Are Slugs Good Fish Bait?

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If you are new to the world of fishing, one of the things that you might already know is that live bait is king. Virtually all anglers agree that there is just nothing better than live bait, with worms and minnows often being at the forefront of the conversation.

That said, what about slugs? Are slugs good fish bait? Yes, slugs are good fishing bait, particularly when live. Slugs wriggle around to attract attention, they are covered in smelly slime that fish can smell from a good distance, and they make for great meaty treats that fish love to snack on.


What Kind Of Fish Eat Slugs?

fishing with slugs

The fact of the matter is while that slugs do make for great live bait, they are not ideal for all types of fish.

What you need to consider here is that slugs are best used in areas where fish are already used to them, in areas where fish and slugs often live together.

Keep in mind that slugs prefer very humid and moist environments with humidity levels at 80% or higher.

This means that they love being on wet grass after rain, they don’t mind mud, and can be found all around streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes.

No slugs are not amphibious, but when they live near any sort of water, whether a body of water or moving water, there’s always a chance that they may end up in the lake, and that’s when the fish strike. Therefore, most fish that cohabitate with slugs will eat them.

Now, there is an important thing to keep in mind here, and it has to do with the difference between large predatory fish that exclusively hunt for food, and more docile fish that are generally more oriented towards scavenging for meals or hunting for small and simple prey.

Fish like small bass, various panfish, carp, and catfish will all eat slugs and happily so, which means that using slugs as bait is ideal for these fish.

Really, anything that isn’t too large, is not overly predatory, or is considered a bottom feeder or scavenger, is likely to be enticed by a slug.

However, large predatory fish, really anything with big and sharp teeth, is unlikely to be enticed by your slugs. Fish like pike, large bass, and salmon will prefer eating smaller fish rather than slugs and other such baits.

Can Slugs Harm Fish?

No, slugs will not harm fish and are perfectly safe for them to eat. Slugs cannot bite a fish and they are not poisonous either.

From this standpoint, there is absolutely no reason why you could not or should not use slugs as fish bait.

Now, there are a couple of types of slugs out there that are actually venomous, but no freshwater ones. There are venomous saltwater or marine slugs, ones that can be found on ocean beds.

However, these slugs are very brightly colored, which in the animal kingdom is considered a warning sigh to other predators that there will be serious consequences if eaten. That said, any slug that you find on land or near freshwater is totally fine to use as fish bait.

On that note, there are some slugs, such as banana slugs, which produce this foul smelling mucus that is designed to deter predators, which means that something like a banana slug is not good fish bait.

The best slugs to use as fishing bait include the black slug (Arion ater), the great grey slug (Limax maximus), and the red slug (Arion ater rufus).

Where Can You Find Slugs?

If you want some live slugs to use as fish bait, you will need to go looking for them. One important thing to note is that slugs are not fond of dry areas, so anything sandy or arid is out of the question.

Slugs also do not like being out in the open, as it leaves them exposed to sunlight that can dry them out, and it also leaves them exposed to predators. Remember that slugs prefer very damp and moist environments, preferably out of the sun.

However, there are some rare occasions where slugs will come out into the open, mainly in large grassy areas right after a rainstorm.

The reason for this is because a slug’s body dries out very quickly, which means that they love coming out during and after the rain to soak up as much moisture as possible.

Slugs also tend to come out more during the night, as it is cooler and damper during the night, plus it is harder for them to be spotted by predators.

If you are really on the hunt for slugs, particularly during the day, you want to go look for them under cover.

Slugs enjoy being in dark and moist places, so turning up logs and rocks, especially rotting or rotten logs is a good way to find slugs.

You can also find slugs in vegetable gardens, particularly under or on leafy greens. Really, anywhere that is moist, dark, and provides cover from above is great slug territory.

You may also find some select bait shops that sell slugs.

How To Keep Slugs For Fishing

If you want to keep slugs for future use as fishing bait, this is quite easily done, and not much different from storing worms for use as bait.

To keep slugs for fishing bait, first off you will of course have to go find them, which should be easy enough if you are looking in the right places.

Let’s go over some important tips for keeping slugs alive for long enough to use them as bait, and potentially even to get them to reproduce with each other, so you have an endless supply of bait slugs to catch some hungry fish.

  • Get a plastic container with a lid, something large enough to house a few dozen slugs comfortably. Make sure to poke some very small air holes in it for aeration purposes, while making sure that the holes are only miniature, or else the slugs may escape.
  • Fill the container about halfway with some good soil, a few pieces of gravel, some old and half rotten wood, and some other decaying plant matter. This is what slugs like to live in, half dead plant matter, and it’s usually what they eat too. You can also add some leafy greens to the mix. Change the substrate every 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Use a spray bottle to spray the contents of the container so that it is quite wet. Remember, slugs like it wet and they need it that way to survive, so spray them down every few days to ensure that they don’t dry out.
  • Every week, put in some more decaying leaves and plants, some leafy greens, veggies, and fruits, as slugs need to eat. Just don’t give them too much fruit, because too much sugar can kill slugs.

Other Good Live Baits For Beginners

woman fishing

There are of course many things that you can use as bait, and yes, some work better than others.

So, what are some other good live baits for beginner anglers, other than slugs?


Leeches make for great fishing bait. They work well for catching larger fish at substantial depths.

They have a strong smell and are very wriggly, so they do attract fish quite well. Smaller fish may not go for leeches, but larger ones usually will.

Moreover, leeches are very flexible and tend to stay on the hook quite well, although getting them on the hook in the first place can be a challenge.


Worms are another fan favorite when it comes to live bait, with fat and juicy nightcrawlers being some of the best live bait out there.

Although worms may be a bit hard to hook, fish of all sizes just cannot seem to resist them.

Moreover, worms are easy to find, they are easy to care for, and if you do some digging, you don’t even have to buy any.


In terms of baitfish, minnows are some of the best out there, particularly the larger ones.

Live minnows are quite easy to hook, and if done right you shouldn’t have any problems getting them to stay on the hook.

Minnows move a lot, they have a good scent, and most fish are already used to eating them.


Depending on where you are, you may also be able to use frogs as bait.

Using frogs as bait is not legal everywhere, but if it is, they are fantastic for catching larger predatory fish.



The bottom line is that if you want easy to use, highly functional, and sustainable live bait, slugs definitely do the trick. They might be slimy and a bit yucky, but boy do they ever work well at catching fish.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.