Basic Tackle for Catfish

For fishing really tough spots, like below tailraces, for trophy fish, you will need rods that fall close to the surf-fishing catagory. You will need to be casting very heavy baits and weights to hold against the currents, and pull large fish against the currents. This requires good leverage and strong gears. A 10-12′ med-heavy or heavy action rod with a heavy-duty Penn or Ambassaduer reel is just the ticket.

If you plan to fish from a boat, then the meduim, or medium heavy rod with a spin, spincasting or baitcasting reel will do nicely. For boat fishing, a good depth finder is very handy for locating fish and structure, as are rod holders.

And finally, you can do very well with commericial trotlines, juglines and limblines.

For teminal tackle, again it depends on the type of fishing you plan to do. One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that all fish of a particular species in a given area will be close to the same size. This is because bigger fish eat smaller fish, even of the same species. So if you are catching a bunch of 1 Lb. catfish and want bigger ones, simply move 40 or 50 yards away. This even works for baitfish. If you find a school of large-sized shad or minnows, there will be large fish nearby feeding on them. If you are not sure what the average-sized catfish is for a given area, it is better to err on the small side. You’ll catch more fish, and after catching a few, you’ll have a good idea what size hooks to use.

For still waters from shore or boat, I prefer to use a regular 2 hook  dropper rig with a 1/4 ounce bell sinker on the bottom, and #2 through #1/0 sized baitholder hooks. You can also use the same size hooks and sinker for a slip-sinker rig. For boat fishing, the same size tackle will work for a drif-rig as well. Go one size smaller if you plan to use a slip-bobber rig.

For tailraces, or trophy fish, use a 1 to 6 ounce bell sinker, depending on the strength of the current, and a dropper rig with 2/0 and up sized hooks. Match the hook to your bait.

For bait, anything up to 20 Lbs., can be caught with prepared dough bait, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, shrimp and minnow. For larger fish, the bait of choice is large chunks of cut shad, or live whole bluegills, goldfish, shad or large minnows.

Happy fishng!

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Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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