A bait basket allows efficient use of shrimp to catch fish. Simply put the shrimp into the basket along with the baited fishing hook. When bait cast fishing, this bait basket or container is a prime tool that gives you the edge when many anglers are after the same fish.
There are many kinds of bait baskets, but the hard plastic variety with the top shaped like a rocket, having few small holes in the body, and black in color are the best choice. The shape cuts wind resistance and not having many large holes in the body of the basket results in better casting distance. Another advantage is being able to use different sizes of bait shrimp. The clear soft plastic type limits you to loading very small shrimp into it because the basket does not open up to release the bait.
Most of the bait baskets I have bought have an insulated wire section going through the body with a loop at the top for attachment to the main fishing line, a sinker at the bottom exterior, and a small loop or swivel below that to allow attachment of the hook line. This insulated wire works fine for a while, but the insulation eventually wears out, causing the thin wires within to fray, and not allowing the basket to open and shut freely. My modification is to replace this insulated wire with a stainless steel rod.
Using a wire cutter tool with a small hole between the cutting edges makes working with the stainless rod much easier. If this is not available, improvise with a sturdy needle nose and standard pliers.
The thin rod slides easily into the hole allowing you to bend it at five or six desired points without much effort. Spread the cutting ends of the wire cutter apart, hook the first bent part of the rod at one edge of the hole and the last bent part at the other edge, squeeze slowly and evenly to gradually form a loop. Be very careful as the rod can easily slip off the holes and the cutting edges are sharp. This loop will be used later to hook to the snap of the main line. The loop does not need to be perfect, just functional. You may have a small gap at the end of the loop. Solder it to seal it, or block it with a small stainless nut or washer.
If you happen to be making the loop on the stainless rod, do not continue with the next loop, as there are things to insert between them.
Shaping a larger oblong loop that is wider at the very bottom to anchor a sinker is necessary. Hammer or tap this loop into the sinker. Starting from the top or bottom is really a personal choice. I like to start from the bottom because it is easier for me to decide where to cut the rod to make the loop at the top.
The stainless bars I buy are 20 inches long so I am able to use a bar for two baskets. As for the rod’s thickness, because my sinker is quite heavy at about Velcro 2.6 oz., mine is about 0.075 inches. Most people use a 1.3 to 1.6 oz. sinker so a thickness of 0.06 is sufficient.
Because my stainless rod is rather thick, there is friction and resistance when I slide the rod through the bait basket’s center after anchoring the sinker. There is a long tube or sleeve within the upper part of the basket causing this. I widen the hole of the tube with a thin drill bit, but the tube usually breaks off. Do not be annoyed if this happens to you. If there is about an inch of the sleeve left, this will suffice. I use a shortened shish kabob skewer that is just a tad thicker than my stainless rod. After heating it for several minutes, I use it to expand the hole in the sleeve with the help of a sturdy wrench and gloves on my hands. I keep working until the bait basket slides smoothly down the stainless rod. This prevents bait release problems later in the water when casting and fishing. As I modify the bait basket, I ensure that it can slide open about two inches to load the shrimp bait and baited hook.
If the end of the loop at the top was soldered, there is no need of a small stainless nut. If not and there is no nut, there will be times when the hook line will enter this gap.
Some people like to put a little rubbery stopper above the top of the basket. The stopper should provide some friction but it should not be tight or it will prevent the basket from opening. Load the bait to scatter into the bait basket and the hook with the main bait. After closing the basket, slide the stopper down to its top before casting. After the fishing float sets, pull up with the fishing rod to release the bait. Happy bait cast fishing!