How to Fish for Catfish

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Fishing for catfish is not like fishing for other fish. You can use many of the same techniques, but they are not always the best. If you are serious about catching catfish, you have to put in the time and effort. That means understanding the best techniques and using the best equipment. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. It just means that you have to be well prepared. Learning how to fish for catfish think will help their success. They can be wacky fish. And they definitely have unusual appetites. The more you know about them, the more successful you will be.

How to Fish for Catfish

How to Fish for Catfish

Types of Catfish

There are more than 30 species of catfish that you can catch in the United States alone. Most anglers only look for the big three. Blue catfish, channel catfish, and flathead catfish are top priorities. Knowing what type of catfish you are looking for can alter your focus.

The technique to catch each of these catfish is not the same. Blue catfish, for example, can grow over 100 pounds. The way you catch one of those is very different from how you might catch a 10-pound channel catfish.

Catfish Rigs

There are endless platforms that fishermen use to catch catfish. Some definitely work better than others. Oftentimes, it is a trial and error process to find out which equipment will perform best. It also depends on the type of catfish you are looking for. Carolina or Santee rigs are very popular for catfish. Channel catfish and flathead catfish respond well to these tackles.

Circle hooks are a must if you plan to catch and release catfish. Treble hooks are good if you are looking to eat what you catch. Other hook styles may work depending on the rig configuration you choose.

Catfish Rods

A good rod of catfish is long and strong. Focus on rods that are 7 feet long or longer. They should also be durable as the catfish fought well. A trophy blue catfish cannot be coiled if your rod breaks. You need to make sure you have a sturdy rod to handle such a fish. My favorite rod is LurEra Catfish Casting Rod.

Catfish Reels

Just like getting the right rod, you need the right reel to fish for catfish. You need a reel that has space on the reel for a high-weight test. It’s nice to have extra features too, like a bait clicker and a solid drag system. Spinning and baitcasting reels can be used for catfishing.

Catfish Fishing Bait

Nothing causes more debate in the fishing world than bait. Many fishermen trust their favorite type. Some fishermen even make their own bait at home. There are benefits to almost any type of catfish bait that people can use. From live baits, lures, to more exotic things. Some catfish fishermen even use sausage or soap. The best way to determine what works is to try many things. It is a trial and error process and there is no one correct answer for the best catfish bait.

Some Popular Catfish Baits Include:

  • Chicken livers
  • Tarpon, striped herring, or any cut bait
  • Punch bait
  • Dip bait
  • Stink bait
  • Nightcrawlers or other live bait
  • Bluegill and other baitfish

Catfish Fishing Techniques

There are several catfish fishing techniques that can help you catch many catfish. The way you plan to fish changes based on a few factors, such as:

Time of the Year

Depending on where you live, you can find catfish at any time of the year. Catfish generally want to avoid cold water. That means that winter fishing will not be a good option if you live further north. That said, the blue catfish will remain active even in the winter months.

Spring is usually the best for catfish fishing. As spring progresses into summer, the catfish begin to spawn. Fall is also a great time to fish for catfish.

Time of the Day

Some catfish fishermen go night fishing when it comes to catching catfish. Realistically, you can catch catfish at any time of the day. There are some clear benefits to fishing during the day rather than at night. For example, you are less likely to accidentally tip things over during the day. And the catfish is very active early in the morning. But at night you may have fewer insects to deal with. In many ways, it comes down to personal preference.

How to Fish for Catfish: Fishing Style

When fishing from a riverbank, a Santee rig and some type of bait like skipjack is an excellent choice. Throw your fishing line wherever you want to go, unroll the slack, and just wait for a bite. This is the most basic method of catfish fishing. It is a solid choice for blue catfish, channel cats, and flathead catfish.

Bank fishing

When fishing from a riverbank, a Santee rig and some type of bait like skipjack is an excellent choice. Throw your fishing line wherever you want to go, unroll the slack, and just wait for a bite. This is the most basic method of catfish fishing. It is a solid choice for blue catfish, channel cats, and flathead catfish.


Some catfish fishermen prefer trolling catfish. This is the technique where you draw the line in the water and let it drift behind you in a boat. This is especially popular if you are fishing from a kayak. You can also work from larger boats. The difference between this and shore fishing is the movement involved. When fishing from shore, you let the bait sit until the catfish shows interest. When you’re trolling, the bait moves with you to grab the fish’s attention with the movement.


Catfish tagliatelle is a very unusual method of fishing. This is not a typical fishing technique. It is not always the safest or easiest method. The difference between fishing and noodling is that noodling equipment is used. The fish is caught with bare hands. It is also not legal everywhere.

The idea behind noodling is that you have to find a catfish hole. They are usually around rocks and under logs in the water. You reach out with your hand and grab the fish. The potential danger is that there may be something else in that hole. If you are in the water where alligators or snapping turtles live, it could be disastrous. If you are interested in this technique, never try it alone. Some divers have become entangled in the debris and have drowned.

Yo-Yo Reel

A yo-yo fishing reel looks like a small metal wheel with a string attached to it. Something like a very narrow reel for a fishing rod. You can place one of these on a branch. The whole device works thanks to a spring in the center of the wheel. The spring has an attached nylon trotline. The other end has a barrel swivel. All you need to do is attach a hook to the swivel. Hang it from a tree and drop the line into the water. Bait with any catfish bait you want. Even dip baits and live baits will work. As soon as a fish bites the hook, the spring will set the hook. It is simple and effective.

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Juggling catfish is an unusual but effective technique for catching catfish. The process involves mounting afloat in the water. Anything from a 2-liter soda bottle to a piece of pool noodles will work. The fish don’t seem to care or notice the floats. Many fishermen prefer noodles.

You should tie a fishing line around the bottle or noodle. The loose end of the line has a triple-baited hook and a weight on it. It works with any type of catfish bait, from cut bait to chicken liver. Then you throw it in the water. The best method is to mount several of them. You can toss them into the water and then watch if any of them sting. The float will show if it has succeeded.

Some anglers use trotting lines instead of monofilament lines for catfish jugs. The Trotline is made of cotton. However, it is still strong enough to catch some fish. The important difference is that it will dissolve over time. That’s good if you lose one of the jugs in the water. You don’t have to worry about the line entangling the animals and killing them.

As simple as it sounds, it can be very effective. You can catch catfish weighing 30-40 pounds easily with catfish juggling. Sometimes up to 60 pounds of blue catfish. It is an exciting method because you have no contact with the line. Unlike when you bite into the reed, you cannot feel what you could have in a jug. That means you could have a small fish or a large fish. You never know until you check the line.


This technique consists of tying a line to a branch that hangs over the water of rivers or ponds. Use circle hooks and a braided line with chicken livers or your choice of bait. When it’s ready, put it in the water. It’s a bit like juggling, only you are using the natural landscape to help you. Many catfish like to hang out under the hanging branches. That makes them ideal places to establish lines to catch them. Watch for the branch to move to see when you have attached the hook. This is a great method for catching flathead catfish and channel cats.


Set-poling is essentially the same as limblining. The big difference here is that a prosthesis is set up. He sharpens a stick and plants it on the bench. A rope is tied at the end of the pool and hung in the water. You need to make sure it is sturdy enough to handle when a fish bites. This may not be ideal for fishing for blue catfish. However, for smaller catfish like channel cats and flathead catfish, it can work.

As you can see, there is a lot to take in when it comes to catching catfish. Although there is a lot to consider, it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many variables, but not all of them will always be relevant. Once you have an idea of ​​what works best for you, it can become a simple process. When you have your rod, reel, and bait, the rest is natural. I hope you have gained better experience about how to fish for catfish.

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