Using a bait basket is an easy and efficient way to cast shrimp bait a long distance while delivering a single fishing hook threaded through a larger shrimp to catch the target fish. Simply load the shrimp into the basket along with the baited hook. This device gives you the edge when many others are competing for the same fish. I was taught how to customize and utilize the bait basket in 1989. I have continued to do this, and have shown the technique to many others, as well. We continue to consistently catch many fish at crowded fishing sites.
There are various types, but the best choice is the hard plastic type with a rocket shape on top and a few small holes in the body. Not having many large holes in the body results in better casting distance and the shape cuts wind resistance. Being able to use different sizes of bait shrimp is another advantage. The soft plastic semi-transparent type limits you to loading very small shrimp into it because the basket does not open up to release the bait.
Most hard plastic types have an insulated wire section going through the body with a loop at the top to attach to the main fishing line, a sinker at the bottom exterior, and a small loop or swivel below that to attach to the hook line. The insulated wire eventually wears out, causing the thin wires within to fray. This keeps the basket from opening and shutting freely. To prevent this from happening, I modify by replacing the insulated wire with a stainless steel rod.
A wire cutter with a small hole between the cutting edges makes working with the stainless rod much easier for me. If you want to modify and this tool is not available, improvise with a sturdy needle nose and standard pliers.
A thin rod slides easily into the wire cutter’s hole, and it can be bent at five or six points without much effort. After this is completed, spread the cutting edge, hook the first bent part of the rod to one edge of the hole and the last bent part to the other edge, and squeeze slowly and evenly to gradually form a loop. Be very careful. The rod can slip easily off the hole and the cutting edge is sharp. The reason for shaping the loop is that it will be used later to attach the bait basket to the snap of the main line. The loop does not need to be perfect, just functional. There will probably be a small gap at the end of the loop. Solder to seal it, or block it with a small stainless nut or washer.
Do not proceed to the bottom loop of the rod, yet. There are a few things to insert between them. In fact, you may find it easier to start at the bottom loop!
A larger oblong loop needs to be shaped at the bottom to anchor a sinker, or weight. The sinker is hammered or tapped firmly into the loop. It does not matter if you start from the top or bottom. I always start from the bottom when I do this because it is easier for me to anchor the sinker.
The stainless rods I buy are 20 inches long, and this allows me to use one for two baskets. The thickness is about 0.075 inches because my sinker is quite heavy at about 2.6 ounces. Most people use a 1.3 to 1.6 ounce sinker so a thickness of 0.06 inches is sufficient.
I get friction and resistance when I slide the rod through the bait basket’s center after anchoring the sinker because my rod is rather thick. There is a long tube or sleeve within the upper part of the basket causing this. I widen the hole of the tube with a thin drill bit, but the tube usually breaks off. Do not be annoyed if this happens to you. If there is about an inch of the sleeve left, this is enough. I use a shortened skewer that is just a tad thicker than my stainless rod. After applying heat to it for several minutes, I use it to expand the hole in the sleeve with the help of a sturdy wrench and gloves on my hands. I keep working until the bait basket slides smoothly down the stainless rod. This prevents bait release problems later in the water when casting and fishing. As I customize, I ensure an open and close slide of about two inches to load the shrimp and baited hook.
If you soldered the end of the loop at the top, there is no need of a small stainless nut. If not and there is no nut, there will be times when the hook line will enter this gap.
Some people like to put a little rubber stopper above the top of the basket. The stopper should provide some friction but it should not be tight or it will prevent opening. Load the bait to scatter and attract fish into the bait basket and insert the hook with the main bait, too. Fill the basket to 70 percent capacity and make sure that the hook is not facing toward the stainless bar for best results. After closing the basket, if you are using a stopper, slide it down to the top before casting. After the fishing float sets, pull up with the fishing rod to release the bait. Happy Bait Cast Fishing!