Drift Fishing for Catfish

Can you drift for catfish? If so, what’s the best rigging to use?

Drift fishing is a popular method for catching all sorts of species of fish, mostly because it combines an easy and relaxing time in a boat, with travel, while the boat drifts downstream, and also covers far more waterway area than is easily possible with still fishing techniques. The concept, is to get your boat and bait drifting at the same speed, so that you are not pulling the bait, but just staying with it. This results is the bait’s literally free-floating down the river or lake, which makes for a very natural and effective presentation to the fish.

Catfish can easily be caught using drift fishing techniques, but there are some considerations that one can make, to improve the presentation of your bait, with catfish specifically in mind. First off, remember that cats are almost always deep water dwellers, hiding near underwater structure while they wait for their prey or other food items to slip into their space. So, for drift fishing, it is important to get the bait to sink down to these deeper regions, so the fish can find it. Having said this, though, heavy line weights are not the solution, because the presentation of the bait requires that it be allowed to free-float. For this reason, drift fishing is easiest with natural, wet baits which tend to sink by themselves. Bigger baits sink best, and so, drift fishing is a good choice when pursuing bigger fish which can handle a big bait. The rigging to use is simple – a hook, a line, and maybe, a very small sinker (place it at least 24" above the hook), with a well-presented and well-hooked clump of natural, stinky bait on it, which can be allowed to drift along, down deep, while you silently wait above, for a strike.

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

One Response to “Drift Fishing for Catfish”

  1. MIKE says:


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