Rigging Skill: DIY Bait Tube | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A white, homemade PVC pipe with holes drilled into it lies on the garage floor. Photos: James Chappel

Keep your bait fresh all day with this simple and easy DIY project.

A homemade bait tube with PVC pipe from your local harware store could solve the space problems on your fishing kayak. I spend most of that time targeting striped bass and bluefish using big live bait. The bait of choice is menhaden also called a pogy. These bait fish average 12-15 inches, which can make keeping them alive on a kayak pretty tough. 

Unlike smaller bait you cannot keep these in a bait tank in your kayak’s tank well. I tried thinking of a way to keep them alive while I was kayak fishing and not take up a bunch of space on my kayak. During my search I came across people who were using PVC tubes with holes drilled into them to keep all sorts of bait alive. 

I saw some that were as small as 12” used for minnows and shrimp and others that were over 3’. After careful consideration I opted to make mine 24”.  The next decision was what diameter PVC to use. Most of the people using them for menhaden and other big baits went with 4” diameter so that’s what I choose. 

Overall this bait tube has worked great. I have kept up to 10 live menhaden alive for around 5-6 hours. I have also used it to keep live mackerel and it worked just as well. Overall it was pretty easy to make and only cost about 30 dollars for the materials needed.  

A capped white homemade bait tube stands with yellow foam attached to aid bouyancy.

DIY Bait Tube Materials

  • 4” PVC cut to desired length
  • 4” PVC cap
  • 4” PVC female adapter
  • 4” PVC male threaded cap
  • 5/8” drill bit used for drilling the holes in the bait tube
  • 1/2” drill bit used for drilling holes in both caps
  • 1/4" drill bit used for drilling holes to attach Paracord or other rope of choice and for zip ties
  • Paracord
  • 2 carabineers
  • Pool noodle
  • Zip ties
  • PVC primer and cement

How To Build A DIY Bait Tube

The first step is to cut your PVC to the desired length. After it’s cut to the desired length use your 5/8” drill bit to drill holes along the length of the tube all the way around.

Next, you want to use the 1/2" drill bit to drill holes in both end caps.

Use the 1/4" drill bit to make a hole in the center of the male threaded cap as well as the end of the tube closest to the male cap. Thread a piece of paracord through the male cap and secure it with a knot on the inside.  Do the same in the 1/4" hole drilled at the end of the tube.  This will keep you from losing the cap when it’s unscrewed.

Now you want to drill a 1/4" hole through the center of the other cap. Thread a 8” piece of paracord through this hole and also secure it on the inside with a knot. On the other end attach a carabiner. This will be used when you are fighting a fish and you need to keep the tube close to you to avoid the fish getting tangled with the tube. 

Now you need to drill  another 1/4" hole on the same end.  You want to make this hole at the very far end of the PVC  pipe close to the edge of the flat cap. Thread a piece of paracord through this hole and tie a knot in the end to secure it on the inside. You want this piece of paracord to be long enough to allow the end of the tube with the threaded cap to just reach the back of your kayak.  At the end attach a carabiner.

Now you will drill 1/4" holes along the length of the PVC pipe in-line with the last 1/4" hole you drilled. These holes will allow you to attach a section of pool noodle to the bait tube with zip ties. You want to position the pool noodle directly over these holes and in-line with the hole you drilled for the paracord. This will assure the tube will float upright while you are paddling.  This will create much less drag.

Now you want to prime and glue the end cap and the female adapter into place. Screw on the male threaded cap and you’re done.

Top view of a homemade bait tube from PVC pipe with holes drilled into the end-cap.

Attaching The Bait Tube To Your Kayak

Attach the tube however you like. If you have a paddle kayak I recommend you attach it like I described earlier; attach at one end and let it tow behind you. This will keep it out of the way of your paddle.  You can also make a quick modification and make attachment points at both ends to hang it from the side of your kayak. 

When adding bait you want the add them head first from the end with the threaded cap. This will allow them to face forward towards the direction you are paddling. Now get out and catch some fish!

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