How To Catch Catfish

Are you trying to learn how to catch catfish? This guide will give you all the details you need to get started.

Catfish are a very popular game fish. Anglers all over the world go after them. Some focus mainly on catch and release. Others are looking for a delicious meal.

Catfish are a very popular fish fry dish.

I can tell you first hand that they’re great fighters and taste great too.

Catfish are common throughout the world. And there are various species that you can fish for. The great thing for anglers is that many of the same tactics will work for almost all types of catfish.

Where To Catch Catfish

Catfish can be found in most lakes and rivers. They’re very common in the Mississippi and Ohio river basins.

If you have a river nearby, then look for current breaks. These are places where the current is blocked by something. An ideal current break is a fallen tree.

Catfish will hide on the downstream side to ambush prey. 

Boulders and points can also create current breaks. So, don’t overlook them. 

If you’re fishing in a large reservoir, many of the same tactics will apply. If there’s no current, then finding good spots for catfish will be mostly trial and error.

In ponds, you’ll find a similar scenario. You can start by finding spots that look like good ambush points. It could be a fallen tree, a boulder, weeds or other cover.

When To Fish For Catfish

If you’re having a hard time finding catfish in your area, try night fishing. 

While some catfish have poor eyesight, their barbels can help them find prey in the dark. As a result, catfish are very active night feeders. Barbels are organs that protrude from the side of a catfish’s jaws. They are packed with taste receptors.

Darkness helps conceal their position and gives catfish an advantage over their prey.

So, get out there at night with some stinky baits or even some worms and try your luck.

Baits And Lures For Catfish

Live worms, like the type you can get at any bait shop, will work for catfish. If they’re small, you can put a few of them on your hook to make for a bigger meal.

There are many other options for catfish baits. You can use dead fish chopped into small pieces. If you take some herring or shad and cut them into chunks, it can be a great way to catch catfish.

Any oily smelly fish is a good option for bait.

You can also use meats that you can buy at the grocery store. For example, liver is a popular catfish bait. 

There are also packaged baits that are intended for catching catfish. These baits usually have smelly ingredients like cheese, fish, or blood. They’re often have a doughy consistency so that you can take a clump of it and mold it around your hook.

Catfish Gear And Tackle

A good stout 7 foot medium heavy or heavy action rod should do well for most catfishing applications. You can use spinning or baitcasting gear. Either will work fine.

As for line, you can use line strengths from 15 to 50 pound test or more. It just depends on the size of fish you’re going after and the structure and cover situation.

Monofilament is a good choice if you’re looking for an economical line that will do the job.

If you’re going to be fishing around heavy cover such as rocks or logs, think about using a leader. If you hook on to a monster catfish, you want to make sure you can get him in, a leader can save the day.

If you like to use braid, then opt for heavy braid such as 50 pound test to start. Then add a heavy flouro leader. 

Try starting out with a 25 pound test leader. To connect the flouro to the braided line, you have a couple of options. You can tie a line to line knot such as the double uniknot or the FG knot. Another option is using a swivel between the braided line and the leader.

Using swivels will let you easily add sinkers to your rig. Given that catfish are known to be bottom feeders, a sinker is a good idea.

Simple Catfish Rig

A simple rig you can make is to use a sliding barrel sinker and run it up your main line.

Then tie on a swivel. Then tie your leader to the other end of the swivel. Leave yourself at least a foot or two of line and then tie on your hook.

As for what type of hook to use you should consider using circle hooks.

Circle hooks are great because you don’t need to set the hook when a catfish strikes. All you need to do is reel in line. 

With a circle hook, the catfish will basically hook itself. In addition, it will almost always hook itself in the corner of the mouth. So, if you’re planning on releasing your catch, this will ensure that minimal injury is done to the fish.

When you’re rigging the bait on your hooks, make sure to try and hide the hook in the bait as much as possible.

Another option that will help you detect strikes is adding a float to your line. You can simply add a sliding float to your line. You’ll want to add it with enough slack so that your bait will reach the bottom. 

The main drawback to this is that adding a float can make casting harder.


Overall, catfish are very popular. They’re powerful fighters and are also valued as table fare. If you study catfish, you can really find some giant fish. As for eating catfish, make sure you investigate local regulations. Also, check for fish consumption advisories.

Leave a Comment