Shad vs Shiner: Which Bait Should You Use?

shad vs shiner
shad vs shiner

Live bait is arguably one of the most effective bait you can use while fishing. Even though many beginners avoid using this bait, it can be more effective than your standard bait.

So, if you’re planning on catching bigger fish or increasing the efficiency of your fishing trip, then live bait is the ideal option. With that said, let’s cover a few aspects of using Shad vs. Shiner.

Both can be relatively easier to manage, but people often seem confused about which bait to go for.

So, if you’re in a similar situation, the information below will be helpful.

Shad vs Shiner Comparison Guide

Shad Bait Shiner Bait
Average Size  Approx. 11 inches 2- 4 inches
Color combination   White red and yellow Dusky Iron-silver-yellow
Best for baiting Blue Catfish Bass
Best time to bait  May to Mid July May to August
Hook used for baiting these Mustad hook/ Eagle claw Circle hook
Hooked for baiting  From head to back From lower lip to nostril


There are wide varieties of this bait available on the market.

It is mainly used to increase the growth of bass in your pond. As it is pretty hard to keep Shad alive, most people use this to catch fish or nourish the existing bass in their pond. 

The color and patterns of shads differ with their variety, but most commonly, all the Shads follow a classic combination of white and red body color and white and yellow hair. The common shades have a white base with orange to red highlights. 

The most famous type of Shad is threadfin Shad who is known for its unique structure and viability.

Many experts have pointed out the increase in efficiency with this bait, and Shad is mostly considered superior to Shiner.

If you cannot get shad bait in the market, getting it yourself from the waters is easy. The best way to catch them is by simply hanging the light over the side of your boat carefully and drifting in the open waters.


During cold fronts, the Shad moves in deeper water, so it is better to get the shad bait before the front hits. 

The best time to fish these baits is from May to Mid July. This time, they return to spawn and swim upstream, making it easier for you to catch the bait.

Some popular baits to catch shads are curl tail grubs on a jig, small spoons, and shard darts. The best one is made with shard darts at the top and small spoons at the lower end. An effective way is to switch between different colors and styles. 

Threadfin shad is a staple shad bait for catfishing and can be very effective for your fishing if you are targeting blue catfish.

With this, you can bait and catch fish all day long. Shad bait is an excellent bait for 1 to 10-pound blue catfish.


Although it makes a great catfish bait, it is soft and should be correctly hooked, so when they are snatched off the hook you know.

If the bait is not hooked properly, you may find your Shad flying away while you cast, so it is necessary to know the effective and proper way to hook it.

You need a Mustad hook or an eagle claw to hook the shad bait. Both of them are similar so that you can choose any that’s readily available to you.

There are a million ways to hook shad bait on an eagle claw, the simplest and fastest is to punch the hook right behind Shad’s head through its rigid portion in the back of the head and then flip the Shad around and go right back through the shads back again.

This will double hook your shad bait in the toughest places, and the Shad will stay there for quite some time until the bigger catfish comes along and knocks it off. 

From silver to gray, you will find a variety of this bait in the market. Depending on what you’re planning to catch, you will have to choose a different bait to maximize efficiency.

However, if you’re unsure which variant to choose, try asking the fishing store experts, who will guide you accordingly.

Just like the shiners, the size of a Shad is small too.


The minimum size for the Shad is an entire length of only around 11 inches (30 cm). This is one of the major reasons this fish is used as food for many other predators in the pond.

Overall, the survival rate for Shad in a pond is relatively better than Shiner.

People have pointed out that most things in your pond will consume Shiner without a second thought.

It is next to impossible to sustain the health of Shiners in your pond. On the other hand, you have a bit of a fighting chance to maintain the population by managing the types of fish you have in the pond.

To distinguish between the different types of Shad, you can inspect the structure of the lower jaw relative to the upper jaw.

Other than that, there are also a few indicators, like a dark spot behind the eyes of this bait. So, verifying the type of Shad you’re taking on the fishing trip shouldn’t be a problem.


Like Shad, Shiner is also a popular option for many global anglers.

As their name suggests, these fish have shiny skin and are known for their silver scales.

Shiners are a type of fish known for their shiny silver scales.

Just like shade is a staple bait for blue catfish, Shiner is the best bait for bass.


You can certainly catch a trophy-worthy bass using the right fishing technique with live shiner baits.

Shiners are also associated with minnows and are commonly found in large freshwater lakes, rivers, and creeks.

The best time of the year to fish shiners for baiting is from May to August, as it’s this time of the year.

They get together to spawn in the same area, mostly over the aquatic plants where they can be captured in nets or individually by bread or crackers on tiny hooks in shallow water.

 This small fish is mainly iron shade in color with stipe yellow above, a dusky pattern on the back, and a white-silver color below. 

To use a shiner as bait for larger fish, it must be hooked properly so it can remain alive and swim across the water to attract other fish.

To hook a Shiner, you can either go through the front part of the fish without passing through the brain. Another way is to hook the Shiner by the bottom lip and nostril.

Ensure to avoid the middle nostril as the brain lies there; if you puncture it, you may kill the shiner bait.

Otherwise, you can try going behind the dorsal fin. These methods keep the fish alive for the longest time as they swim around to attract larger fish.


Depending upon the variants you’re comparing, the size of the Shiner is sometimes less than the Shad. The average Shiner is around 2 to 4 inches in length. However, they can grow up to 8 inches.

Even the largest Shiner ever caught was smaller than the average Shad.

Due to its small size, Shiner is targeted by many fish in the pond, including bass, pike, trout, and yellow perch.

If, however. If your goal is to encourage fish growth in your ponds might be better to choose Shad.

It is common knowledge that Shad provides better results when anglers are trying to grow massive fish in their pond.

With that said, sustaining the population of shiners is relatively more complicated than the Shad.

However, if you don’t have to worry about maintaining the population of the bait, it is pretty easy to use on your fishing trips.

From Blue Gill to Bass, you can attract various fish depending on the environmental conditions.

The size of the bait that you’re using is also important. Keep in mind that if you hook the bait using the wrong method, the fish will die immediately. Then you won’t have any success with the bait.

The Bottom Line


So, whether you’re using Shad or Shiner, always ensure that the fish stays alive for the longest time after you’ve hooked it to the reel.

Doing this increases the chances of catching bigger targets as your bait moves around in the water. If you’re unsure how to hook a fish properly, try asking your local experts.

They will demonstrate different techniques that you can use to hook the Shiner and shade and make things easy for you.

Which bait is best for you among both small fish greatly depends on the fish you are baiting these for. If you want catfish with mild sweet flavor, choose shad bait over Shiner.

However, if you are fond of larger bass with fishy flavor choosing Shiner bait would be the best option.

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