic thread) that is sold in almost every fishing store. This works great. Just hook your chicken liver one your hook, making sure a piec of the liver is pulled above the eye of the hook and start wrapping the thread from the top. Make sure to wrap the thread around itself on the top, which is above the eye of the hook. Proceed to wrap down toward the curve of the hook and wrap back up toward the eye. Stop whenver you feel that there is enough thread that will hold the liver. The first few wraps should be tight enough to cut into the liver. I hope that was helpful.

  2. James says:

    One way I’ve heard of is using a small piece of panty hose about 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches wrapping the liver in it and tie it. then hook it on your hook hanging off the bottom. you’ll need a lighter to get off the excess panty hose when your done with that piece. Good luck

  3. stoica says:

    don’t let it dry! catfish won’t be so attracted to it

  4. mylon smith says:

    i found that frozen liver takes to the hook better. also small ruber bands with a couple of twists on a trebbel hook work good i caught two fish on the same piece of liver more than once. now ive heard mixing brown sugar in with your liver helps also the liver sent will linger on your stering wheel for a couple of days if you get run off a pond an go from fishing to driving real quick.

  5. Wesley says:

    This is quick and easy to do, just bait your treble hook with the liver then cover hook and bait with a “Tie on” style coleman mantle, running the string trough the eye of the treble before you tie it!!! I’ve even dipped that rig into stink bait as well, and had luck.

  6. Wesley says:

    Use “tie on” style coleman mantles, they are cheap, quick, and easy to use.

  7. calvin says:

    I like to use a hook with a spring on it

  8. Lucas says:

    i found one of the best ways to catch catfish is to take pantyhoes and tie a knot on one end then put your chicken liver in tie the other end then put it on your hook. cut little holes in them so the chicken liver doesnt fall out but it lets some meat show.

  9. Daniel says:

    Easy, I just put the liver on the hook and wrap around a piece of sewing string. It keeps it on there pretty good, even when its all mushy because of the heat.

  10. Greg says:

    I used to take my livers still frozen when i went fishing and they stayed on pretty good. Now i’ve found out that if you leave your livers lying outside for a day before you go fishing they stink soo bad that the catfish won’t refuse them but then popped up the issue of keeping the bait on my 6/0 jackhammer… I found that using medical gauze worked GREAT after you wrap the gauze around the liver just dip the whole thing down in that stinking liver juice cast it out there and HOLD ON!!!!

  11. Leonard says:

    Greg ,great advise with the gauze. Gonna try it in the Erie canal right now! not now but right now…

  12. bradcopeland says:

    hey there. all i do is i set the liver in a closed ziplock bag for r days untill it turns green. then fish around 5am to 9 am. thats when the big ones bite. set the bag of liver down wind open the bad.. hold ur breath if not i guarantee u will be losing breakfast.. get out about g pieces and set in the sun let dry for ef min on one side so u have a lil firmness to hook bait.. make sure to double eggdrop sinkers. easily pull pole behind and follow through with an easy cast with 40lbs test my line usually goes 20 yards out with bait intact. let the weight carry the bait. with letting the liver rot for 2 days they wont bite this stuff.. they will hit it hard be ready because after that first hit you may not get another chance to set the hook

  13. Buckadee says:

    I tie 3 – 8″ leaders together on my 30# line. I then place a treble hook on each of the snaps at the bottom of the three leaders. I take a complete chicken liver and hook all 3 hooks from the first leader to the liver. I then do the same thing with the other 2 treble hooks. I end up with a complete chicken liver with 9 hooks holding it on the line. I fish it without a weight and with or without a bobber. Most of the time I get the catfish before it is able to strip off all the liver from these 9 hooks.

  14. Thomas Hruza says:

    You can buy empty tea bags and that way you don’t have to cut up panty hose and it releases more of the scent slower, aha. 😉

  15. sam says:

    liver works best but i hate to deal with all the tactics of keeping it on. so my solution is dump liver into zipplock with fresh shrimp. allow to set in fridge for 24 hour or until shrimps are bloody red, the shrimp will be easy to work with.

  16. Rich says:

    Here is a simple way, tie your hook to your line with a overhand loop knot. The hook can slide around on the loop, loop needs to be big enough for the liver piece to go through it. Put the liver piece through the loop and be sure to hook it on both sides of the liver. This secures the liver and is easy to cast. Only issue is if liver is really soft it will fall off also.. I like firm liver and use about one half of a liver as the bait. It’s worked well for me for many years and is simple.

  17. Richard Mann says:

    Rubber bands! They are cheap, readily available almost anywhere & serve the purpose of using a piece of thread or string…only much easier.

  18. Mike Benefiel says:

    Try using chicken gizzards. They’ve got a lot of gristle in them and stay on the hook great without any extra accessories. Caught a lot of cats with them.

  19. tim dills says:

    i use baitsaverhooks no thread no pantyhose they work great i use them on my bait casters you can not sling them off .it takes just a few saconds and your ready to fish .so easy nothing extra to keep up with. also works great for cut bait live bait and i use less bait because im not slinging it off.they say on the web site saves time money and bait and there workin great for me.if youd like to try check em out at

  20. chuck says:

    Was fishing for catfish with chicken liver., ended up catching 3 nice stripers. Is that normal do stripers eat chicken liver?

  21. Trevor says:

    I switched to beef livers years ago.

  22. bigL says:

    The easiest way to keep em on the hook is to buy em fresh and keep em on ice while you fish. Its such pain in the butt to tie on mantels, rubber bands, thread, or anything else. Just use an octopus hook, put em on cold, and try not to pierce the liver too much…..cast easy, don’t waste time with extra crap on your rig.

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