Preparing Cuttlefish Baits

by Chris Martin

Former Skipper of “Nikaria” and “Nikaria 2” for 40 years fishing out of Newhaven, Chris Martin was renowned for putting his customers on wrecks with massive conger eels.

Never one for keeping his successful techniques to himself Chris details how to prepare cuttlefish without covering both the angler and the boat in messy black ink.
Cuttlefish is a particularly effective bait for conger and big cod.

Step 1

Rinse the cuttlefish before prepping.

First, cut the head off fairly close to the eyes so as to give the guts section a solid bit of flesh to hook at the neck.

cuttlefish bait step 1

Step 2

Then split the head into two giving two good baits.

Then put the knife flat under the skin on top of the backbone taking this skin off and discard.

cuttlefish bait step 2

Step 3

After taking the top skin off discard.

cuttlefish bait step 3

Step 4

Then carefully take the backbone out making sure that you don’t puncture the ink sack at the back end.

This bone can be given to pet birds but MUST be boiled first to get rid of any bacteria first so as not to poison them. This bone is also used by people making jewellery as a mould for casting gold or silver.

cuttlefish bait step 4

Step 5

Once the backbone removed you will see what looks like a crease either side of the cuttle. Very carefully cut this crease with a knife without nicking the black ink sack in the guts and not going too deep or cutting the main flesh.

cuttlefish bait step 5

Step 6

Repeat this process the other side again not going too deep as to cut the bottom flesh.

cuttlefish bait step 6

Step 7

Taking the guts by the neck very carefully rock the guts from side to side as you remove them from the body. Repeat carefully so as not to break the ink sack. Always have a bucket of seawater handy and rinse the guts off and lay on the bait board for use later.

cuttlefish bait step 7

Step 8

Don’t forget to rinse in seawater before carrying on. Lay the guts on a bait board and cover with a wet/damp cloth so the sun does not dry it out. I this find, is the best part of the cuttlefish when used as all my biggest Cod, lunkers over 20lbs, have been taken on this part.

cuttlefish bait step 8

Step 9

After rinsing, put your thumbs between the skin and the flesh, carefully with out tearing the flesh separate the two sections. Then rinse again the flesh part ready for prepping.

cuttlefish bait step 9

Step 10

The skin part will have two meaty bits which can also be used as two baits and fanned out once the skin has been removed.

cuttlefish bait step 10

Step 11

Cut this solid flesh into workable baits depending if fishing from a boat or casting from shore. Fan this carefully getting plenty of tails that will work in a tide to look like tentacles. Remember the more fins you get by cutting thinner the better they will work as an attractor. Again make sure you always cover the bait not being used with a damp cloth to stop drying out in hot weather.

cuttlefish bait step 11

Step 12

When hooking this bait, hook it from the top carefully as shown so that the eye of the hook stops the bait from sliding down to the bottom part of the hook. This will give a better presentation to the fish.

cuttlefish bait step 12

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