How to Catch Squid

  • Reading time:19 mins read
  • Post category:Fishing Tips / How To
  • Post last modified:June 24, 2022

Giant Squid

It is very important to know! Squids are nocturnal and deep-sea animals. It is better to catch them from a boat. There are few places on land where squid can be caught from shore. Don’t forget that they throw up ink while defending (take care of your clothes and eyes). Use especially glowing lures to catch them.

The principles of catching salmon, pike, bass, flounder, or other fish have some general tendency. But with squid, the situation is completely different. Fishing for squid requires the angler to have a clear understanding of the specific species of squid, to select the correct bait and tackle, and to follow some fishing rules.

This article will tell you how to quickly and correctly catch an overthrown batch of squid from the shore or offshore at any time of the day!

Basic Tips, Tricks, and Techniques How to Catch Squid

Depending on the type of squid, they can live either near the coast or in a warm current near a bay. This means that you will be fishing either from the shore or from the boat. This is the first thing to decide whether you want to catch squid on the shore or you want to hunt it at night from a boat.

Useful Video – Beginners Guide Squid Fishing Tips Catching Find Tutorial Jig How TO

How To Catch Squid From Shore

If you decide to fish for squid from the shore, then the first thing you need is the right equipment. Pick up jigs in various colors and sizes. Next, all you need is a fishing rod.

The first way to catch squid anywhere from the shore is to assume that they are already found in the coastal waters where you are fishing. Even if your gaze did not notice the squid in the water column and you think that they are not nearby, this does not mean that they really are not there. I ran into squid several times in those places where, in my opinion, there could never be squid and I had to run to my tackle bag and urgently look for jigs there.

So the very first and basic rule is to take jigs with you whenever you go fishing. This is a very good practice because I often see anglers find squid, try to catch them with hooks, and of course, they do not succeed. All these tiny squid jig needles are there to make sure that the squid is firmly hooked as it wraps its tentacles around the bait. It won’t work with regular fish hooks.

If you notice a squid chasing your lure and trying to catch on to it, put the squid jig in the water as soon as possible. Don’t try to get the squid out of the water until it is near the jig and notices it. They usually immediately switch to the jig and try to attack it by releasing the ink.

Another popular way to catch squid is to use a special metal lure with spikes on which the small fish is planted and used as bait. Hang one of these lures with freshly caught fish about a meter under a small float, cast the attachment 10-15 meters from the shore, and wait. The moment the squid starts tugging at your bait and trying to drag it under the water, you can be sure that it is holding the bait securely.

Once the squid is hooked, you can begin to gently and carefully pull it out of the water. Accuracy and smoothness are needed here to avoid rupture of the legs that are attached to the bait. As soon as the squid rises from the water column, it will start spitting ink, so be extremely careful and, as soon as you can handle it, turn it away from you so that it can spit out all of its art back into the water. And make sure there are no strangers nearby, otherwise, the squid may give them a dose of ink.

When you pick up a squid, grab it by the torso or by the eyes, but not too close to the tentacles, otherwise, it may bite you with its beak. Then simply remove the fixture and place the squid in a bucket or ice bath.

Fishing Shore Tackle for Catching Squid


Shore Fishing: Where You Can Find Squid

I have collected for you a few places where squid can be found most often:

Jetties. This is perhaps the most popular place to find squid and almost every pier you pass will be stained with ink from the many squids catches. Most of the squid I met on the piers, under which there are sand and algae. This is a paradise for squid nesting. It is easy to fish from the piers and use a jig and rod. The time of day is of great importance here. Usually, late afternoon and early evening are the best times to catch squid. But I come to the pier early to take a better place for myself.

Squid can also be caught in the middle of a sunny day if you lower the jig to the pylons and it will attract the attention of any squid that is hiding in the shade. Besides, some squid move with the tide past the docks, so if you are fast enough you will have time to catch a couple before they move on. Many jetties produce squid during the day, but prime time is always dark.

Rocks. If you’re going to fish near the rocks, make sure you have a couple of squid jigs with you, as there are a lot of them in these areas. Try not to fish in deep places near the rocks, as the jig is very often gets tangled there. Moreover, if you can see the bottom and can control your bait, you will most likely catch more squid than if you fish at depth.

A fishing rod is your best tool for catching squid from rocks. You just need to reel it back with a couple of sharp movements to get the jig working. Any squid in the area you cast will see your bait and will certainly follow. In deeper rocky areas, you can even use the fish on the spiked bait, but this will only bring a good catch in very calm conditions. Therefore, in most cases, the prawn-type squid jig works very well.

As in the previous case, late afternoon or evening is the best time to fish for squid. But on the rocks, the fisherman should be extra careful. Because when you can’t see the bait, it gets harder to fish. In addition to squid, large cuttlefish live on the rocks, which are also excellent prey. Most importantly, do not forget that they also have a huge supply of ink with which they are ready to splash you!

Beaches. Here we will not consider surfing beaches with white water and huge waves. You will almost never find squid in these conditions. But there are plenty of sheltered beaches all over North America with reefs and algae that squid adore. Many fishermen do not notice these places and in vain, since they are almost always rich in large and tasty squid.

My only advice is to keep the squid away from the sand. Any contact of the squid with the sand will make your fishing terrible. The sand is almost impossible to clean from the skin of the squid and it takes a very long time to clean the tiny particles of sand. And almost 100% of the time, you will hear sand crunching when you start chewing squid. When fishing in sandy areas, first drop the squid into the bucket before removing the jig.

Fishing Bait Fish for Catching Squid

Pros of Catching Squid From the Shore

Catching squid from the shore is not for everyone, and at some points, it is often more difficult than fishing from a boat. but when you improve your skill, you can bring home whole buckets of squid without ever getting into the boat.

Another advantage of shore fishing is that you can fish for squid all year round if you want unless the water is very stormy. Some of the brightest and most memorable nights can be associated with coastal squid fishing when you bring home a huge number of these creatures.

Cons of Catching Squid From the Shore

As convenient and attractive as fishing for squid from the shore may seem, you will never catch the same amount of squid that you can catch from a boat. Of course, many squid species live near the coast, but the largest and most numerous of them prefer the ocean since there is much more prey and a place for them to hunt.

How to Catch Squid While Fishing Offshore

Fishing Offshore Tackle for Catching Squid

If you decide to fish squid from a boat, then most likely you will do it after sunset. In this case, electric light in the form of an onboard searchlight on a boat is a prerequisite for successful fishing, since squid hunts small fish and crustaceans at night that are attracted by light. You can also equip your line with a handmade flashlight, but it is most effective at depths of 10 meters or more. I want to draw your attention to the fact that when hunting for fish, the squid never stands on a specific area of the sea surface, but constantly moves after the fish.

Moreover, the squid can often change depth, leaving the upper layers of water by 15-20 meters, and after half an hour rising back to the minimum distance from the water surface. In this case, it is best to equip the fishing rod with a reel with a counter (it is possible with an illumination) of the fishing line to constantly record the casting depth of the jig with a “flashlight” and weight.

The main thing when catching squid from any boat is to find the point where it accumulates and hunts for shoals with small fish. If you have a fish finder, then the fishing will be much easier. With it, it is easy to determine where the squid cluster is. Squid is caught from about mid-August (mostly not very large) to the end of October. You can catch it in November, but, as a rule, storms begin in November, and the squid prefers calm or a small wave.

Now let’s talk about boat fishing tactics. Often those anglers who catch squid for a long time and in large quantities at night throw the jig to 20-30 meters and completely lower it to the maximum depth within 1.5-2 minutes. This is followed by a sharp reel at the maximum speed your reel can handle. Often, squid bite in this way – at the bottom or on the descent into the depths, as well as on a sharp rise of the jig to the sea surface.

Some fishermen, making sure that there are no hunting squids in the upper and middle layers of water, lower the jig almost to the very bottom (this is especially simple if the depth overboard does not exceed 12-15 meters, which greatly simplifies the task) and begin to “play” with the jig – raising and lowering with an amplitude of 0.5-1.0 m. A good squid jig has zero buoyancy and plays gracefully and reliably at the bottom, thereby provoking the squid to throw and hold.

Pay attention – there should be a distance of at least 0.5-1.0 m between the bottom of the installation with a jig and the bottom of the sea. Otherwise, instead of squid, an octopus or cuttlefish, which often watch the fish at the bottom, and not in the water column, will be tightly “interested” in your bait. If an octopus or cuttlefish grab a jig with a tentacle, then, as a rule, this is followed by a line break and the loss of all tackle. You have neither the strength nor the ability to tear them off the bottom.

Second. Squid should not be reeled up sharply and then slack! If the fisherman weakens the fight, the squid instantly leaves the jig, and you are left without prey. An average squid, weighing 1-2 kg, feels like a hefty brick and stretches upward without any pauses or respites. A large squid weighing 2 or more kilograms sometimes fights quite hard when striking, actively trying to get off the sharp jig needles. It feels like two bricks hanging on an outstretched arm. A large squid, as a rule, is powerful, even, and abuts for a long time!

One more point should be added to the techniques already described above for fishing at night. Now many Japanese and South Korean firms have begun to produce jigs with a light-accumulative coating, which is activated before fishing using an ordinary lamp (in a boat, you can use a powerful LED flashlight for this purpose). In this case, when you install the jig, instead of a homemade flashlight, you can put two light-accumulative jigs with a weight.

But squid can be caught from a boat not only at night. During the day, this cephalopod species is also very active, but it is difficult to find it in an unfamiliar area of the sea. The best option is if you go to a place already proven over the years, where clusters of different types of squid are constantly found. IIn this case, during daylight hours, you can use a weighted jig for fishing at depth or without it if you want to try to catch squid near the surface of the water. Often, you don’t even need to make much effort to catch squid on the surface of the water. Smooth and short stretching with a spinning rod, which occurs mainly due to the rocking of the vessel on the waves, and the next squid clings to the jig.

Pros of Offshore Squid Fishing

The squid is much more active at night. It goes to the surface and it becomes much easier for you to catch it and you do not need to lower your jig to the bottom. Besides, when fishing from a boat, you will most often come across squid that hunts in packs and will be able to bring home a much larger catch than if you did it from the shore.

Cons of Offshore Squid Fishing

But fishing from a boat also has many disadvantages that many anglers do not like, which is why they choose calm fishing from the shore.

The first and main disadvantage is the need for equipment. So, at a minimum, you need a boat and lamps that are not cheap. Inshore fishing, you only need a line, a rod, and several squid jigs.

The second disadvantage is fishing mainly at night, which is also not suitable for every angler.

Squid Fishing Lures

Fishing Shrimp Lure Bait


The key to catching squid is to properly prepare your equipment. Someone might tell you that squid can be caught with a tiny hook and piece of bait and they are right. But it is hardly possible to catch more than 2-3 squids per night in this way. If you are aiming for a serious catch, you need to prepare the right gear and tackles. So let’s figure out what you need to successfully catch squid.

Squid jigs can not be found in every fishing store, so you should take care of buying jigs long before your fishing trip. Jigs work most effectively in pairs when you attach them 4 to 5 inches apart and a foot or so above the weight.

For jigs, I recommend choosing lead as it has zero buoyancy and mimics bait behavior well. Besides, it is quite sturdy and durable. In my mid-Atlantic, squid bites best on pink and light green jigs. But in your region, the species and characteristics of squid may differ, so try and experiment with the color of the bait.

Make sure you have enough gear with you to keep fishing even if you lose 2-3 jigs. This may well be since fish can easily grab your bait and drag the jig to the bottom. And if from the shore you still have a chance to return your jig, then when fishing from a boat you can forget about it forever.

If you carelessly caught squid and then noticed that they all turned back and decided to scatter, then I advise you to remove your jig and get a standard hook with bait. If the squid scatters, it means that they have spotted a larger predatory fish that will happily grab your squid jig and drag it under the water with them.

Main Squid Species

Squids are cephalopods that come in all shapes and sizes. The largest of these can weigh 1,000 pounds or more and can be up to 43 feet in length. But anglers of course are faced with smaller species.

Here are the main types of squid:

  • Vampire Squid. This is one of the most common squids. They are black or dark brown and have a body shape similar to the cloak worn by vampires. Therefore, they were named so.
  • Humboldt Squid. One of the most numerous squids that you can find both onshore and offshore fishing. It inhabits predominantly the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean and is named after the Humboldt Current. This species can be quite large and reach 2 m in length.
  • Japanese Flying Squid. These squids have 8 tentacles and large triangular fins.

Squid Fishing FAQs

Here I have collected for you the most frequently asked questions that fishermen, especially beginners, have. If you are going on your first squid fishing, then it will be useful for you to read the section below.

Why To Fish For Squid At Night?

Of course, the first question that most likely you will have is “Why should I take a boat at night and swim in darkness to catch squid? I can do it during the day!” In fact, you are unlikely to be able to catch an offshore squid during the day.

Let me tell you how squids live. During the day they stay and feed at the bottom, eating small fish and other squids. And at night, squids move to the surface of the water and hunt crustaceans. Therefore, during the day you can only fish for squid near the coast. However, you still need to make sure you have a line that is long enough to reach the bottom. Besides, at night, squids begin to hunt in flocks, and not one by one, as during the day. This means that you have a much better chance of catching a large batch of squid from the boat at night.

What if a squid splashes ink on me/my boat/my equipment?
Grab a rag and wipe off the ink as soon as possible. When they are still wet, they can be easily wiped off with a damp cloth. But if the ink dries up it’s a real nightmare when you try to wipe it off, as the black pigment in ink is very easily absorbed into almost any surface.
Do I need a license if I fish for squid and not fish?
You will most likely need a license to fish squid as well as to fish in your state. Although it is better to clarify this issue in the legislation of your region. If you do not want to receive a fine and confiscation of your equipment, then take care of purchasing a license before going on a squid fishing trip.
What kind of rod do I need for squid fishing?
Almost any rods will fit, as long as they are light and long. This allows you to control even the smallest fluctuations. A lightweight bass or spinning rod will work great. Besides, there are special squid fishing rods for those who are planning to do it seriously. They are made from lightweight graphite weighing 3.8 to 4.9 ounces and up to 9 feet long. But be careful when loading these rods as they are quite fragile.

In Conclusion

Now is one of the best times to catch squid thanks to the modern tackle and squid hunting methods. I love catching squid for juicy seafood and some of the best baits I can catch many species with.

Fishing for squid is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. The main thing is to find the right equipment and fishing spot. Hope my guide can help you with this. Have a nice squid fishing!

Sergio Smirnoff
Sergio Smirnoff
Professional fisherman with 40+ years of experience.
Fishing and the ocean is a passion of my life. I am passionate about all kinds of sea fishing: fishing from the shore (spinning, float, baitcasting), from a boat, and spearfishing day and night.

I live in Tenerife (Canary Islands) for the last 10+ years and share my daily fishing experiences on my website. Many years of personal experience as a fisherman and the vast experience of my friends allow me to write professionally on any fishing topics (from choosing a flashlight and equipment to deep-sea fishing).

All of my advice is based on practical real-world experience and will be useful to both novice anglers and professionals. Read more about the author.

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About the author: Each article is verified by the fishing expert Sergio Smirnoff. The articles are written by professional and amateur fishermen with 20+ years of fishing experience.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency. The articles are for informational purposes only, share your opinions in the comments and join the fishing discussions, let's share our fishing experiences together!

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Phil Smith
Phil Smith
7 months ago

Vacationed in November on the island of Gran Canaria place Mogan. There at night fishermen near the shore (30-70 meters) were catching white squid. Probably it was the best time for biting. Each of the bottoms had no problem catching 5 pieces weighing up to 1 kg. It was amazing.

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