Best Bait Pumps: The Top 5 Pros Use for Live Bait

September 2, 2021

Our editors at Finn’s Fishing Tips independently research, test, and recommend the best products to help you make purchase decisions. You can learn more about our review process here. We sometimes get a commission through purchases made via our links.

If you are a fishing enthusiast and like to get out on a boat for a long fishing expedition, sun, rain, or hail, a good-quality bait pump is a must to have on board. No matter what weather conditions you are in, if you have decided to go out to fish, then it is important to use bait so you can get a good catch. 

The only way to ensure that you get a good catch with the bait you have on board is to ensure that their water is well oxygenated and the bait is healthy.

Sure, it may seem strange to worry so much about the bait’s health given that it is eventually food for the fish you are looking to catch.

But if you dangle unhealthy or half-dead bait in the water, that does not reflect too well on your chances to find a good catch.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

Best Bait Pumps

Bait pumps are extremely useful devices to have installed in a livewell. It ensures proper circulation of water and oxygen, always ensuring that the baitfish are fresh and alive. 

But it can often be difficult to find the best bait pump as one may not know how much water needs to ideally be pumped. At times, the pump you may have installed is not suitable for saltwater, which means that you can only take the boat out into freshwater lakes and rivers.

To iron out these technical queries about which bait pump is the best option, the following sections will provide reviews of some of the best products in the market, followed by a brief buying guide for finding the right product:

Attwood Tsunami T500 Aerator Pump

The Attwood Tsunami Aerator Pump offers some incredible engineering that allows you to take the bait pump with you to various locations, without worrying about how much space it may take up in your gear.

It is a compact and well-engineered product that provides good aeration, especially in spaces like livewells. This is a powerful pump that can provide 800 gallons per hour of output. The pump is also made of state-of-the-art materials, such as great-quality alloys and magnets. 

The bait pump is also efficient because it is extremely easy to clean and maintain. If there are parts that require replacement, you should not have too much trouble with that either. It also comes with a mounting bracket that makes the pump easy to install. 

What We Like

  • The bait pump is made of extremely good-quality materials, with bearings, brushes and alloys that provide it with great durability.
  • The bait pump has a compact design, so one is able to use it in smaller spaces as well. This is an especially useful device for compact spaces like livewells.
  • The pump is rated for 800 gallons per hour worth of output for a design voltage of 13.6 volts DC. Alternatively, at the nominal voltage, you will get 750 gallons per hour. Either way, this is an extremely powerful bait pump.  
  • It features a patented shaft seal which ensures that there are no leaks caused by misalignment.
  • The wiring is caulked and tinned, which helps prevent water damage and avoids corrosion.
  • There are also motor cartridge locks that ensure the device is secured into place. It can also be unlocked easily for cleaning and maintenance.

What We Don’t Like

  • The pump tends to drain the battery quite fast compared to other models that have a lower output.
  • The pump needs to be installed at an angle.

Shurflo Bait Sentry 800 Livewell Pump Port

The Shurflo Bait Sentry pump is a great option for sports fishing, especially in a livewell. It has been designed such that the device can be installed easily and can be operated without hurdles. It also boasts of a magnetic drive technology, which is able to iron out any operational failures. 

When the boat is anchored, the pump will be able to clear out any trapped air easily thanks to the anti-airlock feature. There is little chance for the debris to pile up in the pump and damage the motor, as the operational side of the pump takes care of that. The pump can also be run dry for a long time without causing any damage to the motor.

What We Like

  • The pump has dual ports, which makes it easier to set up washdown pump connections.
  • No matter how rough the water is, the anti-airlock feature will be able to clear any trapped air.
  • There are no seals in the pump that threaten to leak.
  • The pump can be run dry for a long time without any concerns about the motor burning out. 
  • The impeller is magnetically driven, which will ensure that there is no debris collecting that could potentially damage the motor.

What We Don’t Like

  • The pump requires a Thru-Hull fitting to accommodate the two ports. 

Rule FC Tournament Series, Livewell/Baitwell Pump

The baitwell pump from the Rule FC Tournament series is an extremely powerful and durable bait pump. It also comes with a removable motor cartridge, which makes it easy to replace in case it needs repair or greater maintenance.

The removable motor allows you to keep weeds and other debris out of the pump even while you are on the boat. You do not need to wait to get to the shore.

Simply turn off the pump, remove the deck plate, remove the debris and then reinstall the motor! It makes a great difference for saving your baitfish and keeping them alive even if they are not in a livewell.

The pump also comes in a bright and attractive white and red color. Though that does not necessarily make a difference to the operation, it certainly makes a difference to the final look of the operation.

The pumps can be mounted horizontally as well as vertically. The pump is also quiet as compared to several options in the market.

What We Like

  • The replaceable motor makes it easy to keep the pump clean and also allows better access for cleaning the impeller.
  • Replacing the motor cartridge is also a good way of ensuring that the fittings and hose receive regular maintenance and care.
  • The pump comes with a three-year warranty.
  • The pump can also be mounted horizontally and it will still keep excess air out of the motor. 
  • There is a tapered 3/4-inch NPT pickup tube for thru-hull applications.

What We Don’t Like

  • The pump needs to be installed below the water line to activate the anti-airlock feature.

Attwood Sahara S750 Automatic Bilge Pump

The Attwood Sahara S750 automatic bilge pump is another great option for a bait pump. It has 36 tinned copper wires, each one inch in length and of 16 gauge. The wire is also caulked, which ensures that there is no corrosion from water and the insulation jacket is not breached. 

It also has a magnet motor that is permanent, as well as a stainless steel shaft. This is the perfect pump for larger recreational boats, where you can keep several baits alive and well.

In other words, it is powerful enough to keep the water fresh and clean for several expensive baits. All the materials used in the bait pump are also state-of-the-art and high quality.

What We Like

  • It has a steel-reinforced seal that will ensure that the pump provides a durable and powerful performance. 
  • This bait pump is powerful enough to be fitted on larger recreational boats.
  • The pump offers 750 gallons per hour at open flow, and 625 gallons per hour at approximately 3.3 feet head.
  • The 3/4-inch hose outlet makes the washdown process a lot simpler.

What We Don’t Like

  • The pump has an auto-start feature, but it is not self-priming which can defeat the purpose.

Marine Metal Aerator Quiet Bub

The Marine Metal Aerator Quiet Bub is, as the name suggests, one of the quietest pumps of its kind! This is a sturdy and durable pump made of acrylic.

The pump has been designed for using in freshwater as well as saltwater. It runs easily on two batteries and can provide continuous operation for several hours, on a full charge.

This is a compact device that can easily pump 1.4 STL per minute. The aerator can also be used for ice fishing. It will keep the water in the bait well from freezing over and will maintain continuous circulation.

What We Like

  • The aerator is extremely durable and can be used for several hours non-stop. It is ideal for long fishing trips.
  • They are excellent for saltwater use and the pump does not corrode due to exposure to the salt.
  • This aerator is extremely quiet and will allow you to enjoy a calming fishing trip without the constant din of the motor in the back.
  • The aerator does not require a lot of maintenance. Just a battery change every now and then should do the trick.

What We Don’t Like

  • At times the water can leak into the box, causing the parts to rust.

How to Choose the Best Bait Pump

Choosing a good bait pump can be quite a challenge at times, as you want to get the best possible pump. The idea is to keep the bait fresh and alive so that you can get the best possible yield from a fishing trip.

The following are some of the factors you may want to consider before choosing a bait pump:

Capacity

The capacity of the bait pump is one of the first factors for you to consider. How many liters of water can it pump in an hour? This will give you an indication of how fresh and aerated the water will remain in the bait bucket.

There is no right answer for what is an ideal capacity. It depends on the size of your boat and the size of the baitwell. But ensure the pump you pick is matching in capacity to the boat.

The capacity of the bait pump will also dictate its size. So if you try to fit a large-sized, high-capacity bait pump in a small sailboat, that is certainly a mismatch that will not yield good results. 

Versatility

The versatility of the bait pump is also of significance. What kind of water will you be using the pump in?

Whether it is in salt water or in swamp water, the bait pump should be able to withstand the specific conditions of various climatic and geographical settings.

A versatile bait pump can be useful for various types of fishing trips. Ideally, you should even be able to use the bait pump for ice fishing.

Anti-Airlock

It is extremely important for a bait pump to be able to expel any trapped air. The air will simply take up space inside the channel and will not introduce bubbles into the water like it is meant to.

The idea is to circulate the air so that the water remains fresh and the bait can be kept alive. Air getting trapped in the pump can end up impacting its operations, which is not something you want in the middle of a fishing trip.

Battery Life

The battery life of the bait pump is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider. There is no point in going on a two-day fishing trip with a bait pump that will not last you for over two hours.

Many of the bait pumps available in the market nowadays run on batteries. It is important for the bait pump to have good battery life.

Some fishing expeditions may even last a few days, so it is not unreasonable to expect that a bait pump may be kept on continuously for upwards of 48 hours! So, before you buy a bait pump, it is important to know that you will not need to keep changing the batteries.

Durability

Battery life aside, the actual body of the bait pump needs to last you a fairly long time. Many bait pumps boast high-quality materials and parts, but if the sum of these parts do not last more than a few months, there is no point.

All the high-quality materials need to come together to make a durable product that will at least last you a few years, if not more.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the frequently asked questions one may have about what bait pumps are and how they work:

Q. How Does a Bait Pump Work?

Just how you need to keep fish in your aquarium at home alive, similarly the bait in your livewell needs to be kept alive so that they can be useful for luring a good catch during fishing trips.

A bait pump will be able to fill the livewell with water, usually from the water body in which one has taken their boat out. The pump will be able to pull the water in, as well as expel it back into the water body.

This maintains a constant circulation of water and air, which in turn keeps the bait alive and healthy.

Q. How Many GPH Does a Livewell Need?

A livewell needs continuous aeration so pumps should be able to provide it with continuous in and outflow. A good bait pump should be able to move no less than 500 GPH or gallon per hour. This is the only way to ensure maximum aeration in the livewell.

Q. Are Livewell Pumps Submersible?

Yes, several livewell pumps can be submerged completely and it will not lead to corrosion or water damage. Typically, if a livewell pump can be submerged entirely, it will be equipped with tin-coated 16-gauge wires for enhanced safety. 

Q. Does Hydrogen Peroxide Keep Fish Alive?

Many people use hydrogen peroxide in their aquariums to keep their fish well oxygenated and alive. Hydrogen peroxide aids in producing oxygen in the water.

Read the specific product instructions of the peroxide you are using and make an appropriate solution based on how many gallons of water you have.

However, while hydrogen peroxide can help to oxygenate the water, it is not a permanent solution. If you have a livewell pump or aerator, use that instead of overdoing the hydrogen peroxide.

Wrapping Up

Whether you are out on a fishing trip or whether you are transporting your freshwater fish from one location to another, it is important to ensure the fish is oxygenated.

There is oxygen naturally present in the ocean or lake water. However, this will not be the case when the fish or bait are enclosed in a livewell.

A bait pump, in that case, is of the utmost importance. This bait pump will be able to circulate the water and the oxygen in the container.

The bait pumps that have been reviewed above are some of the best in the market.

They are durable, with a long-lasting battery and incredibly superior make and construction. They also more or less meet all the criteria that have been laid out above.

A livewell without a bait pump could be a recipe for disaster, so choose wisely!

Happy Hunting!

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