Catfish Fishing 101: 20 Must-Know Tips

Becoming a better catfish angler is all about knowing a few catfish fishing tips.

Catfish Fishing 101: 20 Must-Know Tips
Catfish Fishing 101: 20 Must-Know Tips

Becoming a better catfish angler is all about knowing a few catfish fishing tips. You don’t need the most expensive rod or a fancy boat to fill the boat up, but you do need a little know how and some confidence to give it a try.

Fish deep water structures with current: Catfish will use these places year round to feed. Look for ledges, points, deep holes, etc.

Use free or controlled drifts when searching for catfish: These methods of catfishing target active catfish. You’ll find yourself covering more water and putting your bait in front of more catfish.Fish with available bait that a catfish might see in the current area: Shad are typical in rivers, while it could be bream in ponds or shallow water. On that same note, experimenting with bait is another great catfish tip.

Use a Carolina Rig: It fights off snags and presents the bait in an unrestricted manner. This rig is great for most anglers. Tie a few extra leader lines before you hit the lake if you want to speed up reties while on the water.


Use Cut Bait for Blues, Live Bait for Flathead: This is pretty straight forward, but this rule can be bent. As a catfishing guideline, this rule holds true most of the time, especially for larger catfish.


catfishing
(Jeff Phillips photo)

Use a Circle Hook: You don’t have to set the hook, and they are nearly impossible for the fish to shake off. It helps to introduce young kids to fishing when they don’t have to worry about losing the fish.

Pick Right Size of Hook: I prefer to start about 4/0, but a number of guys like 7/0 hooks. Play around on your own and see what you like best.

Use Monofilament Line When First Learning: It has enough stretch to help correct a mistake when fighting a big fish, and it’s inexpensive.


Fish Close to Cover: Fishing on structure is great, but to get more precise and catch more fish, you should have your bait close to the stumps, rocks, trees, etc. that are on that structure. The closer you can get your bait the better chance of catching a catfish.

Start by Using Only One Rod: You should practice getting a great presentation with one rod and catching a few fish first. After you feel comfortable fishing on one rod, add another rod and practicing working with two or more.

Follow Seasonal Patterns to Know Which Structures Will be Best: It’s your guide to finding catfish all year.


Fish with Confidence: If you believe you will catch catfish, you will. Though it sounds like a phrase that people just say, confidence affects your focus and presentations, which counts for more or fewer catfish.

Fish Early, Fish Late: The time when the sun is rising and falling is called low light periods. In these periods catfish have the sight advantage over their prey, which increases their chance of eating, making them more aggressive.

Use Equipment in Your Price Range: You can pay more for a better piece of equipment but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessary. I’ve watched my dad fish his entire career with rods that cost less than $20.

catfishing
(Jeff Phillips photo)

Use a Large Sinker, Keep Your Bait on Bottom: Whether it’s heavy current or light, you don’t want the weight to be moving and getting hung in the cover. Start with a 1-ounce and move your sinker weight up by an ounce at a time until your rig doesn’t move.

Use a Flat Sinker: It’s more current resistant, which means that it stays on bottom better.Practice Boat Positioning for Anchoring Techniques: Practice setting your boat up within casting distance up wind or up current from your target. Practice casting your bait close to the cover on the structure. Practice the presentation as a whole.

Use a Depth Finder to find Structures and Cover: Learning to use a depth finder can greatly increase your catch rate and understanding for what you’re doing because you can see what you’re finishing better.

Fish Current Breaks on Rivers: This is one of my key catfish fishing tips. They are the key to finding river fish and large schools. If you know how to fish current breaks, you can make amazing catches. Why? Because when the current is running, nearly all fish have to move to some form of current break in order to not tire themselves out. Catfish must do the same, but they also feed while there.

Fish with a Friend: Other than the fact that you’ll have a much better time, you and your partner can test different rigs and baits. Plus if your fishing buddy is catching fish doing something that you have never used, you will quickly pick up a new technique.

catfishing
(Jeff Phillips photo)

This brings us to the end of our catfish fishing tips. I hope you have found it of some help. It’s time for you to take these tips and put them to use. Good luck and tight lines.

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