The threadfin herring, otherwise known as a shad, are widely distributed in freshwater across the United States. Shad are primarily utilized for bait as they are a food source for freshwater gamefish. Threadfin is fished both live and dead and can be purchased or caught. Here is what to know about freshwater fishing with threadfin herring across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. 

Where Can I Find Threadfin Herring

The threadfin herring is common in the southeastern portions of the United States. Threadfin inhabits streams, rivers, reservoirs, and lakes. 

Threadfin was not introduced but rather is native to waters west of the Appalachian mountains. Today, shad have been introduced to lakes across the country. 

Can You Eat Threadfin Herring

The threadfin shad reaches a maximum length of eight inches. As a result of the fish sizes, they are not edible because of the minuscule fillets. 

Despite the lack of table fare for humans, threadfin is widely used as baitfish across the United States. 

Is Threadfin Herring Good Bait

When it comes to freshwater bait, threadfin is a top producer. Anglers utilize shad beneath floats or along the bottom to catch a wide variety of species.

The baitfish are used both live and dead; however, their natural motion and shine are best presented when alive. 

Threadfin is kept alive in baitwells.  The bait is hearty when hooked; therefore, anglers have no issue keeping the fish alive for extended periods to increase the likelihood of a strike. 

There are three popular methods to rigging shad. The methods are based on the style of presentation.

Float Fishing

When presenting a live shad beneath a float, hook the baitfish forward of the dorsal fin from one side of the body through the other above the spine. 

Bottom Fishing

Bouncing baits off the bed of lakes is typical for bottom feeders. When fishing the lake bed with live shad, position the hook through the lips. Hooking the fish through the lips allows the angler to move the bait towards the boat or shore in a natural motion. 


Flatlining is the technique of hooking bait without a float or weight. The baitfish is capable of moving freely. 

When flatlining, insert the hook forward of the tail at the top of the fish behind the dorsal fin and above the spine. Open the bail and allow the threadfin to swim freely until a strike peels the line rapidly from the reel. 

What Kind Of Fish Do Threadfin Shad Catch

Anglers catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, walleye, catfish, gar, and more when fishing with live or dead shad in freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.

The bait is highly versatile to catch various species, and the presentation methods are endless. 

How Do You Keep Threadfin Herring Alive

Live bait is meant to be kept alive. When fishing from land or by boat, it is essential to utilize a bait bucket fitted with an air pump or live well on a watercraft.

The water must flow continuously and be infused with oxygen. When fishing from land, keep the bait bucket shaded to avoid the water temperature from climbing beyond the limits the fish can sustain life. 

If the bait dies, never hesitate to present dead bait beneath a float, on the bottom, or flatlined. Freshwater fish readily strike dead threadfin herring. 

Are You Ready To Fish With Threadfin Shad

Whether you call it shad or herring, know that the bait is highly effective for catching freshwater fish. Whether you fish shad dead or alive, a wide variety of species readily strike the food source. The fish is capable of being hooked in a multitude of ways depending on the presentation. Lastly, always remember to obtain a freshwater fishing license before heading out on the boat or to the shores.