Squid is one of the best “all-around” baits an angler can have. It’s quite effective, it’s fairly cheap, comes frozen and you won’t have to go through the trouble of keeping it alive (unless of course, you choose to fish with live squid). Squid strips also go very well in combination with other baits, creating very appealing presentations for various fish that you may target.
As a rule of thumb, if you want to use squid as bait, it’s best to opt for the thickest squid “tubes” or “cones”. They should be available in supermarkets or tackle and bait shops. This type of squid is typically “ready-made”, cut and cleaned, and due to its higher thickness, it holds better on the hook.
In general, it’s best to cut the squid tubes into strips, on the whole length of the tube. Hook each strip through one of its ends, and leave a long tail on it. In case the strips/tubes aren’t thick enough to hold well on the hook, it’s best to pass the hook twice through the end of the strip, to ensure a better grip. Also, if you’re going with squid bigger strips or even a half of a squid cone/tube, it’s a good idea to put a few cuts into the free end of the strip, to resemble tentacles, for a better presentation.
Squid strips can improve the presentation and effectiveness of various other dead, live or cut baits, and lures as well. For example, attaching a squid strip on the same hook with a minnow will make it look like a sick fish, with its guts out, a very tempting bait for other fish. Squid strip plus minnow (dead or alive) actually makes quite an excellent bait for flounder and other flatfish.
A squid strip can also help the minnow, shiner, or any other small fish, hold better on the hook if you add it to the hook after you have hooked the small fish. For example, by hooking a shiner through its eyes, it can easily come off, but if you close it with a squid piece, it will result in a “more stable” bait. This way you can also increase the hooking stability of other baits, such as clam meat, or peeler crabs.
When fishing for spot, red drum, trout, or blowfish, using annelids as bait, such as bloodworms, adding a small strip, or square of squid, usually makes for a better presentation. In this case, though, it’s best to hook the worm in multiple places (even using 2-3 hooks), or nevertheless, to make sure none of it remains hanging. The squid strip will do the hanging for the final presentation, giving the fish a better, and more solid target to grab, without ripping the worm from the hook(s) on the first bite.
Using squid as bait, cut into strips usually works for any fish. If you target bigger game, such as sharks, kingfish, or grouper, using whole Calamari squids is a better bet. In this case, it’s best to have the squid hooked through its head, dragging the tail up on the line, with the point and barb protruding out of the squid, somewhere under the eyes. This hooking though, it’s indicated only for dead squid, or for squid that you don’t plan to keep alive for long on the hook.
If you’re fishing with live squid, the correct hooking is by the tail, hooking it once or twice, depending on the size of the hook or the size of the squid.