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man casting a net in a river
Don’t have time to learn to throw a cast net? Try a minnow trap instead. David Clode/unsplash

If you’ve ever been to the bait store only to discover that they’re out of minnows, you know how frustrating that can be. A good minnow trap will allow you to catch your own bait, saving you the long drive to the bait shop down the road. To pick the best minnow trap, consider three important factors—ease of use, durability and whether you plan to use it to catch other bait, too.

Top Pick

The hinged design makes it easy to grab your catch. Gees Feets

You might think setting a minnow trap is simple, but depending on the conditions, it can be difficult. A trap that is overly complicated makes the job even harder. If you are using a bait type trap, look for a model that features a built-in bait box. You’ll also want one that is big enough to hold a lot of minnows, but that is not so large that you can’t easily handle it by yourself. Traps that have doors or are hinged for easy removal of minnows after they are caught also contribute to the ease of use. Lastly, you want a trap that is easy for the minnows you plan to trap, too. Look for a model with large enough entry doors/holes that baitfish find it simple to get in.

Great Value

The black coloration on this product allows you to catch fish easily, serving as a little bit of camouflage. Frabill

A minnow trap that won’t hold up to rough transport and frequent use will not only leave you unsatisfied, it will force you to buy your minnows at the bait shop once again. Since minnow traps spend lots of time under water, wire traps should be made of galvanized steel. Net mesh-type traps should be made of strong nylon or polyethylene materials and have steel wire supports. Collapsible traps are easy to store and haul but aren’t quite as durable as most hard-sided traps. Some companies make minnow traps that have vinyl coating on the metal and hold up better to heavy use.

Versatile Option

With openings on two sides, this product makes it easy to catch all kinds of critters. RUNACC

Most minnow traps are made solely for trapping minnows. But some can also be used to catch bream, crawfish, shrimp and other species used for bait. Larger ones can even catch lobsters. Some of the traps that are effective on multiple species are more complicated, so make sure you buy one you can figure out how to use when you take it to the lake or stream. Regardless of which minnow trap you purchase, make sure you know the specific fishing regulations in your area before putting your trap to use. Some jurisdictions don’t allow trapping certain baitfish species, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.