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Pro Tip: Many sportfishing techniques require you to use live baitfish. Tarpon, marlin, sharks – they all love going after freshly caught baitfish.
But how do you catch bait fish? You can use small tackle and actually fish for them, but it’s much easier to set up bait fish traps and let the baitfish come to you.
In this buying guide, we review the best bait fish traps depending on the type of baitfish you’re trying to trap. We researched bait fish traps for minnows, pinfish, crabs, and more to come up with the best bait fish traps for each category.
Below you’ll see our overall winners for each type of baitfish trap, along with a detailed review of the features of the baitfish traps and why we picked them. So what are you waiting for? Read on to learn more about the best bait fish traps for 2020.
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
Frabill Rectangular Bait Fish Trap
18″x14″x8″ Bait Fish Trap
ICE SEA Portable Folded Collapsible Bait Fish Trap
YaeGarden Collapsible Cast Bait Fish Trap
Best Minnow Bait Fish Trap
Frabill Minnow Trap
The Frabill Minnow Trap is the best overall minnow trap. Its 8” x 8” x 18” design is the perfect size for portability as well as effectiveness.
The trap features a sliding door for easy access to trapped baitfish and cleaning out the trap from any unwanted visitors. The sliding door is spring-loaded for easy opening.
The Frabill Minnow Trap works well for minnows, bluegills, sunfish, and any other small baitfish that fits through the trap doors.
The Frabill Minnow Trap is made out of heavy-duty vinyl dipped steel. The mesh is corrosion-resistant and tested to last many years of repeated use. The trap has 4” x 1.25” openings and is built for both freshwater and saltwater.
The inner cage holds small bait effectively and allows baitfish to be lured into the trap. The funnel hatch is convenient for pouring out any caught baitfish and allows the fisherman to quickly and easily access what he or she has caught.
The Frabill Minnow Trap weighs a little over 2 lbs and is compact in size compared to other non-folding traps. The Frabill Minnow trap will easily fit in the back seat of a car or under the front gunnel of a fishing boat.
- Effective for catching minnows and other small bait fish.
- Economical price.
- Bulkier than folding options.
The Frabill Minnow Trap is a great trap for catching minnows and other small baitfish. Its vinyl-covered steel frame will withstand heavy use and ensure you’re stocked with bait fish for many years to come.
Best Pinfish Trap
Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap
The Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap is our choice for the best overall bait fish trap for pinfish.
Similar to the Frabill Minnow Trap, the Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap is constructed out of vinyl-covered steel that can withstand many years of heavy use. The wire mesh is welded prior to the vinyl covering for added strength and durability.
The Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap also meets government regulations around trap size for baitfish. The Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap has four bait fish trapping entrances that allow pinfish to enter the trap and prevent their escape.
Joy Fishing is based out of the United States, so you will be buying an American-made product.
The Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap is perfect for trapping various baitfish, like pinfish spot, mutton minnow, squirrelfish, and more.
As mentioned above, the Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap is built out of a steel wire mesh that is then coated with vinyl. This ensures that the baitfish trap is corrosion resistant, and can withstand many years of use in both fresh and saltwater.
The Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap has a side trap door that allows for easy removal of trapped baitfish or any other creatures that get stuck in the trap. The Trap also has a middle-mounted bait well perfect for loading with both live bait and artificial lures.
The Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap is 24” x 14” x 9” and weighs roughly 5 lbs. The trap has four openings for baitfish, each is approximately 1.5” x 3”. The steel mesh the trap is made out of is about ⅛” thick.
- Durable design perfect for catching pinfish.
- Reasonable price.
- Not as portable as other designs.
The Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap is a great baitfish trap for not only pinfish but other small baitfish as well. If portability isn’t a factor for you, we recommend you buy the Joy Fishing Pinfish Trap.
Best Large Collapsible Bait Fish Trap
Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap
The Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap is our choice for the best large collapsible bait fish trap.
The Trap has a 360-degree design that allows baitfish to enter the trap from all angles.
Because of the circular design, the Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap can be used to catch minnows, small crabs, crawfish, any other underwater creatures that fit through the openings.
As the name suggests, the Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap can fold into a 13.5” x 9.8” square that allows it to fit in a small bag or backpack.
The Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap is perfect for the fisherman who needs to travel with a trap or can’t fit a traditional trap in their current boating setup.
The Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap is constructed out of a durable nylon mesh that keeps weight down and allows for foldability. The mesh is also very strong and won’t allow baitfish to escape the trap.
The Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap comes in two sizes that have either 7 sides with 6 entrances or 9 sides with 8 entrances. The Ice Sea Trap also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and adheres to Amazon’s standardized return policy.
The two models of the Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap have the below specifications.
The 7 sided model has an unfolded size: of 27.1” x 9.8” and a folded size of 13.5” x 9.8”. The 9 sided model has an unfolded size of 31.1” x 9.8” and a folded size of 15.5” x 9.8”. Both traps weigh approximately 10 ounces.
- Larger than other bait fish traps.
- Folding design is not as robust as other traps.
The Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap is a great choice for the fisherman looking for extra size but also portability. It will fit in tight spaces, but also allow you to catch more baitfish than smaller fixed-size traps. A great choice if flexibility is important to you!
Best Small Collapsible Bait Fish Trap
YeaGarden Collapsible Trap
The YeaGarden Collapsible Trap is another great option for those looking for collapsible traps. The trap is effective at catching baitfish but is even more portable than the Ice Sea Collapsible Minnow Trap.
The YeaGarden Collapsible Trap will fit in even the most space conscience locations and will catch just as many types of baitfish.
It’s perfect for trapping bait fish like minnows, crawfish, crabs, and more.
The YeaGarden Collapsible Trap features a galvanized steel wire and polyethylene spring cage. The galvanized steel protects the trap from corrosion in both salt and fresh water and adds to the overall strength of the trap. The trap wire is also coated in plastic that protects the trap from scratches.
The YeaGarden Collapsible Trap folds into a small cylinder that greatly reduces its size. This helps with transportation as well as storage.
The YeaGarden Collapsible Trap is approximately 13” x 24” when unfolded and 13” x 4” when folded. It also has a 90-day guarantee and can be returned free of charge.
- The most portable bait fish trap design
- Doesn’t fit as many baitfish as other traps.
If portability is the top priority, the YeaGarden Collapsible Trap is the best option for bait fish traps. It can fold into a compact profile for storage and travel but is still effective at catching baitfish.
We thought it was important to go over some of the major features we looked for when picking these traps for our top bait fish traps for 2020.
One of the most crucial factors in choosing a good baitfish trap is its portability.
Depending on the fisherman’s location, having a trap that folds into a small profile can be critical. We made sure to include traps that are very portable as well as traps that focus more on durability and price.
Having a portable baitfish trap also means that you can carry more of them, or keep more of them in your boat, maximizing your productivity.
Most baitfish traps are either made out of nylon netting or vinyl-covered steel mesh. The vinyl-covered steel mesh is much stronger but is worse in other factors – such as weight and corrosion.
Author Note: Mesh is much lighter and doesn’t corrode in fresh or saltwater. Depending on the location of the baitfish, either type may be more effective.
Some baitfish traps also work great for catching crayfish.
The best traps for catching both baitfish and crayfish are typically the ones with small gaps in the mesh so that crayfish can’t escape.
Traps like the Yeegarden and Ice Sea traps would make for great crayfish traps.
Crayfish broils are pretty epic, and if that is something you’re interested in doing, be sure to choose a suitable trap
Regulations on the capture of baitfish vary wildly from state to state, with some states only allowing you to use the baitfish on the same body of water to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Be sure that you have a thorough understanding of the regulations in your state or country.
Authors Note: Regulations can also apply to certain species when it comes to trapping, and some may be protected from being trapped for use as bait or consumption.
This means you also have to have a good understanding of the minnow or baitfish species that end up in your traps.
Types of Bait Fish
The type of baitfish the fisherman is going after is also very important when picking out which bait fish trap to use. Larger, stronger fish do better with steel wire traps, while smaller weaker fish are fine with the mesh traps.
The type of water the baitfish hang out in is also very important. Saltwater might mean mesh is a better choice, while strong currents mean that the heavier vinyl-covered steel is appropriate.
Be sure to check out our guide on the best livewell seat combos for keeping bait alive.