How to Catch Catfish: Best Tips, Techniques & Secret Tricks

William Adams
 min read

How to catch catfish is something of a subject which merits its own post.

How to catch catfish: Best tips, techniques & secret tricksCatfish can live to a great age, and become massive, thus necessitating a certain type of fishing gear.

As a general rule, for catfishing you need suitable fishing gear, the right bait and technique, a fishing deeper, and knowledge of the waters where you’re fishing. It is advisable to be at least two when going fishing for catfish due to their size and weight.

Catfish fishing is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.

How to catch catfish: Introduction

This large freshwater fish can live to 80 years old, and the catfish population is growing in the major rivers. But despite this, it is not very easy to catch a catfish.

You have to know what you are doing because it can take a while to catch one.

This article will give you the best tips to significantly increase your chances of catching catfish. So, read the information below carefully.

Use fishing gear suitable for catfish

Going fishing for catfish with equipment that is too light is not a good idea.

A catfish on the big river can grow up to 2 meters and is strong so we recommend using at least a heavy spinning rod with a minimum throw weight of 3.5 ounces. Even better, of course, is when you use a real catfish rod.

Because catfish move into large bodies of water such as rivers, it is advisable to take a slightly longer rod when fishing from the shore.

Think of a rod of 8 feet or more. If you fish from a belly boat or a regular boat, this may be a somewhat shorter rod.

Besides the rod, it is also essential that the reel is suitable for fishing such colossal fish. Forget all reels below the size 4500 as they are not strong enough.

Focus on a reel with a size of 5000 or more (a size of 6500 or 7000, for example, is ok).

Soundness and quality come at a price, so almost all reels under $100 are not suitable for catfish fishing. These cheaper reels will fail after a few catches anyway.

Therefore, we recommend a reel from a slightly higher price range and reels where the emphasis is on solidity.

You can look at the maximum slip resistance a reel has, its weight (robustness is not very light), and the materials used.

Sea reels are also often excellent for catfish fishing.

As the mainline, you also need to consider high forces. A braided line with a large diameter is crucial. This is really a very important tip because catfish are not the easiest fish to catch.

So when you do get a bite, it’s a real bummer if you can’t reel in the catfish due to an unsuitable tackle.

Fish for catfish in the deepest areas in winter

Catfish is a bottom fish by nature and often dwells on and just above the bottom.

When winter comes, the temperature drops, and so does that of the water.

The catfish seeks out the warmest water, and in winter, that is often the water at its deepest point.

Therefore, it is essential to know what the soil structure looks like so you know where the deep spots are. That’s where you have the best chance of catching catfish when it’s cold.

Vary bait and technique

Like most other fish species, you can catch catfish with different techniques and with varying types of bait or lures.

The best method and the best bait vary by season and location. Catfish dwell in a variety of spots throughout the year.

Winter season

Because these fish seek the depths during the winter, it makes no sense to fish for catfish with a float or a shallow running crankbait during the winter period (on the other hand, it does make sense to wear appropriate fishing clothing for the winter season during the winter). Instead, fish with a bottom mount.

Summer period

In summer, you can use special catfish lures, such as octopuses, catfish spinners, and crankbaits.

Large trebles loaded with worms also often do well, but expect a lot of bycatch because almost all fish love worms.

You can also use a self-hook assembly for fishing catfish with large pellets (just like carp fishing).

Use a fishing deeper

A deeper allows you to visualize what’s underwater on your phone.

A deeper is a ball that you throw in with a casting rod (with a throw weight of at least 2.8 ounces).

You connect wirelessly to your phone through Deeper’s app, and then you can see on your phone exactly what is under the Deeper.

Then, using the reel, slowly turn the Deeper in to scan the bottom.

Catfish is a true bottom fish, so this fish is not always easy to locate. Consequently, you have a significant advantage if you know the soil structure in a particular water feature.

But not everyone has a boat with a depth gauge available. Nowadays there is another solution for that too. With a deeper, you can easily scan the bottom with a rod and map out exactly what it looks like and where the water is deep.

In addition, you can also see a big fish like a catfish, so you can go fishing exactly where the catfish reside.

Depending on the version Deeper you buy, you can also store this data, including GPS data, so that the next time you go fishing, you don’t have to scan the water again but already know precisely what the bottom looks like under the surface.

So when fishing for catfish, a Deeper is a great added value that significantly increases your chances of catching fish.

Go fishing at the right time

Catfish are usually the least active during the day, when the sun is shining brightly, and rest at great depths until it gets darker.

As soon as the sun begins to set and it begins to get dusk, the catfish start hunting for prey, and this bottom fish really comes alive.

Dusk, night, and morning are the best times to fish for catfish.

Use sound to lure the catfish

Catfish have very bad eyesight and that is why catfish have very typical long feelers with which they can find their way by touch in the water and on the bottom.

Because the eyes of this fish are so poor, the catfish does a lot based on smell, touch, and sound.

Catfish are easy to lure by making noise with quack wood, a special kind of wooden stick that allows you to make a particular sound in the water to attract the attention of catfish.

Quack wood is an excellent addition to lure the catfish to you and encourage the fish to hunt, particularly when fishing with lures.

Feel the line with your hand

When jigging from a boat where you move the lure slowly up and down, it’s a good idea to gently hold the line with your hand or hold your finger against it.

Because catfish rods have to be so strong, they lack a lot of feel.

At the same time, catfish bites are very subtle and soft, so if you just hold the rod you can miss most of the bites.

By clamping the line with your index finger between the blank and your index finger, you feel much better what is happening. Your finger also can’t get stuck should a lot of line suddenly be taken away by a catfish that has been hooked.

Use gloves to handle catfish

Although catfish do not have teeth like a pike, the use of gloves is definitely recommended.

Instead of teeth, a catfish has a very rough mouth with a kind of very coarse sandpaper that you can definitely hurt your hands on.

For a firm and safe grip, gloves are really a requirement.

Catfish gloves are thin but strong so that despite the excellent protection, you can still have a good feel for what you are doing.

Fish in the right location

You probably already know that fishing for catfish in a city pond or small lake is hopeless. Catfish live in the big rivers and not in small bodies of water.

But even in rivers, it is not easy to catch a catfish everywhere, and there are better and worse spots.

In particular, try to look for any irregularities in the water. This can include bends in the river, tributaries, harbors, bridges, sandbars, breakwaters, and any other obstacle interrupting the normal flow.

Try to fish such spots and use a Deeper to see where the catfish are on the bottom and where it is deep. That way, you can be sure you are fishing for catfish in the right place.

Explore your spot and surroundings in detail

Before you go fishing, it is recommended that you take a good look at what is around your spot both in the water and on the shore.

The worst thing that can happen to you is a hooked catfish that gets stuck by an obstacle.

If you know where these obstacles are in the water, you also know where you need to keep the catfish away from when reeling in.

Because the average catfish is so strong and large, it is common to get carried away during the reeling in.

Therefore, it is crucial to know beforehand where you can and cannot safely walk and run on the shore. Especially when fishing in the dark, this is an important tip!

Use worms as bait for catfish

Worms are the golden bait for fishing for catfish, especially whole bunches of worms.

Large dew worms, in particular, provide a powerful attraction for catfish.

Combining these live worms with imitation dew worms is best, giving extra volume to your bait and keeping your mount looking attractive for longer.

You can enrich almost any mount with worms and ants by adding them to the hook or treble. Worms are the favorite of catfish, so be sure to take advantage of them!

Do not fish solo for catfish

Because the catfish is such a large fish, it is not always easy to unhook it smoothly when you are alone.

We recommend always fishing in pairs, especially if you also want to take a picture with it and measure the fish,

And if there are two of you, you can fish with twice as many rods. So you have twice the chance of catching something too!

Nothing but benefits, including increased safety because reeling in a catfish and hauling it to the water’s edge is no laughing matter!

Normally, you won’t pull one catfish after another out of the water. Therefore, it can be a good idea to take turns reeling in the catfish when you get a bite, regardless of which rod the bite is on. This keeps it fun for both of you.

Fish with sufficiently large baitfish

When fishing for pike, we often see anglers using baitfish that are too small. And in catfish fishing this is even more common. So don’t underestimate the gluttony of the catfish!

A catfish can easily gobble up a 16-inch baitfish. So don’t start fishing for catfish with baitfish as small as 8 inches because a catfish will simply ignore it.

Fishing with a 12- to 16-inch baitfish is the minimum recommended to successfully fish for catfish.

As baitfish, you can use various naturally occurring fish in the water. Or, you could use fish that are not in their natural habitat in that stretch of water. The catfish is not difficult in this respect and is a true omnivore.

Treat the catfish with respect

The catfish is a beautiful fish that we should be treated with respect.

What is still too often forgotten is that a catfish is very heavy, especially above water.

The catfish is not built to lie on its belly outside the water. The weight of its body then presses too much on its intestines, causing internal bleeding.

Also, the gill grip is disastrous for catfish! The fish is simply far too heavy for it.

The best way to unhook a catfish is in the water. Don’t pull the fish out of the water afterward to weigh it. Catfish up to 40 inches in length can still be taken out, but larger specimens are best not taken out of the water for weighing.

Tip: Because catfish can become so large, it is well worth wearing fishing waders in case the catfish is too big to bring up: Fishing waders guide: Everything you should know when choosing fishing waders

Treat the catfish with respect, and who knows, maybe you can catch it again in a few years when the fish is even bigger.

How to catch catfish: Conclusion

While catfish fishing may be extremely satisfying, a good deal of thought must go into it before setting out.

This article on how to catch catfish explains the details and intricacies to set you on your way.

May you enjoy an excellent, relaxing, and successful fishing expedition!

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About William Adams

I’m an engineer and a happy plus-size individual myself. I love to blog online if I can have a positive impact on the lives of others. I help other plus-size people with in-depth product guides to make shopping for products and services less stressful in their busy lives. Read More