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Pawpaw’s Homemade Soap Bait

Try this homemade soap bait recipe, and you’ll wonder why you never tried it before.

My grandpa has been using soap as trotline bait longer than I have been alive and from the first time he told me about using it, I thought he was pulling my leg.

But one day when I was a little boy, I happened to walk into the laundry room where we was making it, so I figured he was being serious. However, I still did not fully believe it until one day when sitting in the boat watching him bait a trotline, I witnessed him opening up a coffee can and pulling out what looked like sugar cubes.

It was in fact homemade soap. To my amazement, the next morning we caught a lot of fish.

From that day on, I not only believed what my grandpa told me, but I sought to learn more from the fisherman I call Pawpaw. Here is one recipe he has been using for years (his exact recipe is of course a secret).

This works great on trot lines in small catfish ponds, but is pretty versatile.


  • 6 Quarts water
  • 3 Pounds beef fat
  • ½ Can lye (1 Cup)


Follow the precautions your specific lye manufacturer has set, and do not use metal containers or utensils.

Put the beef fat in a stove top safe container (at least 6 quarts). Allow the fat to melt.

Put the water in a separate bowl, and carefully mix in the lye, stirring to dissolve.  Never add water to the lye, always add lye to the water. Once these two ingredients are combined, slowly add it to the fat on the stove.

RELATED: How To Clean a Catfish the REALLY Easy Way [VIDEO]

Bring to a boil. Then put on low heat. At this time you can add coloring or smells to your soap like anise or acidity.

When the mixture flakes out like jelly (I have also heard it described as a pudding consistency), pour it into a safe container until it sets up and hardens. You can then cut it with a knife or string into your preferable size. I have always seen my grandpa cutting it using fishing line.

There are many recipes out there for soap bait, some more complicated than others. If you don’t feel up to making your own, you can always go to your nearest retail store and pick up a bar of Ivory or Zote soap.

If you have a bait recipe you would like to share, leave it in the comments below. 

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Pawpaw’s Homemade Soap Bait