Skip to main content

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths.

Live baits work great, including minnows, worms, frogs, shad, chubs and even grasshoppers and cicadas. Dead and smelly baits are well-known for attracting hungry cats, including things such as fish guts, shrimp, chicken liver, mussels and stinkbait.

Grocery-store baits like bacon, frankfurters and cheese work, too.

Even bizarre offerings such Ivory soap, dog food, Spam, blood and bubblegum will entice these whiskered warriors now and then. In fact, you'll probably hook a catfish sooner or later no matter what bait you use.


So why use artificial lures like jigs, crankbaits and spoons when fishing for catfish? Well, some folks just like to do things the hard way. If you prefer catching as many cats as possible, especially trophy catfish, you'll probably do better sticking to regular baits.


But if you enjoy more challenging endeavors, it may be fun to give lures a try. Catching cats on artificials adds another exciting dimension to this multifaceted sport.

The good news is, if water conditions are right, and the proper lure is used, cats will find the bait and strike. Many lures work, but they only work consistently if you understand what makes them enticing to catfish. The following paragraphs should help in that regard.

Added scents greatly improve the effectiveness of lures for catching catfish.

1. The best lures are impregnated with scent products.

Catfish have incredible senses of taste and smell. Taste buds cover the entire body, from whiskers to tail, and cats have special olfactory organs that will detect minute amounts of proteins in the water. It makes sense then that lures with built-in scent products are much better than "plain" lures for catching these whiskered eating machines.




Among the scented products I've used to catch catfish (even when bass fishing) are Berkley's Gulp! Alive products.

They look and feel like real bait animals: minnows, shad, worms, shrimp, leeches and more. And they're made of sponge-like resins that exude water-soluble scents cats can't resist.

In fact, Gulp! scents are so effective on catfish that Berkley even makes Gulp! Catfish Dough, Catfish Chunks and Catfish Shad Guts.


In my experience, these lures don't work as well as live baits, as Berkley suggests, but they are effective cat catchers and worth trying, especially where use of certain live baits is restricted. Other products may work equally well.

This blue catfish struck a vibrating crankbait with rattles, a good type to try when targeting whiskerfish with lures.

2. Lures with components that rattle and vibrate are more effective than unadorned artificial's.

Anglers often catch catfish when casting lures for species such as bass and walleyes, and the lures they're caught on run the gamut from jigs and crankbaits to plastic worms and spoons.

If you're targeting catfish specifically with lures, however, you'll increase the likelihood of catching some if the lures you use are made to rattle and vibrate.

Catfish have specialized hearing organs that detect rattling sounds even in muddy water. The sensitive lateral lines pick up vibrations from prey animals.

When these senses are stimulated by a lure you're reeling through the water, a nearby catfish is more likely to strike and -- fish on!

In clear water, like the mountain streams many catfish inhabit, lures of all types can be used to entice is likely to increase strikes on lures.

3. Fishing clear waters is likely to increase strikes on lures.

Many people look at the catfish's small eyes and think these fish probably don't have keen eyesight. That's not actually the case, though. Catfish living in waters with little turbidity regularly use their acute vision to help detect food animals.

This gives the angler an added advantage when fishing in a clear river or lake. In discolored or muddy water, lures must stimulate other senses before they will work. Where water is transparent, however, catfish can see lures and will strike almost anything that appears good to eat.

Scented lures that rattle or vibrate still work best because they stimulate multiple senses, making them easier for cats to detect. But in clear waters, sight alone may prompt a catfish to strike, allowing the angler to try a greater variety of artificials.

005 You can't cast a lure randomly and expect to catch a nice catfish like this. For consistent success, work lures in prime catfish feeding areas.[/caption]

4. Fishing like a bass angler often improves success.

You might cast a lure randomly and catch a catfish now and then. But if you want to improve your odds for success, you should fish like a bass angler, casting to specific components of cover and structure that attract fish.

This might be a toppled tree on an outside river bend where a flathead is likely to be hiding to ambush prey, or a deep creek channel used as a travel route by blue cats and channel cats feeding on shad. Learn the types of cover and structure catfish find attractive, then direct your casts to those areas to improve success.

Catfish "lures", like those in this angler's tacklebox, aren't made to cast and retrieve quickly like bass lures, but when still-fished, they provide an alternate means for catching whiskerfish.

5. Don't overlook real catfish "lures"

They don't work the same way as bass or walleye lures, but some manufacturers make plastic lures specially designed for use with soft stinkbaits. These aren't intended to be cast and retrieved repeatedly in a short period of time.

In fact, if you do that, you'll probably sling off the catfish bait that makes them effective. Instead, you fill the lure with squeezable tube bait or coat it in sticky dip bait, then cast to a good spot and wait for a bite. Good ones to try include Uncle Josh's Kat Lure, Magic Bait's Big Squeeze Bait Pod, Team Catfish's EZ Load Dip Tubes and Cat Tracker's Tubie Worm.

Conclusion

Artificial lures probably will never equal "regular" baits for enticing catfish. When you're wanting a change of pace, however, or wanting to make your cat catching extra challenging, try casting a jig, spinner, spoon, crankbait or soft-plastic lure instead of the real baits you usually employ. If you use the right lures under the right conditions, odds are you'll hook some nice blues, channel cats and flatheads.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021, here's a look at the new Rage Trypan NC, Nockturnal Shift Nock, Carbon Express Maxima RED Contour and D-Stroyer PileDRIVER arrows.

New for 2021: Hoyt RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum 30 and Ventum 33

New for 2021: Hoyt RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum 30 and Ventum 33

ATA 2021 NeDuring this video from the Archery Trade Association's New Product Premiere showcase, Bowhunter's TV Mike Carney visited with Evan Williams, pro staff manager for Hoyt Archery, to learn about the new RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum and Ventum 33 bows.w Product - Hoyt

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

Bowhunter Editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, design engineer for Mathews, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

Bear Archery's newest bows - Redemption EKO and Legit RTH - are light, adjustable and fast.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Simplify breakfast or brunch for a crowd by making this savory venison chorizo quiche recipe.Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe Wild Game

Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe

Allie Doran - October 30, 2020

Simplify breakfast or brunch for a crowd by making this savory venison chorizo quiche recipe.

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties are accompanied by melted Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and Thousand Island dressing and then pressed in between two toasted and golden brown pieces of rye bread.Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe Wild Game

Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe

Kristy Crabtree - October 27, 2020

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties...

11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show.New Expandable Blade Broadheads for 2021 ATA Show

New Expandable Blade Broadheads for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 12, 2021

11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show.

The Havoc RS440 XERO, Havoc RS440 and Siege RS410 bring cutting-edge tech to your hunt.New for 2021 from TenPoint Crossbows Crossbows

New for 2021 from TenPoint Crossbows

Game and Fish Staff - December 29, 2020

The Havoc RS440 XERO, Havoc RS440 and Siege RS410 bring cutting-edge tech to your hunt.

See More Trending Articles

More Catfish

They require a bit more work for the bite, but it can be worth the effort.8 Ways to Catch Catfish in Cold Water Catfish

8 Ways to Catch Catfish in Cold Water

Anietra Hamper

They require a bit more work for the bite, but it can be worth the effort.

Fishing for eating-sized flatheads is an easy and fun way to supply an excellent fish fry.Flathead Catfish for the Plate Catfish

Flathead Catfish for the Plate

Keith Sutton - June 05, 2020

Fishing for eating-sized flatheads is an easy and fun way to supply an excellent fish fry.

Target riprap this summer for some of your best shots at channel catfish.Rock-and-Roll Fishing for Catfish Catfish

Rock-and-Roll Fishing for Catfish

Keith Sutton - July 14, 2020

Target riprap this summer for some of your best shots at channel catfish.

Working current seams for channel catfish can be productive, but you must first understand what the river is telling you.Decipher the Seams for Channel Cats Catfish

Decipher the Seams for Channel Cats

Brad Durick - June 23, 2020

Working current seams for channel catfish can be productive, but you must first understand...

See More Catfish

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now